April 24, 2018

Self-Publishing Skyrockets | PubCrawl

Francine FialkoffAccording to a new analysis released in October by ProQuest affiliate Bowker, the ISBN agency, self-publishing continued its growth spurt, up 59 percent in 2012 over 2011, from 246,912 titles to 391,768. The gains were even more startling over the longer period for which Bowker collected data: a 422 percent rise since 2007. Not surprisingly, “ebooks continued to gain on print, comprising 40 percent of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012 [156,837 vs. 234,931 for print], up from just 11 percent in 2011.”

A handful of companies dominated the list of self-publishers. “More than 80 percent of self-published titles came to market with support from just eight companies,” Bowker reported. They included Smashwords, CreateSpace, Lulu, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, and iUniverse. The last three are divisions of Author Solutions, owned by Penguin (now Penguin Random House).

The growth has made self-publishing services a big business. “The most successful self-publishers…invest in their business, hiring experts to fill skill gaps [like marketing], and that’s building a thriving new service infrastructure in publishing,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker director of identifier services. Bowker recently launched its own self-publishing service, SelfPublishedAuthor.com.

Bowker’s research also revealed the most popular self-publishing categories: most authors “plan to bring fiction to market, followed by inspirational or spiritual works, books for children, and biographies.” Categories for total publisher print output for 2012 (projected) based on ISBN counts were similar, with fiction in the lead, followed by juvenile, home economics, sociology/economics, and religion and science, which were tied.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Francine Fialkoff About Francine Fialkoff

Francine Fialkoff (ffialkoff@gmail.com) spent 35 years with LJ, and 15 years at its helm as Editor and Editor-in-Chief. For more, see her Farewell Editorial.



  1. Great article. It is so exciting to see this tremendous growth in self-publishing. At BookWorks.com The Self-Publishers Association we answer questions for indie authors every day and try to help people learn how to make self-publishing work for them. It is a whole new world out there and now everyone can make their voice heard.
    Betty Sargent

  2. I think they are misinterpreting the data.. if you notice, the number of print books is steady at about 250,000… in our publishing company, yes, we did order 1000 new ISBNs for ebooks, but they were for EXISTING print books… of course Smashwords is a primary ebook publisher.. so yes, things are moving in that direction, but I would estimate the number of new “books” as probably 325,000 plus or minus.

  3. What’s good about self-publishing is that, it didn’t hinder the dreams of wannabe authors. They need not to worry about being rejected by publishers just like the traditional. Self-publishing has become a portal to those who want to write and publish; as well as a choice to those established authors.

  4. The technology necessary to publish a book is now right at our fingertips. Of course, it’s still necessary to invest in things like cover design, marketing, etc. in order to gain visibility and actually sell your title.