Bob Bly Direct Response Copywriter Official Banner

Self-publishing: the good, the bad, and the ugly

March 24th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Whenever I mention that I prefer traditional publishing to
self-publishing, two things happen.

First, I get a slew of e-mails from writers telling me
traditional publishing is awful — small advances, low royalties,
and publishers not promoting their books.

Second, I get another flood of e-mails from authors telling me
that they or other self-publishers are “crushing it,” making
money hand over fist.

They often cite Amanda Hocking, who has sales of over $2.5
million for her self-published Kindle e-book.

But according to a survey of 1,007 self-publishing authors by the
web site Taleist, conducted by Dave Cornford and Steven Lewis in
2011 (yes, it’s a bit dated), the truth is quite different.

“The majority of the information out there is about the outliers,
whose success is inspiring, but as we can now confirm bears scant
resemblance to the experience of most authors,” said Dave
Cornford and Steven Lewis.

According to their survey, half of self-published authors make
less than $500 a year.

That’s because, as reported in a 2015 article by Chris McMullen,
the average self-published book sells less than 250 copies.

Derek Murphy, an expert in independent publishing, says, “The
average self-published author spends $2,000 to $5,000 to publish
their books, and few earn any money.”

If you spend two grand and sell 250 copies, you are losing a lot
of money on your self-published book!

By comparison, in traditional publishing, the money flows from
publisher to author, even though advances are much smaller today
than when I started writing books 25 years ago.

The mainstream publishers not only give you money up front; they
also pay for everything, from printing and cover design to
editing and proofreading — saving you a considerable amount of

The bell curve for self-publishing is skewed, with less than 10%
of self-published authors earning about three-quarters of the
total revenues from sales of self-published books.

The average self-publisher from the group surveyed by Taleist
earns just $10,000 a year.

Notice also that many self-publishers with good sales, from El
James (“Fifty Shades of Grey”), Robert Ringer (“Looking Out for
#1”), and Roger von Oech (“A Whack on the Side of the Head”)
either immediately or eventually look for and get a deal with a
mainstream publishing house.

Take note: I am not saying mainstream publishing is great or the
better way to go.

My purpose here is to just present some cold, hard facts for all
those self-publishing cheerleaders I constantly hear from to
ponder — and to inform the rest of us about the good, the bad,
and the ugly of being your own publisher.


This entry was posted on Friday, March 24th, 2017 at 9:26 am and is filed under General, Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

54 responses about “Self-publishing: the good, the bad, and the ugly”

  1. Steven Lewis said:

    Thanks for the mention, Bob. It’s worth noting that the average earnings–$10,000–was the mean. The median, the point at which half earned less and half earned more, was only $500. That’s the more realistic–and sobering–figure.

  2. Martin said:

    I am very happy to see this you have shared this before the December Calendar months a before the demands and I agrewe with this, Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Nishant Gaurav said:

    These are the funny inspirational quotes which will make you day beautiful

  4. Nishan pathak said:

    Unilex has its unique way of meeting all your legal compliances and that too at a comparatively low cost.

  5. Tom Haric said:

    This is an amazing type of post.
    Health Fidget

  6. Albert Hilton said:

    You should be proud of yourself after getting a lot of emails from people who love your work. I have read the whole edubirdie article and knew the value of you and of your services for all. I would like to share your website with others as well.

  7. Andrew Lewis said:

    Yeah you have provided best appreciation because it is the most establishing factor to push and developed things in a better way like you have done. British essay writers UK are always like sharing this type of thoughts with others.

  8. rahu said:

    free amazing blog. online-virus-scan-file

  9. Website said:

    Update happy wheels 3D

  10. Brooke said:

    This is really a great piece of writing to read. We live in a world where there is limitless access to all kinds of content . The democratization of self-publishing is good. In the age of self-publishing, more writers with no literary associates have a chance at gaining notified.

  11. Alina Michael said:

    I think your article is very great I British essay Writers really like your article most of people like those topics.

  12. Rohaan said:

    I read your blog post and this is nice blog post.. thanks for taking the time to share with us. have a nice day Canvas Zipper Pouch Wholesale Manufacturer

  13. run 3 said:

    Thanks for the mention, Bob. It’s worth noting that the average earnings–$10,000–was the mean. The median, the point at which half earned less and half earned more, was only $500. That’s the more realistic–and sobering–figure.

