Promoting, Publishing

How Much Money Does a Self-Published Author Make? A Realistic Look.

I won’t lie, I worried about writing and sharing this post.

Since I’ve officially joined the world and community of self-published authors, I’ve gotten a very realistic view of the publishing industry and how it works. The unfortunate truth is that the grand majority of self-published authors make less than $1,000 from a single book in their lifetime. Breaking into traditional publishing is very tough because the market is overwhelmingly oversaturated with options.

All this to say, nobody here is getting rich, okay?

That said, I don’t want to put anybody off of writing and publishing their book just because they won’t make money off it. Leaving your mark on the world and putting your writing out there can be validating in and of itself, no matter the response.

So let’s crunch numbers.

As you can see, I have sold 154 total copies of my book, “How to Become a Grown-Ass Woman,” since I released the print and Kindle versions in fall 2022.

Now for the monies:

Since last September, I’ve made a little over $134 from my book. My print copy has been more successful than the ebook and I’ve made about $6 from KENP, which is Amazon’s payout-by-the-page program that you can enroll in when you sign your book up for Kindle Unlimited. You’ve probably noticed that as sales go down over time, so do your royalties.

Before we get too excited about that $134 of mine, let’s back up and look at the expenses I incurred in order to publish my book.

Not including the copious amounts of tea and coffee I drank while writing, I paid the following:

  • $50 for a cover design through Fiverr (2 options to choose from)
  • ~$300 for 10 ISBNs and barcodes
  • $30 for a few months subscriptions to a book review swap service

I did my own marketing, so I saved a bunch there, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. I work a full-time job and so promoting my book is usually not my first priority. I might get more sales and attention if I shelled out for a PR assistant, but I’m not willing to pay for that. Again, it’s another area where self-published authors have a harder time than those working with a publishing house.

I also chose to publish my book with Amazon, which is free. If I had wanted a larger reach, I could upload my book to other distributors, such as Ingram Spark, but that would cost an additional $50 or so.

$380 expenses incurred – $134 income = -$246 in the hole still

I would have to make another $246 before I could claim I’d made a profit on my book.

Again, I wanted to provide a realistic look at what a typical self-published author makes, but I don’t want this to dissuade anybody from pursuing publishing. I learned so much through the process and hearing positive feedback from friends, family and strangers alike made me happy more so than money ever could.

If you have a book in your heart and want to get it on a page, you should do so. Who says you have to make a living off being an author? Why can’t you just be one because you want to be?


5 Publishing Pitfalls I Wish I Had Known Earlier

Publishing a book is a PROCESS no matter if you choose to self-publish or go the traditional publisher route.

My experience with self-publishing my first self-help book was definitely a learning curve. I obviously made it out on the other side, but here are a few things I wish someone had told me before I embarked on the journey.

Choosing where to publish is a trade-off.

Some platforms, like Amazon, offer free options for publishing, but others cost you money. Ingram Spark, for example, charges about $50 to upload a book or ebook to their site. Many of the sites that charge offer perks like access to more retailers, so they can be worth checking out. But if you’re on a hard budget and are self-publishing, it might be hard to cough up $50 per version.

You don’t want to mess up your trim size.

Trim size, or a book’s page height and width is something that you set early on in the publishing process. What you choose depends on a few factors but most sizes follow what type of genre or book it is. It doesn’t matter so much what trim size you choose, but it is important that you stick to it. Changing trim size becomes a BIG issue if the cover you have designed doesn’t fit. It’s crucial to have anything designed for your chosen trim.

You will likely have to re-upload several versions of your manuscript.

Much as you can do your due diligence and edit the heck out of your work, chances are high that you will, at some point, find a typo. If you’re especially lucky, a reader will find one and report it to you. This means that you have to go back into your publishing platform and upload an updated file. It might not be a big deal but it will get annoying the third or fourth time you have to do it. This also applies to any changes made to cover files too.

Publishing is expensive.

