Is self-publishing profitable? (Survey)

Hi all,

This is the first time to start my book and as you may already know many questions come to one's head. The first is the profitability for sure. While %99 percent of the answers of this question is "it depends", I wanted to have a more analytical method to understand what shall I expect after writing my book. Therefore, I created an anonymous survey that try to answer some of the common questions and view the results in a chart or infographic.

 

 

Can you please contribute by answering this 8 question survey. It will take less that 1 minute and it is totally anonymous and does not collection any personal information related to your answers. The survey is made using SurveyMonkey, which is a known surveys platform:

 

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8TDMN8B

 

Thanks!

Comments

  • I completed your survey.

     

    Good luck.

  • Unfortunately, your survey will be dealing with a serious self-selection bias by using these forums as a primary recruiting ground for responses.

    But yes, I've done the survey.
  • I still believe the "it depends" answer is best. Because how your book sells will depend first on cover design or attracting the reader to look. Second by the blurb or book description. The last two for sure are how well your book is written and how you advertise. If you can't afford professional editing and cover or advertising then your chances get slimmer for sure.

  • Thank you Maggie! I will write the overall survy eedback once I got enough contributors. I am glade to find more than 10 replies until now.

     

    Best regards,

    Rafiq

  • Thanks Dyson! any suggestions to share the survey elsewhere?
    I need a variety of replies though.
  • Yes Shadow, I can see this from the results. The number of places to sell the book and the advertising affects the sales too.
    Thanks!

  • rafiqelmansy wrote:
    Thanks Dyson! any suggestions to share the survey elsewhere?
    I need a variety of replies though.

    When doing survey work in business marketing we would typically buy a mailing list and pay for qualified respondents to reply. Without an incentive for responses, a majority of people who are successful at something tend not to take the time to respond because that takes time away from what they are successful at (thus the self-selection bias). Also, you deal with the general disdain that most self-publishers have for these forums - I am far from the most successful publisher in my field here on Lulu, but I'm the only one in my field who posts to these forums because most find the forums to be full of unhelpful and downright misguided advice.

     

    When working with major internet ad services, for example, we offered $100 per survey response from persons who were spending over $3k per year in advertising on google and bing and so on to find out their opinions on the usefulness of the various advertising platforms at the time.

  • Dyson

     

    I wonder how you could quantify this statement:

     

    I am far from the most successful publisher in my field here on Lulu, but I'm the only one in my field who posts to these forums because most find the forums to be full of unhelpful and downright misguided advice.

     

    It would be lovely if the publishers who are more successful than you are (to be honest I didn't think there were any) would give us some feedback on their success. Even just numbers, without the $$ would be great. If I knew that there was someone regularly selling 50 000 books a year on Lulu it would inspire me greatly. Also presumably if these publishers are so successful they don't need to participate in the forum - and may simply not wish to - and it may not be incorrect advice which stops them participating, as irritating as it can be.

     

     

    rafiqelmansy

     

     

    I think you already have your answer: self publishing is only profitable for a small number of people. The vast majority will not seven sell a dozen books. Browse through Kindle and you will see loads of books which have no sales rank; many of them do have catchy covers and enticing blurbs. When you look at the kind of outlay Dyson is talking about you would need to be confident of shifting a large number of books to recoup your costs.

     

    Another way of looking at it is because we don't pay anything to self publish it is always profitable, provided you don't pay for book covers, editing, formatting, advertising etc.


  • danielblue wrote:

    Dyson

     

    I wonder how you could quantify this statement:

     

    I am far from the most successful publisher in my field here on Lulu, but I'm the only one in my field who posts to these forums because most find the forums to be full of unhelpful and downright misguided advice.

     

    It would be lovely if the publishers who are more successful than you are (to be honest I didn't think there were any) would give us some feedback on their success. Even just numbers, without the $$ would be great. If I knew that there was someone regularly selling 50 000 books a year on Lulu it would inspire me greatly. Also presumably if these publishers are so successful they don't need to participate in the forum - and may simply not wish to - and it may not be incorrect advice which stops them participating, as irritating as it can be.


    I'm a successful self-publisher in my field. There are others in my field who successfully outsell me every month. When discussing Lulu in various other venues where we talk (RPG forums, RPG conventions, sitting around for a beer at the local pub), sooner or later the support at Lulu is brought up (especially if there are some new self-publishers at the table - or publishers looking to move from purely digital publishing through OneBookShelf to print on demand publishing). Generally the concensus is to read the FAQs and ask around the other publishers in the field directly before coming to the forums.

     

    Int he RPG Industry, we don't sell 50,000 copies of a book. The industry isn't that big. 

  • I am far from the most successful publisher in my field here on Lulu, but I'm the only one in my field who posts to these forums because most find the forums to be full of unhelpful and downright misguided advice.

     

    That last statement is shockingly insulting and not at all true, but it even insults your own help in the forums  Smiley Surprised

  • Such surveys have already been done many times, and by professional statistics companies.

     

    Here is just one sample news items from 149,000 search hits on the subject >>    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/may/24/self-published-author-earnings

     

    That is a bit misleading though, because '50' was only at first Self-Publihed (via Lulu) then taken up by a major publishing house and by aghast US TV shows picking up on its contents. Her earnings should not be included in Self-Publishing ones.

     

    This is worth reading, though >>   http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/05/24/wait-until-you-hear-this-the-taleist-self-publishing-survey/

     

    Note that earnings are not the same as profits.

  • Even if your profit is a few dollars per year, self-publishing is profitable. Everybody knows that you can't raise a fortune on your literary production, and even far less so if you are a self-published author. 

    So, why bother? If your book sells, good. If it doesn't, too bad. In either case, thanks to Lulu, your capital investment is very small.

  • I agree with you. The idea is not how much fortune to gain in the first year of one book. If you can gain quite enough from one book int he first year, this amount will keep selling especially if the book is not related to a software version or something similar. For example, if you gain $500 per year for a book, ten books can earn aroudn $5000 on yearly basis. Yes, this is not a fortune, but with experience gained in the market, this amount can increase. 

     

    Actually, working with a publisher does not get you a fortune either. You got only %10 of their sales, and they do not give a special care to sell your book. They aim to sell any of their book and not specifically yours. So, I think it is an experience that worth to try.

     

    Thanks!

  • I read this article before. I agree that the benefits can expand beyound the earnings. I am just trying to take initial feedback about the business especially when It is the first time to think to try this experience.

    I am reading the second article now too, thanks for the share!

     

    Best regards,

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