  14. david said:

    hi i like your work

  15. Jennifer Winget said:

    This article is very interesting. In this article, you can read about the ‘self-publishing’. buy loose diamonds online cheap After reading this article, I understood what is self-publishing and its benefits. These pieces of information are completely new to me. Thank you.

  16. rachael everly said:

    How to write better books and what you should ask from your editors

    Don’t be afraid to give your publishers feedback

    What goes on behind the scenes of setting up an indie book

    How do you go about developing a new author

    How do you increase the chances of being a bestseller

    Chances are there’s a book you love, even if you can’t quite put your finger on it. We take you through all the angles – what writers need from publishers and what you should do to persuade them.All of this and more as we take a closer look at how to self-publish your book.Writing a book, is so different to writing assignment proofreading services

  17. Employee Benefit said:

    The following report is all about Vanguard Employee Reviews on Vanguard Employee Benefits they receive while working with the company.

  18. Aidan Corfield said:

    kissAnime App download
    Fildo for PC download
    Xender Apk
    Psiphhon PC

  19. affordable web design said:

    Responsive website composition organization has taken the charge and gotten inescapable in web advancement. We ensure that our moderate web composition contact the privilege focused on crowd.

  20. Wayne Dietz said:

    Animation Dok is a premier Best Online Animation Video Services with versatile and diversified work experience in the industry. We contemplate providing all kinds of animation services to our customers. One thing that we keenly focus on is to keep our customers satisfied with the animation services that we provide and one of the elements to achieve the same is to provide them quality animation services at affordable and reasonable prices.

  21. Michael Burris said:

    Xord Cosmetics is a renowned cosmetic brand producing a hundred percent organic products formulated using the natural ingredients with the expertise and skills of the professionals in our team. Whether it is Best Organic Face Moisturizing Cream or a hair tonic, we have all that you need. Visit our website for more details.

  22. essay writer UK said:

    Self-publishing can mean either freedom or a license for mediocrity. The main part of my “day job” is working with small press titles, and I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. essay writer UK This article will look at the reasons for and against self-publishing, and some of the problems to avoid if you want to be taken seriously.

  23. Download and install FaceTime on your window PC said:

    This article will teach you how you can provide all the necessary information Download and install FaceTime on non-IOS platforms like Windows 7, 8 and windows 10.

  24. Fuller bee supply said: provides all the information, equipment and resources you may need to start beekeeping or learn about it.

  25. Tracy Wyvern said:

  26. best essay writers UK said:

    Your article is worth to read. Very useful information is shared in this post. I usually take help from best essay writers the UK. They are the best academic providers in the UK. They provide original information.

  27. Christopher Gerber said:

    Do you need those awesome books focused on adventures? We at Eden Bancrofts have a wide range of best-selling authors’ adventure books. Whether you buy Spouts: The Whale Who Saved Christmas or more, we make sure to deliver. Make sure to visit our website to find detailed information about our services.

  28. Norton setup said:

    This is an informative blog. Keep it up. I am looking forward to this kind of blog. Thanks for sharing it with us

  29. mcafee setup said:

    Thank you for sharing this blog , It is an amazing blog , I am really impressed by your blog , It’s really useful

  30. Elizabeth03 said:

    Getting high grades is difficult for sure. We’ll share secrets of being a successful student. Visit this website and know how to improve your grades without any waste of time.

  31. online essay typer said:

    We are Professional academic online essay typer service with a qualified of Subject Matter Experts who ensure you get the best assignments.

  32. Ryan B Abraham said:

    When I read this article, I don’t get any information about this topic you have shared here. I need to know some more information about this topic. Can you please share it in detail? I am eagerly waiting for more updates. Thank you. best wrongful death attorney in california

  33. Sandra Knox said:

    With the use of technology, the professionals at I mask plus LLC are able to design Best Medical Face Masks Online to make sure you are able to enjoy your time with the best care and safety from the pathogens and contaminants in the environment. Visit our website to find more details.

  34. Doge Game said:

    Who needs tips anyway? All the games are pretty much the same. If you are an experienced gamer you don’t need tips.

