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5 Proven Insights from the Most Successful Self-Publishing Authors

Posted by Kristen House on February 23, 2018 at 9:00 AM


As a book editor, I’m constantly in tune with what’s going on in the publishing industry. And…drumroll please…BookBaby’s recently released Self-Publishing Survey Results has some great information, some of which I’d like to pass along to you.

Since Amazon released Kindle Direct Publishing in 2007, authors have more power in their hands than ever, with self-published and independent authors earning approximately 40% of the market share. Clearly, self-publishing has become a force to be reckoned with.

In a survey of over 7,600 self-published authors—some of whom are very successful (over $5,000 in sales in the past 12 months), and some who were less successful (less than $100 in sales in the past 12 months)—some insightful information was uncovered.

Let’s talk about the 5 proven insights from the most successful self-publishing authors.



1. They are more active in marketing their books.
The most successful self-publishing authors engage in an average of more than 5 marketing activities (compared to just 2 marketing activities less successful authors do). The most high-earning authors are taking their careers more seriously by investing time and money in marketing their books.

In fact, authors who earned more than $5,000 in sales in a year were more likely to solicit reviews, launch a pre-sale for their book (giving readers the option to submit pre-orders), have a book launch, and offer Goodreads and Kindle giveaways.


2. They contact book bloggers to read and review their books.
High-ranking book bloggers have the power and influence to make your book sales skyrocket. Contacting a book blogger who has a large following and having them review your book is a genius way to get your book in front of thousands of readers. 

Want proof? Over 61% of the most successful self-publishing authors contacted book bloggers. As BookBaby’s CEO said, “Prolific book bloggers are a gold mine for self-published authors.”



3. They publish multiple books.
Being a prolific, well-known author and publishing multiple books goes hand in hand. As I wrote in my blog The 4 MUST DO Things on Every Author's List for Success, there’s a reason why I tell my clients that the most successful authors are those who have written many books. Agatha Christie, Danielle Steele, Dr. Seuss, and JK Rowling have written 85, 120, 44, and 9 books, respectively. They have created massive fan bases because of the sheer number of books they’ve written.

Among my own clients, I’ve noticed that the most successful authors I’ve worked with are those who have published multiple books. My client Lou Paduano has continued (and growing) success with each book he adds to the Greystone series. (Same with my clients K.R. Willis with her Keira Blackwater series, and my clients Jason Taylor Morgan and John Legget Jones with their several books.)

Of those successful self-publishing authors, a whopping 43% have published more than 10 books with printed copies (95%), ebook copies (87%), and audiobooks (39%). Authors who publish more books sell more books, as a result of building their reader base. It makes sense.



4. They rely on professional services… 
…Including editing, cover design, ebook conversion (i.e., publishing a professional-looking book through Amazon Kindle), and print-on-demand and paperback book formatting (i.e., publishing a professional-looking book through Create Space)—in that order. (See my blog, Do You REALLY Need an Editor?)

In other words: High-earning authors understand that a quality book includes professional editing services and a cover that sells the book. Top-earning self-publishing authors spend most of their resources on professional service for cover design and editing, which often translates to self-publishing success.


5. They start marketing before their book is even published.
As I say in my blog 12 Genius Ways to Market Your Book, the more you market and promote your book, the more people will know about your book, and the more people will buy your book. This is such an important step because, as 92% of successful authors earning over $5k yearly agree, without marketing your book, your chances of people buying your book are nil. In fact, most high-earning self-published authors start marketing plans for their books a year before their book is published.


As Uncle Ben says in Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility”—and with great self-publishing prowess comes great marketing responsibility. (Ba-dum cha!) As is said in BookBaby’s report, “A properly executed marketing campaign is almost certainly the best way for a self-published author to ensure that his or her hard work is given the fair shake it deserves.”





Want to learn more about how to build your author brand

and become a self-publishing pro?

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Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.


Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.


Categories: marketing, author business, self-publishing

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