Survey Indicates Indie Publishing is Pot of Gold for Some, Work in Progress for Many
“Survey responses from nearly 2,000 indie authors, half of them entirely indie published, give insight into the industry and advice on how indie authors can make a better success of their business. Marie Force, the New York Times-bestselling hybrid author of more than 30 indie-published titles, conducted the survey through Survey Monkey with questions developed by Marie with input from many other indie authors. It was widely publicized through indie author groups and social media. Nearly 90 percent of responding authors were female, the majority between the ages of 41 and 50. More than 60 percent of respondents identified a subgenre of romance as their primary genre. Five percent were science fiction authors, five percent were mystery/thriller authors and four percent were fantasy authors. The survey was live from Oct. 8 to Nov. 8, 2016.
When asked the reason for taking the indie publishing path, authors cited greater revenue as their primary reason followed by greater product control. Conversely, their greatest frustrations with being indie authors are the perceived lack of a level playing field on the retail platforms and industry instability. However, 29 percent reported they are indie authors because the frustrations are minimal. More than half the respondents say the biggest benefit to being an indie author is agility and the ability to pivot when needed.
Most of the authors surveyed write in the 50,000 – 100,000-word range, most (41 percent) price their indie titles at $2.99 and most write series and/or a mix of series and single titles. In a question that asked respondents to cite all applicable answers, 99 percent of the respondents publish in ebook format, 71 percent publish in print, 15 percent publish in audio and 4.5 percent publish in foreign markets. Half of those surveyed reported that ebook revenue makes up 90 percent of their total revenue. Half the respondents reported that print revenue makes up less than 10 percent of their total revenue. Seventy-three percent reported no revenue in audio, and 82 percent reported no foreign translation revenue.
On an average day between releases, 1543 authors, or 49 percent of those surveyed, report selling between zero and five books while on the other end of the spectrum 8 authors, or 0.43 percent, report selling more than 1,000 books on an average day between releases with another 13 authors, or 0.69 percent reporting selling more than 500 books on an average day between releases. In an average month between releases, 608 authors or 33 percent, report making between zero and fifty dollars on their books. On the opposite end, 15 authors or 0.80 percent, reported making between $30,001 and $40,000 in an average month with no new releases, with 15 others reporting revenue in the higher ranges, and 1 reporting average monthly revenue in excess of $500,000. The numbers increase during release months with most reporting income at $10,000 or below for new releases. At the upper end, 18 authors reported release month income exceeding $100,000.”