Self-Publishing – the market at a glance
The stigma of self-publishing is disappearing. It wasn't long ago that this corner of the book industry was viewed as a last resort for writers. But as the Frankfurt Book Fair recently demonstrated, independent publishing is increasingly becoming the first choice for many aspiring authors, who are learning to compete with the larger publishers and, in some cases, even outselling them.
Thanks to companies like Kindle Direct Publishing, digital platforms are now a key channel for self-publishers. Writers are drawn to e-book self-publishing for creative control, faster access to global markets and independent promotion. There’s also an economic incentive – according to Publishers Weekly, writers retain all rights while earning 60% – 80% of the list price of their e-book royalty.
But while digital media allows content to be published and sold directly to the consumer, most self-publishers still prefer to hold tangible, printed copies of their work. Proof is in UKSG’s report on the self-publishing sector: between 2011 and 2016, the number of e-Books grew from 88,238 to 148,311, an increase of 68%. By contrast, printed books grew from 158,972 to 638,624, an increase of 301%.
No one could have predicted this growth. A few years ago, it was highly unlikely that self-published books would be picked up by high profile publishing houses. Today that expectation has been subverted, as publishers use sales data from self-published titles to spot upcoming authors and acquire copyright, while book printers capitalise on the new business opportunities thanks to self-publishers.