Tablet and BooksBowker has released its latest report on Self-Publishing in the United States, encompassing 2011 through 2016. Even if you are traditionally published, the report is valuable. Though brick-and-mortar bookstores continue to be dominated by the largest New York publishers, online booksellers have leveled the playing field. This means all authors are competing for the same target markets and with the increase in publications flooding the marketplace, it’s more important now than ever to have a marketing plan that puts you above the rest.


Consider, for example, that since 2011, self-published titles have increased by more than 218%—and those are the ones that applied for ISBN’s. Without an ISBN, one can upload to amazon’s Kindle or sell books in non-traditional ways. With an ISBN, it opens distribution channels as the book is listed in Bowker’s Books-in-Print. Brick-and-mortar bookstores and retailers require it, and many online do as well.


Between 2015 and 2016, Bowker estimates the self-publishing industry has grown by more than 8%, but the real growth is seen between the number of titles published in 2011—247,210—and those published in 2016—a whopping 786,935.

printing press

More than 84% of all self-published books are using one of three service providers. CreateSpace dominates with 501,043 titles in 2016. The nearest competitor print competitor is Lulu with 41,907. Amazon’s Kindle is not included in the report, since Kindle does not require an ISBN, so the top ebook service provider is Smashwords with 89,041 titles in 2016, followed by Lulu with 33,336.


Kindle is believed to make up 71% of all eBook sales, compared with 14% on iBooks and 9% on Nook.


Author Solutions, which owns more than a dozen companies including Xlibris, AuthorHouse and iUniverse, was responsible for 19,270 printed titles in 2016 and 11,018 ebooks.


You can read the entire report here:

Woman Reading

Again, even if you are traditionally published, these figures should matter to you. Unless you are already a bestselling author—meaning your titles have appeared on the New York Times or USA Today bestseller lists—you are held responsible for the bulk of your book marketing efforts. Even those that appeared on the lists years ago are now finding the landscape has changed. And while the Big Five Publishers account for approximately 60% of all books sold in the USA, the other 40% is up for grabs in an increasingly flooded marketplace and in a time when fewer people are reading.


An author must be visible to an increasingly larger volume of readers in order to break away from the pack. Platforms today consist of multi-faceted approaches. On the digital side, it includes blogging, social media, other online presence and email campaigns. On the physical side, it includes traditional book signings, talks and participation in events targeted to your ideal audience.


NPD BookScan’s Second Quarter 2017 report shows non-fiction titles outselling all other genres with a 42% share and 131,000,000 copies sold, followed by Juvenile books with 29% share and 91,000,000 copies sold.


The vast majority of combined authors from self-published and traditional write adult fiction. However, adult fiction is third in BookScan’s report with 21% share of the marketplace and 66,000,000 copies sold. It experienced only a 1% growth over 2Q2016. The growth was fueled not by newly released titles but by George Orwell’s classic, 1984.

Bar Graph

These might seem like depressing numbers and it’s true that odds of success can be on a par with the lottery. But there are many things you can do to break through and sell enough books to earn a decent living. Check out the free tips at this page and this extensive 52-step course for the author serious about earning a living through writing books. If you’d rather be writing and leave the marketing to someone else—either in whole or in part—check out our services.

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 21 books, and the founder of both The Novel Business and Book ‘Em North Carolina’s Writers Conference and Book Fair. If you don’t have the time to market or you need business advice, check out our Services page. We’re happy to do it for you! All our services are guaranteed satisfaction.