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Writing a Book? Here’s How Authors Make Money

Authors, let’s talk about money.

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Now it’s not enough to assume that writers only write for the “love of the writing”. The truth is, just about every writer you know wants to earn some money from their hard-earned words.

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But, have you ever wondered how much authors actually make? Have you ever considered how much you could make as an author if you ever decided to write a book?

It is often assumed that there are two types of authors when it comes to money, best-selling authors (like J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown) who get millions of dollars in their publishing contract or the struggling author who only gets income when he bribes a family member to buy a copy.

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The truth is, there isn’t a fixed number you can estimate because there are a lot of factors that go into an author’s potential income.

There are a few authors who make millions, more that make thousands, and a lot more that can’t reach the $500 threshold. and even lose money.

As an author, it is up to you to determine how you profit from your hard work. For some people, just publishing a book is enough. Most authors, however, wouldn’t mind earning some cash for their words.

Your first step is to learn how to get that cash. As an author, there are two basic ways you earn money, from book sales or stuff you sell based on your book’s content.

Method 1: Direct Book Sales

Authors earn money from their book sales in two ways, royalties or an advance . An advance is money that is given to an author from a publishing company before the book comes out. Advances are usually given to authors who have a track record of publishing best-selling books or have a very high of becoming a best-seller. Only authors with a publishing contract can earn advances.

Both self-published and traditionally published (authors working with a publishing company) can earn royalties. Royalties is money given to an author after a book is published and sold. Authors receive a percentage of the sale, depending on how they published their book. If you work with a publishing company, a part of your royalties must go the publisher, an agent, and then you. If you are a self-published author, you still have to pay the company that helped your book get published (in many cases Amazon) but you get a higher percentage back.

Method #2: Sales Based on Your Book’s Content

Authors look for income opportunities beyond their book sales, however. The major reason is the limited sales capacity of a book. After you sell a book, the transaction is over until the author makes another book. If, however, an author sells things based on the book’s content, that author has almost an unlimited number of ways to earn money.

What do I mean by earning income from your book’s content? Five examples include

  • Product Sales based on your content
  • Consulting/teaching in your genre/style
  • Pre-sales
  • Crowdfunding
  • Special events/Travel Tours

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Let’s break this down a little into some options

  • Selling T-shirts, coffee mugs,  or other promotional items on with characters from the book on your own website or through a site like CafePress or Zazzle and if you are particularly crafty, Etsy.
  • Traveling tours where the author takes a group of readers through the places that inspired a book using a site like Vayable.
  • Crowdfunding on sites like Indiegogo to raise money for expenses that you can’t afford
  • Selling exclusive bonus material, such as additional or extra chapters, poems, or short stories through your website or Fiverr.
  • Advertising income (selling ads based on your book on sites such as the Wattpad Futures program other sites) or through affiliate programs through Amazon Associates
  • Offering a fiction-writing or course in your chosen non-profit topics such as Udemy or Skillshare.

These items are just the tip of the iceberg because authors who know how to leverage their content have even more options. As an author, you’re not limited to sitting around and waiting for your book to make you money. You can use your book’s content to create opportunities for even more money. The only limits are your time and imagination.

Are you ready to see what else your content can do?

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About the Author Charles Franklin

Almost-graduated turned freelance marketing/tech writer, future web developer, social justice advocate, and Millennial on a mission but still confused about the path

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