Comprehensive Self-Publishing Survey – Please Participate!

The average self-publisher sells 100 books. Or is it 200? And is that in a year? Or is it over the lifetime of the book? The problem is, we have no idea at all, no way of measuring how we are doing.

Any “hard” numbers we have about self-publishing are either hopelessly out of date, or use (very) imperfect measures, such as the number of ISBNs registered in a given year, and then number of print editions bearing those ISBNs sold in outlets captured by Neilsen Bookscan.

This is problematic for a number of reasons. The most glaring is that a self-publisher could sell thousands and thousands of books without every getting an ISBN or creating a print edition (and many do just that).

Traditional publishers have all sorts of metrics. One that I like quoting here are the monthly AAP figures, which give us a rough idea of what percentage of the market that e-books have captured – an important number for all sorts of reasons.

However, as regular readers will know, the AAP numbers only tend to measure the larger publishers, and take no account of self-publishers whatsoever.

Steven Lewis (the brains behind the Taleist blog) has put together a comprehensive survey to seek to redress this statistical imbalance, and I asked him along to explain the thinking behind it.

Am I a failure as a self-publishing author?

I’ve been a professional writer for 15 years now but I didn’t start self-publishing until August 2010. I was lucky enough to find the blogs of Amanda Hocking and JA Konrath to help me but the sales figures they generously shared made me feel like a minnow swimming with whales. Amanda is now a member of the Kindle Million Club and Joe recently made $100,000 in three weeks. It took me months to earn the $100 I needed for Amazon to cut me my first royalty cheque. Everybody starts somewhere, though. Karen McQuestion told me she earned $30 in her first month on the Kindle and look at her now, just a couple of years later.

Today I get a royalty cheque every month, each one so far bigger than the one before. But I’m still a long way from induction into the Million Club even if I am frequently in the top 10 in my categories.

All these big numbers from the self-publishing lions got me thinking: How are the rest of us doing? The majority? The “ordinary” writers? Where’s the benchmark against which I can measure myself?

Those answers aren’t out there at the moment. Celebrity self-publishers like Joe, Amanda and Karen are inspirations because they’re outliers. What’s missing is information about the middle and the other end of the spectrum.

To fill the gap I’ve partnered with Dave Cornford to create the Taleist 2012 Self-Publishing Survey. Dave’s not just a fellow self-publisher, he’s an experienced consumer researcher so this is much more than just an online poll. It’s a professional snapshot of the state of the self-publishing “industry” in 2012.

Together — with help from a panel that includes my host today, Mr Gaughran — we’ve put together 61 questions. The questions look at the who and the how of self-publishing; and they ask how authors are doing and what’s working for them. From the answers we’ll be able to see whether, for instance, there are things that the most “successful” self-publishers have in common.

We appreciate it’ll take a little time to answer such a comprehensive questionnaire but the more information we have, the more interesting the observations we can make. We’ve also set ourselves the somewhat ambitious target of 1,000 respondents to get a meaningful sample.

To make this possible, we need your help and that of the rest of the self-publishing community to take the survey and share links to it with their networks on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and wherever writers gather.

We look forward to being able to share with you a picture of us all!

Steven Lewis runs the Taleist self-publishing blog and the Taleist 2012 Self-Publishing Survey is now open.

***

Steven has put in a lot of time and effort on this survey. It’s quite comprehensive, and the results will give us a picture of self-publishing for the first time – but only if enough people participate.

I just did the survey. It takes around ten minutes. As with any survey, if the answer you want to give isn’t listed, try and pick the answer which is closest.

Everything is anonymous – you aren’t asked for your name or the titles of your books – so you don’t have to worry about any private information being made public.

Please answer the questions as honestly as you can, and please participate even if you feel your sales are too low or too high and might skew things. The survey will only accurately reflect the community if everyone participates – both those doing better than expected, and those who feel they have room to improve, as well as those who have been doing this for a few years, and those who have just started.

I would be grateful if you could share this post – or the link to the survey – as widely as possible. That way we have the best chance of getting as many responses as we can – and the more responses we get, the more accurate picture of self-publishing will result.

