How Much Do Authors Make?

My daughter dreams of being a full-time writer when she grows up. I keep telling her that most authors don’t write full-time, that most authors write as their second job. After all, she should know this first-hand, as both her parents are authors and both of us also have other jobs.


A new report from Digital Book World found that the majority of authors make less than $1,000 a year. The study showed that almost 80% of self-published authors and more than half of traditionally published authors earn less than $1,000 per year.

Digital Book World’s study, conducted via interviews with 10,000 authors in all types (self-published, traditional, hybrid, and aspiring) found that only 10% of traditionally published authors made more than $20,000 a year and 5% of self-published authors made more than $20,000 a year.

I think the takeaway from this study is what most authors already know—whether self-published or traditionally published. Don’t quit your day job anytime soon. Being an author is a hobby or a second job.

For most authors, that doesn’t matter. We love to write and we love to have others read what we write. So, as long as God calls you to write and share it with others, keep doing it, even if it brings you less than $10,000 a year in income. After all, God calls us to make disciples, regardless of the profit it brings us.

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3 thoughts on “How Much Do Authors Make?

  1. These are sobering facts. However, I wish someone would do a survey of authors to find out the level of marketing they do in relation to the amount of money they earn from their writing. While I am one of those poor marketer authors (insofar as skill and amount of time spent marketing my own books), I am convinced that the difference in sales volume has an awful lot to do with the level of marketing one does. It’s sort of like knowing I need to go on a diet to eat healthier and lose weight, but I just haven’t gotten around to doing so.  What are your thoughts?


  2. I agree publicity and marketing do play into how many books an author sells. But I think there are other factors also – niche books vs. books with wider audiences, like many of the best-selling novels.


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