The Economics of Self-Publishing [Infographic]

Self-Publishing, Books, Distribution, Lulu, Create

Self-publishing is a demanding project to take on. As a writer, you’ve already labored over the words and phrases of your book, researched and studied the ins and outs of writing effectively, developed plots and characters…you’ve done a lot of work! Now to get the manuscript published, you’ve got to take on even more roles, notably laying out the book, designing a cover, ensuring the content is error free, actually publishing, establishing an ISBN, claiming a copyright, distributing. And then you’re just at the beginning of the sales portion of your self-publishing journey. Understanding the economics of self-publishing is vital to be a successful author.

Once the book is finally done and published, you’re new task is pushing your book, establishing contacts, leads, engaging readers through book signings, and selling both online and by hand. Publishing itself may seem easy at this point. Profitably publishing, now that is a challenge.

Profits and sales for ebooks and bestsellers

You might stop at this point and think “why bother?” Why go the self-publishing route? Why take the time, energy, and money to do all the work yourself (or hire designers/editors to assist you) when you could pitch the book to traditional publishers, hand the book over to them, claim a nice advance, and sit back while they do the heavy lifting?

There’s one really good reason to go the self-publishing route. And what better way to convey that reason than an infographic!

The Value of Self-publishing Infographic

That’s a lot of information, I know. Let’s break down two of the most important points:


Self-Published authors earn 80% of their revenue for each sale with Lulu. In the above example, selling 3,000 copies resulted in four times the revenue earned! Earning power and potential is one of two differences that will lure a writer to self-publish (the other being editorial control). This is a major factor in the economics of self-publishing, as traditionally published authors earn far less. When you sell your work, you want it to truly me your work and you want to earn what you deserve. We agree, and by putting the author in the driver’s seat, we can direct substantially more revenue to the author.

Sales by Publisher

This is interesting enough to be worth looking again at the specific segment of the infographic. Look at those Yellow portions. That’s the piece of the bookselling market (ebook and print) including just Indie and Single Author publishing. 41% of ebooks, and 27% of Amazon print bestsellers. Think about that a moment. An idea (self-publishing) that is only fifteen years old has already taken over more than a quarter of the biggest bookseller in the world. And that doesn’t even include small and medium-sized publishers.

Traditional publishing is out there. And if you can get your book picked up by a publisher, it might be right for you. But if you’re looking to make the most from each sale, to retain control over your work, and to have the freedom to publish just the way you want, Lulu is the only real option. The book is yours! You wrote it, so you should see the profits.

If you need some more information to get started publishing, check out the Lulu Toolkit!

3 thoughts on “The Economics of Self-Publishing [Infographic]”

  1. Barry Tempest

    I am currently writing my autobiography and am around four months from completion. I am a retired professional pilot aged 79 and have been a pilot for 63 years and an airshow pilot for 55 years with over 2,300 public display performances in the UK and Europe. In total I have 13,000 plus hours in my flying logbooks. My enthusiasm for aviation stretches back to my childhood.
    Should I consider self publishing as opposed to a conventional route. Advice appreciated.

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