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How Much Money Can You Make From Writing a Book?

Julia McCoy
Wednesday, 1st Mar 2023
how much money can you make from writing a book

For many authors, there is a sense of fulfillment from completing a book. But can you truly gain financial rewards from selling books? How much money can you make from writing a book these days?

An author makes an average of $49,000 per year from writing books, according to The income of novelists ranges from $15,000 to $127,800 depending on experience, subject matter, contract terms, and book sales. 

As with any business, the amount of money an author makes fluctuates depending on the number of books they sell. 

In turn, book sales depend on several factors such as genre, audience, and the marketing strategies you implement in selling your work. And, self-published authors who know how to write books with the help of AI technology can enjoy a higher earning potential compared to traditionally published authors.

But how much do authors earn per book?

How much money can you make from writing a book, really?

In this blog post, we’ll discuss exactly how much money can you make from writing a book whether you’re just curious, or your goal is to make a living this way. 📖

How Much Do Authors Make?

The amount of money you can make from writing and selling a book varies, but generally, authors can expect to make an advance plus 5-15% royalties from their traditionally published books.

What would this look like in real life?

  • Let’s say you write a book, sell the rights to a traditional publisher, and they produce it and put it on the market for $20. If you make 10% royalties, you would earn $2 per printed book sold. (Royalties are generally higher for ebooks, by the way.)
  • However, keep in mind that royalties only start paying out in traditional publishing after the author has “earned out their advance.” That means the publisher has made back the initial investment they paid to the author. So, if you earned a $5,000 advance, you won’t start earning royalties until your book has brought in that much through sales.

On the other hand, if you self-publish a book you wrote, your royalties will be much higher because you retain the rights to your work.

The trade-off? You are responsible for all publishing costs.

For instance, if you self-publish on Amazon’s ebook platform, you’d earn a royalty rate of 35-70% minus any costs you’d incur from book editing, formatting, etc.

amazon ebook royalties breakdown

Screenshot: Kindle Direct Publishing

Conversely, in traditional publishing setups, the publisher purchases the rights to your book and takes care of publishing, printing, marketing, and promoting.

Factors That Affect How Much Money You Can Make from Writing a Book

Many traditionally published authors have found success in going this route, but how much money you make from writing books depends on several factors.

Generally speaking, traditionally published authors tend to earn more than self-published ones due to their large audience and better distribution networks. But e-books typically generate higher royalties than print books because they don’t require printing costs or physical storage space for inventory.

Other factors that can influence book sales are genre, popularity, competition level in the niche market, and pricing strategy employed by publishers (e-book vs paperback prices).

Furthermore, some authors make money from public speaking engagements or teaching opportunities related to their work. These activities have the potential to significantly increase an author’s earnings in addition to books sold.

How to Boost Your Revenue Potential by Writing a Book

Authors can boost their revenue potential by publishing books on multiple platforms. They can sell books through personal websites or Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and offer exclusive editions like audiobooks or hardcover versions at premium prices. This way they can start earning royalties while creating multiple streams of income.

Finally, authors can make money by promoting books on social media platforms like Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads along with other digital advertising channels. Content marketing can help boost visibility and awareness which can lead to increased sales numbers.

Writing books can be an immensely gratifying endeavor — both financially and emotionally. But how much money can you make from writing a book is contingent on genre, distribution, promotion tactics, and other variables.

How Much Money Can You Make From Writing a Book

Source: Reedsy

Types of Books and Their Profit Potential

How much money can you make from writing a book?

The average cost of a book can vary significantly depending on factors such as the type of book (hardcover, paperback, ebook), the genre, the author’s popularity, and where you’re purchasing it (new or used). 

Generally, the cost of a new hardcover book typically ranges from $20 to $30 or more, while paperback books usually range from $10 to $20.

Ebooks are often cheaper, with prices commonly ranging from a few dollars to around $15.

When it comes to the profit potential of traditional publishing, fiction books tend to sell more because readers love immersing in a story as a means of escape from reality. Yet, non-fiction books can still be lucrative if they furnish readers with useful data or guidance that is sought after. For example, a book about financial planning could do well if it provides helpful tips for managing money and achieving financial goals.

