This past year or so, I have published three books for other people and am working on additional books for myself. These are done through self-publishing, print-on-demand efforts. My intent is to continue to work not only on my own books, but with others to get their books published and available on Amazon. The three books published are:
- Charismatic Truth: for Serious Disciples
- Discipleship Training for Followers of Christ
- Discipleship Training for Christian Outreach
Each of these books are unique in their own ways, and each was published because the author wanted a printed book that they could use when they are presenting or otherwise teaching. None of these were written with the sole purpose of getting rich, which is good when you consider statistics.
Last year I attended a presentation at a local conference on publishing. There were a few enlightening numbers that were shared in this presentation that help shine a light on the likelihood of getting rich by self publishing.
One of the first things to consider when self-publishing is the fact that you’re writing one book that will be made available with the millions that are already being sold. It was state that an average Barnes & Nobles stocks can carry about 200,000 titles. On Amazon, the number of unique books is closer to 3.4 million. If you write a book and expect to sell copies on Amazon, then you will also need a plan to help your book stand out from the (literally) millions of others.
For the average person who self-publishes a single book, the expectation of revenue from Amazon should be to earn $0. Yes, that’s nothing, nada, zip, zilch, not a dime. In fact, statistics show that about 88% of first time, one book “publishers” don’t earn anything on Amazon. Of those that make money, 10% make between $1 and $5,000US. That leaves only 2% to make more than $5,000 selling a book on Amazon. The thing that always amazes me on statistics like this is the number of people that don’t pay the retail price to buy a single copy of their book on Amazon. While they can get a discounted author copy, I would have expected more to buy a copy if for no other reason than to say they sold a copy!
If you work with a small press in publishing on Amazon, the numbers change. In this case, only 18% of books published by a small press don’t make any money. The next 67% make between $1 and $5,000US. Only 1% make more than $100,000.
Of course, traditional publishers fair better in sales, although they are by no means making huge numbers of authors rich either. 7% of traditional published books fail to sell. 40% fall into the $1 to $5,000 range and 9% make over $100,000. The writers that fair the best are those that use a combination of self-publishing and traditional publishing. These also tend to be the people with more of a following, and thus an increased chance for exposure and to sell books. It is roughly 3% of the hybrid authors that don’t make anything with 27% earning between $1 and $5,000.
The last number I’ll share is that the average amount of money made in 2015 by self-publishing authors was reported to be $289. That equates to less than $6 a week, which isn’t quite a livable wage.
What is the take-away? If you are going to self-publish, you should not expect to get rich selling copies on Amazon. Rather you should write for other reasons. This is not to say you can’t make money self-publishing. You can; however, you’ll need to do more than simply toss it onto Amazon. Specifically, you’ll need to market your book. That, however, is a different story…
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