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How Much Does A Professional Author Make? Book Writers Incomes Demystified

Updated on Jul 06,2023

How much money can authors hope to make from their books? A standard publishing agreement for a first-time book writer can include an advance of $1,000–$10,000 and 5–18% royalties after the advance has been “earned out.” Advances are not given to self-published writers, although royalties for ebook copies can be as high as 70%.

The author does not have a set compensation range. It is a professional and artistic venture with a range of financial benefits.

There are numerous variables that affect the author’s earnings. This covers your writing schedule—whether you write full- or part-time, the kind of book you write, the publishing path you take, and more.

At this point, it’s okay if this seems like incomprehensible language to you. We’ll discuss the money-related talks in publishing in the blog below. Moreover, we will explain how much money authors can expect to gain from book sales.

professional book author

How Do Professional Writers Make Money?

Before we get into the specifics of how much money book writers make, we would want to clarify how author compensation functions in the traditional publishing sector. This is because we have observed a significant amount of ambiguity around this topic.

A royalty prepayment is typically negotiated by the author or his representative before the writer signs a publishing contract. If the press release or article indicates that the book was “sold” for that sum, it is prepaid money rather than a set price for the book.

Prepaid payments are made in three stages:

  • when the contract is signed,
  • when the publisher approves the work,
  • and then once the book has been published.

Read More:How To Start a Book Blog

During book publication, the author earns a specific portion of sales for each book sold; which is   “royalty.” Nevertheless, they are actually earning the money they have already received as they received a royalty prepayment. The publisher will pay the book writer again once royalties reach the prepayment cap.

The authors start to get further royalties once the book pays them the number of advance royalties.

More royalties are counted as “revenue.” The author is not required to return the overpayment to the book publisher if the publisher does not pay back the advance unless the contract is broken or the agreement is terminated.

In other words, it is a generic explanation of the procedure, with as many changes as necessary. For instance, some authors are not compensated up front, and many writers who contribute to well-known intellectual property receive a one-time payment in lieu of royalties.

It implies that some established authors will never earn more than this initial advance, whilst other authors may continue to publish books and earn money until they pass away. Additionally, some authors lose money when they invest more in book marketing, advertising, and spending than they ultimately generate.



How Much Does a Writer Get Paid Annually?

If authors have a number of novels in progress, are skilled at marketing them, and have a devoted and engaged readership, they can hope to make creating books their only source of income.

The number of books sold, royalties, and printing expenses are only a few of the many variables that affect an author’s yearly income. Two writers who are writing differently do not earn the same amount of money.

The revenue stream also varies if the book writer chooses the traditional publication method or he goes for self-publishing.

According to our experience, self-publishing authors earn way more than one who chooses the traditional route.

Royal Earnings

After going through most of the terms related to author income, let’s briefly describe what author loyalty includes. In comparison to officially published authors, who typically receive 10% to 12% royalties, self-published authors can make 40% to 60% of the selling price of a book in royalties.

First-time authors who agree to publish conventionally will be compensated in advance. Usually, this costs $10,000 (which is quite less for first-time writers). However, unless you sell a book valued at $10,000 at the license pricing, traditional publishing does not begin licensing. Before you can start receiving a licensing check from the publisher, you must get that $10,000 back.

Additionally, many publishers work with authors who claim that selling X number of books improves loyalty and changes the situation. However, established, successful, and conventionally published authors can bargain for greater license fees.

Because of this, self-published authors rarely receive 15%; instead, they often receive a 60% licensing fee from the first sale and every subsequent one.

Factors Affecting An Author’s Income

As we discussed earlier, there is no certain amount of earning that a book writer earns. The earnings of a professional book writer may vary on the basis of many factors, such as:

  • Prepaid (traditional publications only)
  • Revenue per sale
  • Number of books published in
  • Number of books currently published
  • Consistency of bookselling
  • Audience size
  • Marketing volume

How To Become an Outlier Author And Earn 100k or More?

Book writing is a hot field for the last few years and a lot of people want to become professional book writers and make a living through writing. However, it is not easy to earn this much, and that too in your initial years.