About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is Irish, living in Prague, and the author of Mercenary, A Storm Hits Valparaiso, Let's Get Digital, Let's Get Visible, and this here blog.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

94 Responses to Comprehensive Self-Publishing Survey – Please Participate!

  1. Awesome! Off to blog and tweet and FB …🙂

    Like

  2. I took the survey and now I’m passing it on!

    Like

  3. I am brand-spanking new to e-publishing (just uploaded my first title two days ago) but I’ll gladly retweet for you. This is a fantastic idea and kudos to you for putting this together!

    Like

  4. maggiepublishing says:

    This is a GREAT idea. Thanks for making this happen.

    Like

  5. My new book , Madame Liberté by Audrey Reimann has only been available as an ebook and paperback (via Amazon) for one month. I have not sold many but don’t know yet if the self-publishing exercise is a failure. I wish I could get fast updates on sales so I could channel some publicity efforts in the right direction. I too feel like a small fish in an ever-enlarging pond. As a buyer/reader I find the order-of-merit or placing on bestselling lists off-putting. I can’t just browse for a new title. I look at 100, start to tire, look at the numbers still to search and think, “I’ll never get through 90,000 more…” so I give up and download a free title. There has to be a more browse-friendly way of finding what I want to read.

    Like

    • cc carlquist says:

      Audrey, I agree totally about the order-of-merit thing. I’ve complained about this several times. I can go into a brick and mortar bookstore and pull from the bottom back rack a totally unknown author without platform, but I can’t find out what the #39,432 (example)ranking book is on Amazon. I, too, get tired of paging after 100. One time I got into the 300s and my Kindle froze up.

      Like

      • I suggested to the powers-that-be that they make the Amazon site more like a library but have no idea how they could do it. But I’ve spent years’ worth of Saturday afternoons happily selecting my five books in the Edinburgh Public Library and never for a minute grew tired or bored. I’d start with an author whose name was e.g. Acton and then continue on the shelves categorised Fiction A-C in case I missed anything. All works of fiction, including the classics and regardless of genre were there to be discovered. Oh – the wandering from aisle to aisle and from clearly marked section to section – and in Edinburgh, from floor to floor…!
        A never ending list of thumbnail-size covers categorised in order of popularity, position and genre is a different experience altogether and in my case certainly doesn’t encourage browsing.

        Like

    • First of all, it’s far too early to know how your books is going to do. Many self-publishers who have gone on to sell thousands (and tens of thousands) sold very little in their first few months. Even some of the biggest sellers sold a handful at the start.

      Also, you should know that readers don’t find books in the way you outline. They look at bestseller lists, sure, but they also look at genre bestseller lists, book review blogs, things like the Kindle Nation Daily newsletters, Pixel of Ink, E-reader News Today, and a whole host of smaller Kindle blogs, and book review sites, and so on. There is a whole online ecosystem recommending books to readers and driving traffic directly to book’s listings on Amazon. The trick is to get some of those signposts pointing at you and your work.

      Like

      • Steven Lewis says:

        I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been doing my tax somewhat belatedly and it’s given me a reminder of how abysmal my sales were in the beginning and that my current figures are an exponential step forward.

        Like

      • Yes, I agree with your second paragraph but honestly, most avid readers – and this writer – are not so media-savvy as to look for an undiscovered writer on Kindle blogs and computer sites. These sites are of great interest to writers, natch! The reading and book buying public are still going to bookshops to browse for new writing and then, unfairly, noting down the details and rushing home to buy them on Amazon with all the convenience of having their choices arrive by the next post. I have done it myself and now buy all my books on Amazon. But I didn’t search for books on Amazon. I know what I want when I log on, often from newspaper or magazine reviews.

        Like

  6. Pingback: Survey for Self-Publishers « maggiepublishing

  7. cc carlquist says:

    I started filling this out, but having just published my first book February 2012, I don’t believe I’m eligible/qualified to paricipate in this survey. Maybe next year when I have some publishing history.

    Like

  8. Well I don’t have any sales figures for 2011, but I’m definately interested in the results! I hope you surpass your goal number!

    :} Cathryn

    Like

  9. JJ Toner says:

    I did the survey. Questions 30 and 41 are seriously flawed. Question 30 allows only one tick per column, where I needed to tick several times in “Least Effective” as the methods did not apply to me.

