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Not a Gold Rush – The Taleist Self-Publishing Survey: Book Review

If there’s one thing everyone always wants to know, it’s what will I make if I write a book? I know most people think I must be rich, since I have so many out–and they’re quite surprised to find that just because you’ve got books with traditional publishers doesn’t mean you’re making millions.

It’s not any different in the self-publishing world. The only difference is in who’s making the money. Instead of giving the lion’s share of income to a publisher (admittedly they also get the lion’s share of the work!), the author is earning all the profits after selling costs.

While there are many authors “telling all” these days, it may still be hard to get a handle on what you can expect to earn when you e-publish. So, I was very excited to find Dave Cornford and Steven Lewis’s research documented in their book: Not a Gold Rush – The Taleist Self-Publishing Survey.

Of course, the title does kind of give it all away, doesn’t it?

The research was done in February 2012, with over 1,000 self-published authors from 40 different countries (nearly three-quarters, though, were from the U.S.) who took part in a survey of 61 questions. Over one-quarter of the respondents worked a full time job as well as writing–not surprisingly, over 40% indicated they were writing full time and not looking for a “day job.”

Linda Aksomitis, an online instructor for Credenda Virtual High School & College.

Linda Aksomitis, an online instructor for Credenda Virtual High School & College.


I found the analysis of the survey most intriguing, since it covered all types of things from how much assistance self-publishers got with such things as editing and cover design, to how many of them had already published with traditional publishers.

But of course, what you want to know–and what everybody wants to know–is can you make a living just writing and self-publishing your own ebooks. While that does depend, to a great extent, on how much your “living” is going to cost you (do you live in New York city or Fortuna, North Dakota?), the research did come up with some information that will help newcomers develop some reasonable expectations.

The first is that no, everybody doesn’t get rich.

When the earnings reported by authors (not all filled in that line!) were averaged, the “average” author made around $10,000 U.S. as writers, with less than half of that from their traditionally published books. However, as with many things, there was a small group of high sellers at the top of the group that made about three-quarters of all the money. No surprises there.

Another interesting and not unexpected finding was that romance writers earned 170% more than their peers in other genres–while literary writers only earned 20% of the average. Other genres fell in between.

One thing I can say, is that if you really want an insider’s look at self-publishing e-books and what others are doing, this e-book will deliver it! And if you’d like to learn how to publish your own e-book, you can take Publish and Sell Your E-Books completely online with me, no matter where in the world you live.

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