skip to Main Content

The world's first independent global survey of 2000+ authors has found that self-publishing authors earn more than writers with third-party publishers.

And that self-published author incomes are rising, year on year.

The research, commissioned by ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors, contradicts information from other author income surveys which have tended to be more focussed on authors with third-party publishers. The findings are good news for authors who seek commercial as well as creative rewards from self-publishing.

The ground-breaking survey was reported on globally, from important publishing trade press Publishers Weekly (US) and The Bookseller (UK), to media outlets across the world, from Australia to Vietnam and Canada to Brazil. See ALLi in the news here.

Download the summary report here or below see a short media presentation (prepared for the launch of the findings at the London Book Fair 04.18.23).

Key Income Findings

  • In 2022, the median income of “primary income” self-publishing authors (those who spend more than half their working time on writing and publishing activities) was $12,749. 
  • The average income was over $80,000.
  • Almost a quarter had not yet started to earn, bringing in between 0 and 1K.
  • Almost half of the respondents (43.8%) reported over $20k revenue.
  • Some 28% earned $50k+ and almost a fifth ran six-figure publishing businesses.

Other Self-Publishing Facts

Did you know?

  • More than 2,000 authors have surpassed $100,000 in “royalties” from Amazon KDP in 2022. 
  • Many authors now run thriving businesses on their own websites, through direct sales, crowdfunding, and patronage from readers.
  • Author Brandon Sanderson made crowdfunding history publishing by independently publishing four books through Kickstarter, securing a record-breaking $41m (his goal was $1m).
  • The Pulitzer Prize, the British Book Awards and the Commonwealth Book Prize (amongst other major literary awards) are now all open to self-published authors.
  • Books by indie authors account for 30-34% of all e-book sales in the largest English-language markets, as reported in Publishers Weekly.
  • A study by FicShelf found that women wrote just 39% of traditionally published titles, but 67% of self-published titles (this matched ALLi’s survey results).

Media Downloads

Media Release: EMBARGOED UNTIL 10am: 17.04.2023

Alliance of Independent Authors survey reveals that self-publishing authors earn more than writers with publishers

Report launching at The London Book Fair shows self-published author incomes are growing year on year

A new survey reveals that authors who bypass traditional publishing channels see increased incomes from their writing and publishing year on year, against a background of authors with third-party publishers seeing a fall in earnings.

The world’s first independent, international survey of the incomes of self-published (“indie”) authors, commissioned by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), found that the median revenue in 2022 was US$12,749. 

This compares, like for like (gross incomes of “primary occupation authors” who spend more than 50% of their working time on writing and publishing activities), with a median of US$8,600 for authors with third-party publishers. Figures are converted to US dollars for ease of comparison.

Most significantly, average incomes of self-published authors were rising, with a 53% increase in 2022 over the previous year. By contrast, previous author income surveys, which have focused on revenues received by authors with third-party publishers, have repeatedly reported falling incomes. Some recent global surveys saw the following median incomes:

  • 2022 UK: US$8,600, down 38.2% since 2018 (Authors’ Lending and Collecting Society)
  • 2018 Canada: US$6,990, down 27% since 2015 (Writers’ Union of Canada)
  • 2018 US: US$6,080, down 24% from 2014  (The Authors Guild)

Self-publishing authors are bucking this trend. ALLi’s findings align with other evidence from the worldwide self-publishing community. The National Survey of Australian Book Authors in 2022 which included a higher proportion of independent authors than other surveys (one-third of respondents had self-published) also reported income growth: up 3% over the previous seven years.

Key findings from the ALLi report include:  

  • In 2022, the median income of self-publishing authors who spend more than half their working time on writing and publishing activities was $12,749. 
  • The average income was over $80,000.
  • Almost a quarter had not yet started to earn, bringing in between 0 and 1K.
  • Almost half of the respondents (43.8%) reported over $20k revenue.
  • Some 28% earned $50k+ and almost a fifth ran six-figure publishing businesses. 

“ALLi has always believed that as well as enjoying more creative freedom, authors also enjoy greater commercial rewards from self-publishing,” said Orna Ross, ALLi Director. “Now that the results of this survey confirm that belief, we want to make sure all authors know that reports to the contrary are wrong. Writers can make a living as an author, if they do the work it takes to acquire good publishing skills, alongside good writing skills. Other indie authors are here to offer support at ALLi, and throughout the self-publishing community.”

“We need the literary establishment to play its part too,” says Melissa Addey, ALLi’s Campaigns Manager. “Since its inception, ALLi has campaigned for literary festivals and events, bookshops and bestseller lists, schools and universities, awards and reviewing outlets to open up to indie authors and self-publishing. More than a decade on, it’s sad to see how little has changed. Now we have this research proving that self-publishing is a very viable route to readers, it’s time for such organizations to do right by all authors, not just those with traditional publishers.”

Research and methodology

The survey was commissioned by ALLi and distributed in February 2023 to their members and subscribers and, through other key self-publishing and author organizations, to tens of thousands of self-publishing writers around the world. The survey garnered a total of 2,539 respondents, of whom 2,261 (89%) met the qualification criteria. 

60% of the respondents were located in North America and 21% in the United Kingdom, followed by Australia/New Zealand and Europe each representing about 8%.

The analysis was conducted by San Francisco-based Thad McIlroy of The Future of Publishing, and Los Angeles-based strategy consultant and principal of SKS Advisors, Steve Sieck.

The report, Key Findings from ALLi’s Independent Author Income Survey, will launch on Tuesday 18th April 2023 in Author HQ at the 2023 London Book Fair. 

In follow-up research, ALLi has commissioned the UK Copyright & Creative Economy Centre, CREATe, to expand analysis of the findings, particularly in relation to key demographic groups and factors that contribute to higher incomes. (Project sponsored by author education company Self-Publishing Formula)

ALLi will publish the full report including demographic data in June 2023, together with a collection of key insights from several peer self-publishing organizations to produce a substantial set of data: the Big Indie Author Data Drop.

This compilation and analysis will be presented at the Self-Publishing Live conference in London in June 2023 and will repeat as an annual event, filling a notable gap in author income research. 

Media  enquiries: please contact Laura Park [email protected]



What does it mean to be creative

About ALLi

The Alliance of Independent Authors, ALLi (pronounced ‘ally’), is a non-profit organization with a mission of ethics and excellence in self-publishing. The only global self-publishing membership association, it is now in its second decade of empowering authors through an online advice center (SelfPublishingAdvice.org), member benefits, monitoring of the self-publishing sector, and advocacy for independent authors.


Back To Top
×Close search