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The Self-Publishing Survey Results – It’s a Brave New World

January 15, 2014


Where do I even begin. What started out as a simple post to dispel the notion that the only authors doing well self-publishing were making millions and/or getting high 6 figure or 7 figure book deals with traditional publishers, spawned a 24 question survey and an almost 30 page document. Seriously, Bev, don’t you have plenty of books to write? That’s me, kind of certifiable but in the don’t need padded walls kind of way.

Obviously, I’m not going to post nearly 30 pages of charts and statistics, right? Um, you would be wrong! LOL. I’ve embedded in the post. Feel free to download it and read the entirety of it at your leisure. I encourage you to comment and ask questions. I charted and included the stats I thought the majority of people would want to see. If perchance you think I missed something completely relevant, don’t hesitate to let me know.

While I did read the document over several times, please forgive any mistakes you may find. I didn’t have time to get it edited. 😉

P.S. The Reader Survey is still up. I would greatly appreciate if you’d share it with your readers. I know precisely the fans of which genre and sub-genres have taken it. 

Click to read or download Self-Publishing Survey

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  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I participated as a reader, since I’ve not tried self-pubbing yet, but your survey will be helpful in helping me to make a decision. I look forward to your talk on Saturday at GRW. Have a good day!

  2. Beverley,

    THANKS SO MUCH for doing this. Looks like you did a tremendous amount of work to the detriment of your own writing! But with all the charts and graphs your results look so official, and hopefully authors and publishers will take notice.

    All the best,
    Debra Holland
    NY Times Bestselling Author
    Montana Sky Series

  3. Bev,

    This is an AMAZING survey and report the you’ve put together. My mind is blown. Thank you so much for doing this. I’d love to see you present this at conferences, too. Have you sent this to RWA so that they can squeeze you into next year’s schedule?

    Well done.
    :) Bella

  4. I can’t imagine the work you put into this. Thank you so much for sharing. As self-published authors, I think it’s important we be aware of the current state of our industry. To me, this is a very healthy and promising world view.

  5. Beverley,
    Thanks so much for this. I was just saying on a writers’ loop that I don’t think traditionally published authors believe us when we say how much we’re making from Indie pubbing. Their loss.
    –Teresa Hill

  6. I just printed this off and haven’t had time to carefully look at it, but just glancing I’d say what a tremendous amount of work you have done! I’m considering self-publishing my next book. This will come in very useful. Thanks very much Beverly and thank s to all those who answered the survey.

  7. Amazing amount of work. AMAZING. I quit my job in March and my husband is about to quit is — all due to self-publishing. Thank you for putting this together!

  8. Thank you for putting together the survey results into a comprehensive report. The results are interesting and it does provide insights that will help those who have not published make an informed decision with regards to whether pursue traditional publishing, digital first or self-publishing.

  9. Beverley, thank you so much for the work you’ve put into this, in both gathering the data and your excellent job of reporting it. Wonderful stuff!

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  11. Thanks, Beverley. Fascinating reading.

    I’m curious about series, though. Can a romance series actually have the same primary characters? Or am I getting the wrong end of the stick?

    • LOL. Yes, Tim, they sure can. Instead of a single book ARC, the ARC is over several books. So essentially, the same couple will go through a series of ‘things’ in the course of their relationship, which will span multiple books. I hope that explains it well enough.

      • Thanks for replying, Beverley. I see what you mean. I wasn’t sure that readers would be that patient for the romance arc to play out, but I guess if they already know and trust the author, it’ll be less of an issue :)

      • Thanks so much for putting together this awesome survey, Beverly! It was sooo helpful. Have already shared it with several people. And thanks to Tim for asking the question I was wondering about regarding the series…

  12. This was a great read! Thanks so much for putting this together.

  13. Beverley, you are my idol. As an ex mortgage banker turned mystery writer (lots of felons I had to take care of on paper), I love flow charts and these are so easy to read and dissect. I can’t even imagine the amount of time you put into this analysis. Numbers aside, the best part of becoming an indie author is the amazing support and desire to share all of this valuable information with one another. Thank you!

  14. Great article! I printed it off to share with members of my critique group. Thank you for compiling the data. One more example of self-pub authors helping authors. Thanks again.

  15. Excellent data and very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Wow–thank you for generously sharing your time and results. A lot to digest here! :)

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  18. Beverley, I am impressed by how thorough your survey was and how well you collated the data. As a fellow writer who has been traditionally published and is looking into self publishing, I really appreciate your efforts.

    Thank you for taking the time to do this survey and for sharing the results.

    Cheers, Rowena

  19. Dear Beverly,

    thank you so much for this survey the information is invaluable and you have done so much work to put it together.

    One bit of information I would have liked to have known is the number books these authors are selling to earn the dollars? I was shocked at the numbers of free books moved in some of the promotions you mentioned.


