How Much Do Authors Really Earn?

13 Oct



“It doesn’t help authors to say that 70% of the book market is in print if only a small fraction of that money ends up in authors’ pockets.  What we want to see is the combined effect of royalty rate, sales volume, and sale price.  These three factors combine to give us a true picture of comparative earnings, as shown in our pie charts” says Hugh Howey, founder of Author Earnings.

A Fantastic Report About Author Earnings
He explains: “Sports stars, musicians, actors— their salaries are often discussed.  This is less true for authors, and it creates unrealistic expectations for those who pursue writing as a career.  Now with every writer needing to choose between self-publishing and submitting to traditional publishers, the decision gets even more difficult. Online Book Retailers, such as Barnes&Noble or Amazon don’t share their e-book sales figures.”

Website for Authors, by Authors
Author Earnings, a website by authors and for authors looks at independent authors, small/medium publishers, Amazon published, Big Five published and uncategorized Single-Authors.  All the pie-charts on Author Earnings are divided into all the types of publishing.  The purpose is to gather and share information so that writers can make informed decisions.  Another mission is to call for change within the publishing community, for better pay and fairer terms in all contracts. 

Some of the Findings

• Big-5 publishers are massively reliant on their most established authors – for 63% of their e-book revenue.
• Roughly 46% of traditional publishing’s fiction book dollars are coming from e-books.
• In absolute numbers, more self-published authors are earning a living wage today than Big-5 authors.
• Readers are interested in both: the quality of a book and the price
• Very few authors who debut with major publishers make enough money to earn a living—and modern advances don’t help.

Publishing in Print or Digital – or Both?
Author Earnings:
“How much money is being spent on print overall and how much on Amazon’s digital storefront?  Before we got to money, we looked at actual unit sales, which came out to be 61% digital and 39% print.  That’s a total different picture, comparing versions at a retailer that sells both: ebooks and print books.”

These, so far, nine extensive reports – chock-full with charts, explanations and publishing tips – are a valuable resource for every author.  Here is the latest from October 2014:  Author Earnings.

Another question: Why should you have a print book and not the digital version only?  In a former blog post we gave you all the reasons to offer both: e-book and print. Check these reasons if they are valid for you too.


If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers:

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