How Much Money Does a Writer/Author Really Earn?

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I published my first book, Tokyo Hearts, in 2012. Over the past three years, I’ve also published a set of short stories in Tokyo Tales and a futuristic sci-fi novelette Tokyo 2060, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. However, the question I get asked the most about writing books from strangers and potential authors is: How much money do you make if you write a book? Or basically the same question but one that demands more specific information is: Can I earn enough money to give up my full-time job if I become an author?

If you’re reading this and you have no aspirations to become a writer and if you’ve never felt the urge to write a book or if you don’t know me personally, then you might think this is quite a rude question for people to ask me. Well, I don’t think about how rude it is anymore because I’ve been asked the question too many times. Another reason I don’t angrily type a nasty response in capital letters is because I try to put myself in the shoes of the person who is asking the question and for all I know this person could have five children they need to clothe and feed and therefore money is a priority. Or maybe they’re just sick of their dead-end job in an office but they’re worried about paying their mortgage. For many people, working from home seems very appealing, especially if you live in the UK like I do and the weather outside can look like hell has frozen over when you exit your front door at 7:30 every morning in the middle of winter. Or maybe the person asking me about my income is really serious about writing and they have a story they’ve been dying to tell the world or they could simply be responding to their creative urges but they don’t want to waste their time or any other investment if they think it might drain their resources.

There’s also another reason why people might want to know how much money I make. Whether you realise this or not, it’s not that difficult for me or anybody else to work out approximately how much you earn if you work in an office or a factory, if you’re a doctor or a dental technician, or if you’re a manager or the chairman of a company, but I do know it’s much harder for people to work out how much a writer makes and therefore it makes people curious. But it seems to me the main objective and the only question everyone wants answered when they ask me about writing a book is if they can make a million dollars or hopefully a lot more money than they’re making right now. I’m sorry but if this is the only question you’re going to ask me then I’m not going to be able to provide you with an answer and nor is anyone else!

The reasons I’m not going to answer this question about income are:

(a) I’m under no obligation to share this information with you even though the blog title suggested I would.

(b) Most people don’t tell me anything at all about their book when they ask this question and I don’t have a crystal ball so it’s very difficult for me to look into the future and see what life has in store for you and your writing.

(c) Every single writer has a different publishing experience because all authors write a different book and no one can predict its success, even if the title is Fifty Shades of Trash.

If you’re thinking about writing a book and you’re looking for basic free advice, I can tell you you’re probably going to make more money if your book has a great cover and if it’s polished to perfection. Your book could also benefit from a professional editor and a proof-reader and it’s possible to build a strong fan base if you’re active on social media and if you connect with your followers and your readers.

But getting back to the question at hand, there is another point I want to share with you which kinda bugs me. There’s an issue here that really surprises me and disappoints me at the same time whenever someone asks me about my income. Why is the question “How much money does an author/writer really earn?” the only question that wannabe authors want to ask me? Why do I never get asked other questions like:
How can I create better, deeper, and more popular characters?, What are the most important elements of a good plot?, What is the ideal chapter length?, Should all Young Adult books have a happy ending?, What books should I read if I want to write a great book?, or Should I write a series?.
I do get asked these questions if I’m being interviewed by book bloggers about my books and they kindly share this information with their readers, but for some strange reason I’m never asked these questions by people who seem interested in writing their first book. Don’t you think these potential writers are jumping the gun a little bit? They seem to have missed the whole point of writing a good book if they’re concentrating more on how much their book might make rather than how to write a bestseller that has the potential to be recognized as a masterpiece in years to come.

I’m not a world famous writer and I still have a lot to learn, but I have picked up a lot about writing books in the last few years and I’m always more than happy to share these experiences and help other people become authors. I can promise you I don’t write my books in a week. It takes me a lot longer. I also spend my time reading and examining the classics and popular fiction as well as books from relatively unknown authors, and I’m often doing research on grammar and writing styles in the relentless struggle to become a better writer.

So please don’t ask me this question about money or my income if you want to become a published author. Please think more about the quality of your books and the whole writing process, because this is the best way you’re going to make a lot of money in the future and get respect at the end of the day.