    Question 41 is equalled flawed. It has a column for N/A (not applicable) but allows this column to be ticked once only.

    Like

    • Steven Lewis says:

      Thanks for taking the time to fill in the survey, JJ. We’ve had some great feedback and couldn’t be more open to making improvements.

      Like

    • That frustrated me, too, because I had to rank three things I don’t even do at three different levels, which would skew the figures. Also confusing was royalties. I interpreted that they wanted to know what I earned on the sales in a given month (even though I haven’t been paid all of those funds yet), but another author friend reported her book sales, but only gave the royalties figures on her 1099s. But I agree with others who discussed the survey instrument elsewhere–any information will be useful. I discovered that ALL three of my books had their best month ever in January, even though I would have expected book one to have peaked earlier. And this month is on target to be another phenomenal month. I hope it lasts!

      Oh, Steven, I shared it on several of my e-pub Facebook groups a few hours ago. But I told them the truth about the time commitment (more like an hour–IF they have their financials on hand).

      Kally

      Like

      • Steven Lewis says:

        Thanks, Kally; and entirely appropriate that you should tell them how long it took you in your circumstances. The more prepared people are, the more will complete it I’m sure.

        Like

      • Steven Lewis says:

        p.s. Re your later comment about the $100 minimum, what a good point. Dave and I are both in Australia so get the short end of the stick on this so are coloured by our experience of course. I’ll mention this to Dave so we can treat the data accordingly. Oh for an EFT option overseas. It costs $15 to cash every cheque here.

        Like

  10. RaShelle says:

    Fantastic! I’ll FB and Tweet about the survey. =D

    Like

  11. laurenwaters says:

    Great survey. Can’t wait to see the results!

    Like

  12. I submitted my results and I agree with JJ Toner about the flawed questions. All the marketing questions are skewed. They just didn’t work for me because none of them really applied, but I had to put answers in some of them.

    There was also a serious set of blinders between “self” and “traditional” publishing. What about small press? Is that considered “traditional” … ? Also, it’s a little early to get 2011 numbers since a lot of publishers don’t put out those numbers until well after the year is over. I don’t know how many books I sold since July 1, 2011 yet. I have a guess, but that’s all it is.

    There’s also no place for “explanatory comments” at the end.

    I only counted my four print works, but I’ve actually published eight novels — eight in audio, three with small press for print/ebook, and one self-pub in print/ebook.

    Like

    • I think small press is classified as “traditional” for the purposes of this survey.

      Like

      • Steven Lewis says:

        It does indeed. We’re trying to distinguish between authors who go to an outfit resembling in some way a traditional publisher and those who do it all themselves. They might engage others to help, e.g. a cover designer, but in that sense they’re forming their own publishing house (“self”-publishing) rather than going to one already set up and that publishes the works of others.

        Like

  13. I have to head out for a couple of hours, but I just wanted to comment quickly:

    First, thanks to all of you for participating and sharing the links. I know some of you are having issues with some of the questions. I guess you have to try and answer as best you can. All surveys are going to have imperfections like this, and I suppose it’s difficult to design one which will capture all this disparate information perfectly. Try and do the best you can.

    Like

    • Steven Lewis says:

      Can I add a me-too, please. We’ve welcomed the feedback we’ve had about certain questions but we’re confident that we’ll have interesting data to talk about if we get enough responses, which is why we’re so grateful to Dave and all of you who have shared the link.

      You might not agree with the data and subsequent analysis for whatever reason, including that the questions were flawed, but it’s going to be data that will give us all a chance to talk about our experiences and share even more.

      Just launching the collection part of the survey has sparked interesting discussion all over the community so I’m really looking forward to the discussion when we actually publish the results!

      Like

      • Oh, Steven, one more comment on the survey instrument. I had a hard time with the question about how long it took to make the minimum payment (i.e., $100 at Amazon). I thought that was only the minimum for those wanting a printed check. Isn’t it as low as $10 for those wanting a bank deposit, which is what I chose. So, I said 1 month, but I didn’t exceed $100 at Amazon only.

