In previous posts I covered the parts of the survey that are part of the publishing process, taking your book from initial draft to publication. However, I threw in a few questions not directly related to this process. In this final post I’ll discuss those questions and what, if anything, they might (or might not) tell us.
Reading the disclaimer in the original survey results post before proceeding is highly recommended.
We’ll start with the boring questions (at least they are to me), pertaining to promotion. In the promotion of their most recently published book, the authors who took our survey invested as little as nothing (about 1 in 5) to more than $1,000. The average investment in promotion was $240, thus far. (I should point out that the answer to this question could vary widely depending on how long it was since the author’s last book was released.)
Where did those promotional dollars go?
We provided a list of those promotional and marketing activities where someone might spend money. Some involve fees paid to an organization for advertising or to create marketing materials. Others involved the cost of hiring someone to do tasks the author couldn’t do on their own or thought made more sense to outsource. The only surprise in the results were that there aren’t many patterns. Those who spent money on any of the 17 items presented did an average of 2 or 3 of those from the list, yet only one of them was popular enough to be done by more than a third of the respondents. Advertising using book-specific venues such as BookBub and The Fussy Librarian was the most popular item by far, with almost half of those who spent money on promotion doing this. Advertising in other venues and promotion on social media was also relatively popular. Everything else was tried by less than 25% of the authors surveyed.
Who Are You?
About a quarter of those responding have been traditionally published with more than 40% of those planning on self-publishing all future books. The remainder of those previously traditionally published authors see themselves as hybrids, picking the publishing method based on the project and presumably whatever offers are on the table.
The typical respondent has published eight books those with some traditionally published having three or four more published books than the overall average.
Roughly one-third of the authors said they publish under multiple author names and the majority have published books in more than one genre.
One question I asked was whether the author was meeting their goals and expectations, exceeding them, or felt their efforts were too much for too little reward. Slightly less than two out of three were meeting their expectations. Of the remainder, the number of unhappy authors slightly bested those who felt they were exceeding their goals. Those who made less were more likely to be unhappy, but plenty of those who made minimal money were happy with the results. The only clear pattern were that those who had been at it longer and were seeing virtually no financial reward were the most likely to be unhappy. No real surprises here other than money doesn’t appear to be a big motivator for those who are meeting their expectations with a few thousand dollars a year keeping many plugging away.
Show Me the Money
While the average gross revenue reported for 2014 was almost exactly $10,000, this was skewed by the outliers, although none of our reporting authors said they grossed more than $125,000. (I knew I should have sent Hugh Howey a personal invitation to participate.) Only a third reported making more than $3,000 with the majority of those in the $3,000-10,000 range.
I found this an interesting exercise. There were a lot of little surprises, but for me only one big surprise. That was just how much variance there is among the IU readers who took the survey. Everyone’s process is unique. You all attack the tasks of production, marketing, and promotion in different ways. You each approach your business differently than anyone else. I guess that’s what it means to be independent. What are your thoughts?