Self-Publishing News: 1.15.2019

January, illustrated name of calendar month, illustration

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

The biggest news here at the start of 2019 would have to be the fact that authors are, overall, earning less money. Niall McCarthy of Forbes has put together a nice and succinct report-on-a-report for those looking to understand what this news means for authors–including self-publishing authors. “The drop,” writes McCarthy, “appears to be impacting nearly all categories of authorship and writers of literary fiction have been hardest hit, suffering a 43% fall in earnings since 2013. There was one exception and that was self-published authors who saw their book-related income almost double since 2013, though it remains 58% lower than for traditionally published authors.” So it’s not all bad news for self-publishing authors, for many of whom self-publishing is ancillary to their other income streams–but it does seem to be bad news for the traditional publishing industry, when all the implications are weighed. So what’s causing this drop in income over time? McCarthy (and those he interviewed for this article) place the blame firmly in Amazon’s corner. Writes McCarthy, “While Amazon can prove positive for some authors, particularly those seeking to self-publish, it forces publishers to accept narrower margins and those losses get passed onto authors through lower advances and royalties.”  McCarthy’s article is accompanied by the following infographic, and we highly recommend you read the full Forbes article–here.

publishing income author earnings

Interestingly, the Forbes article is confirmed and supported by today’s second article of note–one which comes from Publishers Weekly, and which provides more of the background information covered in Forbes. They tackle the Authors Guild survey (which purports to be the “largest survey of U.S. professional writers ever conducted,” for context). PW contributor Calvin Reid writes that it’s not all bad news, however, and he tackles the big question of “what next?” that so many authors will be asking after reading the Authors Guild report:

The report includes a number of proposals to counter the slide of authors earnings. Among them the report calls on Congress to allow authors to join together to bargain collectively with giant self-publishing platforms like Amazon, Google and Facebook for better terms; calls on online resellers to pay royalties on the sales of new books; asks for better library funding to allow them to deliver a royalty to authors for lending books to the public; urges publishers to pay higher royalties on e-books and on deeply discounted books; and urges publishers to destroy all book returns to prevent these titles from reaching the secondary market.

So what can you do, as an author or reader of self-published and traditionally published works, do? You can voice your concerns directly to those who shape policy and procedure–the companies dominating the publishing and distribution fields, as well as the politicians who govern commerce overall–and push for the further democratization and empowerment of authors. It’s not all bad news for self-publishing authors, of course–our income levels have more than doubled in the last decade–but we’re still, as the report notes, falling some 58% short on average of traditionally published authors. So there’s still work to be done in raising the profile of self-publishing authors around the world, in addition to everything else. If you’re interested in championing the cause, we highly recommend you check out the full PW article at the link.


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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