2020 Author Earnings

Cover Image for 2020 Author Earnings
Jake Lingwall
Jake Lingwall


Give or take a few bucks.

That's how much money my books earned in 2020. Is that more or less than you were thinking? Amazon essentially defaults book pricing to the minimum of $2.99 a copy, and offers a 70%/30% split of proceeds. Some quick math would put you at the realization that my 9 or so books sold a total of roughly 190 copies last year. 16 copies a month. Or one book every other day.

That's it.

I spent a few years writing books with most of my free time. After my first two books had contracts with Amazon through the Kindle Scout program I thought I was starting a promising author career. 6 years later, I have a couple of unfinished series, and $400 dollars of sales in a year. Not quite a career.

Of course, I never planned on quitting my job to be an author (I like to code too much), but it's hard to find any sort of momentum in my writing endeavors no matter how hard to look for it. Sure, spending two and half years giving up most everything in life to help run a startup wasn't helpful. They say publishing new books is the best advertising for past novels, and I haven't done that. And, to be fair, I haven't done any advertising. My newsletter provider just notified me that my account is being deactivated due to inactivity...

So. What's the point of this post?

Well, I just got my Amazon 1099 for taxes this year and it got me thinking. After years of essentially no effort, the books still sold 190 copies. It's not a lot, but it's sure passive. I started writing for fun, money was never the object, but it turns out writing is more fun when people are reading. And finding readers isn't easy. It got me thinking:

What do I do I from here?

Do I continue to collect my dwindling $400 a year? Do I try to revitalize my writing career by pumping out more self published novels, writing the books I want to write? Do I step back and try to write slow and get a traditional publisher? Do I leave the Jake Lingwall author brand behind and start over? Do I give up writing all together?

I don't know to be honest, and that's really what this post is about, I'm trying to find answers to what I want to do with my author "career". Soul searching.

Also, part of me thought it would be interesting for people to know. I like talking about money.