We Stackers are always looking to build additional income streams. For many of us
(looking at you, Joe!) are interested in sharing knowledge through writing books. The
process of authoring a book that will bring value to others’ lives can be intimidating, and
many may not feel comfortable with the undertaking. Rather than shopping your work
around to publishers, self-publishing has become an option for many new authors.
What is Self-Publishing?
Self-publishing is a relatively new industry that has taken the world by storm, and can
be a potential way to generate a passive income, whether or not you were born with a
golden pen in your hand.
The self-publishing industry is not just for those with ambitions of being a writer,
though. More and more entrepreneurs in every sphere of business are using this tool as
an additional stream of income and a way to reach their intended markets.
The self-publishing approach circumvents the use of established publishing houses and
allows authors and entrepreneurs to publish their work independently, which provides
them with a lot more freedom in terms of the content they aim to publish.
Today, we see major success stories from an entrepreneurial perspective, and digging
into what self-publishing entails suddenly seems a worthwhile endeavor.
What You Need to Know About Self-Publishing
Self-publishing is a way to avoid the middleman – publishing houses – who not only gain
basic ownership over an author’s work but, for it to be published, take a large cut and
dictates what should be included in the work’s content.
The philosophy of self-publishing, as we know it, is inspired by rejected writers who
wanted to get their message out there and connect with their audience without any
restrictions. It’s about attracting the right audience, doing your own thing, and making a
living out of being authentic.
Today, though, it is also a business tool as well as a business in its own right. Successful
self-publishers are releasing books in all the most profitable genres and stacking serious
Why Self-Publishing Is Profitable
With self-publishing, there is no secret formula you need to learn, nor any third party
publisher whose approval you need to win. However, doing your homework correctly
can mean the difference between success and failure.
The key component that makes self-publishing profitable is that you can avoid many of
the pitfalls of traditional publishing, mentioned above. Additionally, other benefits
● There may be a wider audience out there than represented by traditional
publishing companies that you can cater to. Dive in and experience the need for
● Self-published books have a significantly higher royalty rate than traditionally-
● You are in charge of the whole process, which enables you to make proactive
business decisions where you would have otherwise signed off your rights and
had no say in the process at all.
● You can expand on your collection of niches to fill a bigger gap in the market
without incurring unnecessary costs.
● To some extent, y0u decide where you want to sell your book, and by identifying
and attracting your niche customer base with strategic blogging, guest posts, or
ads, you can introduce your work to the masses.
● Finally, there are tools available which enable you to create some of the
components like your own book cover, but there are also companies you can use
to create a cost-effective professional-looking product that may save you valuable
Self-publishing may be the perfect direction for an ambitious entrepreneur, whether you
want to publish as an individual or start your own online publishing company.
In the end, you can deliver a quality product and make a substantially larger profit
faster, based on its inexpensive production requirements.
What Kind of Money are We Actually Talking About?
You can earn between 40 and 70% of the selling price of your book as a self-publisher.
Compare that to traditional publishing, where you likely would only earn 10 to 12% in
According to data from Amazon relating to sales through their Kindle Direct Platform in
2019, thousands of independent authors earned more than $50,000 that year from the
sale of their books on Amazon.
What’s more, more than a thousand self-publishers surpassed $100,000 in sales in 2019
Of course there are also many people that earn less than $1,000 from self-publishing. A
key reason for those with less success can likely be attributed to the fact that many
people don’t approach self-publishing as a true business.
Think about it…would you start a business without assessing the market and ensuring
that one actually exists for your product/service? Of course not! Why, then, would you
publish a book about a topic in a genre you haven’t researched?
Would you run a business without expecting to do any marketing? Would you put a
product on a shelf and just expect people to rush into the store and buy it enmasse
without knowing anything about it? Again, no, you wouldn’t. It’s the same with self-
Running a self-publishing business means following all the normal operations required
to run successful businesses, the only difference is that your product is a book.
How the Self-Publishing Industry Is Expanding
Not too long ago, the self-publishing industry was still known as the Wild West of
publishing, where rebels congregated to sell their highly controversial books to their
Ever since Amazon entered the picture, however, things have changed dramatically as it
created the ideal selling platform for indie authors and also informally outlined new
business ideas for self-publishers.
It is specifically Amazon’s KDP distribution channel that contributed to the growth of
the self-publishing industry and made it a more established and respected industry that
it is today.
