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How Much Money Do Writers (Really) Make?

make money as a writer

Stephen King, THE king.

That’s a good question. The KING, as in Stephen King, probably the most well-paid author in American history, is said to have a net worth of around $400 million. So, if you religiously write 2,000 words per day like he claims to, you’re one creepy-ass bastard that writes really perverse things, you’re married to a big-time author to keep your competitive spirit going, and every sentence you write gets turned into a feature film or TV series, then I figure (factoring in inflation) that you should make close to a bajillion bucks in your career.

J.K. Rowling has made more than double that I think. All for those Harry Frodo books written at a 6th grade level. Lucky witch.

How much do published authors make? The ones like you that nobody’s heard of? Well, most first-time authors going through a traditional publishing company can expect to get $1-2 per copy sold, and a little more than that once you’ve sold a bunch. Like maybe you’ll get $2.50 for copies 10,000-50,000 and $3.00 on every copy beyond the 50,000th.

Of course, only a tiny fraction of very lucky authors sell more than just a few thousand copies, even the ones that go through a reputable publishing house.

Honestly, traditional publishing is not all that attractive to a writer unless that writer really has something gargantuan in the works, an extreme fear of self-promotion, or is already well-known.

Nowadays, it’s just dumb to waste time with a publishing company getting started. You’re much better off creating your own books, hiring a company like Archangel Ink to edit and format your book for Kindle, Nook, Audible, print, etc. for a relatively small fee, and collecting a far greater percentage of the royalties.

You can expect, when factoring in affiliate commissions, to earn at least 70% of the sale price of the book. The only question is, how many will you sell?

I first tried to test this by listing an obscure book on Amazon and Lulu. It was on a relatively popular topic, but I told no one about it, didn’t let my blog or subscriber lists know, whispered not a word about it on Facebook or Twitter, asked for no reviews from anyone, and just kicked back and watched to see if it got any bites. To my surprise, I sold about 80 books in two months and made around $500.

And that’s just with Amazon and Lulu. Now I put all my books on Google Play, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, sell it on my website, have made them all into Audiobooks for sale on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon, and use affiliate links to get extra commission, not just on my books, but whatever anyone else buys while they’re there.

I honestly think that an absolute nobody could produce a basic book and do very little to promote it and still make a few hundred a month. Making much more than that isn’t hard, especially if you have any web presence at all.

So, while most authors can expect to make just a few thousand dollars total from a formally-published book (talking total lifetime sales of the book here… my first published book only pulled in about $400 since it’s whopping debut in 2006), I think a self-published author with even the tiniest speck of work ethic and personality, can expect to pull in $10,000 for a disaster, and much more for something decent. Well, maybe not the one to the right. I kinda wanna buy it though it looks so bad.

And that’s just books. Now that we have the internet, you can make a ton of money blogging. I’m in communication with dozens of bloggers that make, get this, OVER $100K PER YEAR doing a few 1,000-word blog posts a week. And they aren’t even writers really, unless you call someone with fingers that are strong enough to push the buttons on a keyboard a “writer.”

Most people have no idea how bloggers make money, but it’s easy. All you have to do is attract some traffic with persistent posting and social media swindling and you’re sitting on the winning lottery ticket. Bloggers make money by doing affiliate sales, which means selling other people’s products.

In the real business world, a retail outlet only takes a small cut of the final sale. On the internet with things like Clickbank, the seller usually takes 75% of the sale price. 70 freaking 5%!

Watch, it’s this easy…

What do you think of this crap? My brother said it worked for him but I’m skeptical. Check it out HERE.

Did you click on it? Well, if you end up buying that crap I make $30! No, not really. That’s not a real affiliate link, but a 5-minute signup and I could have made it one. And I could leave 5 of those types of links for 5 different products in every post. I could put a banner ad in the sidebar like this one…

how to make money blogging I could promote certain products and services to my email list or Facebook following. Yep, that’s all it takes. You can read a little more about it in How to Make Money Blogging.

Anyway, I hope you got something out of this article. This is just scratching the surface of ways writers can make money and estimates on how much an individual can expect to make. It’s certainly never been easier in the history of the world to make money as a writer, so get to it!

Here at Archangel Ink, my partner Rob and I are more than happy to assist you, answer questions, or help guide you through the self-publishing process if you are interested. If you have any questions please watch our welcome video HERE and fill out the Contact Us form and we’ll help you find your way.

Matt Stone author picMatt Stone is a successful self-published author of more than 15 books and co-founder of Archangel Ink. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time helping independent authors distribute, market, and successfully sell their books.

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2 Comments
  1. Hello there, I’m a newbie write and was wondering how much can I earn with a book I am about to begin upon. It has a pretty interesting plot but I was wondering before I start this task how much potential market can I get and how much can I earn? I’m from Singapore and how much will it cost for your service

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