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How Much Money Can a Writer Make?

How much money can a writer make? Many assume that if you’re a bestselling author, you’ll be rolling in the cash. However, being a writer is more complex than grabbing your pitch-perfect novel off the shelf and selling it for mega-bucks. In fact, you might not even see money from your efforts at all. Here’s a breakdown of how much money you might make as a writer, depending on how much work you put in (and yes, the occasional lucky break).

Writing Is A Vocation

While it’s impossible to put a number on the amount of money you’ll make as a writer (and it really depends on how much work you put in), you can be sure that you’ll never, ever make a profitable career out of it. Writing is a vocation that allows you to explore ideas and concepts that interest you. You might not get paid much for your work, but the opportunity to express yourself through compelling stories is priceless.

If you’ve ever read a bestselling novel, you might assume that the author was lucky enough to have had an agent and publisher pay for all of that content. However, not all writers are as fortunate as this fictional character. Most writers have to find their audiences through various methods of marketing and sales. For instance, you might have to find readers through speaking tours, teaching workshops, or even direct mail marketing (think letters, emails, and postcard reminders).

The Gig Is Uncertain

Even for those who do find an audience and are fortunate enough to be able to sign a contract with a publisher, the road to riches isn’t always smooth sailing. Sometimes, your contract won’t be approved by a literary agency or publisher. Some projects simply never get funded (despite your best efforts, sometimes this is beyond your control, especially if your work is genre fiction or young adult).

Then, there’s the issue of the book’s sales. Even if you’ve had a massive international bestseller, you might end up struggling to make money off of your most recent book when compared to your previous works. Which is why, as a writer, you might not always see the big bucks rolling in (at least not right away).

Rewrites And Pitch-Changes

Even for those who are able to successfully sell their first novel (let’s be realistic, this is more the exception than the rule), it can still be a struggle to find the money to fund your next project. This is where the rewrites and pitch-changes come in. If you’re fortunate enough to have a large publisher interested in your work, you might see this as a way to generate additional income from your book. However, it is never a good idea to count on this as your main source of income. Even if you’re able to get the book published and earn lots of money from it (which, let’s be real, is probably not going to happen), the chances are you’ll still need to find further funding for your next book. This is why many famous writers end up re-inventing themselves as teachers or university lecturers once their publishing career is over. It’s a great way to continue to write, but not have to depend on the income from one book.

The Evolution Of A Writer

If you make it through all of this and are still standing, congratulations! You might just have made it as a writer. However, this is far from a secure career choice, especially if you’re looking to make a living from it. Many of the writers who started out their careers in the 2000s managed to find a place on this list, proving that none of us are immune to the economic fluctuations of the literary ecosystem. This is why it’s essential to keep researching new ways to market and sell your work, as well as evolve your skills as a writer if you want to remain relevant. Luckily for you, we’ve gone over a number of these methods, including how to make money as a writer (both in the present and the future), in the form of an informative guide.