        Kally

        Like

  14. Sara Flower says:

    I am going to take the survey now. I hope that this helps with more accurate data on self publishers.

    Like

  15. Elisa Nuckle says:

    I think this is a great thing y’all are doing. Best of luck! (And you got a tweet and a reblog out of me :D)

    Like

  16. Chelsea says:

    Just tweeted this and going to take survey now. Can’t wait to read the results.

    Like

  17. Elisa Nuckle says:

    Reblogged this on Elisa Nuckle and commented:
    All self-publishers, please take ten minutes out of your day to fill this out. Everyone else, if you a self-publisher, please pass this along. Oh, and expect my regular blog post a bit later.

    Like

  18. Sara Flower says:

    Actually, I got a bit ahead of myself. I am going to wait until a month after my book has been published. Duh Sara.🙂 But I tweeted about the survey to spread the word.

    Like

  19. LM Preston says:

    This is great. As a member of MBPA (Mid Atlantic Book Publishers Association) and IBPA (Independent Book Publisher Association) we realized that self-publishers/small publishers/indie publishers working together to improve business models, penetration into subsidiary rights sales and other untapped areas for the smaller guy can be penetrated when we work together. Data like this is invaluable. Would be great if we break it up though. Since my MG sales are predominately in Paperback and my YA sales started to kick up in ebook formats in the last 2 years this data would be great to capture so we see a trend. And if only 100 books a year is the current number than Wow, I’m doing really good and I bet many others are too!

    Like

    • I think 100 per year is very lowball, at least in the romance genre. but I guess they have to add in the less popular genres, too, to come up with an average. It will be interesting to see what the results are!

      Steven Lewis: Is there a cutoff date for the survey or expected date for results? (I signed up for the report, but am just curious.)

      Kally

      Like

  20. Thank you so much for putting this together. I am a huge fan of self-publishing authors sharing numbers and information to help others. I can’t wait to see the results.

    Like

  21. Dave, AAP figures account for only a few percent of all the books sold in the world. So, using them to help calculate self-publishing trends seems–difficult at best, and wildly misleading at worst.

    And, a self-selected survey of self-published authors (almost all fiction writers, I predict) will produce exactly the same result– data about a few percent of all self-published books sold (or given away!) in the world. In other words–its primary use will be to help justify individual beliefs about publishing.

    I think aggregating data could be very useful for publishing, but this is probably not the way. I’m not sure there *is* a way right now, in fact.

    Like

    • The AAP figures always come with a ton of caveats – which I always note – but they are the best up to date figures we have. And if you look back historically, they have been pretty spot on and have tallied up with more comprehensive numbers (like that of the BISG/Bookstats Report).

      The AAP figures aren’t perfect, and neither is this survey – but that holds true for anything of this nature. The data will be presented, and people can use it or ignore it. Obviously, the more people that respond, the greater chance there is of it being representative of the community.

      There is no perfect way to aggregate this data, and there probably isn’t even a *good* way, by the strictest standards, but I don’t agree that the data will be useless.

      Like

      • “have tallied up with more comprehensive numbers (like that of the BISG/Bookstats Report)”

        Again, these account for only a small fraction of books published in the world. And I can’t agree that “any data is good data”. In fact, “any data” can often be more detrimental and misleading than helpful.

        Like

  22. Also, I’m not sure I understand how knowing the sales figures of other self-published authors “helps” me like some commenters said. What decisions can I make based on the sales figures of others?

    On a more positive note, a survey I *would* like to see is one that thoughtfully captures information about marketing strategies and results. It’s a difficult subject, but one that self-publishers could actually use.

    Like

    • I can’t speak for anyone else, but it was specifically the sharing of sales numbers on a monthly thread on Kindle Boards that gave me the courage to take the leap into self-publishing.

      Like

      • “that gave me the courage to take the leap into self-publishing.”

        I hear you. Now *that* is the essential reason the survey’s being done, as far as I can tell–emotional reasons, not strategic or business or marketing ones.

        Like

      • I disagree. We are talking about two different things – my decision to self-publish based (in part) on other self-publishers reporting their numbers, and the survey which measures a lot more than sales numbers (that’s only a small part of it).

        Like

    • “What decisions can I make based on the sales figures of others?”

