Fact: women are more successful self-published authors

As featured on Carnival of the Indies, Issue #29 Feb 13

As featured on Carnival of the Indies, Issue #29 Feb 13

According to the recent Taleist survey of self-published writers, women authors are more successful than men.

Does this fact surprise you? It surprised me – not because I lack faith in my female counterparts (far from it), but because when you compare it to the traditional book publishing industry, it’s the men who dominate.

A good example of the situation women face in the traditional publishing world is documented by VIDA. They decided to count the reviews in a number of important literary publications and it revealed that male writers were up to 413% more likely to be reviewed than female writers in publications like The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, Paris Review, The New Yorker, London Review of Books, Harper’s Magazine.

Forget publishers, I’m going it alone…

Before you make any final decisions, you may want to consider the cold, hard facts. While the traditional publishing world may not be the holy grail for women authors, the Taleist survey of 1,007 self-published writers discovered that less than 10% earned enough money from their self-published books to make a living. Reality bites, huh?

For women authors still trying to make it, the good news is that of the Top Earners in the Taleist survey, two thirds were women. Does that mean the traditional publishing world is missing out on some fantastic women authors? Let’s delve a little deeper into these Top Earning women to see if it’s indeed the case:

  • These women write. A lot. On average, they spent 69% more time writing and 24% more time on those words (compared to those outside the Top Earners group).
  • They choose self-publishing first. Authors who did not submit to a traditional publisher first earned 2.5 times more than those who submitted and got rejected. Of the Top Earners, only 32% submitted to a publishing house first.
  • Less time on marketing. Top earners spend more time writing than marketing. And here’s the kick – those who spent the least time marketing earned the most. Ouch. (I’m a marketer by trade). Just as well I’m not working in book publishing!

So, not only are the Top Earning self-published writers serious about their craft, they have also actively chosen to go it alone AND they place more importance on writing compared to marketing their work – with great results. A pretty sobering scenario from a traditional publishing point of view.

Successful self-published writers know how to get serious about romance

Apart from writing (and being a woman), what else should we be doing to give our self-published book the best chance of success?

  • Write romance. Perhaps this explains the prevalence of women in the Top Earners group, or in my cynical opinion, maybe it also illustrates that traditional publishing needs to take women and romance writing more seriously, because frankly, they’re missing out. You may scoff at Twilight or Fifty Shades, but they were written for women, by women, and they were successful.
  • Book trailers. Necessary? No. Helpful? Yes. The Taleist study suggested book trailers do actually increase the earning potential for self-published books.
  • Pay professionals. It might sound obvious, but pay for editing, proofreading, copy-editing and it equates to a 13% increase in earnings compared to those who didn’t. For a professional book cover design, it represents an 18% increase in earnings.
  • Reviews. Top Earners had almost four times as many reviews for their most recent book than authors outside of the group. These books were earning Top Earners six times as much.

So, if you’ll excuse me now, I have some REAL writing to do.

What do you think? Do the Taleist survey results ring true for other self-published authors? And have reviews made a difference to your earnings?

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About Belinda Williams

Author of romantic suspense and chick-lit, based in Sydney, Australia.

11 comments

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  5. Wonderful article! Thanks!

  6. Belinda, do you know any good doctors who can deliver a cheap sex change operation?

    I always knew I should’ve been born a woman.
    :)

  7. How interesting…hmmmm (scratches chin). Now I don’t write romance and I spend a lot of time blogging which steals away precious moments from my second novel but…hmmmm (more chin scratching.) As you can tell, I’m still trying to work out what to make of these statistics but…Hey, you are the only other blogger I’ve come across who uses the same blogging template (Imbalance) as me! Great minds, eh?

    • Hi Jackie,

      Nice to meet another great mind :) The problem with statistics is that if you think about them too much, you start to get analysis paralysis. What I took out of this, was that I should just keep focused on the writing. Still working on that! Thanks for reading.

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