2016 in Review: An Awesome Year for Self-Publishing Sales

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January 14, 2017

Sales is important for many writers and book publishers out there who are in it to make waves in the world of writing. With that in mind, one can be forgiven for saying that sales is one of the most important aspects of publishing a book.

The previous year spelled developments in publishing and book sales in general. It’s not to say that such developments have been quite slow, but in general, they’ve been quite substantial.

publishing sales

2016 has been a great year for self-publishers and a rise of publishing sales.

In the US alone, book sales are still on the rise—whether or not they’re distributed through online self-publishing. It’s easier for authors and publishers to garner sales nowadays, since works can easily be accessed online, especially in e-book format. We may think nothing of it, but it’s essential for the performance of publishing companies and how well they are doing.

We then need to ask questions of how book sales fared in 2016, and how they’re changing the way authors and publishers are making sales.

Here are a few questions that you may be asking.

How much is the percentage of digital copies sold in the US?

The figure for digital copies sold in 2016 stand at 45%, which is telling of how people perceive books in digital format. This is how people have changed their outlook on what constitutes a book, as they’re now embracing technology as it is.

How much of these are adult fiction?

Around 70% of adult fiction sold in the book retail market are in digital format. Consider the number of smartphone and tablet users around the world. It’s easier for them to buy and download books over the internet. No matter where readers are, with digital copies, it’s easier for them to get a hold of the adult fiction books they want.

How many of these digital adult fiction books are self-published?

Consider that it’s a trend among authors to write and publish adult fiction literature. As such, the figure stands at around 30% in the US alone, which tells us how the world has changed its perception of self-published works. It’s no longer a self-serving process of authors of vanity stories to take advantage of, but a legitimate publishing method that we can all benefit from.

The state of traditional publishing in 2016

You may think that with all the books that have come out in the previous year, traditional publishers have paved the way for the rise of new blockbusters. While popular releases such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and The Girl on the Train have gained widespread acclaim, the figures for self-published works are far more significant.

Sales of traditionally published books were divided between different genres, which didn’t really help matters much, whereas the wide array of choices self-published works offer has drawn people in, marking a significant development in garnering sales and publishing print-on-demand titles.

Is self-publishing still in?

Self-publishing saw a crucial rise back in 2012, and the trend doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. Over a few couple of years, it has since changed. There’s no denying that self-publishing could become the next big thing.

Yet, it’s also undeniable that authors will always prefer the traditional publishing route, so we may not be seeing self-publishing houses taking over the traditional route anytime soon. However, with the continual rise of self-published works, who knows what the future could hold? It takes time and effort to develop an industry that’s still rising to prominence.


Friedman, Jane. 2017. “Looking Back at 2016: Important Publishing Developments Authors

                   Should Know”. Jane Friedman, January 2, 2017. Accessed January 13, 2017.


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