How Much Does A Self-Pub Author Make?

Self Publishing Series – How many books do I need to sell to make a living? The MATH behind the BOOK!

Hello Lovelies!

There are plenty of people, both authors, and readers who love to read about DATA, the cold hard facts of the existence of the author life. Most want confirmation of the dismal attempt at making a living as a writer, others want to see hope that anything is possible! And the answer to that, is both.

It is possible to make a decent living as a writer…

But it is also possible to spend more than you make producing a book, and bringing it to the hands of readers.

So, I’ll start with a small post about how much you can make self publishing. And I’m not talking about yearly incomes, that’s all subjective. This first post will be about the dreaded… MATH.

That thing teachers said you would use throughout your whole life, but most insisted was nonsense.


If you’re listing your book less than $2.99

Which most of self-pub authors list their first book lower to gain interest from new readers.

99cent books are only 35% –> That’s 35 cents for each book sold.

So that one dollar spent to read a book, gives an author 35 cents for several hours of effort, and when I say hours, I really mean months, and sometimes years of bringing a book to life. Which is fine for most authors, because honestly if a writer is in this business to begin with they value sharing their world with people over income.

But if you are a reader, and you enjoyed a book from a self-published author and received that book for free, as most readers of self-published authors do, please take a moment to share that book with others, review it, and help spread the word about their book. Or if you’re feeling especially generous you can purchase the book and become a verified reviewer.

Join the support team!

Okay, let’s say you price your book at $2.99 on Amazon? Now, you get up to 70% of the royalty. The author can now get $2.03 for each book purchased, or if they are WIDE, then 35% would give them 99cents.

Now, with those three scenarios, let’s do some math!


How many books do you need to sell of that book to make your preferred living?

For this experiment we are only focusing on E-book sales, because as much as I hate to admit it as a self-publisher myself, print books do not make me money, but they do help the algorithms choose to show my book over others to readers. So, for me the print book is merely a tool to increase likelihood of someone purchasing my e-book.

99cent book -> 35cent royalty = Y

$2.99 book -> $2.03 royalty = Y

$2.99 book -> 99cent royalty = Y

M= How much you want to make

A = How many books

T = Tax Rate (according to Nerd Wallet for 2021 that’s 15.3%)


M = (A x Y)(1-T)

Lowest average salary for Washington State is = $36,000

36,000 = (A x .35)(.847)

36000/.847 = 42502 (how much you’d need to make to have take home of 36,000)

42502/.35 = How many units of the book to sell = 121,437 units of the book

Average amount of books sold per release? 5,000 to 10,000 But for an indie… you may reach 5,000 sold, but most of those units might be free.

So, how do you make it as an author?

More books!

And having the rest of your books be more than 99cents after you’ve built an author platform.

Let’s do the numbers for $2.99

Consider the first book you ever write (if you aren’t supported by a Big 5 publisher, or a publisher with a healthy marketing budget) to be your platform builder! Don’t expect to make any money on this one. Breaking even on your investment to bring it to life is enough. And even losing a bit of money on it is also okay!

Back to the formula:

42502/2.03 at 70% exclusive with Amazon = 20,937 units

Getting closer to that average book sold marker, but still not quite there. What does that mean? Have more than two books out to make a living being a self-published author.

The math gets a bit more complicated than this when you include how much it costs to bring the book out.

And since this is a trickle down amount of money, as books take up to a year or even two years to bring in their potential income, and there are marketing/production costs for bringing a book to life. You can surmise that if you want to make a living being self published for an average author, you need to be writing at least 3 books a year, and bringing those three books out to market the next year, rotating your efforts between writing, editing, and constantly marketing throughout the year.

This is both inspiring, because it’s achievable for anyone with a great book to make a living at it, but also scary because it takes a lot of dedication and investment before you start making money.

All the risk and cost is upfront, and the reward is delayed.

But, if you’re anything like me… the results are worth it!

Bonus time:

Here are the numbers for 3 books (AFTER your platform builder)

Let’s say you have two books exclusive with Amazon, and the other is wide to gain more exposure to readers.

You’ll have two be 70% and the other 35%

$42502 = (2A x (2)2.03) + (A x .99) —-> 3A(5.05)

$42502/5.05 —> 8,416/3 = 2,805 units (average of around 3k units sold per book is now a very doable number)

And all those numbers change depending on what you sell your book at, but keep in mind if you’re starting off Indie and don’t have your author platform built yet, this can take time to get to these numbers. It’s unlikely to happen on a first release.

So, my advise if you plan on going indie, and want to quit your day job?

Spend your free time writing, revising, and perfecting your books. Have four books lined up and ready for your launch plan, and do one uncomfortable thing a day to build up your platform as you go!

For those of you that are readers only, as you can see self-publishers go through a lot to bring a book to life for you, and making a living at it is difficult. So, if you liked their writing, and want to see more from them.