Unless you work with a traditional publisher, getting your book out there can cost you. For example, here’s my breakdown of what I spent and earned on my first book:

  • 10 pack of ISBNs and bar codes: $295
  • Cover designer: $50 including tip
  • Subscription to review platform: $24 for 2 months

I did not spend any money on marketing and I used free publishing platforms, so my total spent was about $370. My ebook was published on Sept. 14 and my paperback on Oct. 2. To date, I have made $112 from both editions of my book.

That means that I still have $257 to go before I’ve made my money back. So yeah, authors aren’t out there writing for the money.

You’re discouraged from paying for or exchanging reviews.

But there are some weird ways around this. Basically, many publishing and review platforms, especially Amazon, view paid reviews as sketch. Which, fair. They want book reviews to be as honest as possible so readers get clear ideas of books. They also don’t technically allow authors to exchange reviews on each other’s works. They might not find out about it, but if they did, you could forfeit your right to publish through them and that would really suck. The same applies to friends and family; your mom might be happy to write you a review but Amazon views that as a conflict of interest.

There are, however, multiple sites that have a legal workaround to this. The author pays a membership fee to join a large author and reader community and instead of spending hard cash, they spend something like “points” to put their book up for review. Other authors then get “points” by reviewing other works. Sneaky, huh? Of course, this rule doesn’t seem to apply outside of the publishing platform. For example, let’s say an author wants a well-known book critic to review their book. It’s fine for the critic to charge the author whatever they want in exchange for a “fair, unbiased review.” There are even book influencers on Instagram who make their living this way.

It’s a very morally grey area that lots of people in the biz feel strongly about. Some people think it’s okay to solicit reviews in order to break through, but others are hardcore purists when it comes to having their books reviewed.

These might seem like downers and they can be, but I don’t want to put anybody off publishing their book if that’s a big goal. Seeing your book out in the world is its own reward, whether or not it gets noticed. I would do it all over again if given the choice; I just wish I had known more going into it!

Publishing, Writing

Does My Book Actually Suck? And Other January Woes

I blame this mostly on the dreariness of the month, but lately, I’ve been concerned that my current book-in-progress might actually be shit.

The jury’s still out on the feasibility of this concern, but I’m bringing it up because I’d bet hard cash that other authors go through the same thing.

I started seriously editing “A Fierce Debt” this month and the process is giving me a bad case of challenged self-esteem. I’m only about halfway through my first read-through and I am baffled by the number of common typos I’ve found. I’m not sure whether or not to be glad that most of my typos revolve around a slip of the keyboard rather than just bad grammar. I think my favorite typo so far has been when I typed “YouTube” instead of “you too.”

But I can power through that stuff easily. No, the stuff that is making me feel like a crap writer is all the plot holes and cheese I’ve found. The plot holes are frustrating because I have to go back, or forward, to figure out what I can change to fix them. It can take a long time.

By cheese, I mean that I apparently wrote a TON of cheesy dialogue, especially between my two MCs and now I’m left trying to FIX it so that they sound like ACTUAL people. Trust me, it’s not a fun time when your own book makes you cringe from time to time.

This isn’t all to say that I hate my book. I love my book. But it’s like when you start to care for someone and your expectations for them rise, so when they do something stupid, you’re extra disappointed. That’s how I feel about my book right now.

My mantra for the month has become something like, if people like Colleen Hover’s writing, they can surely tolerate yours. (No shame to Hoover fans out there, but like, maybe read It Ends With Us, skip Verity and move on to other authors.)

All in all, this month is proving a struggle and the email from NaNoWriMo about making the most of the month that just hit my inbox is giving me HIVES. But I am okay, I will power through and hopefully my book will be a much better one by February.

Pray for me.


3 Editing Tricks I’ve Learned from 6 Years of Being a Marketing Professional

The funny thing about most authors is that most of us aren’t writing full-time.

That might be the dream for some, but a lot of us have and enjoy regular daytime jobs that help support us and family.

For 6 years, I have worked as a marketing and communications professional in academia. I’ve held multiple job titles, from social media manager to convergence media manager. But what most of them boil down to is experience with writing and editing copy for lots of materials, including magazines, articles, video scripts, social media, and more.

