Self-Publishers: New numbers you need NOW

By Holly Lisle

I did that interview with Simon Whistler… (link opens in new tab)

…that went live last Tuesday, and from doing that interview I bumped into Hugh Howey, and from doing that, I encountered an entire series of links to writers who have done the HARD math on self-publishing.

I’m only giving you two. There are many, but these two are CRITICAL if you’re a writer.

I have not done THIS math. I have never seen THIS math done before. I didn’t even know which questions to ask to get me to this math.

(Aside from deadline math, I suck at math.)

Fortunately, both Hugh Howey (the author of WOOL that I keep raving about) and Courtney Milan (whose work I have not yet read) are Good At Math.

And really, really good at explaining what the numbers mean, and why they matter to you, the writer.

Howey and Milan have done math on self publishing vs. commercial publishing. It is mind-blowing.

Go here to read Hugh Howey’s thing first:

Hugh has discovered the actual numbers of print books vs. ebooks in a limited but relevant sample, the numbers of these that are commercially pubbed, the number that are self-pubbed, has gotten a good idea of the size of the market, and is going to knock your
socks off. (link opens in new tab)

You’ll need what he’s discovered before you read Courtney Milan’s math, because with his dissection of the book publishing market and where self-publishing stands in it, you can the understand the absolutely mind-boggling importance of what Courtney Milan has discovered.

So now read Courtney Milan:

Courtney is going to show you what commercial publishing contracts are worth versus self-pubbing your own work over time. She, too, is going to knock your socks off. (Assuming you put them back on after reading Hugh.)

She’s also going to give you a downloadable spreadsheet so you can test things yourself.  (link opens in new tab)

What’s MY take-away on this?

I have printed these off. I have read them and re-read them, but I have not yet taken them apart piece by piece to work into my own publishing plan, or used Courtney’s spreadsheet so get the important view on what my personal sales numbers mean.


I was already done with commercial publishing. Now? Even that one book I was considering as my last connection to traditional publishing is off the table for anyone but me.

This is not THE happiest day of my life. But it’s up there.

What’s YOUR take-away on this?

If you read these two articles and go through them (with a math-savvy friend if necessary), at bare minimum you will understand the potential, revised-and-edited value of those unpublished books in your inventory—or the rights you’re considering selling to publishers.

Potentially, this is much more than that. Potentially, depending on what you decide to do with the knowledge you gain, this is the information you need to create the life you want to live for yourself.

Contents © Holly Lisle. All Rights Reserved