Like many folks I have been hearing about how “rich” the self-publishing market is and that it is good business for authors to put out their books themselves rather than submitting to traditional presses.

I think many people have fantasized of that “one big hit” or of the “big payoff.”  We hear the stories of authors like Amanda Hocking, EL James, and HM Ward (the last who has chosen not to sign with a traditional publisher) and wonder if the battle for a manuscript, an agent, an editor, a publisher, is worth it all. Isn’t self-publishing the way to go?

A few years ago there was a survey done of 1,007 self-published writers and what it found was that although a few were earning $100,000 or more, the average earnings for a self-published author were around $10,000 a year, not exactly the stuff that dreams are made of.  And of course, as we learned in mathematics class, the average, or mean, is easily skewed by a few high numbers/earners.  What does that mean? That means that out of the 1,007 writers, about half of them were making less than $500 a year.

Of course, many of the more successful self-published authors began their writing life as traditionally published authors. I may have to see if there is an updated survey to discover if things have changed overmuch.

Typewriter-Cash

You can read more about the earnings of self-published authors here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/24/self-published-author-earnings?CMP=twt_fdhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/24/self-published-author-earnings?CMP=twt_fd

UPDATE: It looks like there have been several different surveys looking at self-published author earnings and all of them quite contentious. 🙂 I shall definitely have to follow up.