A survey commissioned by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) found that income from self-published authors increased substantially in 2022 compared to 2021, and that independent authors earn on average more than authors published by traditional houses. Though ALLI is based in the U.K., the survey, which received about 2,200 respondents, went to independent authors in all major English-speaking countries and received the largest response from the U.S., which accounted for about 52% of all respondents.

The survey found that the average income for self-published authors rose 53% last year over 2021, reaching a median of $12,749, a figure higher than those of authors at traditional publishers. The most recent Authors Guild survey in 2018, for example, found the median income to be $6,080, down 24% from 2014. (The Guild is in the midst of conducting a new survey; results are expected to be released later this year.) Nearly 60% of respondents to the ALLI survey said their income had risen in 2022 over 2021.

The average income of respondents was over $82,600 last year, an increase of 34%. The discrepancy between the median and average author income is the result of outliers on both the high end of the earning pool and the low end. The report found that almost a quarter of respondents had not yet started to earn money from their writing, bringing in between 0 and $1,000, while 28% were generating more than six-figures. Almost half of the respondents (43.8%) reported income of more than $20,000.

Another indication from the report that interest in self-publishing remains high is the finding that 25% of respondents said that had released their first book in 2020, while 60% reported publishing their first book in the 2015-2022 time period. And many independent authors are prolific: over half of the self-published authors had published more than 10 books, and 20% had published more than 30 titles. Romance, fantasy/sci fi/speculative, and crime/thriller/detective were by far the most prevalent genres in which self-publishers were primarily engaged, representing a combined 57% of all respondents, the survey found.

ALLi director Orna Ross said she hopes the results of the survey will show that self-publishing is a viable option for authors and that writers know that, if they do the work, they can make a living as an independent author.

Melissa Addey, ALLi’s campaigns manager, said she hopes that the results will spur the literary establishment to include independent authors in all of its various initiatives. Since its inception in 2012, ALLi has campaigned for schools and universities, literary festivals and events, bookshops and bestseller lists, and awards and reviewing outlets to open up to indie authors, Addey said. “More than a decade on, it’s sad to see how little has changed in most quarters. It’s time for literary organizations to wake up to the realities of how authors work and earn in the 2020s, and do right by all authors,” she said.

Key finds from the report will be presented April 18 in the Author HQ at this year’s London Book Fair.

In follow-up research sponsored by author education company Self-Publishing Formula, ALLi has commissioned the UK Copyright & Creative Economy Centre, CREATe, to expand analysis of the findings. ALLi will compile both reports and analysis for presentation at the Self-Publishing Live conference in London in June.