Many people ask, “How much money can you make writing a book on Amazon?” and whether it’s worth an author’s time.
I always give the same answer.
I don’t know. No one does.
It could be as low as $2 a month, or as high as $3,000 a day. It depends on the topic, the market, and so many other factors that it’s hard to say. Even successful authors who have hit it big with one book admit that they couldn’t figure out a repeatable formula for their subsequent ones.
However, I can tell you how much money I personally make.
Before I share my numbers though, let me give you a little background.
I have published a few books on Amazon Kindle in three different categories.
The first category is about short books for busy managers (my main focus), the second is short books for busy authors, and the third is short travel guides for busy parents.
You can check out all those books by clicking here.
I mention those categories because each one covers a specific, niche topic, and they are all quite different from one another.
If my books were more general in nature and appealed to a bigger market (such as those who are interested in cooking or exercising), then I might make more sales simply because there are more potential customers.
So the numbers might be a bit different in your case.
How much money can you make writing a book? Background Info
The number of books I sold when I first started writing is different from the number today, but let me give you an overview of what those sales figures looked like when I started out.
For a very long time, I sold between one and five Kindle versions of each book per day (specifically with my “short books for busy managers” category). The Kindle version of each book was priced at $2.99, and I made a 70 percent royalty from every sale (Amazon’s cut is 30 percent). So that means I made $2.09 in profit per book.
If you do the math, that translated to around $60 to $300 in profit per month, per book. My average hovered around $200 per month.
That’s not a very high number, but it’s also not a low number. I always say that $200 is greater than $0. It’s a nice check that pays for a couple of bills here and there.
With my “short travel guides for busy parents” category, I made less than that, and profits averaged around $50 per month per book (on that note, this category has been getting nearly zero sales since COVID hit because everyone is avoiding travel).
Keep in mind that those figures were mostly organic sales through Amazon’s traffic. So the $200 per month figure was during my steady-state phase when there were no special events or marketing efforts going on.
However, when I did get media mentions, such as when someone hosted me on their podcast or blog, I got a nice bump in sales for that month.
Today, the profits are a bit different because I do have a larger following and Amazon helps with cross-promoting my books organically. I also increased the price of some of my books, which naturally increased the profits as well.
How much money can you make writing a book? Three Things to Keep in Mind
Here are three things you should keep in mind about how much money you can make writing a book.
1) Legacy > Currency
The first is that legacy is more important than currency. I heard this phrase several years ago from Gary Vaynerchuk and it stuck with me since.
There is no shame in wanting to make money. We all like having more of it to live a better life. However, by prioritizing the money over creating quality, you’ll lose in the long run.
Writing a nonfiction book should primarily be about establishing credibility and authority in a specific domain. Your aim should be to become a published author and respected thought leader in your market. So focus on a “legacy-first” mindset over a “money-first” one, and the money will come later.
2) It’s passive income
The second thing about the money is that it’s passive income that doesn’t require your involvement in the sales process. Amazon does everything for you. It hosts your book and distributes it to your readers. It handles payments, returns, and customer service. It even markets your book for you (to a certain extent). All you do is sit back and collect the check at the end of the month.
The biggest benefit is that your book will become part of an infrastructure that is ready for a sales spike due to an event months or even years after you publish. It becomes part of a system that requires the same amount of your “effort” to sell one book as it does to sell a million. So if you get lucky and someone famous mentions your book six months after you publish, you’ll get a huge surge of sales that won’t require any additional labor on your part.
3) More money “because of” than “from”
The third thing is that you’ll probably make more money because of your book than from your book. That’s because your book will offer you opportunities to upsell more expensive products or services down the line.
Publishing a nonfiction book is like having a resume on steroids. It opens up many doors for you that you don’t expect.
For example, it could help you get more exposure through speaking engagements or consulting gigs. It could also support you in getting a better job or even a promotion in your current one.
All those opportunities have a much higher monetary value associated with them than direct book sales.
So the return on investment of writing a book is 100% worth it.
Simply focus on Rule #1 (write a really, really useful book) and worry about everything later.
How much money can you make writing a book? December 2020 Numbers
Here’s a screenshot of my royalties from December 2020.
That’s a total of around $2,500 in just one month. And if you look closely (you can expand the image if you click on it), you’ll notice that I got around $1,690 from one book, called “Influencing Virtual Teams.”
Influencing Virtual Teams was one of the first books I ever wrote nearly 6.5 years ago. In other words, the earliest book I wrote brought in the most revenue last month. It has been bringing in a steady stream of income since I wrote it, but it has gained a lot more traction over the last several months because of COVID (given that the book is about leading remote teams, many people want to learn about how they can manage people more effectively from home).
So in a way, I got lucky due to an unforeseen event.
However, the main takeaway here is that if you plant the seeds today, you’ll reap the rewards later. So start writing, and worry about the money later.
Two Quick Notes
- If this inspired you to write your own book, and you don’t know where to start, check out my free book called, “Write Your Book on the Side.” It’s an Amazon #1 bestseller and gives you a step-by-step plan about how to write your book in six months. Click here to check it out.
- I’m writing a new book called “How to Lead (Remotely),” and it’s going to be a summary of the top books about leadership. It will take me a while to research & write it, but I’ll be releasing the content publicly over time. If this is a subject you’re interested in, you can sign up to get updates about How to Lead (Remotely) by clicking here.