      For one thing, it can help dispel the idea that promotion is a superior investment to time spent writing more titles. A comment not intended specifically for you but for self-publishers in general. I know a ton of people will argue with me, but when I finally took Konrath and a few others serisously enough to put that attitude into practice, it made all the difference.

      Like

      • “For one thing, it can help dispel the idea that promotion is a superior investment to time spent writing more titles.”

        If that were true, then why spend *any* time promoting? If an author seeks to self-publish, then it isn’t an either-or world. The author has to do *many* things that are not writing, and do them well, and do them over a period of years. That’s the new paradigm.

        But again, we’re likely talking about the small percentage of the publishing world that is the self-published genre novel writer, a la Konrath and Hocking.

        Like

      • techsavvywriter said: “If that were true, then why spend *any* time promoting?”

        I don’t. My next release is my promotion. Works great.

        Like

  23. D. D. Scott says:

    Terrific outreach, David and Steven!

    I just shared on both Facebook and Twitter and am popping over now to participate myself!

    Thanks Bunches!!!

    If you’d like, I’ll also give it a shout-out on The WG2E!!!

    Like

  24. Pingback: Comprehensive Self-Publishing Survey – Please Participate! | David Gaughran « Tales From The Mad Monk

  25. As someone who is looking to self-publish, all information is helpful, if for no other reason than it shows what’s “really” going on. I do believe that the success of some self-publishers has give a few writers the wrong idea about what to expect. Just as in traditional publishing, there will always be “blockbusters”, mid-listers, and small sales. Having a better handle on what the market data is will keep our feet on the ground.

    Like

  26. Kt Banks says:

    HI David,

    I Love that you’re doing this. I Tweeted it, Facebooked it, Linkedin it and everything I could think of. I think I got it out to at least 4000 writers, so fingers crossed for you! For all of us, actually. I can’t wait to read the results.

    ~ KT

    Like

  27. Leah Cutter says:

    One of the shifts I’ve been making since I’ve started self-publishing is “title” rather than “book”. Am I correct that when you use the term “book” you’re talking longer work? Does a collection count as a book? Or are you just talking titles, that is, short fiction counts as well as much longer fiction?

    Like

  28. Susanna Catherine Mahoney says:

    post to message to my children 2 fantasy escapism page on facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Message-To-My-Children-2-Fantasy-Escapism/103661739691732 then everyone can support each other;

    Like

  29. evahudson says:

    Reblogged this on EVA HUDSON and commented:
    Calling all indie publishers – yes that means you, self-publishing your collection of poems/car maintenance tips/vampire romance/legal thriller. Steven Lewis of Taleist.com is compiling indie publishing numbers, so can finally get a picture of just how big/successful this indie phenomenon really is. Read his blog post via David Gaughran’s and re-posted below. And then complete the survey!

    Like

  30. Pingback: Comprehensive Self-Publishing Survey – Please Participate! « EVA HUDSON

  31. Katie Klein says:

    Awesome! I just submitted mine and linked on my blog. Will tweet, too! Can’t wait to see the results!🙂

    Like

  32. Another voice chiming in to mention that the design of some of the questions is going to warp the results a bit. I entered sales and dollar amounts for my last three (pen name) releases, but none of them have been out a month. 1 month was the smallest amount of time I could enter. Two of them have been out less than a week and the third less than two weeks, so my 1 month sales are going to be considerably higher than the survey indicates. Also, it asked how much I made in 2011 but not how long it took me. There’s a big difference in making five figures in a couple of months or five figures over the year. For a writer not making/selling much, this makes little difference. For a writer selling several thousand copies a month, this makes a huge difference in the picture it paints. I suspect the snapshot you will get will look grimmer than the reality.

    Like

  33. Great idea, Dave, and thanks for doing this! I’m going over to submit my answers… and don’t be discouraged by the “imperfection” of the survey data… it’s the beginning of getting some understanding of this brave new eWorld. I’ll tweet, etc., to help get the word out.

    Bravo!

