Saturday, March 11, 2023

Is The Self-Publishing Book Boom Slowing Down?



The book world is exploding with tons of new books. In 2021, 2.3 million new self-published books appeared on the scene. Some 375,000 more books came from traditional publishers. However, that number is down from 2020’s 2.7 million self-published books, and half of what was released in 2019. Has the self-publishing boom peaked?  

One of the factors driving the decline in the number of new books being published is the fact that sales are poor for many authors.  

Whereas there were a half-million self-published books in 2011 and a quarter-million in 2014, more than five times what was released in 2011 was released in 2021. But the number of copies of books sold did not increase five-fold.  

In fact, what is happening is that authors are cannibalizing each other. Consumers are not buying many more books than they used to, so the sales-per-title has declined. Many self-published books sell hundreds of copies, sometimes in the dozens.  

I don’t know why 2019 was such an aberration. The 4.539 million new titles that year had tripled the 1.554 million of 2018. 2020 saw a drop-off, but was still more than 80% higher than 2018. Given 2020 was the breakout pandemic year, more people were home with time to write and publish books, so it makes sense that it was a bigger year than 2018, but 2019 still is very odd, and I have to wonder why.  

Suffice to say, plenty of books are being published, creating stiff competition amongst authors for:  

·         Book Reviews

·         Book Awards

·         Media Attention

·         Social media coverage

·         Speaking Engagements

·         Book Sales 

Book publicists like myself are kept busy by all of the writers looking to get their voices heard, and their books discovered, so there are no complaints from me. But readers are confronted by so much choice their heads spin.  

So, which genre category tends to see a lot of self-published books?  

In 2021, adult fiction was No. 1, followed by juvenile non-fiction, juvenile fiction, business and economics, and literary collections. Not in the top 10, surprisingly, were memoirs. I see a ton of memoirs out there, but maybe they get listed under self-help, which is a very popular category.  

Interestingly, according to Bookstats, self-published e-book unit sales captured 51% of all e-book unit sales in 2022. This means if you read an e-book last year, it likely was from a self-published author.  

However, self-published authors charged less than traditional authors for their books. 66% of e-book retail revenue went to traditionally published authors, even though they only sold 49% of all e-book units.  

If I calculate correctly, every single day in America yields close to 7500 – 8000 new books published. Every single day – weekdays, weekends, holidays, vacations, sick days, birthdays, stormy days, beach days – holy crap!  

A lot of self-published books have limited readership from the get-go. They are legacy books written for family and friends. Or, they appeal to a real narrow niche of readers. Distribution is challenging and most do not promote their books out there, many of which are not Big 5 quality and lack the look, editing, and feel of very good books. Self-publishing, like our general population of humans, spans the gamut from awful to awesome.  

Self-publishing is a beautiful, necessary force in the book eco-system, but there is still a need and even a desire to have a stable of reliable traditional publishers, university presses, and small presses. Together, the book world is a healthy, growing industry that provides a treasure of diverse content to those who seek information, inspiration, entertainment, and enlightenment. Self-publishing is still a huge component of the book industry, but it may be slowing down.  


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Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at  He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has over 30 years of experience in successfully helping thousands of authors in all genres. Let him be your advocate, teacher, and motivator!


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.3 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  



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