Articles, Blog

How Much Do Self Published Authors Make?

October 10, 2019


– Are you wondering how much indie authors are making these days? More specifically, how much are self-published
authors making in 2019? Do you believe the reports
that are coming out that say they’re making very little? Or do you believe the videos where you see these success stories, that it’s all true, that it’s
all sunshine and rainbows? Well, folks, I hate to break it to you. It’s actually neither one of those, and I’m gonna tell you
why in today’s video, so make sure that you stay tuned. (heavy guitar music) Welcome to Self Publishing with Dale, where you’ll learn how to
publish books that sell, and build an unstoppable author brand. Remember, if you’re into self publishing, and you wanna learn how to
do it in various capacities, be on Kindle Direct
Publishing, Lulu, IngramSpark, PublishDrive and so on, make
sure that you subscribe, and turn your bell notifications on so you don’t miss a single video. So here’s the deal, folks. I spent the greater portion
of today and even before that putting together a lot of information about how much self published
authors make in 2019. Now, a little bit of a spoiler
alert here on this one is, (sighs) we’re not gonna be
able to know exactly how much people are doing in 2019. We can get a few reports here and there, we won’t know until this year is finished. So what I’m gonna do is,
I’m gonna look at years past and hopefully we can kind of predict a little bit of what the
direction of the business is going to be based on some
of the movements in the past, and I’m gonna share some
information with you, so you’re gonna wanna make
sure that you stick around because we’re gonna talk
about author earnings. What you can realistically expect, and what you need to do as a newbie author as well as an established author, because I’m actually gonna
give you some recommendations. That’s gonna be towards
the end of the video, so make sure that you do
stick around for that. So here’s the deal. I got into business, gosh,
it’s been over five years ago and I’ve been obsessed ever since. You may recognize this face down here. This is actually Chandler Bolt, and for those of you that may know him, drop it on in there. Chandler Bolt actually
is the person behind Self-Publishing School. It’s a course devoted to self-publishing your own books and such. But Chandler has been
a really giving person within the indie author community, and definitely was an
early inspiration for me. Oddly enough, when I
first got turned on to him probably about fourish years
ago, he kept spouting this, this stat, and I never
really researched it. He kept saying that average earnings for most self-published
authors per year is $500. I dunno, $500 per month, not bad. No, $500 per year. Now, me I’m just kinda
crazy, ’cause I’m like bah! That’s not me, and oddly enough, I decided I was gonna still
break into this business and still give it a go, and I was gonna make far
beyond that $500 per month, per year, whatever one of those ones gonna match up here with you. But, you know, I decided, okay, let’s go ahead
and research this stat because it’s important to
me that I cite the sources ’cause I couldn’t track down where specifically Chandler
Bolt had actually said this, it might have been in a webinar,
could have been in a video. Either way, I was like,
you know what Neil, we can’t just simply tell people
stats, and it’s not there. So, in any event, what I discovered was the Guardian. Now, it remains to be seen whether this is the most
reputable online resource in the world, but anyways,
so stop the press. Half of self-published authors earn less than $500. What? Okay, now it’s becoming a bit more real, and you can see the
picture here of E.L. James and others you probably are not aware. E.L. James is the famous
author for Fifty Shades of Grey and the whole series on that. Oddly enough, she actually started out as a self-published author before she went to a trade-published deal, and she’s kinda the poster
child of the success story in indie publishing. But in this report, they say the average amount
earned by DIY authors last year was $10,000, it’s in a year, and some of you are probably like, “Man, I’ll take $10,000 per year,” and some of you are probably like, “I can’t make ends meet with that.” And especially if half made less than 500. I wasn’t satisfied. I had to dig just a little bit deeper, because here’s the thing, is I’m not gonna be the
type of person that goes, “That seems to be you know, the gospel. Let’s go ahead and let’s find out.” Is this true today, though,
folks, is it still true? I’m gonna stay speculative
here on my part. I don’t believe it is. There are some of you
probably that are making 500 if not zero dollars per year. A lot of the information
that’s being put together, it’s being curated by specific resources and sources out there. So when you find some of these stats, you gotta do a little
bit of due diligence, you gotta dig just a little
bit deeper and find out, okay, where are they getting
their information from? Where are they getting all their sources? Because there’s a lot
