Think you can't earn as much from self-publishing your fiction novel? Think again!
Great news for self-publishing authors! Self-publishing earnings are on the rise.
“The median writing and self-publishing-related income in 2022 of all self-publishers responding was $12,749, a 53% increase over the previous year,” and “60% of respondents indicated that their self-publishing income had increased in the past year,” according to an ALLi survey.
When deciding which publishing path is best for you, you must take into consideration that, “[i]n traditional publishing, you typically sign with a publishing house that handles the publishing process—such as editing, cover design, printing, and distribution … Successful self-published authors often invest significant time and effort in building a strong author platform, engaging with their readers, and implementing effective marketing strategies.” bluepenbooks.com
As a self-publishing author, you are responsible for editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing, so you will invest your time and money to accomplish all the things a traditional publisher will do for you.
Traditional publishing may be the better option for you, but before you submit, you will need to pay for professional editing, anyway. You want to submit your best work to get agents and publisher editors to receive a contract.
Traditional Publishing Advances
While you’ll receive an advance, that advance is held against future royalties, and your agent will take a cut, about 15%, of the advance and your royalties. The size of the advance will be based on how much the publisher thinks they can make by selling your novel.
Good news: you don’t have to pay back the advance! Bad news: you probably won’t get another contract if your fiction novel doesn’t earn the advance. Earning back the advance is especially difficult for first-time authors.
“If an author does not earn out their advance, it can impact their future publishing opportunities. Publishers may be hesitant to take a chance on an author whose previous book did not sell well. They may see the author as a risky investment. Publishers are in the business of making money.” Bluepenbooks.com
Earning $20k or less? You’re in good company. 56% of those who took part in Alli’s survey “indicated total incomes of $20,000 or less, while almost 18% reported income over $100,000 per year.” While “[t]raditional publishing authors earn, on average, between $5,000 and $20,000 per year,” according to a Best Seller Publishing article published in July.
But keep your head up. If the income trend for self-publishing continues, your earnings will increase by over 50% next year! With readers obviously purchasing and reading self-published books, the stigma of self-publishing being of lower quality is going by the wayside. Yea!
Word Count Considerations
I know a lot of you write fiction novels that are over 100,000 words, and there are reasons to try to keep your novels under this word count for both self-publishing and traditional publishing. First-time authors have a harder time selling long books with both publishing paths. “[They require higher financial and time investments from readers and higher printing costs for (you) and publishers.” bluepenbooks.com
For self-publishing, you can set your book’s price at whatever you want and earn most of the royalties, usually about 70%. But self-publishing doesn’t come without its challenges.
You are responsible for editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing, so you will invest your time and money to accomplish all the things a traditional publisher will do for you.
“Successful self-published authors often invest significant time and effort in building a strong author platform, engaging with their readers, and implementing effective marketing strategies.” bluepenbooks
Self-publishing your fiction novel requires long-term dedication, persistence, and a solid understanding of the publishing business. And it is a business. You are a creative, but you must also have a great head for business. You must have a marketing strategy in mind before you put your book on sale. You will be marketing, finding your own speaking engagements, and paying for your booths at book fairs and conferences.
Romance, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Speculative, Crime, Thriller, and Detective novels
According to the ALLi survey, “[r]omance, fantasy/scifi/speculative, and crime/thriller/detective were by far the most prevalent genres in which self-publishers primarily were engaged, representing a combined 57%. The same three categories were also other self-published authors’ most cited secondary genres.”
The decision is yours to try to traditionally publish or to self-publish your fiction novel. However, the statistics say as a self-publishing author you will make as much as most traditionally published authors.
Remember, the trend for the amount of money you can make is on the rise! 15% This is fantastic news.
The stigma of self-published novels being of a lower quality is going away as more readers are seeing the value of your writing.
Romance, fantasy, sci-fi, speculative, crime, thriller, and detective novels taking the world by storm.
If you have a speculative fiction or crime fiction novel, including fantasy, dystopian, apocalyptic, thriller, and suspense ready for editing, let’s chat!
Kristin Noland – Speculative fiction and crime fiction editor