Updated on June 15, 2024

In 2024, how much a professional author makes can vary a lot. Some authors earn big money, while many struggle financially.

Top authors, especially those with bestsellers or media deals, can make millions each year. They also earn extra from speaking events, movie deals, and selling merchandise.

Mid-list authors, who have a steady group of readers but aren't bestsellers, usually make between $20,000 to $100,000 a year. This income comes from book advances, royalties, and other book-related activities. For many, this is enough to live on, but it often means writing multiple books regularly.

At the lower end, many authors make less than $20,000 a year from writing alone. These authors often need other jobs to support themselves. Self-publishing has helped some authors earn more, but it also means they have to pay for marketing and distribution.

Overall, while some authors make a lot of money, most face financial uncertainty. The potential for high earnings is there, but many write more for the love of it than for big financial returns.

When asking “how much a professional author make?” you must consider various factors like:

  • • Book genre
  • • Popularity of their books
  • • Publishing contract
  • • Marketing

In this article, we'll explore how much authors make, revealing:

  • • How much authors earn per book, per year?
  • • Difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing
  • • Understanding book advances
  • • Factors affecting authors income
  • • Examples of authors earning significant amounts
  • • How to earn $100k or more as an author?
  • • Ways authors can increase their earnings

How Do A Professional Author Make Money in 2024?

Authors in 2024 earn money in different ways, adapting to changes in how books are sold and consumed.

They make money from selling physical books in stores, online, and through distributors. The rise of e-books and audiobooks also helps them reach more readers and earn royalties from these digital sales.

Getting paid upfront through book advances is another big source of income. Publishers offer advances based on how well they think a book will sell. Successful authors with a good sales record can negotiate bigger advances, giving them money before their book is even out.

Authors also get paid royalties for each copy of their book sold. The rate varies depending on the book format and publishing contract. Bestsellers can make a lot from these ongoing royalties.

Authors often expand their income by speaking at events, running workshops, or teaching. They get paid for sharing their knowledge and experiences.

Licensing deals are another way authors earn. They sell the rights to turn their books into movies, shows, or other media. This can mean one-time payments or ongoing royalties.

Authors also make money through merchandise, crowdfunding, and affiliate marketing. Being active online and building a strong fan base helps them earn beyond book sales.

In short, authors in 2024 use a mix of book sales, advances, royalties, speaking gigs, licensing, and online platforms to make a living. Being flexible and open to new opportunities is key to staying successful in the changing world of writing.

How Much Does A Professional Author Make?

Authors usually make about $69,510 per year , as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We checked Reddit to see what authors are actually earning. Here's what we found:

  • • Authors get about $2.75 for each book they sell.
  • • Some get $10,000 upfront when they sign a book deal.
  • • Others earn around $25,000 per year from selling both physical books and ebooks.

On Reddit, authors mentioned earning anywhere from $0.73 to $150,000.

The interesting part is how authors publish their books. Traditional publishing means working with a publishing company that helps with money upfront, royalties, making the book, and marketing.

Self-publishing lets authors put out their books on their own. How much they make can change a lot depending on how well their book does. Sometimes, self-published books can make more money than ones published traditionally.

How Much Does A Professional Author Make Per Book, Per Year?

Professional authors can earn different amounts for each book they sell and every year, depending on how they publish, what they write, and how successful they are. On average, authors might get $2 to $10 for each book sold, but this can change a lot. For example, popular authors with big publishing deals might make $15 to $20 per book.

Every year, authors can make from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars from selling books. This money comes from book sales and upfront payments they get from publishers. Authors in the middle of the pack usually make between $20,000 to $100,000 a year, while top authors can earn millions.

Keep in mind that these are rough estimates, and real earnings can be very different. Things like how much they market their books, what kind of books they write (like ebooks or audiobooks), and if they sell rights for things like movies also affect how much money they make.

Several factors impact an author's annual earnings, including book sales, royalties, and production expenses. The amount of money authors make can differ greatly depending on their writing style and genre.

Income fluctuates based on the publishing path chosen, whether it's traditional publishing or self-publishing.

Below are the typical payments authors receive for each publishing method:

Revenue Traditional Authors Earnings Self-published Authors Earnings
Book retail price $14.99 $14.99
Initial Royalty Rate 10% 60%
Income per book $1.79 $5.74
Income per book 6000 6000
Earnings in total $10,740 $34,440

Traditional authors make $24,000 more than self-published authors when selling the same number of books.

Some people think traditional authors are more successful than those who use vanity presses, pointing to well-known authors like J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown . But that's not always true.

Traditional Publishing Vs Self-Publishing

Let's compare traditional publishing and self-publishing. They're two different ways authors can publish their work. We'll look at the good and bad sides of each so authors can decide which way is best for them.

What is Traditional Publishing?

Traditional publishing means teaming up with a publishing company to publish and distribute your book. They handle everything from editing and design to printing and getting the book out there.