of publishing platforms. Heck, folks, I haven’t
even scratched the surface on this particular channel. So, here’s the deal. I decided to dig deeper,
and I found this article. Forbes.com in 2013 actually had said the average earnings per year
was $10,000 at that time, and half made less than $500. Okay, now it’s starting to set in, now I’m starting to kinda sense a pattern. Now I’m kinda going, “Okay, maybe there is some truth to this.” So furthermore, what the
Forbes article ended up saying is that trade published deal authors are typically getting read
about 5,000 to $10,000 per year. Yeah, not all sunshine and rainbows over traditional publishing here, folks. Hybrid publishers were
making about 15 to 19,000. A hybrid means they’re
having some traditional, and they’re having some
of the self-published, and they’re seeing a bit more, obviously. But there is an even larger 1%, to be exact, 1.8% of the folks
out there in self-publishing are making over $100,000 per year. The 1%, you always hear that little stat. There is a 1%, believe it
or not, in self-publishing. This can’t be right, can it? There’s such huge fluctuations from one report to the next. So now you kinda see
why I’m in a quandary, why I spent a lot of time
just digging even deeper, because I don’t want to sit
here and just tell you guys a solid number and then
you come back and go, “But Dale, I had seen this report, “and this report says
that we’re not gonna make “more than 500, I don’t
think it’s gonna be worth it. “But then this report says “I should be doing 100 grand per year. “You know, what’s the deal?” So, that’s why I wanna kind
of really dial this in. So, I dug just a bit deeper, and this is where
Publishers Weekly comes in, and they actually had
one about industry sales falling 1.6% in 2018. Oh, don’t be scared. This is okay. Because that makes up for about 25.82 billion dollars in 2018 for the industry as a whole. It took a 1.8% drop, it’s mild, mild. It’s kinda of a drop in the bucket. I don’t know about you, I’ll still take the 1.8% that they lost, because that will
definitely take care of me. Ebook sales had declined by
about 2% from 2017 to 2018. Downloadable audio book
increased by 28.7%. You heard somebody talk about this before? Hmm, I think somebody did mention this. This is one thing that you
need to make sure you’re adding to your portfolio yesterday, okay? Audio book is getting big, folks. And, last but not least, a really weird stat that
just randomly was shared was mass market paperback
decreased by 25.9%. Now, it’s not so strange in itself. It’s the fact that they didn’t cover any of the other type
of paperback or hardback because print media… Publication profits. So I couldn’t dig down deeper because this particular
article that was cited was through the AAP, and I’m
gonna kind of get to them in just a second here. So I was like, okay, there’s
got to be somebody else out here like me thinking like this. Jane Friedman, how many of you
folks heard of Jane Friedman? She actually has a really awesome website devoted to indie publishing and writing, and she actually has one
about author income surveys being misleading and flawed, and the focus is on the wrong
message for the writers, and I tend to kind of agree. And so to summarize a little
bit of what she was saying, and kind of what I’ve been
hinting at in this broadcast is, these are generalized surveys. The problem is, is it’s just taking a sample portion of the market. I’ll tell you openly that
I’ve never done a survey. So, that means that my income hasn’t been taken into
account for this one. So each one of these surveys is just a snapshot of certain people. Now, this particular one
that Jane had discussed, had about, I think 5,000
surveys, applicants in there. And the median earning income, that means the split
between the higher people and the lower people here
was about 20 grand per year. And that was an increase about 13% from one year to the next. Book-related income,
pay attention to this, and I’m actually gonna go
back to the well on this at the very end of this video, and it’s about book-related income, folks. $43,000, you see the difference? There’s about a $13,000 difference. This is why I always say,
go beyond the book, folks. Building your author platform, you shouldn’t just hide
behind your keyboard, there’s so many other
opportunities beyond that book. That book is just the
entryway to you, the author. So that right there, I
don’t know about you, I’ll take an extra $13,000 per year. Compare this to what the AAP survey, which was $6,000 per year, roughly a little over $6,000
per year, was what they said. It’s a huge difference, and then furthermore, Jane said that there was 3/7ths that made over $50,000 per year. Three out of seven people
were making more than $50,000. So you see why there’s
just this gigantic divide when it comes to a lot of these surveys? And you gotta kinda take
it with a grain of salt. Next up is Orna Ross,
she actually is awesome. If you haven’t had the opportunity, please go check out her YouTube channel, and she’s the figurehead
and the brains behind ALLi, that’s the Alliance of
Independent Authors. A fantastic woman, she gives
