It’s true, self published authors make more money. We’ve known this for a few years now, with self-published authors earning more total money than their traditionally published counterparts since at least 2020. But a new study shows that self-published authors earn much more on average than their counterparts.
The study, from the Alliance of Independent Authors, surveyed authors on both sides and compiled the results to reveal that the average self-published author earns $86,000 a year. While nearly a quarter of the self-published authors surveyed earned very little, the majority made real money. The median income for self-published authors was nearly twice as high as that of their traditionally published counterparts.
This leads to the obvious conclusion that we don’t need traditional publishing houses any more. They are making money without providing a real service and the money they “earn” comes directly from the pockets of the authors. And this discrepancy will continue to grow.
As self-publishing gains momentum, traditional publishers are squeezed harder and harder, trying to pay their bloated payrolls and make money for their shareholders while competing on a level playing field with authors who are doing it themselves. Their business is one of scale, and as that scale grows smaller and their profits decrease, the money must be made up somehow.
And how do they make up that money? They take less chances on new authors and pay their established authors less. You didn’t think that money was going to come out of the CEO’s salary did you? The shareholders aren’t going to give up their share of the profits, and if they started to lose they would fire the CEO. So, it must come from the authors.
The traditional publishers have already started to publish less new books, sign fewer new authors, and pay lower royalty rates. The older established authors are still doing fine, but no one else is making money in traditional publishing. Stephen King might make five million this year instead of ten million, but what is he going to do, switch to self-pub? The big dogs are doing fine with a little pay cut, and the rest of the money being paid to authors is being distributed to independent authors.
This is a real revolution in publishing. Never before have authors had so much control over their own work and the income they receive from it. The days of hoping that you win the traditional publishing lottery are over. You can do it yourself now. If you work hard and write well, you can earn a living without an executive in New York choosing you out of an enormous pile of books—and then taking most of your profits.
This is the best thing that has ever happened to publishing. It’s no longer about who you know, or getting lucky, or finding the right agent. It’s about you. It’s about writing. Everyone has the chance to be successful now. And that’s why we opened Written Well. We want everyone to have access to all the information they need to make a living as a self-published author. It’s not a dream anymore, it’s a real job that anyone can have if they do the work and learn the tricks of the trade.