An interesting article in The Guardian reported that, based on a survey of 1,007 self-published authors (a tiny fraction of this group) the average amount of money earned in 2011 was $10,000 and half of those surveyed earned less than $500. If any of you have been following the forums on amazon.com or Kindleboards these stats probably won’t surprise you. Sure, there are many success stories of authors doing far better than $10,000, but there are even more who aren’t despite good promotion efforts.
Here’s another interesting tidbit from the study. Romance authors earned 170% more than those writing in other genres. Science fiction writers earned 38% of that $10,000 income, fantasy writers earned 32%, and literary authors just 20%. Mystery/thriller writers weren’t even mentioned in the study, so I have no idea where we stand.
The thing is, the success of people like Amanda Hocking,
Locke, and El James (all of whom have sold a million ebooks or more) has become so
widespread that plenty of newbie authors with rejected manuscripts in their
drawers are pulling them out and publishing them in hopes that they might grab
a piece of that action. Some of them will, but a lot won’t, especially if they
haven’t taken the time to edit and format their books properly, not to mention
acquire a great cover and jacket blurb. You can read the article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/24/self-published-author-earnings?cat=books&type=article
If you’re interested in hearing more self-publishing success stories, Kindleboards has published a list of 145 authors who have sold 50,000 copies or more of their books, which you can find at http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,103665.0.html This link is also included in a really interesting blog by someone called io9. The blog contains a somewhat disheartening photo of the slush pile at Tor books, where piles of unopened manuscripts sit on a tall cart. You can read the blog at http://io9.com/5911634/the-most-successful-self+published-sci+fi-and-fantasy-authors
While self-publishing is still flourishing, it’s not a dream come true for everyone, but it certainly seems to offer more writers the opportunity to make money and gain readers than they would have if their manuscripts were still languishing on that slush cart.