I can, however, end on a very positive note because there’s definitely a silver lining to writing books and it’s such a wonderful gift it should actually be a golden lining. Here it is: On top of the money you earn, I can guarantee you’ll gain more than you’ve ever imagined personally, spiritually and emotionally if you write books, because it’s an extremely rewarding experience. Also, once you start publishing books you can rest assured you’ve made a positive contribution to the world because your paperbacks and even your eBooks will be here for many years to come, even when you and I are long gone.

Tara Kamiya: A Wonderful Wife and Mum Sharing Her Love for Japan

I’d like to introduce Tara Kamiya! Tara is an African American mother from New York, living in Nagoya. She’s married to a Japanese man and she has three gorgeous children, two boys and a girl. I first read about Tara and how she met her husband in an article in The Japan Times and I thought it was such a charming story! I was also impressed by Tara’s honest personality and how committed she was to marrying her husband and living in Japan. I decided to get in touch with Tara to see if she’d be interested in reading and reviewing my book Tokyo Tales. When Tara replied almost immediately, I was more than happy to send her my book and I was delighted when I eventually read her 5-star review on Amazon.

Tara Kamiya

I also discovered Tara loves to share her experiences in Japan on her website and her YouTube channel. Her videos are very popular and you’ll enjoy watching every one of them. When you start reading Tara’s blog or if you tune in to her YouTube channel, you’ll quickly discover Tara speaks Japanese, she loves living in Japan, she has a wonderful understanding of the Japanese culture, she has a generous personality, and she’s a devoted wife and mother. Tara is also stylish and fashion-conscious, and she offers really great advice on Japanese brands. Her popular videos such as “What to Bring to Japan”, “Japanese Washing Machine Demo” and “Japanese Drugstore Skincare Review” are all great resources if you want to find out more about life in Japan and which Japanese brands to buy if you live in Japan or if you’re just visiting the country.

The standout YouTube video for me, which Tara produced, is titled “How I got my Driver’s Licence in Japan”. When I lived in Japan, I never had the courage to get my driving licence. It just seemed like an impossible feat. I’m sure most people are aware of the terrible congestion on the roads in Japan, so I was really impressed when I watched the video and I could see just how dedicated Tara was to getting her licence so she could drive her family around. If you watch Tara’a very popular video below I’m sure you’ll be impressed as well and if you live in Japan it might give you the confidence to get your own driving licence.

Now you’ve watched the video, which I’m sure you all enjoyed, please support Tara and subscribe to her YouTube channel, follow her on Twitter, and find out more about her life in Japan on her fascinating website.

Do You Know the Meaning of the Ensō Circle?

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In Zen Buddhism, painting an ensō circle by hand is a discipline and Japanese aesthetic that is practised in the attempt to free the mind of all emotions and thoughts in order to produce a true and pure creation. Some people use meditation to try and achieve this state of mind but this Zen discipline of painting a circle to achieve enlightenment or self-realization could be just as satisfying and maybe even more powerful. The ensō circle can either be closed or incomplete. The closed circle represents perfection and the incomplete circle represents the existance of an imperfection, a common theme in the Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi. The finished circle can symbolize many things to different people. Popular interpretations say the ensō circle resembles universality, strength, elegance, simplicity, beauty, nothingness, or everything.

This ensō circle appears on the cover of my latest book Tokyo 2060: Welcome to the Future. When I was thinking about the book cover design, I wanted to use a subject which would represent Japan and the story itself. I also wanted to offer something more substantial and deeper for my readers to think about as they turn each page. Therefore, the incomplete ensō circle on the book cover represents a future society which may seem perfect to us in 2015 but may not be so perfect in 2060.

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My novelette, set in 2060, is a story filled with futuristic technology and incredible innovations and these may all seem very exciting and appealing to us now. You might even see and experience all these inventions and advancements in forty-five years and when you read about them you might think this is exactly how you would like to live if you were in Tokyo in 2060. However, as you read this story, I hope you’ll connect with the characters, consider the ethical and moral implications, and think about how a synthetic, computerized, and technologically advanced world could impact our lives as emotional human beings who enjoy connecting with other human beings.

As companies in Japan compete with each other to get self-driving taxis on the road and robots in department stores and attractions in time for the Olympic Games in 2020, it’s worthwhile taking a moment to think about the true impact of new technologies, such as androids and robots, and the many ways they will inevitably affect our lives in the future.