The Emotional Economics of Self-publishing

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Self-publishing has opened up new opportunities for authors to share their work without relying on traditional publishing houses. However, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. Self-publishing requires authors to write and market their books, handle logistics and finances, and have the emotional strength to weather the highs and lows.

This article will explore the emotional side of self-publishing – how authors define and measure success beyond just sales, the need for resilience, and reevaluating holistic fulfillment.

Defining the Emotional Economics of Self-publishing

The emotional economics of self-publishing refers to the psychological rewards and demands authors experience. Rather than just earning money from book sales, self-published authors also gain (or lose) self-confidence from their work.

The non-monetary “currency” includes responses on social media, reviews, completing a lifelong dream of publishing, and other intangible outcomes. So success is not just calculated in dollars and cents but also in pride, purpose, and happiness. Of course, financial stability is still a goal, but focusing solely on cash risks emotional burnout.

The Dual Currency of Success: Tangible and Intangible Rewards

Self-publishing comes with dual currencies of success – the tangible currency of sales and earnings and the intangible emotional currency. Tangible success is measured by copies sold, royalties earned, bestseller status, and other concrete metrics. Intangible success refers to the inner contentment of artistic expression, engagement with readers, pride of achievement, and personal growth.

Balancing both forms of currency is crucial for sustainability in self-publishing. An author may sell thousands of copies but feel unfulfilled if they release a book just for money. Or they may deeply connect with a small readership but still struggle financially. Integrating both currencies leads to holistic success.

Measuring Success in Self-publishing

Tangible Metrics: Sales Figures and Earnings

When analyzing the self-publishing landscape, hard data on financial outcomes paints an incomplete picture.

The average self-published print book sells around 250 copies, according to an analysis. Ebooks fare better at an average of 4,000+ units.

In terms of earnings, an Author’s Earnings report shows the median earnings being under $500. While these numbers seem bleak, they do not tell the whole story. Bestsellers make up a small percentage of self-pubbed books, bringing in significantly higher sales. Market research provides tangible benchmarks, but the meaning behind the numbers is complex.

Intangible Metrics: Social Media Engagement and Personal Growth

While sales figures provide concrete metrics, the emotional journey of self-publishing often goes overlooked. An author may view a hundred social media comments as more encouraging than selling five hundred books. Or they may find the process of finally publishing incredibly personally fulfilling regardless of copies sold.

Customer reviews, messages from readers, and achieving creative goals provide emotional fuel. Additionally, authors gain confidence, resilience, and connections even if finances are unstable. So, while tangible markers of success remain essential, the intangible experience contributes immensely to sustainable self-publishing.

The Role of Emotional Resilience in Self-publishing

Testimonials from Self-published Authors

In interviews, many self-published authors emphasize the ups and downs of the journey. Elizabeth Spann Craig, who writes cozy mysteries, says, “You need to prepare yourself emotionally for this business.” Fantasy author Anthea Sharp explains, “There were many times I wanted to throw in the towel.”

Bestselling and award-winning authors like CJ Lyons initially struggled with rejection and doubts. So emotional resilience emerges as a key skill, which can only come from inner drive. As Michael La Ronn describes, “It’s an emotional and financial roller coaster, but I have not once doubted my personal vision.”

Marketing Strategies and the Importance of Emotional Strength

Promoting and selling books requires thick skin. Cold email pitches often go unanswered. Social media posts can be ignored. Launching a book feels exciting but also vulnerable to being exposed to potential criticism or disappointment.

Author AJ Krafton describes it as an “emotional beating.” Building an audience takes immense patience and persistence. With so much effort for uncertain rewards, emotional strength keeps authors grounded. They must learn to celebrate small milestones, stay encouraged through silence, and not attach self-worth to each sale or review. Marketing well means protecting mental health above all.

Redefining Success in Self-publishing

Holistic Measures of Success

Authors should embrace more holistic success metrics rather than judging self-publishing solely on sales. After all, why did they start writing in the first place? For money or meaning?

While finances matter for sustainability, fulfillment comes from the process – finishing a book, sharing stories with readers, expressing creativity, feeling productive, and growing personally. With a broader definition, tiny milestones become celebrations. Social media comments replace cash as currency. Each small connection touches the deeper “why” behind the writing.

Connecting with Readership as a Fulfillment

Regardless of sales, simply engaging readers provides huge emotional rewards for writers. Self-published author Jo Michaels explains, “Finding people who enjoy something I’ve written makes all the work worthwhile.”

Indeed, knowing their stories impact even a handful of people keeps many authors going. Reader emails, thoughtful online reviews, and messages of gratitude fuel the soul. For introverted creators especially, private and meaningful exchanges with fans outweigh fame and fortune. So, defining success through connections, not cash or contracts, sustains emotional energy.

Accomplishment of Independent Publishing Beyond Financial Return

Finally, redefining self-publishing success means celebrating the incredible accomplishment of independence itself. Traditionally published or bestselling authors still taste rejection and disappointment, too. So simply completing a book and putting work out into the world remains a laudable goal, no matter the reception. Self-reliance alone builds confidence and skill.

Of course, financial stability allows authors to keep creating, but measuring worth solely through money is limiting. With broader definitions of achievement, creators gain emotional sustainability from their tenacity, creativity, and courage to publish solo.


Encouraging Reflection on Personal Expectations

In self-publishing, managing expectations is crucial for emotional health. Authors must reflect deeply on why they write and what fulfills them before launching marketing efforts. Amassing Instagram fans won’t satisfy deeper longings for creativity or self-expression. Sales may earn quick thrills but not provide lasting meaning. Checking expectations against core motivations allows authors to celebrate the right milestones that resonate.

Embracing the Enriching Experience of Self-publishing

While self-publishing poses many challenges, embracing the experience holistically has untold emotional rewards. Rather than a single-minded focus on sales, savoring each step of the writing and publishing journey sustains motivation.

Emotional economics of self-publishing

Small successes are satisfied daily. Creativity feels fulfilling, not frustrating. Connecting with even a tiny readership touches the soul. By opening their definition of achievement to value emotional currency, too, self-publishers gain sustaining joy, purpose, and resilience from the unpredictable but enriching path of independent publishing.

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