So Authors Are Actually Making Money Self-Publishing...

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
I just got back from 20Books to 50K, an indie publishing conference held in Las Vegas with 1000 authors interested in learning about indie publishing. Some were beginners like me (in the self-publishing world), and some are making between six and seven figures a year on their books. Yes, you read that right. There are self-published authors who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars on their books each year. Mark Dawson, the keynote speaker and co-host of The Self-Publishing Show podcast, is now a millionaire and just signed a traditional print deal and will soon have his once only self-published books as hardbacks in bookstores in the UK.

Over the next month (at least), I plan to share with you, WOW! readers, some of the most inspirational and motivational things I learned at this conference. But let me tell you another secret, most of the workshops and talks I went to were recorded and are loaded on YOU TUBE for YOU TO WATCH FOR FREE! (Go to and Google 20Books to 50K) Start with Mark Dawson's keynote here. It gave me chills, and I had tears in my eyes. When I came home from this conference, I felt empowered. I set a new word count goal of at least 1000 words a day on a NEW WORK. And this does not include revising, editing, or marketing. So far, I have a streak of four days and have written over 1000 words each day. I'm so excited writing this blog post for you that I know I'm all over the place and rambling. I can't help it. I am that excited.

Here are some of the takeaways from Dawson's talk:

  • He has made so much more money as an indie author than he did with a traditional publishing contract. He does the math for you in the You Tube video. It's amazing.
  • Don't compare yourself to other writers and their success. Be motivated by them. Study them and then do the same things in your career.
  • Don't take bad reviews personally (FYI: some of the funniest moments here in the video). 
  • Respect your readers' time. Answer all emails, Facebook comments, and tweets.
  • Advertising on Facebook and Amazon (or Bookbub or countless other places) is no longer a luxury. If you want to be found and read, you need to spend some dollars advertising. 
Mark Dawson is a hard worker. He has built his business from the ground up. But he still loves writing. He still writes. And he is generous with his information and wants to help other writers. He is living the life so many of us dream of, and he is willing to show you how to achieve it if you want to work hard and pay attention to how the business is changing.

What I realized the most during this conference is that the publishing business is changing. At 20Books to 50K (the story of this name and founder will come next time), I sat there thinking about my three traditionally published books and all the mistakes I've made. And then I told myself: Stop it. You did what you did because that's how things were done then. And you have good books you can be proud of.

But now the climate is changing, and like all companies (BIG COMPANIES: Pepsi, Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc) that now have social media departments and spend money on content advertising, we, as writers and businesswomen, have to change with the publishing times. I urge you to at least get educated. You can still long for an agent. You can still turn your nose up at self-published authors, but you also need to understand that these hard-working and successful authors will be your biggest competition and just may be laughing all the way to the bank while they are enjoying being a writer as their full-time jobs. 

My writing group, the Lit Ladies, at 20Books. I'm in the glasses!

Margo L. Dill
is a children's and YA author in St. Louis, MO. She is WOW!'s managing editor and teaches novel writing and middle-grade and young adult writing for WOW! You can find her upcoming classes (novel writing starts on December 6) here. 


Pat Wahler said...

I've been a member of the 20Books to 50K FB group for a while, and it's truly incredible what some of these authors are achieving.

I can't seem to write as fast as they recommend, but they're right. Your best marketing tool is publishing the next book.

LOL I need a bit more discipline.

Renee Roberson said...

Sounds like an inspiring conference! I will definitely check out the YouTube video and look forward to hearing more about what you learned.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Margo, the conference sounds awesome! I can tell you're pumped and can't wait to hear more about it. I agree about self-publishing and always have. :) I'll check out the keynote video.

Love that photo! You all look so happy, and going to a conference with your writing group is the way to go. :)

Margo Dill said...

Pat: I know. It's hard. I did some math and realized that if I wrote 1000 words every day (at least) that's 365,000 words a year which is 4.5 books or more depending on which age group I am writing for! And I can write 1000 words in about 30-60 minutes, and morning is my best time. So that's what I'm trying throuhgh the end of the year and then will reassess.

Ang: I am pumped!

Renee: I think you will love it!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

This definitely sounds like a game changer for you. I'll have to check it out. Thank you for the info you shared and what is still to come!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yep, I kinda feel like we ignore self-publishing at our own peril. Especially when I consider what traditional publishing is paying now.

The publishing world's a changing for sure but I think it's imperative to be well-informed. Good on you, Margo, and good luck!

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