Support Indie, buy their books if you read it for free. Don’t have money? A review is worth so much! Share your thoughts with a review, and post that review where ever you like to hang out. Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook Groups! Follow them on social media and like/share their posts. Even if you already read and enjoyed it, sharing it brings more visibility for the book to be seen.

Disclaimer: I am not a MATH wizard, so if I did my algebra incorrectly it’s okay, because it’s merely to get an idea and set expectations or goals to shoot for.

That’s it for this first post in the Self-pub series! More insights to come, including marketing, and process!

Stevie Marie is the author of the Divine Series Trilogy- a YA Paranormal Fantasy about energy vampires, demons, witches, and a prophecy that could change the supernatural world left in the hands of an inexperienced teen growing through self discovery, and going from meek to badass.

Recently, contracted for a traditional small publisher in the Pacific Northwest for her upcoming Sci-Fi Alien Fantasy Romance about a drone pilot that discovers she’s been working for a company ran by magical beings, and her best friend has been kidnapped for entering a tournament of champions meant to find the strongest warrior to help the prince protect the people of Acatalec.

Upcoming self-pub release of a fae fantasy romance adventure in 2022 (see books to find out more!)

Join Stevie Marie’s Newletter to stay up to date on upcoming releases, get fun freebies from other wonderful fantasy authors, and more! Don’t miss a thing, join the voices in my head to get a free copy of Blood Crescent for a limited time.

Kindle Unlimited Author Income

Self Publishing Series – How much does an indie author make on KU

This one will be a short little blurb.

Some readers want to know how they can support an indie author more, reading through KU or purchasing their book.

The answer is kind of here: (I say kind of because page count is different for every book, and they may or may not be at 70% or 35% royalty if they are under $2.99.

For an indie author on average the author will get paid .0052 cents per page read (as you can see that isn’t even a penny.)

With a 238 page book the author can earn around $1.23 for the full read through.

So… if the book is a 99cent book, and available through KU, the author will receive MORE income from you if you read through your Kindle Unlimited service than purchasing the book. Because 35% on 99cents is 35cents income for the author.

However, if the book is $2.99 the author will get more income from you if you purchase the book instead of reading through KU. At 70% royalty, the author will get $2.03 for your read.

If you have KU, and the book is 99 cents, please do read through your service to support the author. They make more through KU than units ordered.

And as always, the best support is sharing your thoughts with others. Read, Review, Share.

I’ve started this self publishing series to be informative and answer questions about the business. I will be discussing book math, income for self published authors, data, marketing, and more! Don’t miss out, and join the Newsletter to stay posted!

Stevie Marie is the author of the Divine Series Trilogy- a YA Paranormal Fantasy about energy vampires, demons, witches, and a prophecy that could change the supernatural world left in the hands of an inexperienced teen growing through self discovery, and going from meek to badass.

Recently, contracted for a traditional small publisher in the Pacific Northwest for her upcoming Sci-Fi Alien Fantasy Romance about a drone pilot that discovers she’s been working for a company ran by magical beings, and her best friend has been kidnapped for entering a tournament of champions meant to find the strongest warrior to help the prince protect the people of Acatalec.

Upcoming self-pub release of a fae fantasy romance adventure in 2022 (see books to find out more!)

Join Stevie Marie’s Newletter to stay up to date on upcoming releases, get fun freebies from other wonderful fantasy authors, and more! Don’t miss a thing, join the voices in my head to get a free copy of Blood Crescent for a limited time.

Author Timeline – Query to Contract! The Wild Rose Press

Guess what, my dark lovelies!

This crazy word lady got a contract for Kingdom of Acatalec, my new Sci-Fi Fantasy Romance! November 2021 with The Wild Rose Press!

I thought most of my writer buddies would like to see what that process was like for me in terms of time frames, and writer process for this story, and some readers might find the data entertaining, so I’ve created a post about my experience.

My book used to be called Looking for a Pilot, and before that it was called, My Digital Romance. Believe it or not the first version of this story started off in February 2020 as a LitRPG, inspired by Ready Player One written by Ernest Cline.

The original draft was about the main MC being a teenager, being a YA category, in a future world similar to Ready Player One, where most people spent their lives lived in a digital world, and it wasn’t an alien world that she got sucked into but the digital world… and it was real. Not real, as in feeling real like what Ready Player Two has, but an actual plane of existence that our technology finally had access to through VR.

