So You Want To Get Rich Self-Publishing An E-Bestseller

Rebecca Johnson uses this photo for the cover of one of her self-published books.

They say everyone has a book inside them, maybe even the great American novel. The biggest hurdle besides talent, of course, has always been getting it published. But no more. Anyone can self-publish now on places like Amazon (AMZN) or Smashwords.

In the days before the Internet and e-readers, most readers and booksellers derided self publishing as the "vanity press," although a few famously successful books were self-published. Since Amazon made it possible for anyone to become a published author, many misguided writers think they'll become a self-published superstar whose books get picked up by one of the five big traditional print publishers, and later get made into movies. Amazon has made a big deal of Kindle Direct Publishing as "the cure for rejection letters."

Maybe you've heard of some success stories, like Theresa Ragen and Hugh Howey, but most self-published authors still don't make much. According to a 2013 survey of 5,000 authors (aspiring, self-published, traditionally published and those who mix the latter two), only 0.6 percent of self-published earned $200,000 or more annually, and 19 percent of self-published authors earned nothing at all. Sorry to break your heart.

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Annalisa Kraft has no position in these companies.

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