a lot of great information on her podcasts and her YouTube channel. She had actually launched
this post recently about the APWG report on author
earnings missing the mark, and what she kind of discussed was a greater portion of these surveys, And some of these reports
that are being put out focuses on traditional publishing while, “Eh, it’s self publishing.” We’re making noise, we’re
making waves in this industry. We are in the modern
day of self publishing, and we’re just being relegated
to being put in the corner, and nobody puts Baby
back in the corner, okay? So that’s the thing is,
we have to understand that some of these things
aren’t exactly accurate. It doesn’t represent the entire formula. Why are surveys flawed, then? I mean, I’m not gonna, you know, completely poo poo all of our surveys, but the reason they’re inherently flawed is not everyone is participating in them, and the ones that do that
are reporting incomes may not be accurately reporting that. They may not be very happy
with where they’re at, and so they may over report, or maybe they’re a little
bit humble, and they say, “I’d rather not.” ‘Cause I’m not big on sharing my income. I never have been, probably never will be. So a lot of them might report zero. So this is going to skew
these surveys so much, and then we’re led to believe
that the surveys represent our market and industry as a whole. So, how can we separate the earnings of traditional publishing reports and self publishing reports? I think it’d be a better idea that we think about integrating
the two of them together, but also understanding where is the piece of the pie coming from? And it gives people a
more global perspective on where we’re at in
the industry as a whole. This is going deep, I told you, I hope you had your mining hat. Here’s the caveat, folks. How much can self publishers make in 2019? Well, you can make $20,000 per
month, or $20,000 per year, or you might lose $20,000. No get rich quick scheme is true. No one’s gonna be able
to get rich on this. There is few unicorns in this
business that can come in and absolutely destroy it. But they’re less,
they’re the 1% of the 1%. It takes sheer grit and determination to succeed in this business, and when you find that
you’re sucking fumes, that you’re just not
getting any kind of income then it’s probably time
that you assess why not? Where are you weakest at? Reach out to other people within
the indie author community and say, “Hey, I need help. “I need to figure out why I’m making “less than $500 per year.” Because it’s when we lock arms together that we can all just blaze
to the finish line together. So that’s what I just say, is don’t always listen to
these indie success stories, these indie author success stories, because those are probably
fewer than the ones that are actually truly happening. I’m not trying to discourage you, but I’m trying to tell you
it’s gonna take a lot of work. A little bit of advice for
the newbie authors out there. Newbie authors, I’m talking to you. Experienced ones, you just
hang back for just a second because I got some advice for you too. If you’ve broken into the 1K club, that’s the $1,000 per
month club, it’s good news. Probably back, I think
it was about January 2016 that I broke my first $1,000 per month. After I did it, there was no going back. It has literally just
increased ever since, and though I’ve seen some fluctuations in my paydays every
month, it does get better, but what I’m gonna encourage you, is to set goals, and I’d say this is gonna be the first
goal you need to focus on: get to that $1,000 per month, ’cause that’s $12,000 per year, and you’re inching ever
so much more closer to that median line of about $20,000, as I’d mentioned before. And then you can keep
building on top of that. Don’t give up. It’s the most important
thing folks, don’t give up. All right, for you
established authors out there. Diversify, diversify, diversify. If you are just firing off ebooks, that’s the only thing
you’re doing, quit that. Start to build out your portfolio. You are missing a greater
share of the market by just going ebooks. You already seen I talked about
25% increase in audio books. Oh my Lord, get on that yesterday, and it can be rather affordable. I had an entire series
where I walked you through how affordable it is, how you could do it. Make sure you look out for that, I actually have a
playlist series about ACX. And the next thing is print books, get those print books going. And then your next step is this, and I see this, I am coaching
clients on the regular, email marketing. You gotta take them
off of those platforms, because they’re not your customers, they’re Amazon’s customers, they’re Apple’s customers, they’re Barnes and Nobles’ customers, get them into your world and that’s where email comes into play. You don’t need to make it real sexy, it doesn’t need to be real sharp. You don’t need to have a lead magnet. You don’t need to have a tripwire, you don’t need to have the big upsell. So, I’m gonna pause for just a second so that way I can clip this out later on. Thank you very much
everybody for tuning in. And three, two… And if you want to learn a little bit.

