Many writers can publish a book relatively easily due to the proliferation of print-on-demand companies and vanity presses. Authors can also publish books using the traditional method of submitting manuscripts to established publishers. Publishing a book can be lucrative if it sells a significant number of copies. Authors must put as much effort into promoting the book as they do into writing it to be successful.


A writer's average income from a particular book depends upon whether the book is fiction or nonfiction as well as whether the author has gone through the traditional publishing route or published the book himself. Whether a book is self-published or traditionally published, the author can make more money if she puts a substantial promotional campaign together than if she relies on word-of-mouth or on the publisher.

Royalty Income

Until an author sells 5,000 copies of his book, he makes more from royalties than he will with a self-published book, according to Authors When an author sells 5,000 copies of a self-published book, he makes an average of only $1,616, while traditionally published authors receive an income of about $4,485. As the author's sales increase, however, self-published income catches up and overtakes royalty income. Authors Publishing says that by the time the author sells 10,000 books, he can make three times the income if he is self-published.


Both traditionally published and self-published authors must spend money on promotional campaigns, especially for a first book. Most traditional publishers do not spend a lot of time or money on promoting first books because they do not know how well they will sell even with promotion. Authors may take advantage of free promotion opportunities such as posting on social media sites or making YouTube videos about their books; however, at some point they may need to purchase advertising in magazines or on television or radio, and authors may wish to hire professional publicists. Self-published authors also must pay their graphic designer to design the book cover and must pay for copies of their book. In addition, traditionally published authors may receive an advance payment from their publisher when the book is published, which they can use to cover some of their advertising costs

Additional Income

In addition to earning royalties or profits from book sales, authors may be able to earn income related to their book. Many authors hold workshops on the topic of their books or use the book to help them land speaking engagements. If an author writes about his field of employment, he may get additional clients or customers as a result of writing the book. For example, a physician who writes about treating a particular illness may get additional business from people who suffer from that illness.