No matter which path you ultimately follow as a writer — the traditional one, where you pursue a publisher to take your book and launch it to the world — or self-publishing, where you launch it upon the world yourself — one should always do this with lots of preparation and eyes wide open.
And that “eyes wide open” thing means you accept the reality that most writers do not become rich and famous, selling gazillions of books, and most cannot support themselves by their book writing alone.
It’s like that in all the arts, always has been. Here’s some good information from The Guardian. First of all, like you’d imagine, most of the spoils in self-publishing go to the superstars, like Amanda Hocking and EL James. Like the headline says, half of all self-published authors earn less than $500 on their books. But, that also means that half earn more than that.
And, regarding genre: most successful is romance (like in traditional publishing), followed by science fiction and fantasy. It also helps to be female and it helps to be educated. Well, then, what if you’re a man and you’re writing literary fiction? It’s just more of a challenge to break out of the pack.
And, I can’t emphasize enough, it really helps to have a professional looking product (from the report):
“Authors who tick none of these boxes would be well advised to spend time and money on making a title look professional, the survey found: self-publishers who received help (paid or unpaid) with story editing, copy editing and proofreading made 13% more than the average; help with cover design upped earnings by a further 34%.”
** For a description of the editorial and marketing services I offer to self-published authors, which include copyediting and proofreading, please click here.