“Just over 77% of self-published writers make $1,000 or less a year.”
– The Guardian
Apparently most professional writers don’t make anything. In a recent article it was revealed that roughly 80% of self published authors make less than $1,000 a year.
This doesn’t surprise me.
While I don’t make a whole ton off my eBook sales, I have made way more than $1,000 from writing over the past year.
Here are three reasons that I speculate most writers aren’t earning a whole lot.
Amazon has a flawed pricing system for their Kindle books. Authors get 70% royalties for any book priced above $2.99, while books that cost less only yield a 35% royalty. The strategy to make a $0.99 book in hopes that it sells millions is actually detrimental. While low prices are fine for short stories and novellas, making a whole book cost less than a dollar is stupid. If someone wants to buy a book they’ll pay whatever is on the price tag. A low cost isn’t going to draw flocks of people to the book.
Not treating it like a job.
A lot of people confuse having a hobby with work. Quitting your job to sit at home and write a book about dragons isn’t a particularly good business plan. Guys like Stephen King crank out books because its their job.
Anyone who’s ever read On Writing will know that King treated his stories like a full time job. After work he’d go to his mobile home and crank out material for all kinds of magazines and publishers. He didn’t meander to Starbucks so that he could try and impress the barista with his half finished screenplay.
Poor fan base.
Sometimes I like to go back and check out various eBooks that I’ve reviewed. Out of curiosity I like seeing if they sell well. What I’ve noticed is that most of them will sell a few copies during their first month and then fizzle out. From my personal experience I’ve faced similar problems. While it is possible to crank out a seasonal eBook and make some money, people will stop buying after a certain point. If you constantly cranked out material you could probably do okay, but I doubt it would be worth the effort.
Most people imagine that there’s easy money in doing something like writing 10 Places To Meet Hot Girls. In reality there are about nine trillion of these books out there, I review dozens of them a week, and the competition is going to be fierce. Unless you have a fan base you aren’t going to sell too many copies. People like familiarity, they aren’t going to spend $10 on something they don’t know about.
While I can’t say for certain, I would imagine that most of the Manosphere guys who’ve published a book are doing alright for themselves. They have a big enough following that people are willing to pay for their written advice and expertise.
How I figure into this
I’ve spent the entire day writing articles about storage lockers. It’s dull but it pays well. After I publish this article I’ll take a 10 minute break and then start writing an article about personal finance. Once that’s done I’ll head to the gym and come home to pump out a few book reviews. While none of these projects are books, they all still involve writing and I’m getting paid more than $1,000 a year to do them.
The argument that there is no money in writing is only true if you treat your craft like a hobby. The same can be said for other arts like music or painting. If you want to turn a profit you have to put in the hours.