    Like

  34. Companies, even (gasp!) scientists, make decisions on imperfect data all the time – while their competition waits around for the perfect data to roll up on a red carpet and make the choices easy because the numbers are all there. Being a scientist and engineer, I’m a big fan of numbers and data. And of course surveys are imperfect, polls are biased, and numbers can lie – or be used to justify whatever arguments you wish to make. But people who are comfortable with ambiguity and able to make decisions with imperfect data – there’s a name for them: leaders. Also risk-takers. While self-publishing is becoming more mainstream by the minute, I think most people who have already taken the leap are by definition risk-takers. And just the sort who will seek data like this, incorporate it into their ever-shifting model of the marketplace, and continue forth, taking on new challenges, opening new markets, and sculpting this wild west into it’s future form – whatever that will be.

    Like

    • Steven Lewis says:

      Thank you, Susan. I was just saying to my wife that I’m sure the survey has ways it can be improved and we’ll look at doing that but a couple of questions someone thinks could have been phrased better isn’t going to spoil the barrel, I think.

      Like

    • “Companies, even (gasp!) scientists, make decisions on imperfect data all the time ”

      That would be my assumption too, because (gasp!) there’s no such thing as “perfect” data.

      “But people who are comfortable with ambiguity and able to make decisions with imperfect data – there’s a name for them: leaders.”

      That sounds great in a movie script with an orchestral crescendo in the background, but my somewhat less dramatic take was–the survey is well-intentioned but doesn’t really produce a meaningful result.

      That’s about it, really. I’m all for hearing the anecdotal experiences of others, but I know better than to mistake it for “data” that I’ll make career decisions on. Especially decisions about when, what, and how much to write.

      Like

      • You should absolutely make decisions about when, what, and how much to write based on information you trust! If you don’t think the survey will produce meaningful results, by all means, disregard it. At the risk of being overly dramatic, I’ll continue to cheer on the collection of the data.🙂 And then take a look at the results before I decide what usefulness it provides to me in my writing decisions.

        Like

  35. I’m off to take the survey, but hang in there, new self-pubbers! I published my first novel in August and made under $100 in royalties that month. ($55 from Amazon on my 99-cent book.) Published another book in late September (for $2.99) and in October I made $2700 (not paid until late December, of course–takes forever). Published my third book Dec. 23 (for $3.99, the price I am going to stick with on my 100k+ novels). Made $4500 in December royalties. Nice, steady progress on my series. Pleased as punch to make more than I ever had on a monthly basis.

    Then the whole thing went crazy and I made $12250+ in January royalties. Blew me out of the water and I started telling my readers via Facebook–OMG, I’m going to make $10k this month! Then it got a little embarrassing when I reached the goal on 1/26, so I announced that I would donate everything over $10k to the Wounded Warrior Project. (My first three romance novels are about three wounded warriors, so that project is dear to my heart.) Well, that probably boosted sales even more to give me that final figure. But February royalties are on a trajectory to go over $10,000 again if my daily income remains steady (and it just seems to go up every day).

    I have awesome book pimps–I mean word-of-mouth advertising, because I do nothing but yack on Facebook as far as marketing. Did take out a $300 ad this month–first one.) Mainly, I just engaged with readers on Facebook (they like that I’m a real person, talk about my characters as if THEY are real, and that I answer all posts and messages. So, keep the faith! This is the best career I’ve ever had–and when I thought about what would have happened if I had caved to pressure to start with a traditional publisher, I’d have only made $3-6,000 in January (and the e-pub paying 50% is VERY rare). Until this year, I don’t even have a single Social Security quarter making more than $30k! My accountant is going to think I’ve started dealing drugs or something. LOL

    Now to the survey.

    Kallypso Masters
    http://kallypsomasters.blogspot.com/p/books-by-kallypso-masters.html

    Like

    • Steven Lewis says:

      That is fantastic! I’m really hoping we can bring out more stories about the curve in earnings because I’m sure there are authors who discouraged by low sales in the first several months. I didn’t earn anything like $100 in my first month, as you did, or even the $30 that Karen McQuestion made. For a while I thought I was never going to get a royalty cheque.

