I get a lot of questions about this. From Quora to Twitter to Medium to random emails.
The most asked questions are “Can I make a livable wage from publishing a book?” and “How can I make money as an author?”
Well, I am here to answer these questions!
Here’s the real piping hot tea:
Unless you are already a well-known and popular influencer in another space or an already successful and profitable author, your published book royalties are unlikely to be enough to live on by themselves. That is why most authors also write other things — blogging, editing, writing copy for clients, etc.
I do NOT say this to discourage you. Not at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.
I have written and published two books under my own name, contributed to a couple other collaborative books, and ghostwritten a few for other people.
I make a livable salary as a writer and editor.
I do NOT make a livable salary as an author.
How Do I Make My Money?
In many ways, my first published book was the launching point of my career as a writer.
I had already been working as a writer for almost a year, but finding clients, selling myself, and marketing was much easier after publishing a book.
I do make monthly royalties from my now two books and some money monthly from Medium’s Partner Program, but it’s not much.
The vast majority of my income is from clients. I am a full-time freelance writer, editor, and book coach.
I have clients I do weekly blogging for, like a cannabis company, a technology company, and a medical website, where I charge a monthly retainer. I do book editing on a project basis on a per-word pricing structure. I also have book coaching clients, both one-on-one and in a group class.
And those are my actual paying clients.
My books have been an amazing marketing tool. I’ve gotten emails and been contacted through my website from people who found me through my books.
I’ve gotten clients from people who saw my book and wanted to know more.
I’ve gotten clients by using my book as a writing sample and as proof I can put together an entire book.
I’ve gotten book coaching clients from them, since they see I can successfully write and self-publish nonfiction.
They also act as a lead generator. People can sign up for a mailing list to get a free copy of my first book, which adds them to my email list for future launches.
Having published books gives me a credibility and authority I didn’t have as easily before and allows me to justify my pricing, be a subject-matter expert, and get new paying clients easier.
You will not make a full-time salary from your first book.
I am not here to sugarcoat it or lie to you.
Many, many people ask this question. I hear it all the time, see it on Quora, and read articles about it.
You just won’t.
And if you want to be a writer, it is important to have realistic expectations. You can ABSOLUTELY make a living as a writer. But not as only an author with one book. It just is not realistic these days. There are nearly a million books published each year so there is a lot of competition!