How Much Money Does a Writer/Author Really Earn?

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.