The following information comes from a May 24, 2012, blog post by Catherine Ryan Howard, and is based on Not a Gold Rush, the Taleist Self-Publishing Survey, Steven Lewis (of Taleist) and Dave Cornford. The survey was conducted in February 2012, and polled more than 1,000 self-publishers.
One of the questions related to how long responding self-publishers had been seriously writing. Forty percent said more than 10 years, and 60 percent said more than 5 years. Only 10 percent said less than one year.
On the question of whether each self-publisher did it all on his or her own or got outside support, 70 percent said that they format their own book and design their own interior. Forty one percent paid a cover designer (the most popular form of paid help), while 49 percent did it themselves. Twenty nine percent paid for editing services. The interesting thing is that authors who got help (paid or unpaid) with any kind of editing (including proofreading) and cover design earned 34 percent more than the average.
When asked whether spending money on their books pays off, the answer was yes. Our motto at AES is that “every author needs an editor”. But it goes beyond just editing. There’s the whole issue of book design and cover design. Respondents who sought outside resources for all types of editing earned, on average, 13 percent more than those who didn’t. Working with a cover designer earned them, on average, 18 percent more.
On the other hand, self-publishers who used professional e-book formatters (i.e., companies that convert an author’s document (formatted in, for example, Microsoft Word) into a completed e-book earned, on average, only 1 percent more.
Now, how much does all this outside help cost? Survey respondents said, on average, about $685, though authors should realistically plan to spend up to $1,000. However, don’t panic. Fifty four percent of authors recovered their costs, and extrapolating from their sales rate, 68 percent could look at being profitable within one year of publication.
So, are you ready to be your own self-publisher? The traditional publishing route will not likely ever go away. But the number of small or independent or individual publishers grows dramatically by the year. Lots to think about, but these are the times we’re living in.
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