24 Comments

  • Reply Self-Publishing with Dale July 10, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Are you struggling to make ends meet as an author? Do you foresee growing your income enough to support yourself full-time? I'd love to hear from you.
    Learn how to sell more books on Amazon Kindle in this recent video series:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rold2-HCuUk&list=PLXCkkWHluK4AAflZrUO8MtfXLAgIGut15

  • Reply College Debt Slavery-on kindle July 10, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    Dale. Thank you for answering all my questions today! You have given me hope. We are around the same age. So I watched the silly ad here to help you out 🙂

  • Reply Robert Johnson July 11, 2019 at 1:31 am

    I like watching your videos Dale. Nicely informative.

  • Reply Je Sus July 11, 2019 at 2:44 am

    (Aka Redlippatick😁) Awesome live video Today Dale I am so glad that I got a chance to be apart of it by watching it live.

    Certainly have seen some new viewers in the chat,I am really happy that your channel and viewers are growing from day to day.

    The info you dished out today was so impressive and I really appreciate all the time and effort you put in,To bringing us the best content.

    I’m really glad to be back after being sick for 4months,It’s great to feel like myself again.I found out that I am having another Boy🎊😁.I Look forward to catching up on all your videos again that I missed during those months.

    I have not published any books during those 4 months so my sales have been down but I intend to build them up again.
    Im going to give Ingram a chance and see how it goes because you really got me sold out on Ingram😁.

    Thanks again Dale👍

  • Reply Joslyn Carter July 11, 2019 at 3:24 am

    I sure hate I missed live chat. I just published the second edition of my first children's book: "Nobody Told Me I Couldn't…" on Amazon kdp. I'm not sure who my audience is😞. It's for kids 9-12. I'm also an illustrator. This project has been a real challenge.

  • Reply Noah Knox Marshall July 11, 2019 at 4:19 am

    GREAT video. Encouraging, grounded, hopeful and empowering. Will.be sharing. And I love what's on your bookshelf! 😀

  • Reply Lila Lossi July 11, 2019 at 6:58 am

    I want to know if it's just non fiction books that get these results? Do fiction books have high sells as well. When I watch videos I usually see non fiction authors making it.

  • Reply Paul Gran July 11, 2019 at 8:12 am

    Made a mega US $0.06 last month. Yeah baby! 6 cents more than the previous month. ACX or whatever Amazon uses for audiobooks doesn't work in Oz. So that kinda blows.