      Like

      • Steven, I hope it picked up in later months! People hear the huge success stories and think it’s instantaneous. Heck, I read or heard somewhere that even John Locke, a fellow Louisvillian who is an Amazon phenom with his 99-cent novels, started out making far less than the millions he reached eventually. I did a lot of prep work to get my first month off to a great start (and write a cliffhanging “marketing” piece that hooked readers). But it’s never too soon to make a splash. Just have to keep trying to find your niche market or find ways to reach your audience (without annoying the crap out of everyone with self-promos). For me, that meant letting my characters post status updates on Facebook. Got me drummed out of one reader group that deemed that self-promotion. Well, maybe it was, but I write about dominant men who, well, I pretty much have to let do as they please when they go all Dom on me. Oh, then I started my own secret Facebook group for people in my genre and they appreciated having a place to discuss BDSM away from prying family and friends’ eyes. That led to more sales.

        But my pre-fans fell in love with the men before they even got to read about them in the first book in August. They were standing in line waiting for the book to come out–then they told all their friends, even the ones who didn’t read in this subgenre (because my books weren’t about the BDSM or even the sex, they were about the stories of three wounded warriors trying to put their lives back together after Fallujah). They connected to them because I wrote in deep POV making them feel things just as intensely as the characters.

        Word of mouth is what does it. You have to get people talking about your book, your characters, even you. Best advertising in the world. Good luck, everyone! Hope you find your marketing “gimmick”–on purpose or by accident. (Mine definitely was the latter.)

        Kally

        Like

  36. I spent hours on this and am weeping in frustration. I left out one figure and it erased all my totals that took so long to compile Maybe I will try later.

    Like

  37. Steven Lewis says:

    Thank you so much to everyone who has shared a link to the survey. Responses have shot up since Dave and his readers got involved. We’ve still got a long way to go so please keep up the good work!

    Like

  38. Susan wrote:
    “If you don’t think the survey will produce meaningful results, by all means, disregard it. ”
    Good advice!

    “At the risk of being overly dramatic, I’ll continue to cheer on the collection of the data.🙂 And then take a look at the results before I decide what usefulness it provides to me in my writing decisions.”

    This example is how I see it, and might be relevant to you: imagine a rocket scientist looking at data about o-ring testing. The test data say the o-ring will withstand all expected stresses.

    The rocket launches, and the o-ring fails. If I were the scientist, my first question would be–how was the testing done, and was it done in a way that produced meaningful data?

    Or, if she’s weird like me, that scientist would instead ensure the testing was meaningful in the first place, before taking time to conduct it.

    Like

    • My “stringency of data collection” is much higher when lives are at stake. I was a (rocket) scientist, and my first (actual) question in the case of the o-rings was, “How could we let a single o-ring failure cause the ship to blow up?” Because I know that no matter how rigorous we believed the testing to be, there will always be flaws in the data, and that has to be accounted for as well. Multiple redundant measures (and tests, and backup systems) are needed for things like launching astronauts into space (and multiple failures occurred for the o-rings to lead to catastrophe). Or for designing aircraft engines that, if they throw a turbine blade, will kill hundreds of people (another job I did).

      Back to books (and other non-life-threatening things).

      I do believe that people making business decisions (including book-business decisions) can make good, solid, success-inducing decisions based on data that is imperfectly collected. Would we like the best possible collection of data? Of course. Do we understand that there will be flaws in the data? We should know that this survey data is skewed by self-selection of participation, which is a very large bias, all other flaws aside.

      My point is that (I don’t believe) this renders the data meaningless. It means that you have to caveat it, grind what meaning you can from it, and fold it into lots of other sources of information (probably also flawed, biased, and generally seen through the lens that is your personal history in life)…and proceed.

      Make the best decision you can, based on what you know at the time.

      Like

      • “Make the best decision you can, based on what you know at the time.”

        Of course. And that’s why I critiqued the survey in the first place. I don’t expect anybody else to agree with me, though. Self-published writers of fiction right now are hungry for any information, and most are encountering the stark (and decidedly) un-scientific realities of being in the publishing business. Including me.

        Like

  39. What a great idea! I’m not published yet, but plan to self-publish soon. Having actual info from others will be awesome. Thank you for doing this!

