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Making a living as a writer can feel a bit like buying a lottery ticket.

Is it hard to make a living as an author? Well, the chances of writing a brilliant number 1 best-seller that sells in different countries and is picked up by Netflix are relatively low but it does happen.

Saying that, I wouldn’t give up the day job just yet.

Only 13.7% of authors earn their income solely from writing books according to an annual survey carried out by University of Glasgow which means most authors have other jobs. Perhaps this is because of the drop in average author salary, from £18,013 ($24,610) in 2006 to £10,497 ($14,341) in 2018, which was also reported in the same survey.

So if you're planning on publishing your book, here are a 6 tips to maximise your income:

1. Consider self-publishing

Self-published authors make up to 70% royalties from their books, while most traditionally published authors will take less, as a percentage of fees and commission go to the publisher and agent. While self-publishing is not for everyone, it is worth researching.

2. Pitch and write short stories or articles

The rewards of writing a book can take a long time (I don’t think I got my first royalties until a good few months after publication) so supplement your income by selling shorter pieces to publications. It's great writing practice and also gets your name out there.

3. Write multiple books or series

The more books you write, the more you can sell, which of course, means more income. You might also consider writing a series where the reader is already invested in wanting to know what comes next and is a ‘ready’ buyer.

4. Build up readership early

Many authors who have become successful today have done so because they had a loyal online following. If you haven’t started developing your online presence, then do it now, even if you haven’t finished your book. Start by building a mailing list or growing your social media following and then when your book is ready you have a primed audience ready to buy.

5. Offer related services

Whether it’s copywriting or editing, a digital course or proofreading, having a second (or third) income can ease any financial worry. Also consider speaking events and talks which can be lucrative and also a great marketing tool for your books.

6. Convert your book into audio files

A recent 2020 survey showed that almost 50% of readers engage in audio books so make sure your book is available in this format for an extra stream of revenue.



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Karen Osman holding her three novels


I'm Karen, a best-selling novelist who left her corporate life to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Since then, I've written everything from travel articles to web copy before winning a novel writing competition which led to a 3-book deal. 


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