How Much Does the Average Author Make?

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Believe it or not, I get this question more from published authors than I do those hoping to publish. If you Google this question, here is where the deception comes in if you don’t know what to look for.

You’ll see quotes “the average author and writer makes $60,000+ per year.” The number fluctuates based on your geographic location, but this is what you often find.

Some people look at that number and say, “I’d quit my job to make $60,000 a year writing and doing what I love.” Before you quit, this is what you need to know:

  • The average author sells less than 250 books in a lifetime.
  • If you plan to make five figures or higher in book sales alone, expect to spend close to that amount on marketing, especially if you only have one book published.
  • Most successful authors make money using their books as part of their platform, meaning they are not making that quoted $60,000+ a year from book sales alone.

The question one should ask is why are most published authors not successful? A person who reached out to me in an author Facebook group regarding having their book in an indie bookstore proved that. 

This person had questions about reaching out to bookstores and how to pitch. She wondered if she should do an event, virtual events and how she could get her book into the store. Others gave her answers, but I cut to the chase of what she needed to consider before pitching bookstores.

  1. Is your book genre what the store is known for? You need to know what type of people shop at this bookstore and if your book is what they are looking for? Take a look around the store and see how their books are displayed. Study their calendar and see what type of events the store hosts and how often. 
  2. What’s your budget? Whether your book is available to bookstores through the proper publishing distribution channels or whether you pitch them to carry your book, can you afford it? These bookstores often require a 40 to 55 percent discount to carry your book. If your book is returned, you are charged that amount. 
  3. Traffic. As an author, it is your job to drive traffic to the stores you place your book in. It is not enough for the store to carry your book; you must create a buzz for people to come to the store and buy the book. One of the best ways I suggest doing this is to look for the national holidays and major events that your book complements. Seek the stores and organizations that serve that population (ex: child abuse prevention). Line up media interviews, including your local news channel, and let them know what event(s) they can meet you at. This will take several months of planning, so it’s not something you would do in a few weeks.

The person responded that this seemed like so much work placed on the author’s shoulders. I informed her that the same is true whether you have a publisher or not. The bottom line is being a published author is a business, and those who are successful treat it as such. Yes, it is a daily commitment from platform creation and investments to collaborations, speaking engagements, and continued education. The real work begins after the book is published, and most are not ready.

By the way, that $60,000+ quote always says “writers and authors.” Why? Because people who are successful published authors have multiple ways they make money instead of relying solely on a book. While being a published author carries a layer of credibility, that credibility is worthless unless you use it. Professional authors often are paid contributing writers, speakers, book consultants, and all those other lovely things I mentioned in my Top 10 Streams of Revenue for Published Authors guide & webinar.

Want to know the Top 3 Money Making Streams for Published Authors and how to know which ones are perfect for you?

Click the link below to sign up for my upcoming LIVE webinar on Wednesday, April 14th, 2022, at 7:00 pm EST.

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