What income do authors make from publishing?

February 17th, 2014 → 7:53 am @


On the Up to Speed in Digital Media podcast (Episode 43), I learned about a survey about the income authors make from publishing.

The survey was conducted by Dana Beth Weinberg. She surveyed 5,000 authors who responded to the 2013 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey.

Here’s the link to her research


Self-published authors in the sample earned a median income in the range of $1 to $4,999, while traditionally published authors had a median writing income of $5,000 to $9,999, and hybrid authors earned a median income of $15,000 to $19,999.

(Note: The survey gives median, meaning middle, income amounts, not average income)
She notes:

Together, what these patterns suggest is that few authors are getting rich off of their writing or even earning enough from their writing to quit their day jobs

So where do you fit? How much income has publishing brought you?

I’m a hybrid author (both self published and traditionally published) and my income from publishing for 2012 and 2013 was slightly above the median for hybrids in both years $15,000 to $19,999.


Even if you don’t make a lot of money, you still may have expenses related to your writing business and need to know how to claim these expenses on your tax return.

My book Business Tips and Taxes for Writers can help.

You can also sign up for my email list on the homepage (bottom right corner) and be sent a list of tax deductions for writers.


Carol Topp, CPA

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3 Comments → “What income do authors make from publishing?”

  1. […] “What income do authors make from publishing?” -5,000 authors were surveyed and asked about how much money they earn from their publications. It turns out that self-published authors earned the least, traditionally published authors earned more than the self-published authors, hybrid author (those who are both self-published and traditionally published) earn the most, but none of the authors earn enough to make it a primary source of income. Read the post to find out just how much they really make. […]

  2. Intisar Khanani

    10 years ago

    Have you seen Hugh Howey’s recently released study? It is much, much more rigorous due to it’s method, and has some results that might surprise you! I’ve been looking at studies like this with a way eye, since a good chunk of self-pubbed authors I know seem to be earning more than $5k a year. Howey’s report suggests that self-pubbed authors are doing a lot better than anyone’s guessed this far. You can check it out at http://www.authorearnings.com. (I’m specifically referencing the first report released.)

  3. Vickie Boswell

    8 years ago

    Amazing! I just cannot believe that authors have the capability of making these much amounts of money…
    I also want to grow as an author..Can you provide some strategies for writing better books and some publishing resources. Do share some inexpensive tools.