How popular does a novelist need to be in order to make a living solely from writing?
ny author, who doesn’t simply get lucky, has to release a ton of titles and garner loads of fans in order to make a living. It’s also important to keep fans, and inspire them to chat about the books; word of mouth sells more books than advertising. This is possible on the internet, but it takes years to build that sort of following and have enough published books ‘in the bag’ to keep new readers buying.
No one talks about this, but a lot of authors published through the big 5 and their subsidiaries don’t make a living at writing. Also the marketing budget expires after six months so after that your book is essentially self-published anyway. In fact, very few authors make a sustainable living through their novels.
Let’s look at some fictitious figures for a self published author:
$0.99 is a good price for a first book. If it is well written and interesting, $1.99 is a good price for a second book, $1.99 is also a good price for the third book and $3.49 is a good price for the box set; $7.99 is a good price for a 9 book box set. Plus, you will need some freebies to give away to new customers who wish to sample your work or encourage than to join your email list, and give to existing customers to keep them ‘on board’ until your next publication.
To make $1,200 per month you will need to sell 225ish big box sets per month, or 500ish small box sets. This means you need to be producing at least 5 full novels per year (which is going some) and have somewhere in the region of 10,000 regular customers on your email list. It is certainly do-able, but it ain’t going to happen over night. So don’t give up the day job any time soon – though if you can afford to go part-time that would certainly help.
My advice is to write because you enjoy it, and if you enjoy it enough, put in enough work, and are disciplined enough, you might end up publishing sufficient books to eventually make a living. Even then, you may still require a part time job to make ends meet.