Amber Skye Forbes

Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes

The Reality of What Indie Authors Make–It Isn’t What I Thought It’d Be

I added this old man in for laughs.

I added this old man in for laughs.

Rachel Thompson recently addressed the topic of the reality of how much indie authors can truly make. I apply this to people who are even traditionally published, be it with a small press or big press. First-time authors end up finding out that they have to use their advances to pay for the marketing of their book, but with the proliferation of the internet, there are some cheap alternatives to actually get your book out there, and there are plenty of authors who have found success with the internet alone.

Now I don’t know what sales on my book are, but they might be low, and they might not be. I’m just starting out, so I hope to get to where she gets one day. I mean, really, the reality she seems to posit is actually fairly good, compared to the reality of most indie authors, which is actually much lower for the average one. But I suppose you just have to be business-minded to find success with this market, and I am not–hence, why I have a publisher.

Rachel Thompson, on the other hand, uses much of what she makes to pay for travel to conferences, conferences, Google Adwords (which is such a difficult thing to use that her husband has made a business around it), still having taxes taken out of what she makes, paying money to market her social media effectively, editing of all books (which is understandable, considering she is indie), and the fact that she still has to have a day job–which, well, most authors do.

Okay, so let me break it down for you on the figures Rachel Thompson puts forth. She makes 36,000 dollars per eighteen months, which is about 2,000 dollars a month. Me being with a press and all, I could live off 36,000 dollars a year, 2,000 dollars a month, considering where I live, too–this is assuming I’m not having to sink money into marketing costs myself–also, the fact that I will be getting married to someone who makes about that much money, so our incomes combined would allow me to be a full-time writer. I actually use some of the money I make at my part-time job to pay for blitzes and other things that help increase exposure, as well as my publisher helping out with the marketing aspect of my book.  So perhaps this post is preaching more toward people who are with small presses or traditional houses, where they don’t really have to sink too much money into their own books.

In any case, after all costs, Rachel is left with 7,000 dollars, which isn’t even the average advance a first-time author makes. In fact, a 7,000 dollar advance from a house is pretty darn good. She says this covers 3.5 months of rent, but if she’s working another job, she still seems to have 7,000 dollars left over.  She admits she isn’t complaining, but when I was going into her article, I expected the figures to be abysmally low for an indie author, and they’re apparently not.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I would kill to make 2,000 dollars a month for my book, even if I did have to sink it into the marketing of my book. If 7,000 dollars were left after it all, that’s extra money to me, extra money to do whatever the heck I wanted with–an advance, essentially. Now I will admit that money is not my priority, but I do want to make money off my books so I could eventually go full-time. However, I may never go full-time because there are other things I love, like editing and PR and all that, and I don’t think I could quit those, even if my writing alone afforded me to.

All in all, I thought the figures she would posit would be much lower–which is the whole point of this article. To me, she is very successful, money-wise, to be making 2,000 dollars a month, even if most of it has to go toward the marketing of herself and her books.

Now tomorrow I will talk about how much I do love marketing my own book–and how all authors, even with big houses, should do so. After all, that book is their baby, so why wouldn’t they want to help out with marketing it? You can’t rely on your house alone to do so. 

***In Other News***

There is a cover art contest going on–I think it is, you can’t really see the covers–and I would love it if you could all vote for When Stars Die. The top ten people will receive something awesome. So just click here. Thank you!

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