What Salaries Do Authors Make?
The answer to ‘how much money does an author make?’ depends on many factors, such as whether the author is self-published or traditionally published, the number of projects currently in their pipeline, how many novels the author in question has previously published, and what the details of these publishing deals might be.
Because the publishing world has evolved to such an extent over the years, many more avenues are now open to writers – making it harder to provide a ballpark figure for author earnings. According to the site uk.indeed.com, the average author salary in the UK stands at $33,078 per annum as of 9th February 2022. Although this may be a generous overestimation if they calculate that by including all the millions authors like J K Rowling make and dividing it by the number of published books out there.
Writing is not like other professions, where there are salary scales and overtime payments. It all comes down to which path to publication you decide to take, how much time you have to write, how you sell your work, and how many books you can produce in a year. That’s just to make money from your first book – because staying a published writer takes even more work!
Self-published authors can earn up to 70% royalties from their books, while most traditionally published authors make 5-18% royalties which they only receive after ‘earning out’. That means the books sales have “paid back” their advances and the publishers then start giving them a cut of book sales. From a major publisher, such as one of the “Big Five,” an advance can start from $5,000 for a first-time, unknown author and can go into five figures. This may be more if the author is well-known, happens to have a more established literary reputation, it’s a multi-book deal, or the author has an impressive back catalogue.
Sometimes a debut (or less-established) author can hit upon a very topical idea and write a book that has publishers bidding against one another. Debut Middle Grade author, Anabelle Steadman, recently won a seven-figure book deal with Simon & Schuster (including Sony film rights) for her bloodthirsty unicorn series. So, although very rare, you can get lucky!
Smaller, independent publishers, tend to offer lower advances to their writers – sometimes in the region of $3,000-$10,000. Although some compensate for this by paying their writers a higher royalty revenue, which kicks in sooner as it takes a lot less time to recoup the advance.
Bearing all this in mind, some may argue that the answer to making lots of money writing books is to self-publish. Yes, you will certainly receive more money per book – but it’s not that simple either.
Author and Jericho Writers founder, Harry Bingham, wrote about this in his recent article for Jericho Writers. Unlike traditional publishing, when you self-publish you have to cover all costs of design, editing, typesetting, distribution, marketing and advertising yourself. You can expect to pay anything between $800-5000,000 to have your book professionally edited and proofread, as well as anything from $100-$600 for a decent cover design.
You may not have agent fees to worry about, but you will also need to be your own publicist – and with self-publishing becoming more popular by the day, that means understanding online advertising and getting your book to market.
How much should you pay a freelance writer for your marketing content?
This FAQ doesn’t have a simple answer. Most intermediate to advanced freelance writers charge between
Freelance writing rates explained
We addressed a big question in content marketing: How much should you pay freelance writers? Or, if you are a freelance writer, how much should you charge? It’s kind of hard to know unless someone tells you, right?
The best way to get an answer to “how much to pay a freelance writer” was to take it to the streets. We polled 500+ freelance writers from around the country to see what they charge, how they charge, what type of content they produce, the corresponding level of experience, and even gender to see if a gap exists like in so many other industries.
Questions we asked in our survey on freelance writing rates:
1. How many years of experience do you have as a professional freelance writer?
2. How do you charge?
3. What do you charge per hour? (Approximate if N/A)
4. What do you charge per word? (Approximate if N/A)
5. What tasks do you complete for clients?
6. What is your gender?
.10 and 800 per word, depending on the amount of work they will have to put into the project. But, the way they bill that average range will vary. Some freelance writers bill at a flat rate, per hour, or per monthly retainer for frequent work (in this case, a volume-based discount should apply), rather than per word. Typically, freelance writers who use one of those last three billing methods will include services beyond just the content.
In addition, rates change per industry, company, writer, location, and project (and many other variables), which is probably why this question often goes unanswered on the Interwebs. But, that’s not helpful for anyone.
Define Your Content Writing Rates
- The more experienced you are, the more you focus on content close to sales (like copywriting and ebooks), and the more complex the project, the more you can charge.
- Aim to work outside freelance marketplaces; develop your writing site, and attract clients there. Focus on building relationships with your clients so you can get repeat and referral work.
- Per-project fees are better than per-word. Per-hour pricing isn’t common, although you can use it to base your project fees.
- English Native speakers from countries like the US and Australia make an average of $25 per hour, while Canadians make 22% less than them, and British writers make 10% more. If you live outside these countries, you can adapt your fees accordingly. But remember, your location shouldn’t be the only factor you take in your calculations. What matters is your content quality, not where you live.
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