“How much do authors make?” We hear that a lot, don’t we?
And we can’t help but want to hear the answer in case the news gets better than it was the last time we heard it. And sometimes, it is. Sometimes.
But where do you go for a more objective answer to that question (whether it’s encouraging or not)?
And what can you do to improve your odds of becoming a well-paid author?
I want you to have all the information you need to make the most of the experience of writing your book and sharing it with the world.
So, no fairy tales. No gloom and doom, either. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect — and what not to.
How Much Do Authors Make?
How much money can you make writing a book? The simple answer is that your income as an author depends on two things:
Of course, what you really want to know is how many copies you can expect to sell of each book you write and publish. And other factors can influence that — including your chosen genre/s, the quality of your book cover, and the effectiveness of your marketing.
- How Much Do Authors Make?
- How Much Do Bestselling Authors Make?
- How Much Do Self-Published Authors Make On Amazon?
- How Much Does An Author Make Per Book?
- How Can Authors Maximize Profits?
The good news? We can help you excel in all three.
What you can do is use every advantage you know of to give your book its best chance:
- Write a book that a large number of readers will love.
- Have it professionally edited by someone who knows your genre.
- Have it professionally formatted by someone with an eye for interior book design.
- Have a cover designed by a talented professional with experience in your genre.
- Get endorsements from other authors in your genre — or glowing testimonials from readers — and put them on your paperback‘s back cover.
- Get a foreword written by a notable author or other expert in your book’s genre or subject matter.
- Write a book description that persuades your ideal reader to give your book a shot.
- Get your email list and/or launch team excited about your book’s launch and ask them to help you promote it on launch day.
- Market your book in a way that reaches your target audience effectively and consistently.
- Repeat steps 1 through 9 with each new book.
How Much Do Bestselling Authors Make?
A bestselling book on Amazon is ranking at #1 in at least one category, but that doesn’t tell you anything about its overall rank. If the category is obscure enough, it won’t be too hard to rank at #1 with a decent marketing campaign.
Your Amazon Best Sellers Rank (ABSR) will say far more about how well your book is doing. And on Amazon, the smaller the number, the more books you’re selling.
If your book stays at a rank better than #10,000 for three months, you’ll have sold at least 1,000 copies of your book.
But as any published author can tell you, staying at that rank is not easy.
It takes consistent, effective marketing and having your own platform from which to promote your book. And your book has to be popular. This is why it’s so important to know your genre and to choose one likely to appeal to a broad audience.
Depending on how much you earn from each sale in royalties, 10 sales a day could pull in under $10 (less than $300 a month) or around $50 or more ($1500+ per month).
Here’s one area where self-published authors have an advantage over those who choose the traditional publishing route.
How Much Do Self-Published Authors Make On Amazon?
Since self-published authors on Amazon can earn 70% of the book’s sale price in royalties (for books priced $2.99 to $9.99), they have a distinct advantage over traditionally-published authors with a comparable Amazon ranking.
Most traditionally-published authors earn around 10% in royalties per sale — and that’s only when their share of book sales goes above what they’ve already received as an advance payment.
Granted, if you go that route and receive a typical advance of $5,000 to $8,000, that’s still more than a lot of self-published authors earn with each of their books.
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But if you spend more than two months writing that book and getting it ready for publication, $5,000 to $8,000 doesn’t go very far — especially since even traditionally-published authors have to do most of their own book marketing.
Many also pay for professional editing to make the best possible impression on the publisher. And that can take another sizable chunk out of your advance.
Self-published authors already know they have to invest in editing, formatting, and cover design to make the best possible impression on their readers.
Many also pay a copywriter to craft a persuasive book description. They might also buy themed gifts to reward members of their launch team.
They don’t see a profit until they’ve earned enough from book sales to offset these expenses.
How Much Does An Author Make Per Book?
Considering the investment a self-publishing author puts into each book (on average), book sales will have to top $1,000 for many of them to make a profit. This is why so many of today’s self-publishing authors learn to do the editing, formatting, and cover design themselves.
But to become a well-paid author, you need to do more than stand out from the books with terrible covers. Your book has to shine brighter than the books that are already ranking well in popular categories.
And that’s something most authors don’t manage the first time around — if they ever do.
Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, though.
What if you sell 10+ copies a day for $0.99 each?
Since your rate is under $2.99, your royalty rate would be only 30%. So, you’d earn about $0.90 per sale. Ten sales would bring in $9.00. And 30 days of the same would yield $270.
What if you sell 10+ copies a day for $2.99 each?
With the 70% royalty, you’d earn just under $2.10 per sale. Ten sales a day would bring in a little over $20. Thirty days of the same would yield about $600.
What if you sell 1 copy a day for $2.99 each?
This is a more common scenario for self-published authors. With a 70% royalty rate, you’d earn $2.10 per day or about $60 a month from that book.
I say this not to discourage you but to show you what you’re up against.
How Can Authors Maximize Profits?
The more money you save while making your book everything your reader wants it to be, the more you stand to profit — as long as you do the editing, formatting, and cover design well enough to pass as a professional.
More than that, though, you need to outshine other professionals.
You know better than anyone else how much time you can spare to learn how to edit and format your book and to design a cover your readers will love. And you’re no less a writer if you decide to pay someone else to do one or more of those things.
A cover that doesn’t look professional will scare off most readers (who don’t know you). And a hasty approach to editing and formatting will get you enough negative reviews to scare off the rest.
So, spending more up front to maximize your book’s appeal can actually maximize your profits, too.
And, really, after spending weeks or even months writing your book, what sense does it make to cut corners with the three things that contribute to your reader’s first impression?
The best options, then, are to either learn how to do one or more of those three things exceptionally well yourself or to outsource those jobs to professionals who already can.
Can you make a living as an author?
The next time someone asks you, “How much do authors get paid?” you can be honest with them.
No author can expect to make a profit with their books. This is not a viable path for those who want to rake in the bucks as quickly as possible.
The truth might be depressing to those who think writing books is their ticket to wealth and fame. But it won’t stop those who would write books anyway, just for the love of it.
Those are the writers who will put everything they can into making each book as satisfying to their readers as possible. Those are the ones who will keep learning and improving as they go.
And those are the authors who stand to gain the most in profit and in their readers’ esteem — even if that doesn’t happen with their first book or in their first few years.
The more you know about what to expect (and what not to), the more you’ll do to give your book it’s best shot in an already crowded market. And I want to see your book shine as much as you do.
That’s what this site is all about. And you’re always welcome here.