  • Reply Rich Jepson July 11, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Very interesting as always

  • Reply GSTV Gatcha life stories July 11, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Dale, I just wanna ask what print on demand platform you prefer?

  • Reply Kevin Maguire July 11, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    I'm still waiting for those 6 figures. Maybe next year!

  • Reply Reg Wessels July 15, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Hi Dale, Thank you for the clarity. Quick question – what's the deal with 'UNBOUND' ? Are they really a disruptor in the industry?? REG

  • Reply Myrna Gomez July 16, 2019 at 2:42 am

    I love our picture on the back! Lol

  • Reply Tremendous Book Reviews July 21, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    So what you're telling me is that I'm below average and I should feel bad? Thanks Dale. 😢 Lol!

    Great video and put this whole situation into better perspective for me. Gonna keep writing and publishing. Try to break into that 1% in the next 20 years.

  • Reply Hong Fei Bai July 25, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Do you have any videos on social media burn out from drama? How about the author/cover designer/editor relationship and how to find people you can trust online? I wish indie authors didn't have to use social media that much. Especially too much politics nowadays. Then there's people who are on the same page on politics but have completely different opinions.

  • Reply Karl Witsman July 27, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    I did a book through Lulu (Shape Up Your Memory) that I usually sell through demos and classes that I teach. For an experiment, the year before I retired I didn't do any personal appearances, no demonstrations, no mentions on my social media. I made $15 that whole year. So the dream of just putting something out there and waiting for the money to roll in is a false dream. It really does take some effort to build up your brand and it takes talking to people. Sorry about that, folks. I sold more books during one demo than I did for that whole year!

  • Reply Mr. Shimmgle July 31, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Great video.

  • Reply Joey and Jason from Two Feet Below August 5, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Love the Dirty Dancing reference, and statistics are meant to be broken…of course, with work…but, anything worth having, takes work.

  • Reply Christopher Knox August 13, 2019 at 10:59 am

    When platforms are created allowing everyone to publish. As for where the platforms like Amazon get most of the money. They control the pricing and the market as a whole. We are in an evolving and very saturated market. How many people were giving away books to just get people to read them and give reviews to start building a brand? So I consider we have a bit more time to see things settle down and thin out the hobby writers who are in it for the sake of art. As a .0045 to .0050 per page in Kindle unlimited. I want more information and you were great in providing a lot of data to take in and consider. Traditional publishing is not evolving quick enough sticking to mainstream well-known writers alone. what writers are earning money and what are they earning money from? How many are earning money writing how to get rich off of Amazon or any given publishing platform? I agree with the grain of salt view. Big 5 and the platforms are not providing anything beyond sound bites and PR articles to push their services for there platform. This has to be one of your more down to earth serial information filled videos.

  • Reply Security and Investigations Leadership Channel August 26, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Dale, I make on average $1,200 a month from print book sales on Amazon. Two of my 4 books make 95 % of the profit! Your advice on DIVERSITY is spot on! When I published the last two, I thought they would have the same success as my first two but that never happened. Some other weird phenomenon is that when I priced my first two books VERY HIGH, they sold more on several occasions. Anyhow, Thank you again for the great advice!

  • Reply Tam S August 26, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    Have you done a video on plagiarizing? That is my fear. I don't want someone taking my writing or even part of it or even a sentence of it. That is what keeps me from self-publishing

  • Reply tube1062 September 18, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    I was under the assumption that Amazon won't reveal customer's email addresses?

  • Reply bugproperty September 24, 2019 at 12:09 am

    I was wondering. Would it be a good ideal to create a group of authors where we all support in buying each other's books and promoting???

  • Reply Ronquez Mcqueary September 29, 2019 at 11:33 am

    Hey dale I just published my first book on kdp amazon.com Title Ronnie the Chronicles of life. I'd love so information on how to boost my sales. I've been strongly promoting this book for a year and I've gave book previews and got very good reviews about it." But now it's published I've not been selling how i expected what should i do?

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