Compared to what traditionally published authors make, self-published authors make money more by retaining a larger portion of sales revenue without the need for a third party. This route gives authors full control over the entire process from start to finish.

However, self-publishing takes more work. Unlike traditional publishing where the publisher takes care of everything — from editing and design to formatting and promotions — you will have to handle of these tasks if you want to self-publish.

Let’s look at how these publishing costs can affect how much money can you make from writing a book.

Key Takeaway: Writing books can be rewarding, but it is critical to weigh how much traditionally published authors make versus the costs of self-publication to determine which route will give authors the most beneficial return.

The Costs of Writing and Publishing a Book

If you’re looking to sell print books, here are some of the basic expenses you should budget for.

  1. Writing costs include any fees paid for research and ghostwriting.
  2. Editing costs cover professional editing and proofreading services as well as developmental editing and copyediting.
  3. Design and formatting costs may include hiring a graphic designer to create a cover design or paying for typesetting services to format the interior of your book correctly.

Writing Costs

Depending on the type of book you’re writing and how long it takes to write a book, you may need to pay for research materials such as books or online subscriptions to gather accurate information about your topic. If you don’t have time to write the entire manuscript yourself, you might consider hiring a ghostwriter or freelance writer who specializes in non-fiction topics like business strategy or health and wellness topics. You can pay your writer an author salary or on a per-book basis.

You can also use the help of AI for writing a book. Read our guide on how to write a book with AI.

Editing Costs

Professional editors are invaluable in the traditional publishing process as they polish up your manuscript before publication. They typically charge $25 to $50 per hour, depending on the experience and expertise they bring to the table.

Developmental editing involves restructuring large sections of text while copyediting focuses more on fixing grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Rates depend on how much work needs to be done before submitting your manuscript for review.

Design Costs

Design and formatting costs can add up quickly. Unless you have design skills yourself (or know someone who does), chances are that designing both the front cover art plus all interior pages will require some outside help — which means additional expenses.

Cover designs typically range between $100 to $300+ while typesetting can add anywhere from $200 to $1000+ depending on the complexity of the layout requirements for different trim sizes.

You may also have to pay miscellaneous fees for setting up ISBN numbers (if self-publishing) plus any barcode scanning technology required by retailers when selling physical copies through brick-and-mortar stores. All these costs should be factored into your budget before starting a book project.

Traditional publishing may be costly but the financial gains could be worth it. With the right promotion tactics, you can sell books like pancakes and reach an even broader readership.

Key Takeaway: Writing a book can be costly, with writing, editing, and design fees adding up quickly. It’s important to budget for these costs before beginning the traditional publishing process.

Marketing Strategies for Selling Your Book

How much money can you make from writing a book is contingent on your marketing prowess. Without a well-thought-out advertising plan, you won’t reach a wide readership and gain financial benefit from books sold.

Promote Your Book on Social Media

If you want to get the word out about your book, social media is a great place to do that. You can create content related to the topics in your book and share it with your followers. You can also utilize paid advertising on social media to reach out to a select group of people who may be interested in your book.

Moreover, you can use word-of-mouth marketing by interacting with other authors or opinion leaders within the same niche as yours.

Advertising and Paid Promotions

Paid advertising is another effective way of reaching out to potential readers and selling more copies of your books. Purchase keyword-rich display ads on Google Ads or any other pay-per-click (PPC) network so that people will find out about your book.

Sponsored posts on popular websites like Goodreads or Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select could also prove beneficial for increasing the visibility of your title among readers in your genre.

Marketing can be the deciding factor between a bestseller and a flop. With careful planning, you can maximize your potential earnings by promoting on social media, buying paid advertisements, and finding publicity and networking opportunities.

Now let’s look at how AI technology can help you write a book that will sell.

How to Write a Book With AI Technology

AI writing tools have become increasingly sought-after in recent times, providing authors with the capability to generate content quickly and effortlessly. AI technology can be used for a variety of tasks, from generating ideas to writing entire books. It is especially useful for authors who are pressed for time or lack the necessary skill set to write multiple books.

