Is Self-Publishing Profitable?

Admittedly I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to self publishing success stories. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that self published authors have what it takes to reach phenomenal success in the field of publishing.  My skepticism is mainly directed towards mass media reporting of that success.  Think about it.  Traditional publishing houses have dominated this industry for centuries.  These power companies have forged impenetrable  relationships with media outlets, distributors, libraries, and publishing clearinghouse.  To think that their influence in mass media is silent would be naive.  Now maybe I’m a bit of a conspiracist, but it would not be to the benefit of top publishers to tout the success of the underdog (a.k.a self published author).
I believe our success is always underrepresented.  According to an article written in Nougats Blog, only 40 self published authors make money.  Purportedly this is based on information directly from #Amazon.  Now if this information is true, then  Amazon has  provided a  valuation of  self published authors that is rather bleak.  Fact is, according to their February 2016 Author’s Earning Report – self published authors account for a big chunk of ebook sales, even surpassing top publishing companies.  The book selling giant also reports:
  • 4 of Amazon’s overall Top 10 Best Selling ebooks were self-published indie titles
  • 10 of Amazon’s overall Top 20 Best Selling ebooks were self-published indie titles
  • 56 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 Best Selling ebooks — more than half — were self-published indie titles
  • 20 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 Best Selling ebooks were indie titles priced between $2.99 and$5.99
Those numbers are pretty impressive if you ask me.  Now I get that these sales may not be indicative of whose actually turning a profit; however, the accuracy of that information will always be skewed in favor of the big publishing houses. The presumption is that if a self published author hasn’t become successful by scales, then he/she probably isn’t turning a real profit. Yet for many indie authors, any amount of success is profitable and worth the journey.
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Meet Joe Williams – Nelson


“Lights, Camera, Take Action:  52 weeks to a better life, one movie at a time” is Joe Williams Nelson’s debut book.  This title is a self help book designed to help readers achieve their “best life now”.  The author is a premiere life coach and mogul who has dedicated her life to helping others achieve success in life.  Her book is a unique combination of good cinema review and excellent advice to help readers “direct” their best life yet.  This title is available on Amazon.  To purchase your copy of this book, click here.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing creatively since meeting my best friend in elementary school. Academics were not valued in my family. So it goes without saying that my exposure to language arts was limited to school. When I went to the library, I checked out cookbooks. After meeting Andrea Jamison, I learned that writing as an art form was a thing, and I was good at it. I’d memorized poems and passages for school, but I wrote my first poem when I was 13 and have never stopped. So the official answer is 30 years now.

What is your most recent literary/artistic project?

I am presently collecting the movies, action steps, and life lessons for the sequel to my book, Lights, Camera, Take Action. In it I teach my readers how to take their life from good to great, one movie at a time. That’s my thing, movie coaching. I fell in love with movies those first twelve years of my life and now I get to combine everything I love and am passionate about into written word for the masses. In order for my words to ring true for my readers they have to be truly integrated by me. So I literally and figuratively put blood, sweat, and/or tears into every lesson and therefore page. Now that is art.

What inspires you to write?


Who’s your favorite author and why?

I have two. John Steinbeck makes me a better black woman. That may sound strange, but I am not black enough to identify with the struggles of the women of Morrison, Angelou, and Walker’s novels though I enjoyed reading them. When I read East of Eden for The Oprah’s Book Club, I was finally able to identify with a universal struggle that exists for us humans here on earth. Universal struggle is a big part of the work I do as a Spiritual Life Coach and now writer.

Erma Bombeck is my second favorite author. She has made me a better wife and mother through her humorous works. When I discovered her books, I was a woman struggling to get a handle on the huge responsibility that is motherhood. She helped me to know that things that were stressing me in the moment would be hilarious later. She helped me make it to later.

What advice can you give to other authors or writers?

The best advice I have is the gift Andrea gave me three decades ago which is to believe that your work has value. Everything will not be great, or good, or even marketable, but it still has value. As independent authors we have qualified ourselves and that takes moxie, but self-validation can also breed insecurity and self-doubt in our weaker moments. Remember that your writing is not meant to go with you to the grave. Writing is an art form. Art is meant to live more lifetimes than its creator. The job of art is to be living proof that we are ever connected to God. That is why art must exist beyond its creator to touch as many lives as possible. Write like life depends on it, because it does.

Where can readers go to find out more information about you or your work?

My website will be live soon if I get the domain names I like. Readers can find me there sharing more of my movie coaching, blogging, poems, and opinions. You can Google me and find me all over social media and the Internet. I am from the west side of Chicago. Though I consider myself a West Side Success Story, I am always up to thangs [sic].

Are you a self published author?  Would you like to have your book featured?  If so, send me an email:

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The Self Published Author as a PAWN

It is more than a bit disconcerting when you find tons of opportunities for self published authors to have their work recognized, but it comes with a price tag.  Really?  Do people actually believe that the self published author is a self published egoist who would pay any expense to receive accolades for their work? I would hope the response to that answer is a resounding no.  But I would  feel a bit at ease if your answer is split between:  a “maybe” or an “I don’t know”.   Before I dive head first into this rant, let me take a moment to explain the reason for an interruption in my Saturday bliss to pen this entry.  While completing my share of tweets for IAI, I ran across an advertisement for the Self Published Book Awards.  Eager to share this information with IAI’s growing twitter population, I gave it a once over and immediately began the process of linking the url to IAI’s website ( and twitter account (@IAIChicago).  Upon further investigation, I learned that  potential nominees had to pay a fee as a prerequisite for having their book reviewed.   Moment of silence begins now!

I not only neglected to broadcast that link to our small but growing “twitter-verse”, I was tempted to send them a nice email.  Okay, I’m lying.  I was tempted to send them a “not so nice” email.  After enduring what turned out to be a very conflicting internal struggle, I decided to focus that energy into a much better venture: searching for legitimate opportunities for self published authors.  I must say this was a grand endeavor but a rather useful one. Most of the opportunities for self published authors come with a price-tag which means that a lot more advocacy has to be done for this type of genre. Namely, traditional publishers and industry experts need to rethink the legitimacy of self published titles and their impact on the future.  As a professional librarian, I have seen quite a few bestsellers  by  authors who used self publishing as a launching pad for their literary careers, renowned authors such as:

In most cases and after having received quite a few letters of rejections from major presses, these authors continued their literary pursuits at their own expense.  However, they spent money to market, not legitimize their works.  Fact is, your work will speak for itself.  Large or small, there is an audience for every book written.  However, the great “publishing barrier” has created an unfair stigma on works without major presses behind them.  In my opinion, major presses aren’t the HOLY Grail for good literature, as evidenced by the list of authors above.  They are a good marketing and branding source for delivering content to the masses.  However, online  giants like Amazon are making that market more accessible to indie authors who are proving that being an “unknown”author  is only a minor obstacle.  It is  in no way indicative of the potential of their work. Therefore, the only price tag needed is the one donning the cover of  the self published author’s book.  IJS