Today, as part of ALLi's Self-Publishing 3.0 campaign, we're launching the first independent research into independent author income. If you're an indie author and you spend more than 50% of your working time on your writing and publishing (see details below), the Alliance of Independent Authors wants to hear from you.
“As you probably know,”says ALLi campaigns manager, Melissa Addey, getting accurate information about self-publishing income, sales, earnings and analytics is difficult. Self-publishing embraces a vast swathe of authors, from those publishing a book for family and friends to those who are running six- and seven-figure publishing businesses.
“Data about the self-publishing industry and indie author income is scarce and when you can find it, it's often skewed, arising from research that is designed with all authors in mind, rather than addressing the specifics of running an author-publishing business.”
Back in November 2022, we introduced our plans to fill some of that gap, by:
- conducting our own in-depth survey into indie author earnings, the first ever independent research into self-publishing author income
- drawing together other research in our sector, and collating their findings, through the Big Indie Author Data Drop.
Our intention is to repeat this research every two years, allowing us to build a better picture of the earnings of independent authors who take their business seriously and want to earn a living from writing and publishing books.
The Indie Author Income Survey
Today we launch the first phase of this plan, the Alliance of Independent Authors' Indie Author Income Survey: aimed at self-published authors who spend 50% or more of their working time on writing and publishing. Examples of eligible publishing work, in addition to publishing your own books, include offering editorial and other publishing services, licensing publishing rights, book-related speaking and teaching, publishing other authors, etc. All revenue from such activities counts towards your business income and the survey will ask about all possible income streams.
Our #IndieAuthorIncomeSurvey is designed to be quick and convenient, with just 20 questions that can be answered in under five minutes. We tested the timing and it really does only take less than five minutes, including some diversity questions to see if there is any correlation between gender and ethnicity and earnings.
We would really appreciate your support in completing this survey yourself, if relevant, and sharing it as widely as possible with your community, friends, and anyone who is eligible to answer.
Click here to take ALLi's five-minute survey on indie author income.
Indie Author Income: The Research
The research is designed to identify:
- how much self-published authors are making in 2023
- whether indie author income is increasing or decreasing
- specifics about the publishing models at various income levels
Surveying those who spend 50% or more of their work-time on writing and publishing allows us to make relevant comparisons to other, more traditional surveys on author income.
This survey is part of ALLi's Self-Publishing 3.0 campaign, an ongoing campaign to raise the average income for authors and poets through creative business practice.
Indie Author Income: The Analysts
ALLi is pleased to be working with the founders of two leading, independent US publishing consultants to establish the extent of independent authors' influence in book publishing today.
SKS Advisors is a specialized research and strategy consulting firm, serving a wide variety of publishers and information service providers. They have worked with publishing clients like Elsevier, Wiley, The Economist Group and the Associated Press and associations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which gives them the perfect range of experience for this study.
Thad McElroy, an electronic publishing consultant, analyst and author, principal of The Future of Publishing and founding partner in Publishing Technology Partners is overseeing the project. A book publishing consultant, with a particular focus on metadata as it relates to ecommerce, McIlroy's most recent report is Book Publishing Startups in the United States 2022: Industry Insights, Analysis, and Investment Opportunities (Publisher's Weekly).
Sieck and McIlroy worked closely with ALLi Director Orna Ross and Melissa Addey, Campaigns Manager to establish the parameters of this research and set the questions. They are charged with analysing the data and conclusions and vouchsafing the independence of the study.
Please take a moment to do and share the survey: SelfPublishingAdvice.org/survey23
Why This Survey is Different
We've all seen author income surveys coming from other author associations over the years, but they tend to mix data from trade-publishing and self-publishing, which can be confusing–perhaps even misleading.
Such surveys often ask questions that are more relevant to traditional authors running a career through third-party publishers rather than indie authors running their own publishing businesses. They have come to very gloomy conclusions about falling author incomes that center on reduced advances and royalties in corporate publishing.
Yet in our sector, we can see that as well as outlier authors who making a lot of money, there are also lots of mid-list authors building business, step by step, with incomes increasing year on year.
How widespread is that? Without data, we cannot know.
It's time for a survey that focusses solely on independent authors and on the factors that contribute to commercial success in our sector.
Why Accurate Data About Author Income Matters
Knowing what is possible for indie authors, income wise, and more about the models employed by self-publishers who are making a living, enables:
- Better decision-making: We'll be analysing insights into trends, patterns, and opportunities, so indie authors can make more informed decisions about book, product and project development, as well as pricing, marketing, and other critical areas.
- Effective forecasting and planning: Accurate data helps us to identify and mitigate potential risks for self-publishers and advise on how to allocate resources effectively, set realistic goals, and create actionable plans.
- Improved measurement: By sourcing, analyzing and tracking key metrics like revenue, publishing models, product mix, accessibility and diversity, we can identify areas for improvement.
- Sustainability: By analyzing data about what higher-earning authors do, we can identify areas how self-publishers streamline processes, reduce waste, and improve productivity.
- Competitive advantage: Accurate data can help indie authors to stay ahead of the publishing curve. We can differentiate ourselves from trade-published authors, innovate faster, and create more value for our readers.
If you're friends with other indie authors and you know they spend more than 50% of their time on their writing and publishing activities, please take a moment to share the survey with them: SelfPublishingAdvice.org/survey23
We know you're busy and really appreciate your help and look forward to sharing the insights that emerge with you and your community very soon.
- We'll showcase all the data that emerges in April, both online and at various events, including the London Book Fair.
- We'll also be collating other findings from partners like Draft2Digital, Written Word Media and K-lytics as part two of this project: the Big Indie Author Data Drop.
Please note, we are working with multiple service partners and indie authors in the community to reach as many authors as possible. If you have already completed this survey through another invitation, you do not need to do so again, but please do share it to your own indie author contacts.
Very useful! It’s so hard to get real data as indie authors are often not counted, and huge earners skew the averages…
Thanks for your support Derek!