Ten Realistic Expectations for Authors

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(Photo compliments of Morguefile.com)

“When you know where you’re going the road is less congested.”

Part of being a successful self-published author is having realistic expectations. What are yours?

Before you begin the journey to self-publish your book it’s important to have realistic expectations so you’re not disappointed, so your road is less congested from the drama that’s typically associated with failure.

Here are some hard facts.

1. Most self-published authors don’t make $5000. (Source) The majority of traditionally published authors don’t make more than $10,000.

2. You can’t make money if you don’t have a product to sell. If we don’t write we don’t have a product. One book is not enough. You need to make a career out of writing.

3. People will not know your book is available unless you tell them, market it. Without readers no one will know our books exist so plan on taking time to market your book–even if you don’t care about making money.

4. You have to spend money to make money. Marketing your book costs money. How much? Check back later this week for a post about the costs associated with authorship.

5. You might not break even for three – five year. According to the website NOLO Law for All“If your business made a profit in any three out of the past five consecutive years, it is presumed to have a profit motive. This means that if you claim a loss for the third straight year after starting your business, you may be inviting an audit.” 

6. Few authors get rich off their writing or even earn enough from their writing to quit their day jobs.

7.  You probably won’t make the New York Times Bestseller list. “To make this list you’ll need about 9,000 copies sold in the first week of your launch.” (Source.)

8. You’ll work long hours and dream about your characters. This author job is all-consuming, so it’s common for writers to work many hours. I love it when I dream about my characters. It’s a blessing that often helps solve plot problems. 

9. Your friends and family will be the majority of your book buyers. No one knows you better or cares about you more than your friends and family. These people will be the ones who initially buy your book and spread the word about their quality. Rely on them. Thank them.

10. You will feel discouraged along the way. This is almost a guarantee. Who doesn’t have down days in their profession? Writers are no different. Plan on having days when you feel discouraged, when you feel stuck in your writing and your marketing. Find a writer’s group that will help you get through these times.

You might say, “Yes, these expectations might be true for other writers, but my book is different. My book is going to be the next blockbuster.”

Maybe, but it’s doubtful. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be your cheerleader all day long and encourage you to write and publish your work, but do yourself a favor and put your ego on a shelf and leave it there. Yes, there are those authors who have tremendous success like Suzanne Collins and E. L. James, author of 50 SHADES of GRAY, but this isn’t reality and probably won’t happen to you. It’s better to have realistic expectations, and if your books do better than you anticipated, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

One way to succeed is to never give up. (Click to tweet.)

What’s one surprising and realistic truth you’ve found about being an author?

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  1. I’m forwarding this to an inexperienced friend who hopes to hire a writer to produce a book, to help balance their hopes with realistic expectations. Thanks..

  2. I’m in the process of trying to get my first of many books published and there are a few things that I can say.
    1. This list is very true.
    2. It’s not as easy as put words on paper and be done with it. It’s a LOT of work
    3. Number 10 is VERY true!

    Thank you for publishing this list. It’s always nice to know that I’m not alone in my adventures.
    A.J. Nelson

    • Hi A.J. –

      Best of luck to you with publishing your books. Tomorrow I’ll have one about the costs of publishing.

      Please let me know if you have any questions during or before your launch about the process. I’ll try to help.

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