So you want to be a writer - Tip #2 Cost vs Compensation (Part 1)

One of the first questions I’m asked by those who are contemplating writing a book—is how much it will cost them to publish it and what they can expect to be paid?

Cost versus compensation is a difficult question to answer because there are infinite variations. There are so many different types of books out there. It matters if you write fiction or non-fiction, and in fiction it depends on what genre you write. My experience is with Romance. It is one of the most popular genres, but it is also one of the most congested when it comes to number of authors.


I've been published for a long time (15 Years), self-published for over a year. One thing I can tell you for sure...the more books you have available the more money you will make, even on the months where there isn't a new release. Can you guess how many books most authors have? If you said one, you would be correct.

Most authors publish one book and never get around to finishing their second book and publishing it. If you work on the marketing and build an author newsletter and platform (basically social media), then once you have two, three, five, or ten books published the money increases a bit each time on residual sales. Then when you put a new book out, the income will jump for a couple months. Again, the more books…the more jumps!

You will need to work on the marketing as diligently as you write, in order to make a good living. But it’s like anything—put in the time, do your research, use classes to stay current on writing, technology, and marketing strategies—and eventually you will be successful.

Yes, I know authors who make 10s of thousands of dollars a month as a self-published author. I don’t. But I do make a respectable “part-time” income on the months I don’t have a new release, and a great income the months I do.

I am in the middle of an extensive online author class that has made me overhaul the business part of my writing and in a month my “part-time” income has doubled. I will share more about this later and have some class recommendations for you. I want a few more weeks of testing before I rubber stamp it as the BEST THING EVER. I really wish I knew some of this many years ago…

A 2013 Forbes Magazine article states: “There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. Many of those – perhaps as many as half or even more – are self-published. On average, they sell less than 250 copies each.” Read more here! He is very cynical for the rest of the article and I don’t agree with him, but it’s another view point. 

I would bet that most of the books that sold 250 copies were by authors who just had one book out. Part of the solution for making more money is to write more books. Simple right? But it isn’t.

Being an author isn’t easy. I don’t say this to discourage you. It’s the reality. I work at it 8 to 10 hours a day. Sometimes more. Yes, I can set my schedule and most of the time I work, my family is asleep. And only some of those hours are actual writing and the rest is part of the business. (online classes, creating covers, writing and monitoring ads, publishing newsletters, etc.) But I have 14 books out and am working on three right now. It didn’t start this busy, it evolved.

The authors I know who make a living at this, write about six hours a day and do promo/business another 2 to 4 hours a day. (The ones that are doing two are cheating…they have assistants! 😉 For the month I've been doing this class, it has been 10 to 15 hours a day of business only stuff. That should drop off in about another month. But again, if I had one book or two, I'd be done already!

But…I can also write and promo anywhere with an internet connection. Go to Hawaii…no problem. I get up three hours before the rest of the family and write on the lanai, I edit while I’m soaking up rays at the beach, I post on social media when I’m sitting in the car…you get the idea. I love what I do, and even the promo and education stuff isn't work - its fun!

Again…the number of hours spent doing promo and business increase at about the third or fourth book. So if you are just getting started, you have time to ramp up.

Join me next week for Part 2, the cost portion of Cost vs Compensation!