The publisher takes on the risk of whether the book will do well or not. They invest around $10,000 to $25,000 per book for editing, design, printing, and distribution. When the book sells, the publisher usually keeps 85% to 90% of the money from each sale, and the author gets the rest, which is usually 5% to 15%.

Authors in traditional publishing can get an upfront payment called a book deal advance and also earn royalties based on how many copies their book sells.

Pros And Cons Of Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing has its advantages and disadvantages, which can impact an author's career and book's success.


Pros:

  • Professionalism: Traditional publishers offer professional editing, design, and marketing services, lending credibility to the book.
  • Wider Distribution: Traditional publishers have established distribution networks that can reach a broader audience, including bookstores and libraries.
  • Advance Payment: Authors often receive an advance payment upfront, providing financial support during the book's production.
  • Marketing Support: Publishers invest in marketing campaigns, author tours, and media promotions to boost book sales.
  • Prestige: Being traditionally published can enhance an author's reputation and increase opportunities for future book deals and awards.

Cons:

  • Loss of Control: Authors have less control over the publishing process, including cover design, release date, and pricing.
  • Lower Royalties: Authors typically earn lower royalties per book sold compared to self-publishing.
  • Lengthy Process: Traditional publishing can be a lengthy process, from manuscript submission to book release, often taking months or even years.
  • Limited Creative Freedom: Publishers may have input on content changes or edits that may not align with the author's vision.
  • Difficulty Getting Published: Competition is high, and not all manuscripts get accepted by traditional publishers, leading to potential rejection and delays.

What is Self-Publishing?

Self-publishing means putting out a book without a big publishing company. The author handles everything, like editing, making the cover, and promoting the book.

Authors have full say in how things are done and usually keep 35% to 70% of the money from each book sold. While self-publishing can mean more money per book, authors have to pay for everything themselves.

The costs for self-publishing can be similar to traditional publishing, reaching up to $25,000. This includes paying for editors, designers, and marketing help.

Pros And Cons Of Self-Publishing

Here are some pros and cons of self-publishing:


Pros:

  • Control: Authors have complete control over the publishing process, including creative decisions and marketing strategies.
  • Speed: Self-publishing is often quicker than traditional publishing, allowing authors to get their books to market faster.
  • Higher Royalties: Authors can earn higher royalties per book sold, typically keeping 35% to 70% of the sales revenue.
  • Flexibility: Self-publishing offers flexibility in pricing, release dates, and content, catering to niche markets or specific audiences.
  • Accessibility: It's easier for new authors or niche genres to break into the market through self-publishing.

Cons:

  • Investment: Authors bear all the costs of editing, cover design, printing, and marketing, which can be expensive.
  • Marketing Challenges: Authors must handle their own marketing and promotion, which can be challenging without the resources of a traditional publisher.
  • Quality Control: Without professional editorial and design support, self-published books may lack the polish and quality of traditionally published books.
  • Stigma: Some readers and industry professionals may perceive self-published books as lower quality or less credible than traditionally published works.
  • Distribution Limitations: Self-published books may face challenges in reaching brick-and-mortar bookstores or libraries compared to traditionally published books.

Ultimately, both ways of publishing have their good and bad sides. As an author, it's crucial to pick the one that suits your needs and goals the best.

Cracking the Code: How Do Book Deal Advances Work?

How much does a professional authors make through book deal advances, and how do they work?

Book deal advances are upfront payments given to authors in traditional publishing. The actual amount an author gets depends on their contract. This payment is like a loan against future book sales.

Royalties are what authors earn for each book sold, a percentage of the book's price. For example, if a book costs $50 and the author gets a 5% royalty, they earn $2.50 for each book sold.

The advance often determines the royalty rate. It's important to note that the advance doesn't guarantee future sales. If book sales don't cover the advance, authors don't have to pay it back.

Factors Affecting Authors Income

The amount of money an author earns yearly depends on:

  • • How much they earn per book sold
  • • Any advance they receive from a traditional publisher
  • • Their marketing activities
  • • The size of their audience
  • • How many books they've published
  • • How many books are currently on sale
  • • How consistent their book sales are
Examples of Authors earning a Good Amount Of Money

Certainly! Here are some famous writers who have earned handsome amounts:

Roxane Gay earned $100k for "Hunger" – her fourth book, a memoir.

Scott Westerfeld earned $175k for "Extras" – his 15th book, a sci-fi novel.

Viet Thanh Nguyen earned $250k for "The Refugees" – her third book, a collection of short stories.

Gillian Flynn earned $400k for "Gone Girl" – his third book, a mystery thriller.

Kristen Roupenian earned $1,200k for "You Know You Want This" – her debut book, a psychological thriller.

What does it take to become an author who earns $100k?

Many people dream of writing books and making a living in 2024. But what does it take to reach a $100k income as a writer?

A study by Written Word Media in 2019 and 2020, although not based on solid data, looked at surveys from authors themselves.

