How Much Do You Make as a Writer?

Yes, I've had people ask me that question, especially by aspiring writers. Some authors make a lot of money, even enough to live on--they are the ones whose names you recognize. Sadly, I'm not in that category.

I am with two publishers that I really like--both do more for me than any publishers I've had before. Yes, I get royalties--and I know exactly how my books were purchased. The royalty statements  show whether the sale was made from the publisher's site, a book store, or for Kindle, Nook or some other e-reader.

What happens though is the customer pays whatever the price is--if it was purchased through anything but the publisher's website, the first one to get a cut is the person who sold it--bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc. For a paperbook, Ingram also gets a portion. The publisher gets their share whatever percentage that might be--and who gets the last little bit? Yep, that's me.

This is the main reason so many authors are self-publishing. The drawback to this is if you really want the book to look professional you'll probably have to pay someone to design the cover, back and front, get the ISBN number, do the layout correctly, and make sure it gets into all the proper places to be purchased. Oh, and the promotion is all up to you.

Promotion is really up to you no matter how you publish--unless you're one of the recognizable names I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Some authors are going the exclusive Kindle route and many have made quite a bit of money. I have one book I've done that way, The Devils Foothold, and as of this writing, nothing much has happened with it though I have done a lot of promotion. Not as much as I should though, because I'm busy with other writing projects.

That brings me around to if I'm not making much money why do I keep writing?

The answer is simple. I love writing. I love the process of creating a story and the characters. Because I don't do a complete outline, though I do know where I'm going, I want to know what's going to happen next.

I also enjoy promotion even though it takes a lot of time. I love all the readers and other authors I've met along the way. It's been a thrilling adventure--one I can't measure in dollars.

Sure, it would be great if I did make enough money to pay the bills, but whether that happens or not, I'll keep on writing as long as I'm able to sit at my computer and hit the right keys.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith


Lorna Collins - said…
I get the same question - with the same answer. In our case, with two writers, we each make even less. But we love doing it and can't think of anything else we'd rather spend our time on. Do we make money? not much. Do we spend money on promotion? Yep. Usually more than we make. But we're addicted!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for speaking for many of us, Marilyn . . . certainly for me.
I am about to do an interview at (10:00 CST) and answer the host's questions for an hour. I may quote you if the opportunity arises.

It's good that making money as a writer isn't the reason that I became a writer. Sure, I make some, but the writing and sharing is what I like. The money made? Well, that's just icing on the cake.
marja said…
I'm with you, Marilyn. If someone doesn't love writing and they're doing it as a way to make money, they'd better think again. Writing isn't a job to me, but a joy.
Whenever I get this question (which is frequently), the inquirer is always amazed at how unprofitable a writing career is. Honestly, the lousy income of a writer must be one of the most overestimated incomes in the world! As Lorna said, what little money I make gets used in promotion, but the big thrill is in the opportunities that unexpectedly come my way to meet people and have unique experiences, and the sheer joy of writing. To use one's gift well is a great blessing!
Gloria Getman said…
The biggest payoff for me is when someone comes up to me and says, "I read your book and I loved it. I hope you're writing another."

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