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So Who’s Making Money with This Thing?

Writing Income for Different Types of Authors“Self-publishing has revolutionized the publishing industry.”

How many times have you heard that in the past five years? And it’s true that it’s easier now than ever before for authors to publish and to put their writing in front of potential readers—cheaper too. And yet. Even before the invention of the e-reader, very few writers were getting rich—or making any money to speak of—from their writing.

What about now? That’s the question Jeremy Greenfield asked recently on in his article, “How Much Money Do Self-Published Authors Make?” Citing a recent study from Digital Book World and Writers Digest, the median income range for self-published authors is under $5,000 and nearly 20 percent of self-published authors report deriving no income from their writing.

At the high end of the spectrum, 1.8 percent of self-published authors made over $100,000 from their writing last year, compared with 8.8 percent of traditionally published authors and 13.2 percent of hybrid authors.

It’s a little better for authors who publish the traditional way: their median income range was $5,000 to $9,999. “Hybrid authors” (those who both self-publish and publish with established publishers) had a median income range of $15,000 to $19,999.

Bottomline? Outside of that lucky 1.8 percent making over $100K, the rest of us better have day jobs—or a trust fund. That much, at least, hasn’t changed.