Most authors won’t earn a living as an author (at least right away)

When I first self-published my fantasy novel, Summoned, I had no delusions that it would be an immediate “best seller.” Heck, I knew from the start that it would be hard to find readers when there are so many other books vying for their attention. It is a daunting task for any new indie author and one that I think many are unprepared for.

moneyAs authors, we all have dreams of writing a book that hits the best-seller list. We want our novels read and as much as we love writing, we would like to make some money off of our hard work. But is it realistic to expect your novel to “take off” or for you to earn your living as an author?

Back when I entered the self-published world, I read a blog from an indie author who said she didn’t really start earning a consistent income until her eleventh book. It took her that long to develop a fan base and to figure out which marketing strategies worked for her.

Now I am not saying it is going to take that long for everyone but I also don’t want new indie authors to be fooled by looking at the success of indie authors such as Amanda Hocking or E.L. James or even those first timers that go through a publishing house like J.K. Rowling. We can’t all expect that type of success from the start.

But many would-be writers are under the belief that they can just write a book, post it on Amazon and expect word-of-mouth to sell their books. Not so. I don’t think most would-be authors realize how much marketing of not only their books but of themselves they will need to do to be successful.

Publishing a novel takes work. I don’t know how accurate it is but I have heard it is about 20% writing and 80% marketing. Of course for new authors, sometimes the best advice is to just keep writing rather than spending their time on social networking sites as being an “established” writer adds more credence than any marketing.

I have seen several posts about a self-published author survey done in 2011. The survey of 1100 indie authors showed that the average amount they made was $10,000. More than half of the authors in the survey made less than $500 a year. (And in case you are wondering, romance authors made the most and those who used professional services such as copy editing or cover design made more than average.)

It was only after the release of my short story, The Search, (a prequel to my trilogy) did my sales start to take off. I would not say I make a “decent” amount at this time and certainly not enough to live off of. But with each month I am hopefully building up a fan base who will purchase my next book.

I don’t want to discourage anyone but to make the aspiring author – or any author – realize that writing one book will not take care of you for the rest of your life. That is a myth. Many authors will never attain the success they dream of and those who do will likely release ten to twenty books by the time they are a “success.”

I read it somewhere that many authors can make a decent living off the sales of their books, but many aren’t going to make a decent enough living doing nothing but writing.

Well until then…I will just keep writing.