Had a recent question in one of the author groups we run about going full-time as an indie author. Now, I recently came across an industry stat there’s only like 1650 or so authors who make over $100k a year (I think that number is low, see my discussion about the problem of industry stats and competitive evaluation). But it’s the dream, isn’t it?
A List of Things You Need to Know
- how fast can you write and finish a book (including editing, including proofing and master). So start of writing to publishing.- how many books can you push out in a year- how many books can you CONTINUE to push out every year and NOT burn out
- how much your backlist is going to make for you (your lowest months when you aren’t pushing out books) and/or
- your average cost of putting out books so that you can have money for that (and for audio if you’re going to do audio!)- timeline and cashflow of when money is going to arrive, when you’re going to need to pay for editing, covers, audio narrators, etc.
- advertising cost, and when they charge and funds to do advertising (if any) as well as any capital expenses involved (new software, website, hosting, Bookfunnel, mailing list, etc.)
- what your minimum monthly income requirements are and how much you have saved up for emergencies.
- your income from each book as they come out and your average monthly income on months when books aren’t released.
Problems With Income Estimates
- book 1 of a series will ALWAYS sell better than subsequent books in a series.
- you still are going to want to write in series, because series will make you the most compared to standalones.
- for most people (unless you have a major hit series); your series is going to need to end because too many readers have dropped off (this is where advertising & promoting helps but… no guarantees still).
- every single series will be different. You will NEVER have an idea of how well a series will do. You might have minimum expectations, but some series will blow up, others will just crash. Yes, even for ‘big’ authors.
- backlist will / should make up a larger % of your monthly income, but backlist also degrades over time without advertising / promoting. Some backlist will degrade faster than others.
Which is why when you ask, or state, that you want to go full-time? It’s not an easy question. It isn’t even a string question, it’s a ‘there isn’t an easy answer’ one because there’s too many things to math out.
Bottomline – My Recommendations for Going Full-Time
- write for at least a year before making a decision.
- make sure your lowest income month can comfortably sustain your lifestyle.
- have a minimum of 12 months worth of expense (minimal expenses, not ‘go on holiday to Disneyland expenses’) saved. If you’re doing well enough at point 2 above, that shouldn’t be hard.
- get a backlist up and running and multiple forms of income from ebooks to audiobooks
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