  20. Wow- Thank you so much for making this available to people. Incredibly generous of you…
    Now… to write some ROMANCE!!! 😀

  21. Beverley, this superb information. Thanks so much. I can’t understand why you just gave it away free.
    Now if you could do a survey on marketing and charge us, please do.
    Thank you, thank you.

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  23. Thanks, everyone! It was interesting crunching the data (I’m a geek like that). Now head down so I can finish this prequel. 😉

  24. Amazing, Beverley! Thank you so much for putting this together!

  25. Wow, this is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing all of this data!

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  27. Beverley, I’ve tried to download your terrific survey (which I happily contributed to), but for some reason, I can’t. I hit the download button and I get a blank screen. I’m sure I’m the only one in the universe that this happens to, but what can I say, technology loves me. Any suggestions? I’m really anxious to get my grubby writer’s paws on all that data. :-)

  28. Having trouble downloading?
    Try switching your browser. I couldn’t get it to load in Internet Explorer but it worked fine in Firefox.

  29. Thanks, Beverley. Great information here.

    Two questions:
    1. Are your historicals indie-published? Those are beautiful covers. Who made the cover for, say, Twice the Temptation?
    2. How did you find the respondents for your survey? Did you just post the survey here and ask interested people to take it?

    Thanks again for your work.

    • Hi Greta,

      Thanks! Now to answer your questions;

      1. 3 of my historicals are self-published. Kim Killion of HotDamnDesigns.com made the covers for all.
      2. I posted the survey everywhere I KNEW self-published authors gathered. LOL. Kindleboards, absolutewrite (although they pulled it down because moderator wasn’t sure I was allowed to post it there), Romance Divas and I asked them all to share it with anyone or group they knew who were self-publishing.

      Hope that answers all your questions.

  30. Pure. Gold. Seriously, Beverly, this is amazing information. Thank you for falling on the sword and taking the time to do all this and allowing us all to benefit from your hard-earned knowledge.

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  32. Thank you so much for gathering and analyzing this information, Beverley! Ever since I heard of your survey, I’ve been looking forward to the results and you didn’t disappoint. :)

    I started an unrelated poll a couple of weeks ago, wondering if the price of an ebook affected whether people would actually read it. That is, I wanted to know whether the price would affect where readers would place the book on their to-be-read pile. I haven’t closed the polls yet, so I haven’t completed the analysis. But initial results lead me to believe that those middle of the road prices ($2.99-$6.99) mean that the readers purchasing the book are interested enough to actually read it–unlike so many of those free-$.99 books, which languish in the dark corners of our Kindles.

    Interesting! Thanks again!

  33. Thanks so much for sharing your hard work, Beverley. I have a question for you: Do you typically make the first book of a series free as soon as you release the second? If so, do you purchase a BookBub ad then, or do you wait until you publish the third in the series? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi, Eva, I actually made the novella free long before the next book in the series came out and after the first two were released. However, I would put the first book free a couple weeks prior to releasing the next book. Include links in that book to have readers sign up to be notified when the next book is coming out. Also, give them a date. You don’t want them to have to wait too long but you do want to have readers champing at the bit to purchase the book the day (or first several days) of its release. :) Hope that helps.

  34. What an amazing presentation. I have to tell you, it’s encouraging for someone to not just tell it, but to prove it as well. I am pumped to continue on my road of self publishing from now on. Thank you for all your work and willingness to share Beverly.

  35. Hi Beverly – learned so much from your presentation at GRW. Can’t believe the amazing amount of work you put into this – really thankful that you decided to share with others. Has totally changed the my business plan for 2014.

    Thanks for your hard work and time on this.

  36. This was brilliant. It looked like a lot of hard work and participation so thank you to everyone who got involved. I just stumbled across it today and it is so useful and gives me a little hope if I’m honest 😀 It’s great to see the results! Thanks so much again!

  37. Thank you for going to the trouble of confirming what I already suspected. I’m currently releasing my 6th book and, although I’m not yet writing a series, I see the benefits of having a backlist.

  38. Beverly, I can’t express how much I appreciate all the time and effort you put into this survey and compiling the results. The information is such a wonderful reinforcement to all I’ve been gathering over the past year. Your presentation at GRW was awesome, you are a fabulous speaker and presenter in addition to your wonderful gifts as a writer and author. Thank you for sharing all this great information!

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  45. Thank you very much for putting this together. The graphs are awesome! As the writer of an author self-help book myself – The Complete e-Book Bestseller Formula, I have found similar results in my own books. I agree that the key is to get more books out there and hang in there.

    In my book, I provide ways that self-published authors can close the gap that plague many beginning self-pubbers experience compared to traditionally published authors: There are some things that you MUST do to make more than a couple dollars on digital books: The book has to be clean (especially the free preview section), the book has to be about a topic that readers are already interested in, the book must have a good cover and your title MUST be either provocative or contain necessary keywords. It also helps if your book description is formatted correctly and sells your book effectively – it amazing how many book descriptions are just plain awful.

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