Here are 3 tricks I’ve learned in that time that have helped me in the editing process for my books. Hopefully, they might help you out too, with your own books or works!

Read it aloud.

Reading a passage or work aloud helps you as an editor to imagine how the story flows when someone is reading it, either verbally or mentally. It’s a great way to catch grammatical errors or sentences that don’t flow well.

Read it more than once.

I’ve been told time and time again that it takes at least 3 rounds of editing to fully proof something. If your book is 50,000+ words, that takes a lot of time. That said, I think it’s time well spent.

Coming across a typo in an otherwise stellar book can dampen your fire quite a bit. Most readers will forgive small things, but multiple errors can turn a reader off quickly. No matter how gifted a writer you are, it will usually take more than one or two rounds of edits to catch the majority of mistakes in a manuscript.

Have somebody else read it.

I’ll be the first to admit that it can be downright embarrassing when somebody else reads your work and points out an obvious typo. But as long as they aren’t rude about it, they’re doing us a huge favor!

Sometimes we get so emotionally tied into the work that we gloss over things that might be problematic grammatically or thematically. This is why it really helps to have a neutral party read over it; a fresh pair of eyes can not only find errors but might provide additional valuable feedback on what makes sense or doesn’t to somebody who is unfamiliar with the subject.

Have you tried any of these tips before? What other editing tricks have you tried?

Publishing, Writing

My Writing Goals for 2023

  1. Drown myself in coffee.
  2. Write vampire on werewolf smut.
  3. Move to a small hut in Scotland and write full-time.

Just kidding on those, except for the drowning in coffee because I already do that.

I’d like to say I’m feeling excited about the New Year, but honestly, I think I’m still exhausted from the last few years. So for 2023, I’ll just say, please don’t suck. I’m happy with a chill and mediocre year, okay?

But to get down to brass tacks, here are my real writing goals for 2023 and my chances of actually pursuing them.

Goal 1: Publish ‘A Fierce Debt” Chance of Success: 75%

My short-term goal this month is to edit the heck out of my manuscript so I can spend the bulk of the year querying publishers. If I’m lucky, somebody awesome will snag it up. But even if I’m not lucky, I will still self-publish it, but probably not until 2024. I really want to give this one its chance.

Goal 2: Create a reading/writing nook or room in my future house. Chance of Success: 90%

This obviously relies pretty heavily on my fiance and I actually finding a home within the next 6 months but I have high hopes for us. If we do close on a home, then 100% I’m going to have some form of writing nook and I will 1000% share pictures when that day comes.

Goal 3: Participate in #NaNoWriMo23. Chance of Success: 30% maybe?

I liked doing NaNoWriMo this year but I am tired and realistic. My fiance and I are getting married in late September next year and we’re going on vacation right after. I will be a tired bride. The chances of me wanting to dedicate the month of November to writing another novel after all that are pretty slim.


It’s Been a Month Since My Book was Published. Here are the Highs and Lows So Far

I can’t believe my baby book has been out in the world for a little more than a month now.

Even though I’ve continued to market my book online, it’s been interesting how everything else with the book has slowed down. All cover issues I had have been fixed, print copies have been sent off to bookstore supply companies, and most of my friends, family, and coworkers have received their own copies. At this point, I’m trying to slow down and focus on reading a few new releases for pleasure…that is, until #NaNoWriMo time comes.

Here are the top highs and lows from this journey to date:


  • Getting more than 31 reviews for my book! On Amazon, my book’s rating stands at 4.6/5, and on Goodreads, 4.14/5. I’ll take it!
  • Holding my paperback in my hands for the very first time!
  • Reading some of the nice reviews that people have written, and hearing positive feedback from friends and coworkers.
  • I sold 145 copies of my book in the last 90 days!


