I get a lot of young readers asking about writing books as a career. They are under the impression that you can make a full-time living writing. That all of us out there writing and selling our books are making a lot of money. The harsh reality is that very few authors make enough money to write full-time. Of all my writing friends I only have two friends who write full time. The rest of my writing friends all have other jobs to help support themselves.
If you are one of the lucky few you put your books out there and they hit like lightning and you sell a zillion copies. But that only happens to a very small percentage of the people writing. The rest of us are nowhere close to making enough money to write full-time.
I spent two years writing the four books in the Dark Ritual series and then I spent 8 months doing the publishing edits on the books. So that’s 2 years and 8 months working most days on the books. On the side, I worked a part-time gig running a book review website. During that 2 years and 8 months working on the books, I made no money from the books.
How much money did my books make once they were released? In my contract, it states that I can’t talk about specifics when it comes to the publishing house business, so I can’t give you exact numbers of how much my books made, but I can tell you it’s less than you would make in a year working a part time job.
Once the books came out I spent a lot of my time and money on promoting the books. I did some Facebook ads, I did a bunch of giveaways, I went on an online book tour and schedule an online book release shout out. A few of the promotions my publishing house paid for, but the rest of it came out of my pocket.
You sometimes see Authors get cranky and write rant posts about how readers say they love their work, but they don’t buy their books. I can understand the crankiness. It’s tough when you put all your spare time into writing and yet you have readers expecting you to put out all your writing for free. It does drive you nuts since you know that those same readers if the roles were reversed, would never want to give away for free something that they put so much time and effort into. You see authors get cranky because fans expect them to write more and more, yet no one buys their work. That’s also understandable. As a writer, you can’t help, but wonder why the fans won’t support you by buying your stories if they love them so much. As a writer you know if the fans would only buy your books, and if you could sell enough copies, you could spend all your time just working away and writing.
Writing is a very tough gig. You get a lot of rejection along the way as you are submitting your work to agents and publishing houses. Once your work gets out there you get plenty of nasty reviews that make you want to take up drinking. And then you can’t help but compare yourself to those few successful authors who are making a full-time living writing and you find yourself some days wallowing and wondering why your sales aren’t so great. You find yourself ranting. You find yourself full of doubt. You find yourself freaking out, totally convinced that your writing sucks. You vow you will give up writing completely. And then you get an idea for another story or a character whispers something in your ear, and you can’t help it, you find yourself back at your laptop pounding away on a story. You write because you love it. You write because it helps keep you sane. You hope that one day you’ll make it big and you’ll be able to make a full-time living writing, but the reality is that will probably never happen.