Yes. That appears to be true. But then, most of them didn't earn much more from publishers. If the book is halfway decent, it will go on earning small amounts, and that isn't true when you are published. Published books have a shelf-life of about 2 months. Then they are only on Amazon, just like the self-published ones. And the self-published ones pay higher royalties.
More telling to me is the comment that 25 percent of books won't even cover the author's production costs.
:) But it's an ego thing. Who cares about the money?
What production costs? Unless you commission artwork or have to buy an image, what are spending your money on? CreateSpace and Amazon KDP take a percentage. Nothing is upfront.
Have to look into CreateSpace.
(Sorry, coming in late to the conversation. Just joined Crimespace yesterday.)
However, I do have a little knowledge about CreateSpace. It's pretty good. Much cheaper than other product/content POD sites out there—Lightning Source, for instance; the cream of the crop, but expensive. However, if you know a decent amount about PhotoShop, you'll do fine with CreateSpace. (I have a friend who's using nothing but MSWord to design his own book—crazy, in my opinion—but he's using CreateSpace thus far with no problem.) They will kick back a product for a variety of reasons, so you have to follow their procedures without deviation. Still, they will produce a decent-quality product. (I guess they're simply another piece of Amazon's desire to be the 800 pound gorilla in every room possible.)
Depending on your skill set and/or concerns about quality, you may need to spend money on artwork, cover designs, formatting, editing etc.
Left unsaid is a key point: fewer than half of all self-published books deserve to make more than $500.
That said, IJ's point is well taken. At those income levels, many authors are better off on their own than with a publisher. At least they have options down the road.
The other thing that's left unsaid is that half make more than $500, though of course only a tiny percentage make significantly more. If you're a "get it out there and see what happens" kind of writer, then what have you got to lose? That's really the question, seems to me. 25% don't earn back production costs? 75% do! I'd take those odds any day of the week.
Good one, Jon. That just seems so "right" about all this. It's nice to see somebody not nay-saying the idea that writers want to publish, and nowadays they can do it.
$500 per what? Per year? Per book? Per book series? Per lifetime?