Is writing a book profitable? It certainly can be, especially for an established author. For those who get published with a traditional publishing house, there can be advance payments that reach into the thousands, and royalties for years to come.
For the self-published author, life can be a little different. There is still money to be made, but there is no up-front payment. You may even need to make an investment if you want to sell physical copies of your books and will need somewhere to store them.
If you choose to use e-books or a print-on-demand service (such as those offered by Amazon) you don’t have to worry about any of this. Digital copies are always readily available and require no physical inventory, and print-on-demand allows copies to be sent worldwide, again without a physical inventory.
The difference is simply the cost. If you order 1000 copies of a book to be printed from a traditional printer company, it will cost you – as the author – far less than buying 1000 copies from a print on demand service.
This is because the cost of set-up and printing is built into the print-on-demand price. Your customers who buy one or two books will not be affected, but you’ll see a lower profit per book with print-on-demand.
The upside is there is no investment needed, no storage required for physical books, and no stock let over if you don’t sell as many copies as anticipated.
Can writing a book make you money?
There are two reasons to write a book. The first is simply because you want to – perhaps you have a story you need to tell, it’s something you’ve wanted to do for years, etc. The second is because you want to make money.
Is writing a book profitable if you’re only in it for fun? It can be, and sometimes more profitable than when you write with money in mind.
Telling a story or writing a factual book about your experiences, or even a guide on how to do something can be fun. You can get lost in the writing process and spend hour after hour typing away, barely aware of time as it passes.
If you’re doing it purely to make money, you may find that time drags, and it becomes hard going. But however you cross the finish line, there’s good news up ahead.
Is writing a book profitable if it takes a long time to write?
If you have never written a book before, it’s likely to be a side project and not your main source of income. Leaving your job to become a full-time author can be a mistake unless you have the finance available to fund your life for several months or longer.
The problem is, even if a book only takes a few weeks to write, if you sell it via an on-demand service you won’t get paid straight away. Plus, you need to sell enough copies to make it worthwhile.
Can writing a book be profitable? Of course – but making a single cent or penny is considered profit, so profitable isn’t necessarily the right way to look at it.
Writing a book can replace your income if you sell thousands of copies. When I wrote my first book, The Ghost Under The Stairs, it was moderately successful. It didn’t sell millions of copies to begin with, but it did help me to pay the mortgage.
The great thing about writing a book is that once it is written, it’s written. If you spent 100 hours to get it finished, and then sell a single copy that makes you $1, you’ve effectively been working for a cent an hour.
But here’s the important part.
You can sell another copy with no extra writing work. And then another. And another.
When you’ve sold 100 copies, you’ve made $100, and have worked for $1 an hour. The more you sell, the higher this figure goes.
You’ll need to take care of social media, advertising, running your website, and that kind of thing, but eventually, the book sales will put you on an hourly rate that can be quite extraordinary. These kinds of results cannot be guaranteed, but whatever happens, every copy you sell will add to the profit you can make from your book.
And if you write a second book, and a third, the potential income increases with every publication.
Will you write a book for fun…or for profit?