Self Publishing Survey: 51.25% of Authors Made $100 or Less from Books in 2016

Self Publishing Survey Infographic
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The Thorne Self Publishing Survey 2016 found that 51.25% of participating self published authors reported making $100 or less in book income from their books and eBooks in 2016. Some authors even made $0 or lost money.

“In spite of their book sales results being disappointing, the self published authors I surveyed remain optimistic about their book income prospects for the coming year. The top answer for book income forecast for 2017 was $1,000 to $4,999 (23.75%). Even that might seem to be a low number. But considering that just over half are making $100 or less this year, making $1,000 or more would mean they hope to make several times what they did this year. As well, the number of authors forecasting to make less than $100 dropped to 32.50% for next year,” says Dr. Heidi Thorne, MBA/DBA, who conducted the survey. “On the opposite end of the income spectrum, the number of self published authors making $10,000 or more in book income this year (6.25%) doubled to 12.50% forecasting that income level for next year.”

But, as Dr. Thorne explains, these low book income levels should not be the only measure of a self published book’s success: “With a high proportion of business owners and nonfiction authors in the survey, it could be suspected that many of them are self publishing a book to help promote their businesses. In those cases, the actual book revenues can be irrelevant when compared to the income and public relations opportunities that a book affords a business owning author.”

The Thorne Self Publishing Survey 2016 was conducted from July to November 2016 and anonymously surveyed 86 self published authors on a variety of issues including book sales and forecasts, motivations, challenges and familiarity with traditional and self publishing models. There were 80 authors who shared their book income and forecasts in the survey. Women, business owners, nonfiction authors, and age 40 to 60+ were highly represented in the entire survey population. Authors were recruited through social media, social media advertising and email invitations.

An infographic is available showing key income stats from the survey

For comparison and to monitor trends, the survey is planned to be repeated in 2018. Full results of the 2016 survey are available as a Kindle eBook on at