How Much Does An Author Earn?

Occasionally there are articles in the media which portray instant success and vast advances being paid to a first time author. This really does very little to show the reality of the world of writing and what someone can except when undertaking a career as an author.

Yes, there are authors who sit down, type out a hundred thousand words of a novel which is snapped up by eager publishers for a huge sum of money. However, like someone who wins the lottery jackpot these are few and far between.

There are authors who do make exceptional amounts of money from their book sales, there are far more who make a very good living, even more who make a living wage, and a depressingly large amount of authors who never make anything from their books. It would be foolish of anyone to think that they could write a book and that it would be an instant success which would lead onto a lucrative career. In all honestly, despite what many adverts will tell you, the chance of this happening are slim and the only people who make money from authors are the people who run the companies selling these dreams to naïve people.

There are differences in earnings between traditionally published authors and those who publish independently. A traditionally published author is paid via the company who publish their book. A standard royalty is 10% of book sales, once the advance paid by the company has been exceeded by sales. The 10% comes from the large cuts that the publisher and retailer make from the book, since they are the ones who are doing all of the hard work.

Authors who publish independently earn up to 70% of book sales, but they initially have to pay to produce the book, forking out large sums for editing, proofing, cover design and printing. Increased sales in either form of publishing obviously lead to bigger sales and a larger income. This can come from building an audience who will read more by the author and is now an integral part of a writer’s day to day life.

If you are researching this subject as a potential business idea or career please don’t think you will be able to earn a living just by writing a book. Writing is a long hard slog and may not bring the rewards you are looking for. I would advise anyone who wants to make a living to avoid writing like the plague. Only write if you long to write, not if you think it will be a dead cert way to make an easy living. No matter what you read in the media, writing a book is not a get rich quick scheme.

There are plenty of statistics available online which will give you author’s incomes. Look at the few who are making great money and then cast a cold eye over the thousands and thousands of books that are available and realise that the authors of these books have earned very little.  

If writing keeps nagging at you and you can’t leave it alone, no matter how sure you are of your writing, please don’t give up a reliable day job to write, ensure you keep an income and write in your spare time, at least until you have replaced the steady income with book sales.