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.

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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.

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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.

Why it’s Important to Support Independent Authors

You may have noticed on Twitter and other social media sites that there is a growing breed of independent authors and publishers (or Indies as we’re affectionately known). You can spot an Indie author as they’ll usually be doing all their own book promotion and will often accompany their promotional tweet with ‘#indie’. You can also check their books on Amazon or other book websites to see who is listed as the publisher; you’ll find that many are listed as both the publisher and the author.Book

Even if the name of the publisher is different from that of author, it may still be an independent especially if it’s a publisher you’ve never heard of. This is because many authors that self-publish choose a different name for the publisher when they list their books. For example, I publish my books under the name ‘DM Writing Services’.

As the number of independent authors continues to grow it’s important to support us for the following reasons:

–       It is harder than Ever to Publish through Traditional Channels – You may have heard the stories about bestsellers (and resulting blockbuster movies) in the past that were initially turned down by the major publishers. This is increasingly the case and it deprives the book-reading public of some excellent books. Traditional publishers rarely take a chance on an unknown author no matter how good the book is. This is because they have to finance the publishing and promotion, and they want guaranteed returns.

Sadly, this means that talentless celebrities are far more likely to get published than talented authors just because they already have a following. Ironically, once an independent author proves that they can sell shedloads of books, publishers then vie for their attention. Time for the two finger salute I think.

Pulling a Tongue –       We’re not Pigeon Holed – Most traditional publishers want books to fit into specific genres, which stifles creativity. Generally they don’t like to take a gamble and often prefer something that has been tried and tested. However, not all books are mainstream and some can spread across a number of different genres. For example, my forthcoming novel could probably be described as ‘crime thriller meets 1980s chick lit’.

–       We’re Raising Standards – We’re now combatting concerns over poor standards in indie books through organisations such as IndiePENdents and Awesome Indies. These organisations have volunteer readers who review books so that the organisations can give the books their seal of approval if they reach certain professional standards.

Just because a book is self-published doesn’t necessarily mean that it is of poor quality in terms of spelling, grammar, flow, plotting and all the other essentials. In fact, I seem to be finding a higher incidence of grammatical errors with traditionally published books and even some by major well-known publishers. I wonder if other people have also noticed this. Could it be that they are cutting corners to enable them to compete with the rising poweMoneyrs of the Indie army?

–       We Don’t Have Big Marketing Budgets – Most of us do all our own promotion. We contact magazines, newspapers, radio, websites etc. in the hope of having our work featured, and we ‘shout’ about our books using social media and blogs. Word of mouth is vital for our success.

–       We’re the Future – More and more writers are choosing to self-publish their books and there are several reasons for this:

a)    Digital media makes it easier.

b)    We don’t want our creativity to be stifled because of restrictions imposed by the traditional book publishing industry.

c)    It’s now cheaper to print books due to the availability of platforms like CreateSpace.

d)    We’re disillusioned with the traditional publishing industry.

e)    Certain promotional tactics can make it possible to compete with big publishing companies and, consequently, a few independents are making a good living from their writing.

How you can Support Independent Authors

Here are a few quick and easy ways that you can lend your support:

Supporting Authors

1)    If you have read and enjoyed a book by an independent author, be sure to leave good reviews on websites such as Amazon and Goodreads.

2)    Help us to spread the word by sharing any promotional comments that we post on social media.

3)    Read and respond to our blogs and share them too if you like what you see.

4)    If you have a blog, offer guest post opportunities to writers whose books fit your business niche.

5)    If you run a magazine or newspaper that features book reviews, include more books that are written by independent authors.

I hope that you have found this blog enlightening. If you have any comments to add, or if you are an author and there is something I have missed, you are welcome to leave your feedback below.