How Much Money Can You Make by Self Publishing a Book?

Updated: June 21, 2021
by TJ Salvatore

If you want to know how to get a book published yourself and make decent money from it, the self-publishing business is not as difficult as you think, and the steps you need to take to go forward are reasonably straightforward.

A book publisher who offers self-publishing can help you with all the details while you take care of the writing. Book publishing companies that offer self-publishing opportunities give you a competitive edge.

How Much Money Can You Make by Self Publishing a Book?

You Can Make a Living as a Self-Published Author

You can actually make a full-time income from self-publishing, provided you have more than one book featured for sale each year and you write to your market.

Determining How Much You Can Make

The amount you earn annually depends on:

  • The royalty you earn for each book sale
  • How diligent you pursue marketing your book
  • The size of your audience
  • How many books you publish annually
  • Your book inventory

Self-Published Authors Often Make More Money than Traditionally Published Authors

Here is a fallacy that many people believe: They think that people who go through the traditional process of publishing make more money. Actually, more income is directed to self-published book authors in the mainstream.

For example, self-publishers can make between 40% and 60% in royalties per book, publishing 2 to 3 high-quality books each year. While you won't receive an advance, you can start making money immediately. 

By comparison, traditionally published authors make about 10% to 12% in royalties per book. It takes about 2 to 3 years to publish a book, so your profits don't materialize instantly. You do receive an advance upfront, but you will not make any royalties until you repay the advance money to the publisher. 

A typical advance of $10,000 is nice compensation while you go through the publishing process. However, as noted, you won't start making money on your royalties though until your sales go past the $10,000 mark.

How Much Can Self-Published Authors Make Per Book?

Self-Published Authors

Okay, let's look at how much you can make as a self-publisher or a traditional publisher for the same book retail priced at $13.99. This analysis assumes you have printed a book through Amazon and have subtracted the printing costs. 

At a 50% royalty rate, compared to a 10% royalty rate for a traditionally published author, you will make $4.75 for each book sold while a traditionally published author will receive about $.95. This assumes a $4.45 printing cost for each author. A traditionally published author may receive more for each book published if he or she works with a publishing house that has partnered with a printer.

What Is Selling in the Marketplace?

To ensure your book sells, scrutinize the book market. What genres of books are selling? Get a clearer understanding by reading publications like Publishers Weekly. Look at the categories you love to write on and see what kinds of stories are doing well in the marketplace. 

Once you get an idea about the subjects you want to write, you can find out how to get a book published by reviewing book publisher services and types of self-publishing opportunities.

Types of Self-Publishing Opportunities

  1. Aggregators present platforms that distribute books to different online retailers.
  2. Self-publishing retailers present e-commerce and online platforms that sell books through their retail stores. Examples of these retailers include Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, and Amazon.
  3. Publishing education companies offer author education programs that include self-publishing courses to help authors learn more about self-publishing to build their career. 

Services Offered to Self-Publishers

Self-published author service companies provide self-publishing services to authors, such as cover design, illustration, and book editing support. While these companies are helpful to self-publishers, they, technically, are not considered self-publishing companies.

To make sure your book sells and you earn a living as a self-publisher, you need to consider your book as a product - one that you want to direct to a specific audience. That way, you can plan the book's outline more easily and add the type of material your readers want to read.

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Beginning Your Journey to Self-Publishing Success

To start on your journey to becoming a self-published author, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Review the market. See what books are selling well in your desired genre.
  2. Consider your readership - their preferences and what they may want answered.
  3. Start writing the book.
  4. Self-edit the manuscript. 
  5. Have the book professionally edited (and polished).
  6. Have illustrations made if you are writing a children's book or you believe they would add interest.
  7. Get a book cover design. This is important, as buyers won't buy your book unless it features the right packaging.
  8. Market the book.
  9. While you won't handle all the above steps yourself, you need to follow the above format during self-publishing.

As a self-published author, you handle the book writing and production. Therefore, you need to make sure you set enough money aside to hire professionals for services, such as the cover design and editing.

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Making a Choice

When choosing a self-publisher, make sure the publisher meets certain criteria, including:

  1. Book Publishing Volume and Sales. The self-publisher you choose should have a high volume of sales.
  2. Industry Reputation. Review the company's reputation in the business. 
  3. Reliability. The self-publishing business you select should have a proven track record with writers.
  4. Author Support and Help. Choose a company that offers publishing resources so you can meet your milestones and goals for publishing your book. Does the company offer the services that will help you get published?
  5. Affordability. Find a company that will enable you to publish a book that falls within your budget. 
  6. Subscribers. Established book publishing companies have large email lists of subscribers.

Hopefully, the above information will give you what you need to work with a book publisher. Once you learn how to get a book published on your own, you will find that self-publishing is one venture that is both financially and personally rewarding.

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About the author 

TJ Salvatore

A freelancer. A nomad. An LGBTQ and animal rights activist. Love meeting new people, exploring new styles of living, new technologies and gadgets, new ways of making money.

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