Benefits of AI Writing Software

There are many benefits associated with using AI writing software when creating a book. For starters, it can save authors considerable amounts of time by automating mundane tasks such as research and data collection. AI technology can provide authors with top-notch content that is precise and free of blunders, courtesy of its intricate algorithms and natural language processing capacities.

Some programs even offer features such as auto-formatting which makes the job for published authors easier.

Pitfalls of AI Writing Software

Despite its advantages, there are also some challenges associated with using AI technology to make money from traditional publishing.

One issue is copyright infringement since most programs generate content based on existing sources.

Another challenge is that generated content often lacks creativity due to its reliance on pre-existing information so authors may need to manually add their own unique flair to make it stand out.

Interested in writing a book with the help of AI? Here’s how to do it the right way.

  1. Check the material written by AI against existing sources to avoid copyright issues.
  2. Edit each draft with writing tools such as Grammarly or Hemingway to fix any issues before publication.
  3. Experiment with various settings in your AI writing software to determine which works best for you.

Key Takeaway: Using AI writing software can be beneficial for book authors as it saves time and produces high-quality content.

Additional Income Streams for Writers

Not all writers will hit it big the first time. If are looking for supplementary income beyond book sales, there are many opportunities to make money from writing.

Subsidiary Rights

If your work has gained enough traction, you may receive royalties from subsidiary rights such as screen adaptations or merchandise. This could include anything from branded objects like mugs and posters to clothing or special editions of your books. You might even have the opportunity to have your work “optioned” by a company like Netflix.

Freelance Services

You can also offer freelance services such as professional editing and ghostwriting in order to grow your income. There are plenty of fellow authors who are always in need of assistance with their projects.

Online Courses and Workshops

You can also create online courses or workshops related to writing and literature topics. This could include things like grammar lessons, story structure advice, and character development tips designed for writers who want additional guidance on improving their craft.

Affiliate Marketing and Advertising

If you have an established blog or website dedicated to writing-related content, then affiliate marketing and advertising revenue is another way for writers to generate extra income. All it takes is finding relevant products and services that would benefit your readers and placing links within your content so you get paid every time someone clicks on them.

Subscriptions and Donations

Finally, subscriptions and donations are a great way to earn supplemental income for writers who already have an engaged audience following them on social media. You could set up monthly subscription plans where followers gain exclusive access to behind-the-scenes updates about upcoming projects. Fans can also donate money whenever they feel moved by your content.

Ready to write a book and make money? Read this complete guide on how to start writing a book.

FAQs – How Much Money Can You Make From Writing a Book

How much money does an author make per book?

On traditional printed copies, an author will receive 5% to 20% in royalty payments, 25% on digital versions, and 10% to 25% on audiobooks.

How much money does a first-time author make off a book?

A first-time author of a traditionally published book can usually expect an advance of $1,000 to $10,000 and a 5% to 18% cut of the royalties.

Many self-published authors have reported earning up to 70% in royalty fees for their ebooks although they do not receive any advance payment.

Can writing a book make you a millionaire?

Only a very small percentage of novelists become wealthy from just their books. Most have other jobs, such as teaching and freelancing, which supplement their income.

How much does the average author make?

While there is no set rule for determining author salary, some writers earn millions of dollars while others struggle to make even $100.

Stephen King and J.K. Rowling are both examples of authors that have sold millions of books. Many authors have a more moderate level of success, thanks to the rise of self-publishing. Unfortunately, some very talented writers are forced into other lines of work to pay the bills.


So, how much money can you make from writing a book?

Writing a book can be lucrative but it’s important to balance the expenditures and potential profits associated with publishing one’s work. It is also worth considering how AI technology could help you write your book faster or more efficiently.

Authors who are committed to investing the necessary time and energy may be able to make considerable profits from their writing. Whether you decide to use AI technology or not, understanding how much money you can make from writing a book is an essential part of any author’s journey.

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Written by Julia McCoy

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