With so many people officially on the self-publishing bandwagon, there have been a lot of proclamations going around to the effect that grand success as a self-published author is no longer possible. Even our own guest, David Dalglish, a paragon of self-pubbing success if ever there was one, has admitted that a significant factor of his triumph was timing. And now, it seems, the moment has passed.
The secret is out. The vast sales a few authors achieved in the early days of ebook self-pubbing led to an avalanche of me-too-ers. The market is flooded, and now the chance to have your book become a blockbuster requires you to compete with horde upon horde of writers who had the same idea as you. The picture painted by the self-publishing statistics floating around on the interwebs seems a bleak one indeed. Having seen it, some people may even decide that it is not worth the struggle.
But when taken in context, nothing has really changed on that front, at least not in a negative way. According to a recent survey, the average yearly take of a self-published author was $10,000, with a majority making less than $500 a year. How is that a bad thing? Before self-publishing was a viable option, failure was much harsher. Failure meant no money and no readers. I would gladly take $500 a year and a paltry following over nothing at all.
I should also point out that I hate statistics as a guide to personal action. The reason is that it’s easy to look at a given pie chart and think, “Oh, I have a 78% chance of failing to achieve my goals, so I’m not going to bother.” But no graph can ever tell you who you are. You are you, and there is a 0% chance that you are anyone else. Always keep that in mind when looking at statistics that attempt to tell you what kind of life you will have and thus how to live it.
Besides, there are exceptional writers out there. Imagine if your favorite author had looked at the odds of getting published and said, “Meh. Not worth the risk.” They would have never taken the plunge; they would have filed their TPS reports, always wondering, “Could I have been a success?” And the world, deprived of their creations, would have been a dimmer place. Perhaps you are one of those outliers. Perhaps you are really as good as your mom says you are.
And if you are that good, if you are the next Patrick Rothfuss, Stephen King, or [insert favorite author here], and you quit now, I am going to be very, very pissed off at you.
Hopefully, none of this means anything to you, because deep down, you are a writer. And writers write, no matter what anybody else says.