My second inspiration was one of my writer friends, Danielle, that I met in one of my first NaNoWriMo’s ever, she was a beast at writing. On top of being an excellent writer, she was a talented artist! Every write-in she would kick my ass at word count sprints, and she was truly inspiring at her dedication to writing. This was before I ever had a completed novel in hand. Lots of incomplete projects, and nothing finished. I met up with her at coffee shops regularly for a while, but we lost contact over the years, but I never forgot her. Something she said stuck with me, and it was one time that she vented about being in a wheelchair, that it wasn’t what defined her, and there needed to be more stories where people with disabilities were not defined by the disability, represented, but not the main part of the story. Honestly, I made this character for her. I looked up to her when I just started my writing journey, and it’s only fitting the MC inspired by her should be my first contracted novel.

Find out more about NaNoWriMo here.

The very first Canva cover of my Wattpad LitRPG

After writing 20 chapters into Wattpad for the LitRPG YA fantasy version of the story, I came to the realization that these chapters were soley for me, for discovering my characters, and the plot needed work. So, without copying anything from those chapters, I COMPLETELY rewrote the book this time with an older audience in mind, making it more like NA, and making the new world not be video game like, but an alien race in a parallel realm with magic.

I might make these chapters available again in the future for fans of the book to see what it was before I completely rewrote it, making it a whole new book! Stay tuned in my Newsletter to get exclusive content, and updates in the future, as well as be notified when this book is released!

Then I had my completed first draft of the new version where Tyler transformed from merely being a school-aged VR adventurer to a bad-ass drone pilot in October 2020 after completing NaNoWriMo2020 and getting my first draft of a different book completed, I was on a roll, and kept the momentum going. I sent off my draft at 85k words to an editor that I found from PNWA, Alicia Dean Editing on October 14th 2020. Revised my edits back December 23rd, and got to work on making some revisions to better the manuscript.

Once I was finished, I let the book sit for a bit. Then came back to it in August 2021, did one more round of edits, and sent it off to submissions, for The Wild Rose Press around PNWA’s Virtual Conference with my query in September 9th 2021. The team replied back that they forwarded my submission to a senior editor for review on the 10th.

On September 15th I got an email from Ally Robertson saying she received my query, and then let me know that she was Alicia Dean. Haha! So, the senior editor had forwarded my query to the very person who already read and gave advice for improvements on the book. However it was now named The Kingdom of Acatalec, and not Looking for a Pilot. But, despite the name change and some updates Ally had remembered my story even from a year ago, and requested a full manuscript.

My editor replied back on the 17th saying she was in receipt of the manuscript, and will be reviewing it with an, “eye of hopefully offering a contract.” That’s one thing this publisher was really great about was communication! I knew what was happening every step of the way.

On October 25th 2021, I finally got an email back saying Ally completed her review and she liked it so much! She informed me that she would be submitting a request for contract, and it can take a few weeks to hear back on if the rest of the crew is on board.

Waiting is the cruelest part of the author process. But it was made easier knowing the timeline for things. (fingers crossed)

On November 2nd 2021, I received an email from the senior editor of TWRP of my division, Paranormal Department. Titled: Contract for Kingdom of Acatalec

You can imagine I was so freaking excited! And I read through the contract, and found the terms to be favorable for them fronting all the production costs of bringing a book to life. So, I sent my signed agreement over. The only thing I would have liked to see differently on the contract was that the Audiobook portion is misleading, as they do not do Audiobook for the stories they represent. Which is great for me, because I plan on producing it myself! But, at first I was concerned I was signing my audio rights away, and that they wouldn’t be doing anything with those rights. I was pleasantly wrong about that, and am happy that I will retain the ability to bring my book to audio!

This is the part that will get your nerves all a flutter, because until they sign that contract as well, you don’t feel like it’s real, or actually happening!

November 9th 2021, received the contract back along with next steps, and onboarding documents!

Timeline Image

More updates to come about Kingdom of Acatalec! Don’t miss a thing and join the Newsletter! There are updates, new release announcements, and freebies from other awesome authors!

Want to read my query? I’ll be posting about that soon and more in coming posts!

Until next time

Check out my current books, or even my upcoming releases here


5 Lessons from PNWA2021 & Updates 09/2021

There is so much going on that I just had to update everyone, but didn’t want to overwhelm my Newsletter so it’ll be consolidated to one email I’ve created this post for people that visit my website, but also my Newsletter peeps that want to learn more by clicking this blog posting:

First off, I just finished up my virtual conference at PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association) and it went surprisingly well for being completely virtual.

5 Lessons From Virtual Conference PNWA2021

  1. You only get out of it what you put in

And I seriously mean that, if all you do is login to the Zoom calls, and listen then sure you’ll gain some information but you’re losing out on a big benefit of writer’s conferences, OTHER WRITERS! Which leads me to number 2.

2. Participate – Ask for Contact Info

That means be prepared to chat in the Zoom call, put yourself out there and ask for fellow attendees Twitter handle, Facebook, Goodreads, anything to try to stay in touch, and grow your support team. That is one of the biggest benefits of going to conferences as I said above, and these people will truly be your cheerleaders. That kind of support is priceless, but it only works if you’re willing to be their cheerleader too. Support gains support.

