In recent weeks I’ve had a number of comments from aspiring authors who are working on their own stories. In the interest of transparency and managing expectations, I wanted to declare my own stats – six months into my own journey as a self-published author.
Before revealing the cold, hard truth, and to temper expectations, it bears reminding that self-published author’s are ordinarily responsible for their own marketing and promotion. We don’t have the marketing budget of a traditional publishing powerhouse, nor the contacts that can help open doors. Publicists and teams of people can be recruited to fill the gap, but many writers don’t have the finances to seek support.
Instead, many indie authors rely on word-of-mouth, building a community through their website and social networks; growing their email subscriber list; running giveaways and ultimately giving a lot of their product away for free, especially if they’re a relative unknown (which accounts for 99.99% of us).
Enough jabbering already. How many books have you sold?
Let’s define ‘sold’. I’m not talking about giveaways. Nor am I talking about KDP Free Book Promotion’s (incidentally I gave away 4,000 free copies of SIGIL which moved it into the #1 slot for three subgenres – see this post).
We’re talking about people putting their hand into their pocket and dispensing with real cash.
So, here we go.
Pathfinders – 135 books
Sigil – 44 books
Spectrum – 27 books
OVERALL – 206 books
It should be noted that SIGIL and SPECTRUM were released in June, perhaps the reason why the sales figures are lower. Either that or I invested most of my budget and marketing channels on the promotion of Pathfinders.
So…is that good?!
I don’t know is the honest answer. I didn’t expect to quit my day job once I hit the publish button for my first book. I think many aspiring writers secretly hope that their life will change when they do, therefore I wanted to inject some realism into the equation.
For every Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking, there are many thousands that fall by the wayside. If a debutante author’s first book hasn’t sold, they could get discouraged and quit. Only if you’re truly passionate about your craft will you continue to labour despite the odds.
To put it into perspective, according to an article in the Guardian newspaper (dated 2014), ‘just over 77% of self-published writers make $1,000 a year…with a startlingly high 53.9% of traditionally-published authors.‘
The cost for me to create and promote 207 books in their polished final format came out significantly higher than any revenue I’ve received. I talk about the cost to self-publish in another post. So has it been worth it? I only spend what I can afford to lose. Despite the slow burn of my books (thus far), I’ll continue to invest money in their promotion.
If I wasn’t passionate about writing and enjoying the process, I would have given up.
If you’re reading this as an aspiring author and thinking of giving up, after reading these sobering stats…good. Less competition for me 🙂
image attribution – Lili Vieira de Carvalho via CC flickr