Asking “how much do indie authors make?” in a Google search will get you a lot of websites, mostly with different results. According to Forbes in 2013 the average income of a self-published author was around $5,000. However, the top 2% of authors made over $100,000, and around 20% of self-published authors that year reported receiving no income at all.
How Much Do Indie Authors Make?
So, how come none of these search engines will point you to a website that gives you a clear-cut answer to your question? It’s simple. Because there is no clear-cut answer.
Since self-published authors earn more royalties than traditionally published authors, in recent years they have made more than their traditional counterparts. But indie writers who are searching for specific numbers for a yearly income are in for a rude awakening. Being an author doesn’t come with a set salary and it varies widely depending on numerous factors.
Factors That Affect Income
- Full-time/Part-time writer
- The sort of books you write
- Visibility and conversion (like SEO keywords)
- How many books you publish per year
- How many books you already have published
- Size of your audience
Full-time or Part-time writing
A large portion that will affect your author income is how often you are writing. Are you writing full-time? Part-time? It’s a no-brainer to see that the more you are able to write, the more money you will be able to gain from self-publishing.
The Sort of Books You Write
Another factor affecting your author income is what type of books you write. Are you writing non-fiction or fiction? If you are writing fiction, what type? Literary or genre? And if you write genre fiction which genre or genres do you write? Currently, the most popular genre in fiction is Romance, pulling in $1.5 billion dollars per year. This genre has tons of subgenres (such as paranormal romance) and will probably reign supreme in terms of book sales for years to come.
Visibility and Conversion
Visibility is crucial for your book sales. This encompasses your marketing strategy and budget—you’ve got to spend money (invest in yourself and your book) to make money—your audience, and your book itself.
Yes, the books you write are part of how much money you will be able to make in a given year. First, how many books can you publish per year? Don’t mistake this for saying you need to put out as many books as possible. On the contrary. Remember, quality over quantity. If you put out a bunch of books in rapid succession, how good is the quality of those books going to be? Readers do not want to spend their hard-earned money on a rushed mess of a book and trust me, you will not get repeat customers if you go this route—and probably a lot of bad book reviews as well.
Another factor of income involving your book is going to be how many books you’ve already published. If this year is the first time you are publishing a book, you won’t make as much, say, as when you have 10 books published and put out another book. Do not be discouraged, be happy in the fact that your income will increase with each quality book you put out.
Size of Your Audience
Audience plays a big role, probably the biggest role, in your entire author career. Everyone knows increasing the size of your audience increases the size of your book sales. For example, if 10% of your audience of 10,000 people buy your book, that will get you more than, say, if 10% of your audience of 1,000 people buy your book.
And while that nugget of information is a no-brainer, it’s not exactly the size of your audience, but the type of audience. YOUR audience. Your target audience. You can have the best book written in recent history, but if you don’t know who your target audience is or who your ideal reader is, you are basically screaming into the void. As an author, you need to figure out exactly who to get your book in front of.
How Much Do Indie Authors Make Per Book
Another frequent question among new authors is “how much can I make per book?”. That also, I’m afraid, depends on a multitude of factors.
Are you only putting out an e-book? Print? Is your print book going to be available in both hardback and paperback? What about creating an audiobook? Since self-published authors make around 70% royalties on ebooks and nearly 60% on paperback, you will be earning a significant chunk of change for each book, but again, that depends largely on you getting your book in front of the right people.
Hopefully, after reading this you will feel encouraged about the potential for earning income as a self-published author. If you put in the time, effort, and money into creating a quality book as well as the time and effort to market said book, you will be able to not only break even on your investment into your book, but you will see profit from your book as well.
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