So You Want to Make Money Writing Books? Excuse Me While I Laugh

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I imagine if you’re reading this post, you’re probably a writer (published or aspiring) who’s interested in knowing whether or not your dreams of becoming rich from your writing are possible. Excuse me while I laugh. Oh, wait. You’re serious? Let me laugh even harder.

Everyone knows that writing books is not profitable. According to statistics (I did not make up) only 30% of books published actually make a profit. The other 70% are lucky to even break even. (sadly, I can attest to that). So, knowing this information, why do we (authors, I mean) keep writing?

The obvious answer is we’re all a little crazy. Don’t bother trying to deny it. Haha! But insanity aside, every writer has their own reason for pursuing publishing. Whether it’s to fulfill a lifelong dream or to impress mom, all reasons are legit–unless you want to make a profit. Haha!

There’s a stigma in the writing community, especially among non-traditionally published authors, that authors who want to make a profit (even a little one) are selfish, unrealistic, and in it for the wrong reasons.

In defense of these authors, I would argue that the cost of production alone justifies wanting to make a profit. I, for one, cannot justify PAYING to publish when I have a mortgage and car payment solely under my name. And heaven forbid an independent author produce anything of lesser quality than a traditionally published worked. Well, editors, formatters, and cover artists don’t work for free. Time’s not cheap, either.

So, I do sympathize with authors who want to make a profit, even a little one. We just want to recoup enough earnings to keep doing what we love. Like an automotive technician or a teacher–you know, people allowed to make an earning doing what they love to do.

We’re not all in it to get rich, but wanting to make money doing what you love doesn’t make you a bad person or a heartless writer. It makes you a responsible person … who probably has bills to pay. Haha!

Now, get back to writing. And please excuse me while I laugh.

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19 thoughts on “So You Want to Make Money Writing Books? Excuse Me While I Laugh

  1. amiegibbons15

    I’ve never run into the people who look down on those of us who want to make some money off this. I don’t get it. If they didn’t want to make money, especially if they sneer at the idea, why bother publishing professionally at all? Why not just put it up on watpad or their blogs for free and Not pour money into covers and such?

    • Oh my gosh, thank you! That’s exactly what I’m all about. Don’t demand professional covers, editing, formatting from people who’ll have to pay for it and then get mad when they want to factor those expenses (and time) into the cost.

      You’re so lucky you don’t run into those people. Recently, I’ve come across a lot of people with this viewpoint. Felt compelled to respond.

  2. Ha ha ha ! I needed this laugh today, Kylie! What is it about those aspiring author who wear rose-tinted glasses and criticize those of us who are trying desperately to make money off of our hard-earned writing? I had a conversation with a writer the other day and she told me that she wanted to be one of the “lucky ones” who strike it rich. I almost fell off my chair.

    Why do I write when the odds are stacked up against me on making a profit? I love to tell stories. I don’t spend much money on marketing and I try to attract readers the old-fashioned way: word of mouth. I am lucky, I guess, that I broke even with my debut novel. Oh wait, I think my business manager told me that I made a profit of $1.20 last week. So yay!

    Does that stop me from writing? Hell no! I keep going and am about to release a new book. I keep on trucking because I figure, I love being an author and as long as I don’t lose money, I’m doing good. 🙂

    I love being an indie author and I never give anything away for free. I work hard for my craft and I refuse to give away my books. Even if only one person buys my book and tells me they enjoyed it, I’ve done my job as a storyteller. 😀

    I’m making my dreams come true… what are the naysayers doing? Oh right…

    • I don’t even know where to start. You’re response was so awesome!

      I’m glad you saw the humor in the post. It was meant to be funny, but you didn’t miss what I’m trying to say. Yes, wanting to striking it rich is crazy but I think we should strive to make that $1.20 profit. LOL. Congrats BTW. I’m still in debt with my debut.

      I think if we all priced our books fairly and stopped giving them away for free authors would see an improvement in profit, or at least a sense of pride in knowing their work is worth something. I’m with you–I’m not giving away my hard work for free.

      Glad I could make your day! Good luck on your future release! I’ll be watching!

      • Good luck with getting out of the hole concerning your debut novel. I hope you can get a small profit. I keep hearing that when you have multiple books and have a following, new readers buy all your stuff. Fingers crossed for you.

        I agree with you on the price of books. I cherish books and e-books have become a throw-away commodity. So many readers scoop up the free or 99 cent books and their devices are overloaded with books they’ll never read.

        I’d rather do a giveaway/contest to entice readers instead.

        Thanks so much! I’m very excited about my new release. It’s a new genre for me: New Adult Contemporary Romance. It drops September 15th. 🙂

  3. Yes, Mrs N. Thank you for not giving it away. They already get a free sample, which is fair, because we all open books in the stores, but to give it away like it’s worthless. I see the value in gifting it sometimes–like as a prize in a drawing, but to give away hundreds when they don’t even cost that much to begin with.

  4. So true! (and funny too) 🙂 If I had a passion for say, banking, it wouldn’t be seen as strange that I would want to earn a living from it. In fact, I’d probably get money thrown at me on a regular basis if I did my job well. Writing, just like any other profession, should be no different – if we approach our work as a professional, then we should be compensated. My daughter (8) was horrified to hear I only get £1.20 per book I sell – she couldn’t believe all the work she sees me doing amounts to that. But I love to tell stories and have lots more books to write, so I’ll keep going and hope to at least break even one day 🙂 And maybe, if I’m lucky, I might even make a profit.

  5. armenpogharian

    FWIW, several years ago on average over 1,500 books were published daily in the US – I’ve read it’s now nearly double that number. Average sales per book were ~300 copies, which includes million sellers – pick your favorite author. As a math geek that works out to 3,332 zero sellers for every million seller. Given the slowing growth of ebook sales and the increased number of ebooks being published, I suspect 300 copies is probably a bit high; at 100 copies, the math works out to an easy 10,000 very low sellers for every super smash (sorry a bit of 70s nostalgia there). Depending on your costs (cover art, editing, any promotional work), it’s going to be tough for most of those low sellers to break-even, let alone profit.

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