Income Transparency

I’ve been challenged by my friend and fellow author Matthew Selznick to share information about my income as an author. He makes the point that it’s helpful for other writers to get a sense of what to expect from creative endeavors and most of the numbers you see are articles about the huge success of one or two indie authors. 

I find that people tend to assume that best selling authors are spectacularly rich and it’s a very glamorous life. Someone wrote a while back about the truth about his income after having a book that was a NYT best seller. I wish I could find it now. The truth is that authors don’t make much money and even the best selling authors aren’t immune. You can count on one hand, most likely, the number of authors who are spectacularly rich. There is this similar article about how little a person with an Amazon best seller actually made 

“Why don’t most authors talk about money?

My theory: because it’s embarrassing.”

Hugh Howey (I knew him back when!) is interested in sharing these numbers too. He’s working on a website called Author Earnings and he gives his reasons here:

So okay, it’s valuable to let people know, both other authors and readers, what people are really making on books. And it’s good for us small and mid-list authors to report as a balance to the excited reports of the really successful authors.

I’m on board. I have to admit that I feel a little weird about sharing money info. You were probably also raised, like me, to consider it awkward and weird to talk about money in public. But I’m going to try to set that aside. Let me know if you think this info is valuable to share!

I have two different kinds of books and stories. Ones that are published by Dev Love Press and ones that I self publish. On the DLP books I get a royalty and on the self-published ones I keep all the income. 

These numbers are also going to vary a lot between authors because of so many different factors. Some authors focus on many sales of a few books and others focus on a few sales on many books, length of time you’ve been writing will also factor in. Plus, I’m someone who hasn’t had anything new come out in a couple of years! When I have a new book out, it should boost sales over all. (Which I swear I really am working on!)

But hopefully this will give you a sense for what it’s like for an average writer in a not very popular niche!

June 2014

DLP Income: $41.81

Self-Pub Income: $34.6

Total:  $76.41

May 2014

DLP Income: $ 51.50

Self-Pub Income: $48

Total:  $99.50

April 2014

DLP Income: $ 40.78

Self-Pub Income: $43.59

Total:  $84.37


I’ll try to remember to update you each month when my sales reports come out and when I get my new book, The Billionaire’s Secretary, out with DLP we’ll see what kind of effect it has.

1 Comment

  1. Matthew Wayne Selznick
    Aug 26, 2014

    Thanks for taking up the challenge, Ruth, and for shining the spotlight on the Transparency Challenge. I think your reader community will appreciate it, and other authors will be inspired.

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