  • Having to deal with silly cover sizing issues that could have been avoided earlier on.
  • Seeing that someone randomly gave me a 2-star review without leaving any actual reasoning for why. Everybody is allowed their opinion, but I seriously wonder if it was a serious review from a reader or just somebody being a dick.
  • Realizing that getting your book on actual bookshelves at stores is really, really hard. A lot of stores, especially indie ones, make you go through several intricate hoops to submit your book, including fees. And some won’t even consider you if your book is on Amazon because they view that as supporting their competition. That makes it pretty darn hard for most self-published authors to get in stores.

But hey, all in all, it’s been a great experience so far and I’m just excited that I wrote my book and got it out in the world.


UGH. My Epic Cover Fail.

Anybody that has ever published a book or works in the industry can tell you the importance of a good cover.

Ideally, your book should have a well-designed cover that is clear and pops on the shelves or when viewed online. Sounds easy, right?

Well, turns out that designing a great cover is actually pretty hard. On top of that, sizing issues during the book submission process can turn things into a nightmare.

This leads me to my recent epic fail of a cover. (Whomp.)

Before I even fully finished editing my manuscript, I hired a cover designer online to create two options for potential covers for my book. They did a great job, truly. Unfortunately, the cover was formatted only for my Kindle version, so when I used that same file for my paperback, I ran into major issues.

Firstly, the designer included a white square on the back for where a barcode would go. However, when Amazon added its own bar code, it did not perfectly overlap the square, creating an awkward shape on my back cover.

Secondly, the cover graphic did not meet amazon’s sizing requirements. Even when I was able to adjust the graphic’s size, the end product came out fuzzy.

This all stressed me out immensely. I worked so hard to make my book perfect, and I knew that the current cover would only make my paperback look unpolished and possibly turn readers away. Plus, a goal of mine is to submit my book for consideration in bookstores, and if it looks terrible, that’s not going to happen.

THANKFULLY, a friend of mine who is a pro at Photoshop helped teach me how to adjust the original cover file to meet Amazon’s sizing requirements. Now I can rest easy knowing that the final product will look great!

Here’s what I would suggest to other authors so they can avoid the same pitfalls I did:

  1. Tell your cover designer you’d like separate files for both Kindle and physical copies that are sized correctly using whatever trim you choose.
  2. Make sure the cover designer includes a Photoshop, InDesign, or illustrator file with your purchase so that you can manually make edits if needed to the source file.
  3. Make sure the designer leaves space for a bar code but also that it is the same color as your cover background.
  4. Triple-check all spelling and grammar on your cover text before sending it to a designer.

Why I Chose to Self-Publish My First Book

I never thought publishing a book would be a breeze, but man, it’s more difficult than I expected!

After finishing my first book, “How to Become a Grown-Ass Woman,” I was faced with the big decision of choosing how and where to publish it. It took me a little over a year to finish my manuscript and I ultimately decided to try pitching my book to agents working with traditional publishers.

Traditional publishers seem to be a lot of authors’ “pie in the sky.” Having an agent and eventually, a publisher represent you and your work can be a great way to get your content out there with success.

For about a year, I tried this route. Every few weeks, I would sit down at my laptop and research agents who specialized in non-fiction, humor, and women’s interests. Then I would identify a list of those I wanted to pitch to and draft tailored emails to each one. I didn’t do a great job of keeping track of how many emails I sent off, but I’d estimate more than 500 at the very least.

Most agents, I never heard back from. When I did, I got a mix of automatic rejections.

It felt disheartening at first, but eventually, I became fairly numb to it. I knew that drowning in rejections was just part of the game. More so, I kept in mind that it would only take a single yes to get my book published.

But at the one-year mark, I happened to be browsing my local library’s section of new books, and what title should jump out at me? How to Self-Publish that Book You Wrote.

I’m not religious but some signs are too clear to ignore.

I picked up that book, bulldozed through it in a few days, and started the process of editing, formatting, and publishing my book via Amazon Kindle. I chose Amazon for many reasons, the biggest of which was that it’s a huge marketplace for books and also because I like how Amazon has made the process fairly easy for new authors.

From start to finish, it’s taken roughly 2 years of work to get my first book on the market. I’m so excited to have my book baby out in the world!

If you’d like to buy a copy of my ebook, it’s available now on Amazon!