These distribution channels removed the major publishing company/bookstore
monopoly and provided other means for self-publishers to distribute and grow as artists
Today, Amazon is most readers’ platform of choice when searching for a new book to
read, and Amazon understands and supports the self-publishing industry and its
lucrative potential. It’s easy to search for new material, and it’s available to purchase in
the moment – and often it’s less expensive than traditional physical books.
This has made the traditional publishing industry less relevant and powerful, and many
traditional publishing companies were subsequently forced to reduce their high rates
and restrictive contracts just to compete.
Regardless of the changes at major publishers, self-publishing may still bring you better
results than traditional publishing if you have a good business strategy and you know
your target audience.
The future of this fast-growing is still uncertain to some extent, but rest assured that
independent authors will be filling up a much larger slice of the pie that is publishing.
Action Steps: How to Get Started
In case you suddenly have the urge to start self-publishing, here are some valuable tips
you can use for starting a lucrative new venture.
First on your self-publishing checklist should be your budget. How much are you willing
to spend? It’s possible to start small and, as your income grows, you can start working
on marketing and advertising.
Here is a list of considerations as part of the self-publishing process. It may seem like a
lot, but there are a lot of perks to this method once you get into the flow of things. As
with any worthwhile endeavor, there is a learning curve and getting started is often the
● We all would like to get started at the lowest cost possible. Self-publishing
provides that opportunity—just start by establishing your budget.
● What is the estimated word count of the manuscript?
● Writing. Is it going to be you or are you going to use a ghostwriter?
● With editing, there are a few choices based on your manuscript’s needs. For
example, do you need developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading only, or
both copy editing and proofreading?
● Cover design—all self-publishers want their book to have a professional-
looking cover that accurately represents the nature of the manuscript.
● Book formatting is also included here because you can have your manuscript
formatted as a paperback, audiobook, and for Kindle.
● Time—are you pressed for time? Even if you are, the self-publishing process
doesn’t take nearly as long as the traditional publishing process. Where
traditional publishers can take up to two years to complete a publishing process,
you can do it in a few months.
● Distribution and sales. With the way things are currently developing, the
sky’s the limit, but Amazon is a great place to start.
The Importance of Choosing a Niche
Choosing your niche is also a crucial part of how to start as a self-publisher or when
starting your own self-publishing business. Consider these points:
● The average fiction manuscript is approximately 46,000 words and the average
nonfiction manuscript varies between 20,000 and 40,000 words. Do you have a
preference? Additionally, do you want to work on and promote more than one
niche? What is your message?
● Look at what is currently selling. Can you write it or do you know someone who
can do a great job? Can you sell it too?
● What are the current bestsellers? Deconstruct them so you can understand your
future readers. Why are these books so popular? Two books can be about exactly
the same topic, but one can be a bestseller and the other may be hidden way back
on digital page 20 in your category. What makes one better than the other?
● All things considered, start by choosing a niche that means something to you.
This will translate into something meaningful.
Options to get Started
If you haven’t heard of the Moutinhos or Dibbly Publishing yet, they have the type of
brains you’d want to pick if you want to start your own self-publishing business.
Marco Moutinho and his partner Natasha Moutinho founded Dibbly Publishing in 2017
after identifying a need for quality content that would help independent self-publishers
grow their own businesses from zero to hero in a short space of time and with a low
capital outlay as this is an obstacle for many aspiring self-publishers.
In April 2018, the Moutinhos’ launched their ghostwriting company, called The Urban
Writers. Marco and Natasha worked endless hours to turn this venture into a winning
team of writers, editors, translators, illustrators, and book cover designers, and their
secret to building the best team is to recruit like-minded individuals who share their
outlook for the company.
The Urban Writers provides a comprehensive service from idea to ready-to-publish
manuscript, with a quick turnaround time for aspiring self-publishers.
Today, their venture is a spectacular success, and their dedication and passion to quality
and service attract customers from all over the world. Read about their journey here.
Putting it all Together
Not specifically aiming to transport us all back to ancient times, but there is an ancient
Greek philosopher named Heraclitus who made a comment, thousands of years ago,
that can be applied to today’s self-publishing industry.
You see, Heraclitus observed the world around him and came to the conclusion that
everything is in constant flux. The self-publishing industry is a prime example of this as
it is constantly evolving and providing new opportunities and avenues for self-
Marco and Natasha Moutinho are proactive observers of this “world in flux” and used it
to create a successful venture that is, to this moment, still evolving and becoming ever-