  35. Jeff Harris said:

    We at Impact Auto Glass are industry leaders making sure to meet the needs of the customers. Ranging from No Fault Auto Insurance States Orlando Florida to auto repair at your location, we make sure to deliver it all. Make sure to visit our website to find detailed information about our services.

  36. skribbl io said:

    Such sites are important because they provide a large dose of useful information. This is very significant, and yet necessary towards for me. Thank u!

  37. Ariel Wilson said:

    Your point is valid – handing over the job to publishers is a far better option than going through the hassle of publishing yourself. Self done things are often overrated. In my opinion, if there is someone who can do something better than me, I wouldn’t hesitate to hand the job over to him. I did that by hiring Mba Dissertation Help for my dissertation, and now i go for professional content writers for my business although i can write.

  38. Sylvia99 said:

    You’ll have to brainstorm a pile of essay topics to pick the one for a cause and effect paper. Make sure it is up-to-date and interesting for the reader. Choosing the right topic is 50% of success!

  39. One Dasty said:

    Home Pug puppies and French Bulldogs make wonderful family pets. They are easygoing and get along well with children and the other pets of the household. Above all, they are hardy and an ideal pet, especially for first-time owners. SelectingYou want one that is healthy but also comes with a pleasant personality and is adaptable to your lifestyle.

  40. McOrlando said:

    All of Pitbull AKC registration a basic health guarantee and a 3 year genetic health guarantee. They have been raised in our home around small children, kittens and dogs of every size to help them develop well round personalities accustomed to daily home activates. We encourage families to ask question and to stay in contact with us.
    All puppies sold as pets will go home spayed-neutered! We also sell puppies along with breeding right. Note this will an additional fee.

  41. robert said:

    Throughout the years,exotic kittens and the occasional litter of gorgeous Bengals, Servals, Savannah and Caracal kittens.

  42. Typing Practice said:

    Read the article above. It’s very informative and clear, it explains everything in depth. Thanks and best wishes on your upcoming articles
    The profile on fast typing technique can provide more information about how to increase typing speed. You can learn more here. I appreciate your attention. Visit Typing Practice to learn more.

  43. Jesus said:

    Great blog! Very creative! I learned a lot of new things from your post. It is really good work and your post is knowledgeable. Waiting for your more updates.
    To learn more about What is the use of trekking pole baskets?, also visit the article, name Trekking poles have baskets. Read on for more information.

  44. abhimanyu said:

    Informal letters are close to home letters written in a casual tone. Informal letter are kept in touch with family, companions, and family members and furthermore to somebody with whom you don’t share any expert connection

  45. Maria Gonzales said:

    Read the article above. It’s very informative and clear, it explains everything in depth. Thanks and best wishes on your upcoming articles
    The article on Best Software to Remap Mouse Buttons can provide more information about How to remap mouse buttons. You can learn more here. I appreciate your attention.

  46. Chairs said:

    After reading this article, I would must appreciate the efforts of the writer and glad to know about this knowledgeable post.
    I would definitely recommend this article to my friends. Thanks for sharing such a valuable content.

    Chairs Dashboard

  47. Mary said:

    Your post is great, but I was wondering if you could explain a little bit about this topic? If you can explain more, I would be happy. I see so much!
    Here you can find all the tips and tricks related to spacebar challenge. Here is a website where you can learn more about TikTok spacebar challenge. Please read the latest posts on the site to learn more.

  48. jacob said:

  49. iver said:

  50. james said:

  51. ishan prasad said:

    safety need to be an vital part of your health, fitness, and beauty regime. If you take care of your skin, your skin will cope with you! But with all of the creams, lotions and potions available on the market, it

  52. Jordan Schock said:

    Thank you for a variety of interesting and entertaining post articles plus information that can be a good article, I really appreciate your informative posts.

  53. Essay writer UK said:

    Our website contains the most interesting content. You can also attain supportive ideas from this blog.

  54. lawwriting said:

    Yeah, you’ve got furnished quality appreciation due to the fact it’s miles the maximum organizing component to push and advance matters in a higher manner like you’ve got done. Law essay writers in the UK are usually like sharing this kind of mind with others.

Leave a Reply