One of the main questions my new mentor clients ask me is ‘can I make money as an author?’ I am always very open and honest about how I make my living as a full time author and there really aren’t any secrets about it.
True or False: I can live off my royalties.
False. With most first time and emerging authors being paid between 5% and 15% of RRP, you would have to sell a lot of books at $14.95 to retire to the Maldives. Royalties are the least source of income in my business. I make more money from public lending rights, so make sure you apply for ELR/PLR once your book is published.
True or False: You should only be published with large companies if you want to make money.
False. Large publisher are most likely to only accept submissions through an agent, who can be hard to come by when you are first starting out. Small to medium size publishers offer amazing opportunities to aspiring authors and in today’s climate, often give comparable support with marketing and promotion.
True or False: My publisher will organise and pay for all my marketing, promotion and book launches/tours
False. Marketing and promotion is the responsibility of the author and many publishers do not organise or subsidise book launches. Big or small, your publisher will do everything they can to help, but if you want your book to be a success, you need to be the one driving a sales campaign.
True or False: I’m only new so I can’t charge for school visits or speaking engagements.
False. You might like to have a trial run at your local school where you feel supported until you get enough confidence to stop feeling like an imposter, but you can absolutely ask for payment for your skill, expertise and time. If you are offering value, then you need to be compensated. This is often a hard thing to do, so having a flyer with your price list to hand to potential schools, or employing the services of a speaking agency who can take care of payment for you is always a good idea. School visits and speaking engagements are a lucrative source of income and many authors make a living from school visits alone.
True or False: There are not enough opportunities for authors to make money in Australia.
False. Sometimes, all it takes to level up your income is paying attention. Don’t fear asking for a speaking gig or sharing your ideas for a workshop with event planners. Most of my income comes for helping others through mentoring, manuscript assessments and conducting workshops of my own. Those actions can quickly put money in your pocket. Fortune favours the brave and you need to be proactive in finding ways to make money.
The truth is…as an author, you have to advocate for yourself.
Transitioning away from traditional employment to being a full time author takes perseverance, courage and innovative thinking. You become small business owner with all the perks and downfalls that come with that. Educate yourself about money, business and entrepreneurship in order to make a successful living doing what you love. If I can do it, anyone can.
About the Author
Michelle Worthington is an international award-winning author and business woman. Two-time winner of the International Book Award and finalist in the USA Best Book Awards, Michelle also received a Gellett Burgess Award and a Silver Moonbeam Award for her contribution to celebrating diversity in literature. As Founder of Share Your Story, she was the recipient of the 2018 AusMumpreneur Gold Award for Business Excellence and the winner of the 2018 Redlands BaR award for Best Start Up Business. She encourages everyone she meets to share their story.