Self-Publishing Facts and Figures

Following on from last week’s blog in which I stressed the importance of supporting independent authors, I decided to find some figures to back up my claim that independent publishing is a growing trend. I’ve also included some other interesting facts and figures relating to self-publishing, which I’ve gleaned from various Internet sources. For simplicity I have used the term ‘self-publishing’ to refer to all publishing that isn’t through a traditional publisher, including independent publishing. For a fuller explanation of the terms ‘self-publishing’ and ‘independent publishing’ please refer to the paragraph at the bottom of this post.

Pie chart

1) According to figures published by Bowker Market Research, self-published books accounted for 2% of all UK book sales in 2012, but 12% of all digital UK book sales. However, in the crime, humour and romance genres self-published UK book sales reached more than 20%!

2) Between 2006 and 2011 the number of self-published titles produced in the US tripled, reaching a combined total of 235,625 books and eBooks in 2011.

3) In 2012, 17 of the top-selling 100 Kindle books were self-published.

4) Included amongst the growing list of famous authors that have self-published some of their work are: Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf and John Grisham.

5) If authors use a traditional publisher they can expect to earn between 17.5% and 25% royalties on an eBook, whereas by self-publishing they can earn up to 70-80% of the sale price of the eBook.

6) The total number of books produced by self-publishers and micro-niche publishers in 2009 was a whopping 764,448.

7) In 2009 CreateSpace produced 21,819 books and Lulu produced 10,386.

8) Apart from financial gain, self-publishing offers a number of other advantages to authors; the self-published author sets the price, retains all rights and decides the release date.

9) There are more self-published eBooks than print books, which contributes to the overall trends although the publication of eBooks is growing generally. From 2006 to 2011, total US eBook production rose 129% compared to a rise of 33% for print book production.

10) 39% of all self-published print books were produced via CreateSpace in 2011. This represents a total of 58,412 titles published using CreateSpace in 2011 compared to 21,819 in 2009.

Bar chart

Self-Publishing or Independent Publishing?
There is some confusion about the terms ‘self-publishing’ and ‘independent publishing’ with many people using them interchangeably. Self-publishing is the term that has been used for many years to refer to any publishing that isn’t through a traditional publisher. At one time the only way to do this was through vanity publishing where authors would have to make an upfront payment to the vanity publisher. However, the publishing platforms available nowadays give authors more freedom, especially with the growth of digital publishing. This enables authors to be listed as the publisher as well as being able to obtain their own ISBN numbers. This is what is known as independent publishing. Through their own publishing businesses many authors also choose to publish books for other authors. When figures are quoted regarding the publishing industry, many people use the term ‘self-publishing’ to refer to both independent and vanity publishing.
If you have enjoyed my fun facts please let me have your feedback below or feel free to add your own interesting facts relating to self-publishing.
N.B. This information was drawn from a variety of Internet sources and I cannot give any guarantees regarding its authentication.

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4 thoughts on “Self-Publishing Facts and Figures

  1. Interesting stats Diane. I didn’t know humour and crime were such strong selling genres. My book Charles Middleworth is humorous fiction; perhaps I should make more of an effort to market it as such. Thank you for recommending Let’s Get Visible. It was an extremely revealing read and I hope to put some of the lessons learned into my next book.

  2. Guy,
    Yes, after reading ‘Let’s Get Visible’ I’m more convinced than ever that self-publishing success relies heavily on effective marketing. I will be trying out some of the tips from David’s book and I’ve already drawn up a list of the categories and how many books are in each. So many plans, so little time!
    Have you done a free promo yet? I plan to do one hopefully in the next few weeks with the first book and then swap and change categories to try to get a higher rank in a bigger category – fingers crossed that it works.
    I hope it works out for you Guy.

  3. I haven’t done one yet Diane, but I am planning to do one in a few months when I have more of a presence on Goodreads and Google+ etc. Of course it probably would have been more effective to do one earlier, but we live and learn. I look forward to hearing about how yours goes.

  4. I am on Goodreads but haven’t done much with it. However, there are websites that will advertise your free book promo. I can email you a spreadsheet list of them that I got from another author friend if you like. 🙂

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