First of all, I want to sound off by saying that according to the statistics, I shouldn’t still be writing and publishing books in 2022. I originally began self-publishing books in 2007, and I hadn’t earned more than $1,000 per year for the first twelve years of my writing career. In fact, most self-published authors never earn more than $1,000 yearly according to the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey―77% of self-published authors make $1,000 per year or less, and 53.9 % of traditionally published authors and 43.6% of hybrid authors earn $1,000 or less yearly as well. Only 0.7% of self-published authors, 1.3% of traditionally published authors, and 5.7% of hybrid authors earn $100,000 per year or more. Needless to say, not much has changed since then, and the top 2.5% of authors make a good living while the vast majority of writers don’t earn enough to quit their jobs and write full-time.
I’ve amassed a great wealth of experience and knowledge over my fifteen plus years of writing, and the most important thing that I learned was that an author must have perseverance. Self-publishing is essentially the long game, and success will come to those who put in the time and work. I liken the world of self-publishing to a casino―a world where the house almost always wins, and the goalpost is constantly being moved by the powers that be. Setbacks like the creation of KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) in KDP Select where authors are being paid by the number of pages read by Amazon Prime members, who through their memberships can download Amazon eBooks for free, as opposed to being paid a one-time royalty for each sale have made it more difficult for authors to earn a significant monthly income for their eBook sales, for example. Since the majority of Amazon customers are Prime members, most eBooks are downloaded for free, and authors enrolled in KDP Select are mostly paid by the number of pages read by Prime members collectively.
The last three and a half years have yielded respectable earnings for me as a writer―I’ve placed myself in the middle of the pack by consistently earning gross sales of $15,000 - $25,000 per year and roughly half of that after expenses, and I’m on pace to do the same in 2022. However, that’s still not enough money to quit my job and write full-time. I’m always looking for ways to increase revenue but ascending to the next level is extremely difficult. One trick that I’d like to share is that authors should focus more on paperback sales―yes, paperback books aren’t dead. I was able to drastically increase my earnings once I concentrated on advertising paperbacks on Amazon’s advertising platform―AmazonAds.
All things considered; writing has been a rewarding experience for me. With that being said, authors must have a genuine love for writing, or else they won’t succeed in this game. Roughly only 3% of writers ever reach six-figure earnings, and unfortunately, there aren’t many shortcuts in the process of self-publishing books.