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Self-published authors earn more than writers with publishers, global survey finds

Self-published authors vs traditionally published

A new global independent survey commissioned by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) shows that self-published (indie) authors earn more than those who are traditionally published. Surprised? Below are the highlights.

Study overview

ALLi conducted the survey in coordination with SKS Advisors and The Future of Publishing. The online survey took place in February and March of 2023. Just over 2,500 people responded, with 2,261 of them meeting the qualifcations.

Roughly 60% of those who filled out the survey were based in North America. Approximately 21% were in the UK, followed by Australia, New Zealand, and Europe (each roughly 8%).

The researchers’ objective was to better understand self-published author incomes, demographics, publishing experiences, genres, income streams, and more. Lets get to the findings!

Results: Income of self-published authors

The median writing and self-publishing-related income in 2022 of all self-publishers responding was $12,749, a fast-growing 53% increase from the previous year. These findings are good news for authors who seek commercial as well as creative rewards from self-publishing.

Below is more about the gross revenue:

Self-publishing income
Graphic courtesy of ALLi

Note: all financials are in US dollars, for ease of comparison. ‘Median’ is a value used when there are significant outliers, in this instance both authors who were at an early stage and still earning under $1000, versus very significant earnings at the other end of the scale from more established authors over $250,000.

By comparison, previous surveys show significantly lower (and rapidly decreasing) author income around the globe. Australia, the outlier here, with a similar amount to ALLi’s indie author survey and showing some modest increase, interestingly noted that 1/3 of its respondent authors were self-published.

Self-published authors: Did you know?

  • More than 2,000 authors have surpassed $100,000 in “royalties” from Amazon KDP in 2022.
  • Author Brandon Sanderson made crowdfunding history by independently publishing four books through Kickstarter, securing a record-breaking $41m (his goal was $1m).
  • The Pulitzer Prize, the British Book Awards, and the Commonwealth Book Prize (amongst other major literary awards) are all open to self-published authors.
  • Books by indie authors account for 30-34% of all e-book sales in the largest English-language markets, as reported in Publishers Weekly.
  • A study by FicShelf found that women wrote just 39% of traditionally published titles but 67% of self-published titles (this matched ALLi’s survey results).

Read the full report for complete details, including other stats and graphics.

About ALLi

Founded in 2012, the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi, pronounced ally) is a global not-for-profit membership association for self-published (indie) authors. Our mission is to foster excellence and ethics in self-publishing. We do this through membership benefits, providing lists of vetted publishing services (such as cover designers, editors, etc.), and community education through books, blogs, podcasts and more. We also campaign to support indie authors within the wider industry.

ALLi’s Director and founder, Orna Ross, has been repeatedly named in the top 100 influential people in publishing by The Bookseller, the UK’s publishing trade magazine. See what ALLi can do for you.

21 thoughts on “Self-published authors earn more than writers with publishers, global survey finds”

  1. I am close to publishing my second author directed novel. I learned so much with the first novel and was able-over time- to connect with people who have helped a great deal. I feel like the traditional publishing houses have outlived their utility value to most writers.

    1. That’s great that you’re going to self-publish again. There’s a sense of control that I liked about doing it, releasing it in the way you want, when and as you want to do so. All the best to you with the upcoming book!

  2. I believe it. I have 8 books traditionally published. I do most of the publicity and the advances are just not there anymore. You have to be lecturing constantly. The days of huge advances are for the most part over.

    The question is, where do you self publish and what companies are reputable.

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