Results of Author Poll

Here are the results from my poll of authors regarding different publishing avenues and making a living. The poll got 86 responses, and the breakdown is as follows:

Authors who used Traditional/E-book Publishers – 59%

  • 81% earned a profit on their books
  • 11% broke even on their books
  • 8% lost money on their books


  • 68.6% earned $0-$5,000
  • 25.7% earned $5,001-$10,000
  • 5.7% made over $10,000


Conclusion: If you publish your book with a traditional/e-book publisher, you’ll probably make money, but it will likely amount to less than $5,000 a year.


Authors who Self-Published – 34%

  • 71.43% made a profit on their self-published books
  • 10.71% broke even on their self-published books
  • 17.86% lost money on their self-published books


  • 70% earned $0-$5,000
  • 15% earned $5,001-$10,000
  • 15% earned over $10,000


Conclusion: If you self-publish your book, your odds of making a profit are about 10% less than if you went with a traditional/e-book publisher but are still good. Your odds of losing money are three times higher. You’ll most likely earn under $5,000, but if you get lucky, your odds of earning over $10,000 on self-publishing are actually more than double than if you went the more traditional publishing route. It’s a gamble, but one that can pay off.


Authors who used a Self-Publishing Service – 7%

  • 80% of authors who used a self-publishing service made a profit.
  • 20% of authors who used a self-publishing service lost money


  • 100% earned between $0 and $5,000


Conclusion: Not many authors have tried a self-publishing service. If you choose this route, your odds of making money are about the same as if you went with a more traditional publishing route, but your odds of losing money are even higher than with self-publishing. Based on these responses, you’re almost guaranteed to learn less than $5,000.



Overall, about 60% of authors reported that their writing royalties from all sources only make up a supplemental income for them, meaning they get the bulk of their income from a day job or other source. 33% make a part-time living off writing, and only 7% actually earn a full-time living. You can definitely aim to make it into that lucky 7% who make a living by writing full-time, but don’t feel bad if your royalty check only covers a small bill or two. You’re not alone.

Thank you to everyone who responded to this poll. This is excellent data for all of us authors to have.







One response to “Results of Author Poll

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