Debunking The Top 5 Self-Publishing Myths

After working hard to finish writing your book, it can be discouraging to read about self-publishing myths like these:

“Ebooks aren’t real books.”

“You’re not really published.”

“You’ll never make a dime.”

Despite many authors making a full-time living from their self-published ebooks, misunderstandings like these are still prevalent. Below we’re separating fact from fiction as we explore the most common self-publishing myths.

The Top 5 Self-Publishing Myths

Self-Publishing Myth #1: Ebooks are Inferior to Print

As most book lovers can agree, there’s nothing like turning over that first crisp page of a new book. We totally get it. But despite the charm that print books may always hold, the reality is that the publishing landscape has changed. Pretty much everything in our modern lives has become digital, including books.

The ease of ebook publishing means that the majority of self-published books are ebooks, giving print books a reputation as being “real books,” i.e., traditionally published. While self-publishing does make it possible for someone to quickly put an ebook together, many self-published ebooks are indistinguishable from traditionally published ebooks. The same can be said for self-published print books.

By investing in an editor and cover designer, you can create a beautifully formatted book that provides the same quality reading experience as a traditionally published book.

Self-Publishing Myth #2: I’ll Never Make Any Money

You’ve probably heard this self-publishing myth many times. While it’s true that there are lots of self-published authors who still rely on their day job, it is very possible to make a full-time living if you treat it like a business.

Whether you’re writing thrillers or a steamy romance novel, never has there been a better time for new authors to make real money through their books. Here’s why: self-publishing levels out the playing field. With self-publishing, there are no gatekeepers, meaning there is very little between you, your book, and (paying) readers.

With traditional publishers, you are typically given an advance against the royalties of future books. The average advance for a first-time author at a big publishing house is about $10,000. That means you have to sell $10,000 through book sales before receiving another dime.

With self-publishing, you can earn on your terms – and the royalty rates are much higher compared to traditional publishing. When publishing directly through a retailer, royalty rates are around 70%. (If you use an aggregator to distribute to multiple sales channels, you can expect to pay an additional small fee of 10% of your royalties)

So, let’s say you charge $2.99 for your ebook. If you only sold 3 books per day, your take-home pay will be about $188 per month. At 10 books per day, you’ll get about $630. Not bad for a side gig, right?

While sales might slowly trickle in at first while you learn the ropes of self-publishing, you can expect to earn more with new releases. As your backlist grows, each published book will help you earn passive income, especially when paired with book advertising to keep sales afloat.

With two published books both selling 10 copies per day at $2.99 each, you’re looking at about $1,255 per month. If you write in a hot genre, publish regularly, and have a solid marketing strategy, you can expect to see your income rise much higher.

Lindsay Buroker is a perfect example of this. She stated in a recent blog post that after her first book, the Emperor’s Edge, was published, she was making about $3,000 a month by the end of the following year. This upward trend continued as she released more books, and she is now a high six-figure author. Lindsay Buroker is just one of many self-publishing success stories.

Self-Publishing Myth #3: It’s Impossible to Market an Ebook

With social media and email marketing, readers are at your fingertips. And successful online marketing isn’t just about going viral. Don’t underestimate the slow-and-steady approach to gaining followers.

Every newsletter sign-up and social media follower is someone you can directly market to who is already primed to buy and enjoys your work. With SMS text message marketing and email newsletters, all readers have to do is click.

Social media and email marketing makes you accessible to readers, strengthens your brand, and builds trust about your product. And best of all? You get to call the shots, rather than a corporate marketing team.

To learn more about the power of email for marketing your self-published books, read our comprehensive guide.

Self-Publishing Myth #4: You Can Only Make Money on Amazon

There’s no doubt that Amazon controls a large percentage of the ebook market. But, Amazon is not the only sales channel where you can sell your self-published books. “Going wide” (meaning, distributing your books to as many retailers as possible and not remaining exclusive to Amazon), dramatically boosts your discoverability. Discoverability is key for indie authors who want to build a sustainable career, and there is money to be made when going wide.

Take a look at author Susan Kaye Quinn, who took one of her series wide after being exclusive with Amazon. In her blog post that details her experience, she stated it only took her about 3 months to gain traction on other retailers. With strategic marketing on wide retailers, she was able to boost her income from the series by 700%!

For more information about the debate of going wide vs. being exclusive to Amazon, read our detailed comparison here.

Self-Publishing Myth #5: Self-Publishing Hurts Your Chances of Being Traditionally Published

Successful self-published authors continue to catch the attention of traditional publishers. Many authors who initially built a following through self-publishing have landed traditional publishing deals and more.

Take Amanda Hocking, for example. Before self-publishing, Amanda had received dozens of rejections from traditional publishers. She self-published her first book in April 2010, and sales steadily increased as she published more titles from her unpublished backlist. According to an article in the Guardian, she was selling more than 100,000 a month by January 2011. The article states she eventually landed a $2.1M deal with St. Martin’s Press and Pan Macmillan.

Another example is author Nicholas Sansbury Smith. In an interview with Best of Indie, Nicholas stated he first started self-publishing in 2013. After his first book didn’t do as well as he’d hoped, he got serious about marketing for his second launch, which was book one in the Orbs series.

The book quickly climbed the charts on Amazon and sold 30,000 copies in just a few months. The series caught the attention of agents and traditional publishers, and Nicholas ended up landing an audio deal with Audible, as well as a publishing contract with Simon and Schuster.

I had the pleasure of catching Nicholas’ presentation at last year’s 20Booksto50k conference, where he shared his journey with us. It was super inspiring to see how he, like many other authors, have leveraged self-publishing to build amazing careers.

Ready to Become a Published Author?

If you’ve been thinking about self-publishing your book, there’s no better time than now. Consider choosing PublishDrive for ebook distribution. With free ebook conversion and built-in marketing tools, we’ve streamlined the entire process, so you can reach global sales channels and start earning royalties.

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