If you haven’t heard of the inimitable Hugh Howey, you need to Google him, right now.  After you read his Wikipedia entry, then you need to go to his website and start reading his blog archives, because they have more valuable information on self/indie publishing that any other website I’ve come across thus far.  Today, he published an excellent article entitled “The State of Self-Publishing.”  You should read it in its entirety, but Mr. Howey also provides a helpful recap of his major points at the end, reproduced here:

  • Very few writers of any stripe earn serious money from their work. Most earn nothing at all.
  • Self-published authors, on average, earn more than their traditional counterparts.
  • It is disingenuous to compare all self-published works to the mere two percent of works that manage to get traditionally published.
  • What is expected of authors is not as different as people think. Self-publishing isn’t that hard, and traditional publishing doesn’t mean writing and doing nothing else.
  • The output of what manages to get traditionally published is not any better than the corresponding top 2% of what is self-published.
  • Genre matters however you publish. You can shelve it under “fiction” if it makes you happy, but it’s probably still a mystery, fantasy, romance, or speculative fiction story if it’s selling well.
  • Half of all print book sales are now online, and audiobooks are as popular as ever. The “digital revolution” isn’t just about e-books, which is why the playing field is even more level than most care to admit.
  • The claims that e-book sales have flattened comes from sources that ignore self-publishing completely. The sales needed to hit the same ranking on Amazon’s bestseller lists keep going up, which means the market is still seeing growth. Ignore pundits who are only covering roughly 50% of the market.
  • Most of us write because we love it, not because we expect anything from it. Success cannot be measured by someone else, only yourself.
  • Anyone covering this industry from the perspective of publishers or bookstores should be ignored. Seriously. This industry is about the reader and the writer. All discussions about those in the middle should be secondary, at best.
  • Finally and most importantly, there shouldn’t be any animus between writers, however they publish. This is hard enough without trying to tear each other down. We are in this together. It’s our world that’s changing. In many ways, we should be standing together and demand that it change faster.