3. Be Prepared

If you’re going to the conference to pitch a book have the basics ready to go before the conference even starts. What does that mean? It means have a rough draft pitch ready so that when you go to the session about pitches that you can get feedback, and get it perfect for your pitch the follow day(s). I can’t tell you how many people go to these sessions and I don’t hear a word from them, or a chat in the side bar. 100s of people and only a few are talking to each other. Sure, you have your mic on mute so that the speaker isn’t interrupted, but the CHAT is where it’s AT!

Have your query written, so that when you go to the How to Query workshop that you can actually workshop it and participate as Lesson 2 suggests. Have your book already parsed out for what most agents/editors want to see. That means have a 5 page, a 10 page, a 50 page and a full of your manuscript ready to go. Have your one-page summary ready to go.

Having all of this prepared helps you get the most out of the available sessions, and gives you something to participate with, as well as takes the stress out of that wonderful moment when an agent/editor says those salivating words of ,”Send me your manuscript.”

Not Pitching? No worries have the pitch and a temporary query ready to go for your work in progress. It is still TEN times more helpful to get feedback on something you personally are working on than to only listen to others.

4. Get all of the handouts!

Even the sessions you can’t join because you’re in another go into the descriptions/notes and see if there are any links to handouts. If there isn’t, then join the chat conversation, and find someone who was in that session and ask them for notes, or if there was a handout not mentioned in the Zoom description. You get a new writer friend, and you get some notes for a session you didn’t attend. Bonus!

For PNWA they ask all of the presenters to gather the materials at the end of the conference, but you’ll be waiting a while to get the information since they take a well deserved week off after finishing all of that work! So, it’s more satisfying to gain a friend and the information you need earlier. But, definitely check back to make sure you didn’t miss any juicy info that you weren’t able to collect from other attendees.


Everyone is nervous for some reason or another during these events. Whether it’s because you’re pitching or get anxious about socializing. Remember, everyone behind those user handles is a person, just like you. The presenters–> people just like you. Agents/Editor–> also, people just like you. Surprisingly enough, all those presenters are just as nervous as you are because they WANT to give you the best possible experience, and that’s a lot of pressure to make everyone happy. So, make sure to use that question/answer time to get what you want from the opportunity to pick their brains. All those agent/editors are completely aware that you’re nervous, and it’s OKAY to make mistakes or stammer your words, or let them know that you’re excited and tongue-tied. They get it, just push past the nerves and re-focus. Have your pitch in front of you behind the Zoom Screen and it will look like you’re looking at them but actually reading your pitch. HAHA! Win-win.


Okay, on to the updates.

Which is also a bonus lesson from PNWA as well. When you only have 1 pitch session with an agent/editor this does not mean that you only have one agent/editor to pitch to. What does that mean?

ALL the other Editors/Agents listed at the conference that you think your book would fit well with QUERY them too!


Just place in your query subject line PNWA2021 (this is exactly what all the lovely people that DID get a request for pages from the agent/editor are putting in their subject line as well so your query WILL be looked at. But, and I do mean this seriously, we are not tricking them because it’s very important when you do this that in your query introduction you state: I missed being able to pitch you at PNWA, and I think we’d be a great fit so I wanted to query you for my (insert book/genre).

Boom, there you go. You’re query gets bumped up the list, and you’ve now been able to pitch to everyone you wanted. That’s what I did and I was able to get a request from my official pitch, and a non-official pitch.

That’s part of my news! I have two upcoming books completed to look forward to, and both are currently requested by editors.

These titles are subject to change but currently they are named:

Kingdom of Acatalec – a Sci-fi Fantasy Alien Romance Series with a kickass lady drone pilot named Tyler and an alien planet of Actalecians that she’s been unknowingly working for. This book has a full manuscript request from an editor that I queried that I didn’t have a pitch session for.

Taking Medusa – a Mythology Retelling Fantasy Adventure Romance Series where Medusa is the hero, and the gods are the real monsters, and she must fight against fate to keep from having history repeat itself of being beheaded all over again. This was for my official PNWA pitch, and has a 50-page request!

So, there are plenty more stories to look forward to even though the end of the #divineseries is coming to a close with the release of book three Blood Queen on October 30th 2021.

Other great news is that Blood Crescent is being converted to AUDIOBOOK by the wonderful Tara Marie Kirk, and is going to be released in the next week or so! So, keep an eye out.

Tara Marie Kirk Narrating Blood Crescent

Want to have a listen to the 5-minute audio teaser? Download the audio from BookFunnel today.

If you are already a member of my Newsletter you can click here for the Audio Download.

All the books are available in PRINT now as well, so that’s also exciting!

That’s all I have for updates for now! Until next time.