One of the most common questions I get asked when I sign books is, “How much does a writer get paid?” The truth is, there is no set answer to this question because it depends on so many factors. But I wanted to try and provide some clarity on this issue because I feel that there is a common misconception about how much money writers actually make. So in this post, I will discuss how much money writers get paid, how much you as a writer should demand, and how to make the most of your income as a writer.
The Income Range Of A Young-Thought Author
It’s important to note that the income range of a young-thought author is vastly different from that of an experienced author who has been working for years. When I say “young-thought author,” I mean someone who is just getting started, someone whose first book might just be getting published, and someone who has yet to prove themselves as a writer. Because these are all factors that can impact how much money a writer makes, I want to give you a sense of what you can expect. But before I begin, I want to make one thing clear: you should not expect to make as much money as a popular writer or an established author. This will never happen. Ever.
Here is the range of income for a young-thought author:
- $0 to $10,000 per year – if you’re lucky; most people make less than $10,000 per year. And even then, the money might not be completely stable.
- $10,001 to $20,000 per year – you’re starting to see some stability here but it’s still nothing to write home about. Unless you’re in a very high tax bracket (like in California where the top marginal rate is over 70%), you’re likely going to have to report all your earnings as income. But at least you’re making some money and you can continue to pursue writing as a full-time job. The good thing about this income range is that it allows you to save a large portion of your earnings, which you can then use to pay for future expenses or invest in further education.
- $20,001 to $30,000 per year – here we have a steady increase in income, which is likely the result of growing word of mouth and social media praise. But even at this level, your earnings are still modest compared to those of an experienced author.
- $30,001 to $50,000 per year – you’re now in a very fortunate position because you can easily command a six-figure income. You might not need to work a regular job to make this amount of money, but it still requires a lot of work. It also pays to be persistent because it takes a while for word of mouth and social media praise to start adding up. And because you’re establishing yourself as a writer, you might have to negotiate a higher rate with your publisher or get signed to a bigger deal. But at least you’re making enough money to live on comfortably.
- $50,001 to $75,000 per year – if you want to continue making decent money, you need to either broaden your networks or find a way to earn more. The first step is to keep doing what you’re doing because eventually the income will start to pile on. You already have a platform with thousands or even millions of followers on social media, so all you need to do is continue using that to get more exposure and, eventually, more readers and thus more money.
- $75,001 to $100,000 per year – if you want to make a lot of money, you’ll need to scale up your efforts considerably. Write multiple books, secure film or TV option deals, and invest in ad and marketing campaigns on social media. You might also want to consider creating your own publishing house or house brand and using this as a springboard to take your career to the next level.
- Over $100,001 per year – here we have a truly fortunate writer because they can easily make six figures annually. Like many other professions, becoming a writer isn’t cheap, and you have to put in the time and effort to learn the craft. But at least you’re finally becoming financially stable, and this is likely the result of years of hard work. As a writer, you might also want to look into receiving a royalty or sliding scale based on the number of copies sold instead of charging readers for an eBook or having them pay for a digital copy.
How Much Should You Ask For?
One of the most common questions I get asked when I sign books is, “How much should I ask for?” The answer to this question also depends on so many factors but I wanted to try and provide some clarity on this issue because I feel that there is a common misconception about how much money writers actually make. So in this section, I will discuss how much you as a writer should ask for, how much you can expect to make, and what to do if you’re approaching a publisher or an agent for the first time.
What Is Your Book’s Market Worth?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on so many factors. But I want to provide some guidance on this issue because I feel that many writers get caught up in the wrong mindset when it comes to their book’s market value. When you’re first starting out and might not have many sales or reviews to go by, it’s easy to assume that your book isn’t worth much, if anything at all. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Your book’s market value is extremely valuable, especially in the beginning. Even if you’ve never even had a book published, your personal blog or social media following, if they’re engaging and has enough interest in your niche, can have considerable value. When you’re starting out, your book’s market worth is largely undefined and can vary anywhere from $0 to $100,000 or more. This is because your book probably has a lot of potential and no one knows how successful it can be. Now that you have a platform and have published a book, your book’s market value is much more clearly defined. It’s highly unlikely that someone would pay you $0 for a manuscript they’ve never heard of, but at the same time, it’s not difficult for someone to pay you $100,000 or more for a book that is likely to do well.
The Approach To Take
One of the most common questions I get asked when I sign books is, “What is the best way to go about pitching a book to a publisher?” This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on so many factors but I wanted to try and provide some clarity on this issue because I feel that there is a common misconception about how to pitch a book to a publisher. So in this section, I will discuss the approach to take when approaching a publisher or agent for the first time with a book proposal.
When you’re approaching a publisher or agent for the first time with a book proposal, you have to realize that they are not actually deciding whether or not to buy your book based on your proposal alone. Sure, there is plenty of room for error when it comes to proposals but that is what makes them proposals – they are, by design, not comprehensive. When you’re presenting a proposal, you are simply trying to get the attention of the person on the other end, to hopefully generate interest and gain further support for your project. Your proposal is going to be one of a kind, designed to specifically appeal to this one person, and it is likely to be incredibly impressive. But the fact remains that this is not a decision that the publisher or agent is going to make based on what you presented in your proposal. Of course, you want your proposal to be as comprehensive as possible so that you maximize your chances of getting the attention of the person on the other end — but even then, this is not necessarily going to be the case. You will have pitched quite possibly the most perfect proposal ever written and, despite all that, it is still not likely that this is the only thing the person on the other end is going to decide about.
Here is an example of a publisher’s or agent’s response, in an email, after I had sent them a proposal: