Self-Published Authors Making Twice as Much as Traditionally Published

man offering dollarsI know this title sounds like a joke or a lie or wishful thinking but a recent report from Author Earnings, which has been doing the tabulation, says otherwise.

The tide has turned people! Break out the champagne. The day has arrived when new authors who have a story to tell and decide to self-publish their book and/or publish an e-book are now earning their living! Take those rejection letters from Simon/Schuster and flush them down the drain because self-publishing rules.

Okay, enough filibustering, let’s start talking numbers.

The e-book industry has really only taken off since 2009/2010, prior to that the options were limited. The report examines those authors with Amazon bestselling books and the author is clear to point out that the numbers themselves are a mere tip of the iceberg of the overall industry. However, the trend is definitely moving from traditional publishing to Indy publishing (self-publishing).

Authors Making Over $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000 Per Year

The study examined those Amazon authors making over 10k on a single title. While that doesn’t seem like a livable income, and it isn’t, it only represents a portion of the overall sales of that single book and doesn’t take into consideration authors with multiple titles sold through a variety of retailers.

Now check out this graph of authors earning $25,000 and $50,000 or more.


There are fewer than half as many traditionally published authors as indie authors who debuted in the last 3 years and are now earning consistently at the $25K/year level or $50K/year level from Kindle ebooks.

Keep your eye on the blue bar and notice that there are more than twice as many Indy authors hitting $50k mark than traditionally published authors.

Let’s hear from a couple self-published authors for their point of view. These are from the comment section of the report:

I began self-publishing in May 2013, and hit over $25K in earnings during that first year; doubled that in the second year; and I’m on track to improve even further in this, my third year in the market.

Another wonderful discovery is how helpful most indie authors are towards one another. I’ve found very little jealousy or backbiting; only encouragement, sage advice, and a willingness to share strategies and tactics that have led to their success. Can the trad pub world say the same? I somehow doubt it. – Peter Grant


I’ve never questioned my decision to be an Indie author and even if the numbers showed that Traditional was the way to go, the freedom and control is what I like most about being an author/publisher.

That being said, this is the first year I’ll crack the 25K mark (possibly the 50K mark, but that depends on how the last quarter goes. Last year I hit 10K and the year before 5K. The big difference each year as been the number of titles I have available.

This business has changed my life and I’m very appreciative of all that you do for our community. Reading these sorts of reports always makes my day. – Brian Meeks

And from the blog by author JA Konrath, he has this to say about self-publishing:


Can I make a living by self-publishing?

I don’t know many people who make a living being traditionally published. Most of my peers have day jobs.

That said, I’m making a living self-publishing. I’m sure others can and will. But whether you can or not involves a lot of factors, some within your control, some not.

But, in my humble opinion, a dedicated writer who turns out good material on a consistent basis will be able to, on average, earn more money self-publishing than traditional publishing. I say this having done both.

For those who thought self-publishing was just a way to turn your story into a book to give family members as holiday gifts, think again. Authors are making real money self-publishing; more than those who try and traditionally publish. And that number is only going to grow as e-books become more the norm.

That doesn’t mean that you can just slap your book on Kindle and think that you’ll be raking in the dough; it takes work, it takes a marketing strategy and it takes daily, persistent marketing efforts.

I found one comment on JA Konrath’s blog to be interesting:

Icy Sedgwick said…

I just wanted to say, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I’ve been finding your advice invaluable. I also probably wouldn’t have discovered your books if it weren’t for your blog (weird, you’d think it should be the other way around) but there you go. I’m a fan!

Bottom Line: Self-publishing is growing in popularity and now authors who self-publish are earning more than those traditionally published. I encourage you to read the entire report for more information. Individual Author Earnings Report