Do you remember the time when publishing your book would mean you have to get an agent, a publisher and a lot of patience? Yes, me too. It was horrible. Most authors did not have the time, the patience, the connections or the money to get their books out there. Luckily for us, this all changed when self-publishing on platforms like Amazon, Kobo or LuLu became available online.
Now you hear tons of miracle stories of self-published authors earning tens of thousands of dollars every month just by selling their books on several platforms. Yes, these cases are real. If you plan well and if you have a good social media plan, this can be you! But first : let’s talk about the REAL earning expectations of self-published authors…
Don’t give up your day job just yet
Yes, waking up with tens of thousands of dollars in your bank account because your book went viral would be very nice, but don’t count on it… yet. Most self-published authors – even published authors!, have to publish at least 2 to 3 books before they can make a steady income. And even then : you need to have a lot of luck and good planning.
It is important to keep your day-job so you won’t fall without income. We would hate to see you become one of those fabled ‘ starving authors’.
Another thing you should be aware of is that to self-publish a book, you will need to invest money in the publishing process. You will need a professional editor to look after your book, you will need someone to help you to grow your social media platform and you need a great book cover. These are all investments that will ultimately help you to market and sell your book and set a good precedence for your other books. This costs money. I would say a book cover would cost between $10 and $50 while you could pay between $200 and $900 for the editing.
I know… I made that shrug as well when I first read about this. “Who needs editing.”
Trust me : a book that is not edited will plunge into the dark pits of the Amazon rankings to be forgotten for the rest of the author’s life. You would not want to do this to your books, right? Also keep in mind that whenever you would like to get one of your manuscripts published and get a book deal, unedited books and covers that look like made them in Microsoft Paint do not reflect good on you as a writer. Try to use some of the money earned in your day-job to invest in your manuscript.
So how much do authors make on Amazon?
I know you would like me to talk about “averages” but I won’t. Why? Because averages say nothing about quantities, prices and royalty scales.
To start off : most books on Amazon sell LESS than 10 copies a year. If you would price your book at $0.99 this would mean you get $3 per book per year. Auwch.
At least 90% of the books on Amazon will make LESS than $100 a year says John K.
A small handfull of books, not more than 1000 – will hit the gold mine.
Yes, I know, that’s a reality check.
Here’s a breakdown of the Amazon ranks and what they mean.
Rank = 10: avg daily sales to maintain rank = 1,289
Rank = 100: 191 daily sales
Rank = 1,000: 28 daily sales
Rank = 10,000 : 4 daily sales
Rank = 100,000 : 0.6 daily sales.
What can you do?
One of the first steps is to try and build a platform on social media. Try to get followers and try to get people that support you through and through. I have published some blog posts on how to engage with your audience and I can always help you with setting up a social media plan.
Second of all, if you want to become a popular author, you should go with the audience. Write about the tropes and study the best sellers of this moment. Learn what they are doing and see what makes their books bestsellers. Why do people love the books and how could you incorporate this into your books?
I know some of the more established writers tell you to write what you want and not to give in to what the masses want… but think about this : most authors on Amazon that don’t give a flying f about what people want to read and just write their own stories are failed authors. Choose which one you want to be.