    Like

  40. prue batten says:

    Terrific idea Steve, and thanks David for showcasing it. Off to broadcast it and also to fill in the survey.
    I’m a muddleheaded wombat in the world of indie-publishing (since 2008), so any data and/or comment is always appreciated. In the same way as one’s jaw rather drops to the floor with the gloominess of AAP results, I am imagining that the results of this survey will be rather gob-smacking as well.
    But which way?
    Somehow I think techsavvywriter will be right there reading to find out!

    Cheers.

    Like

  41. Pingback: Calling All Self-Published Authors! « Patrice Fitzgerald

  42. Cora says:

    I filled out the survey and will also post a link on my blog.

    Like

  43. Robert Gregory says:

    I want to partcipate! But…alas, my book is not yet finished, so, like a few other writers commented already, I don’t think I qualify – yet!🙂 …Give me a year.

    Like

  44. Pingback: Public Service Announcement: Self-Publishing Survey | Pegasus Pulp

  45. Pingback: Worldbuilding, speculative noir and a public service announcement | Cora Buhlert

  46. It took a little longer to fill out the survey because I had to stop and break down a spreadsheet that I kept track of books sales on but not the revenue. Reach was my goal since my first release in late April 2011. Great survey! I can’t wait until the results are shared so we can have a lively discussion about the findings. A few questions threw me a curve, but I went with my best guess. Overall, it was a great catalyst in prompting me to review my sales numbers for all of last year, sooner rather than later. I even managed to do a bar chart in color with my spreadsheet and it was pretty obvious where most of my sales are coming from. As I anticipated though, half my revenue came from LSI’s Print On Demand because my demographic (women 18+) still wants to read from a trade paperback. Thanks for putting this together! I will share it as well.

    Like

    • Steven Lewis says:

      I’m not embarrassed to admit that answering the questions on the live survey made me think in a way that writing them hadn’t for some reason. I’m going to be taking a hard look at my revenue/pricing because it jumped out at me that I’d made much more in months with higher prices and lower sales. I know intellectually that you have to sell 286 books at 99 cents to make 100 dollars but it really jumps out at you when you see you made a lot more money in the months the books were more expensive.

      So much food for thought and that’s just from my own responses! As at 7 minutes ago we were halfway to our target of 1,000 responses. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time!

      Like

  47. Ruth Nestvold says:

    I didn’t start seriously self-publishing until the beginning of this year, so I stopped the survey in the middle when it kept asking me about sales in 2011. I think it would be helpful to indicate up front that this is for self-published writers who have had works up for at least a year or that most of the data to be collected concerns 2011.

    Like

  48. Pingback: Comprehensive Self-Publishing Survey – Please Participate! | Writing and reading fiction | Scoop.it

  49. Pingback: Blog Treasures 2-11 | Gene Lempp's Blog

  50. Excellent survey, and looking forward to the results…

    Armand Rosamilia

    Like

  51. Pingback: Is Free A Price We Can Pay?

  52. Great idea, and thanks to Steven Lewis for his hard work. Have completed the survey and tweeted this page to others.

    Like

  53. Pingback: Writer Wednesday « creative barbwire (or the many lives of a creator)

  54. Pingback: No More Lies. We Need Our Own Numbers. | Mike Cane’s xBlog

  55. mystichawker says:

    Thanks for sharing the great survey, I can’t wait to see what the results are. I will be passing this along so more of my author friends can get in on it.

    Like

  56. Pingback: Thinking of publishing your own ebook? | bostonwriters

  57. Pingback: Take the Self-Publishing Survey | Author EMS

  58. Steven Lewis says:

    Thank you so much to the 1,006 and people who took the survey, many of whom I know are readers of Dave’s fine blog. We’re getting started on crunching the data and will let you know as soon as it’s ready, which could take a few months — there’s a lot to say!

    Like

  59. Pingback: 1,006 responses received in the first global survey of self-publishers

  60. Tried to take the survey but Survey Monkey says it’s closed. Sigh. But, I’m new to self publishing with only 20 books (Nonfiction title, Raising Amazing Children (…While Having a Life of Your Own) sold in the month since I published. So, I’m still optimistic because at this point, I actually think that’s pretty good! Guess by next year’s survey, I’ll either feel greatly elated or crushed. Hoping for the former, fearing the latter!

    Like

Release Your Word-Minions!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s