They surveyed two groups: ambitious writers making under $500 a month from book sales, and economically successful writers earning over $5,000 a month in 2019 and more than $100,000 a year in 2020.

The research found that financially successful authors usually published around 13.5 books and spent about 31 hours per week writing, which is over 4 hours a day. In contrast, aspiring authors published about 7.4 books and spent around 16 hours per week writing, less than half the time of successful authors. Experience also played a big part, with 88% of $100k earners writing for more than three years, compared to 59% of ambitious writers.

Successful authors also had more books available, with an average of 30.3 books compared to emerging writers with about seven books. They also invested in professional book cover designs and editing services, and often wrote in popular genres. These authors were also adept at marketing, whether through free promotions or hiring staff.

Now that you have insights how much money do authors make on average, we'll share some tips on how to make more money.

How Can Authors Make More Money?

When thinking about "how much does an author make," it's key to look at how authors can make more money. Authors have ways to increase their income potential.

Here are some ideas:

Try different ways to earn: Authors can make more money by trying out different income sources. This might mean doing talks, offering advice to other writers, or coaching them.

Get noticed online: Growing your online network and social media followers can boost your income. Having more online visibility can attract more readers, sell more books, and bring in new opportunities. You can start by checking out our guide on social media platforms for authors.

Market your work: Take an active role in promoting your books on social media, at events, and through networking. Good marketing can really boost your book's success and your income.

Crowdfunding: Platforms like Patreon or Kickstarter can help you raise money for your book projects.

Consider self-publishing: Self-publishing can be more profitable than traditional publishing, especially if you have a strong online presence and marketing plan.

Write more books: The more books you write and publish, the more money you can make.

Write in Popular Genres: Focusing on genres that have a large reader base can boost sales and attract more readers.

Professional Editing and Cover Design: Investing in professional editing and eye-catching cover designs can enhance the marketability of books, leading to higher sales.

Consider Multiple Formats: Publishing books in different formats like e-books, audiobooks, and print versions can cater to diverse reader preferences and increase sales potential.

Explore Additional Revenue Streams: Authors can explore additional sources of income such as speaking engagements, workshops, merchandise sales, and online courses related to their writing expertise.

Does An Author Make Good Money?

Yes, an author can make good money. The publishing industry is multifaceted, and an author's salary depends on many factors, including author's level of success, the publishing model they use, and their ability to market and promote their work effectively. Making a living as a writer can be tough, and only the top 2% manage to earn a "good living," according to this source.

Would you consider becoming an author as a profession?

Here Are Best Tips for Becoming a Full-Time Writer.

Tip One: Decide Between Traditional and Self-Publishing

First, learn the differences between traditional and self-publishing which is mentioned above, and choose the best path for you.

Success depends on how you want to maximize your earnings as a writer. Both routes can lead to success, but remember that traditional publishing can take 2 to 3 years. Even if you start a bidding war between publishers, it doesn’t guarantee big earnings.

High-profile bidding wars might lead to six- or seven-figure deals, but unknown authors often begin with a modest $10k advance.

Key differences:

Traditional Publishing Self-Published
10% -12% Loyalty per Book 40%-60% loyalty per book
It may take 2-3 years for a book to be published You can publish 2-3 high-quality books in a year
Advance payment (royalties start only after the advance is "paid back" by the publisher) There is no advance payment, but you can start earning money right away, even after covering the book's production costs.

Tip Two: Write and Promote

Did you know that big book companies hire people to come up with popular book ideas and then hire writers to turn those ideas into books? This helps them make more money by following what's trendy in literature.

The good news is, as a self-published author, you can do this too. But how do you write to match what readers want, and is it a good way to write?

Some writers prefer to stick to their own creative ideas, while others write to match what's popular. The truth is, if you enjoy writing and can think of ideas quickly, writing to match what's popular can be a smart and valid career choice.

As a self-published author, you can write to match what readers like by exploring popular genres and writing stories that readers enjoy. For example, vampire books became really popular after Twilight, but nowadays, urban fantasy is more in demand among young readers.

If you like writing fantasy, focusing on urban fantasy could be a good way to make money. The key is to know what readers like and create stories that capture their interest.

Tip Three: Dedicate Yourself to Becoming a Professional Author

"If you treat writing like a hobby, it will pay like a hobby."

– R.E. Vance

How can you "promise yourself to be a professional writer"?

  • • Decide on your direction, much like choosing a college.
  • • Invest in essential tools and resources, like you would for a job. You might start with help from Best Book Writers .
  • • Set deadlines for your writing projects.
  • • Create clear writing goals to meet those deadlines.
  • • Learn about the practical path to earning a good income as a full-time writer.
  • • Avoid distractions that don't contribute to your writing goals and be willing to make sacrifices for your writing career.

Conclusion

Writing a book or going full-time as an author will pay off in the long run. With patience, hard work, and dedication, you can make a good income. We hope this article has reignited your love for writing and reaching your financial goals.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.

No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

–Robert Frost

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