It’s no secret many people would love to make a living writing books. But what makes a $100k author?
WrittenWord Media ran a study in 2016, and again in 2017, to find that out. The analysis wasn’t based on rigorous data, but rather on inferences drawn from self-reported surveys from their author base. Their two study groups were emerging authors (earn <$500/month in book sales) and financially successful authors (earn >$5000/month in book sales for the 2016 study, and >$100k per year for the 2017 study).
This is what they found.
Financially successful authors wrote more, with an average of 13.5 books published, and an average of 31 hours writing per week. Broken down by day, that’s an average of more than 4 hours writing per day. Compare that to the average of 7.4 books published for emerging authors, and an average of 16 hours per week writing, which puts them at less than half the hours spent writing per day than the successful authors. Of those who earn $100k in annual sales, 88% have been writing for more than 3 years, compared to 59% for emerging authors. This gives the successful authors time to gain experience and to build an audience.
Further, successful $100k authors 100kers have on average 30.3 books in their catalog, while emerging authors had around 7 on average. Even further, $100k authors had up to 63 books, and a minimum of 7 in their backlist. Again, writing more lends itself to finishing more books, which can be published.
Financially successful authors have professionally designed covers, with 68% of them having spent >$100 on book design. They typically have professionals design their book cover. Now, I think this relates more to indie authors, but still, even if you plan on going the traditional route, make sure your cover is professional and eye-catching. Think of how a book catches your eye and entices you to buy it. Chances are, it’s not just the cover blurb that draws you in. Here’s what readers want in a cover. Here’s how to use science to create your best cover.
Financially successful authors have their manuscript professionally edited. You may write, and you may write well, but having another set of professional eyes is key. More than half of the successful authors surveys spent $100-$500 on professional editing services, and 32% spent $500 or more.
Financially successful authors write in popular genres. They also believe in free promotion, where they have at least one title that is permafree. That is, one of their books is always available for free. They also handle their own marketing, though some (45%) hire help. For both 100kers and Emerging Authors, over 90% of them report doing their marketing themselves. The only difference is that 100kers can hire some help. Here are some marketing tips.