Let’s understand this with the help of a survey. In 2019 and 2020, Written Word Media conducted research. The analysis was based on conclusions from author-based self-reported questionnaires rather than on scientifically sound facts.

They polled their two research teams. An economically successful writer sold more than $5,000 per month in a 2019 study and more than $100,000 per year in 2020, compared to an ambitious writer who sold books for less than $500 per month.

They discovered that authors with greater financial success authored 13.5 volumes on average, working an average of 31 hours per week. This averages up to more than 4 hours of writing per day when broken down by day. In contrast, aspiring authors typically publish 7.4 books and put in an average of 16 hours per week of writing. This is less than half of what top authors write per day. In comparison to 59% of aspiring writers, 88% of those with annual revenues of $100,000 had been writing for more than three years. Successful authors had more time to develop their craft and grow their readership.

Additionally, 100k successful authors have 30.3 books in their catalogs on average, compared to 7 books for developing authors.

The $100k author also has at least 7 backlists and up to 63 books. Once more, a book needs a lot of writing before it can be fully released.

Successful authors have hired designers to create their books’ covers; 68% of them spend over $100 on the process. They frequently have experts that create book covers.

This applies more to independent authors, but even if you choose the traditional path, make sure the cover is attractive and professional-looking.

Consider how a book catches your eye and persuades you to buy it. Perhaps only the book’s tagline is insufficient to pique a reader’s interest. The reader wants that to appear on the book’s cover. The science behind the finest covers should therefore be understood by authors and designers.

The financially prosperous author is an expert at editing manuscripts. You are a skilled writer, but it’s important to have a second set of expert eyes read your work. In successful author surveys, more than half of respondents paid $100 or more on editing services, and 32% spent more than $500.

Financially successful writers usually prefer to write in well-known genres.  They also support free advertisements with a single unrestricted title. In other words, a copy of one of their books is always free. A whopping 45% of authors use workers, but they also handle their own marketing.

Both 100k authors and aspiring writers report having their marketing in place at a rate of above 90%. The only distinction is that 100,000 writers are available for hire.

Professional author

Best-Selling Genres

There is no doubt that some genres are sold more than others. Some of the top-selling genres may include:

1: Romance and Erotica

This is the best-selling genre with a $1.5 billion industry. The off-shoots in this genre include paranormal romance, historical romance, and more.

2: Mystery and Crime

It is the second most popular genre for authors to write books with a $730 million industry. Crime novels account for many of the recent fiction bestsellers.

3: Fantasy and Science-Fiction

Fantasy and Science-Fiction is one more famous genres with a $590 million industry.

4: Thriller and Horror

This genre is mostly dominated by Stephen King and Dean Koontz and is an $80 million industry.

How To Earn More As an Author

There are several actions you may take to boost your earning potential if you plan to make writing your full-time career.

1: Identify Your Niche

The best writers are often those who identify a specialized subgenre and devote all of their efforts to it.

2: Write To Sell

Find out what topics are popular with today’s readers and write specifically for them.

3: Discipline Is The Key

You must approach your writing as a real job if you want to succeed. Make a schedule for how many hours you’ll write each day.

4: Write More Books

Before you start to earn a significant amount of money, you will need to publish more than one book.

Additional Possible Income Streams For Writers

There are various ways for writers to boost their income besides book sales.

Let’s say your writing is well-received enough to be considered more than a book. In that instance, you can be eligible for royalties from goods, which might include branded items like mugs or posters, apparel, special editions of your books, and even subsidiary rights for movie adaptations also known as having your work “optioned” by a corporation like Netflix.

In order to increase their revenue, many authors also decide to provide freelancing services like professional editing and ghostwriting. We could assist you in locating other authors who require your assistance if that is something you’re knowledgeable enough to think about.

Book Finance

Ending Notes

With the right combination of hustle-bustle, patience, discipline, and hard work, you can become a successful book writer and make a handsome amount of money. We tried to cover everything related to the author and their incomes in the blog above, if we missed anything that you want to ask, feel free to contact us. Our decades-of-experienced team in this industry will be happy to assist you.

Also, we can help you create a successful digital presence as it is one of the most important marketing techniques for an author to establish and maintain a relationship with their fanbase.