Fantasy authors don’t usually enter the world of authorship because they want to earn money, but rather because they love fantasy. With that said, many fantasy writers do go on to earn money with their writing. If you’re an aspiring fantasy novelist, you’re probably wondering if you, too, can make money writing a fantasy book.
You can make money writing a fantasy book. While most authors earn below minimum wage, some have earned millions on their novels. Other authors expand on that income and make money through lecturing tours, additional books, and film and TV adaptations, which is how you get the “big bucks.”
This article dives into how much you can make as a fantasy author, how fantasy authors earn money, and how you can maximize your earning potential as a fantasy novelist. Read on to learn more.
The Amount Of Money In the Fantasy Genre
If you’re looking to earn money as a fantasy author, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is that writers of fantasy and science fiction novels tend to sell more books than other genres. Therefore, if you’re able to develop a devoted readership, you could easily maximize your success as a fantasy novelist.
Now, for the bad news: Most authors, even fantasy writers, don’t earn as much as people commonly believe. Highly successful fantasy authors, such as Amanda Hocking or Hugh Howey, are the exception, not the rule.
The unfortunate truth is that even the best fantasy writing skills don’t always translate into financial success.
How Much Do Fantasy Authors Make Per Year?
JK Rowling was offered a £1,500 advance ($1,588) for her first book in the “Harry Potter” series, along with an £8,000 grant ($8,468). Additionally, with the success of the series, it’s estimated that Rowling earned $700 million from the Harry Potter films.
Many aspiring fantasy writers see authors like JK Rowling gain immense popularity and success with their writing, but this is not the norm.
Fantasy authors working with a traditional publisher can expect to earn $3 for every $20 hardcover book sold or $0.25 for every $3 eBook. Self-published authors earn higher royalties (between 40% and 60%), but book prices tend to be lower, and aren’t backed by a marketing team.
Self-published authors earn approximately $0.75 for every $3 eBook sold.
As you can see, you’re likely not going to end up rich by writing a single fantasy novel and calling it a day (but it could happen of course). In fact, most fantasy novelists build a book series to capitalize on their success. With a group of loyal readers behind them, they’re nearly guaranteed sales when they release the next book in the series.
With that said, there are many factors that influence how much a fantasy author makes.
For example, the recent influx of low-priced eBooks has dramatically reduced income among self-published authors, and due to inflation and a concerning drop in book sales, many publishers aren’t paying out large advances.
How Do Fantasy Authors Earn Money?
Fantasy authors earn money through advances, publisher royalties, or royalties earned through a self-publishing platform. Additionally, fantasy novelists can earn money from lecturing tours and additional book deals. The most money, however, is in film and television adaptations.
Fantasy authors earn money in several ways.
Advances for Fantasy Novelists
Experienced fantasy writers with several books under their belt may receive an advance from a traditional publisher. Advances are payments made to the author to cover their living expenses while they compose the novel.
Fantasy authors may receive anywhere from $7,500 to $15,000 or more if the author already has a devoted readership.
First-time authors rarely receive advances from publishers, as they’re usually reserved for authors with a good track record of book sales or high-profile individuals nearly guaranteed to sell. If, however, a first-time author is offered an advance, it’s usually no more than $5,000.
Authors must pay back the advance using royalties once the fantasy novel hits the market.
Fantasy Book Royalties
Before a fantasy author receives any royalties, the royalties must accrue enough to cover the advance. After the advance is paid in full, authors earn around 15% of the retail price on the sale of a hardcover book and 25% for an eBook.
As mentioned, first-time authors rarely qualify for an advance. As such, many have opted for self-publishing platforms instead of working with traditional publishers.
Self-publishing platforms pay higher royalties than traditional publishing companies, but without a solid PR and marketing team to push their fantasy novel to the public. Therefore, artists must do all of the marketing and promotion on their own.
Other Money Making Opportunities for Fantasy Authors
Most authors warn aspiring writers that if you’re in the business for the money, you’re in the wrong business.
The reality is that most authors barely make minimum wage with their books alone. Even some award-winning fantasy novelists barely reach 20,000 sales. Instead, they make their money through other ventures, including additional book deals and lecturing tours.
The big money, however, is in film and TV adaptations, if the opportunity presents itself.
How Long Does It Take To Write a Fantasy Novel?
A 100,000-word fantasy novel takes approximately 7,500 minutes (125 hours) to complete. That’s assuming the writer types 40 words-per-minute, and includes time spent planning, writing, and revising.
To figure out how long it’d take you to write a fantasy novel, divide the intended word count by your typing speed (in WPM) and multiply it by three to make room for planning, writing, and revising.
How To Make Money Writing Fantasy
A critical aspect of fantasy writing is imagination. What’s a fantasy book without it? Since fantasy draws on mythology, supernatural abilities, and magic, you must get those creative juices flowing to ensure a compelling read.
Unlike romance novels or mysteries that are overflowing with realistic scenarios, the possibilities in fantasy works are endless, limited only by the author’s imagination. In addition to a vivid imagination, there are things that aspiring fantasy novelists can do every day to maximize their earning potential.
- Write for at least two hours per day. Whether you’re working on your first novel or your second, you should never stop writing. It’s highly improbable for authors to make a living with a single fantasy novel. Therefore, you should write every day with the intention of creating multiple books, possibly even a series.
- Read fantasy and everything else. Fantasy authors should read everything in the fantasy genre, from bestsellers to new releases and everything in between. Find new and upcoming fantasy authors and look for groups dedicated to fantasy writers. But don’t limit yourself to fantasy alone. Check out books from other genres, too, including mystery, romance, and even nonfiction.
- Write mostly novels. Short stories and novellas are great as they can help you enhance your skills and come up with new and inspiring ideas for longer works. However, these books are significantly cheaper than novels, and you’re competing with full-length novels from highly successful authors. The “big bucks” come from a series of novels.
So, have several novels in one genre so that loyal readers will buy the others. If you’re ever stuck or experiencing writer’s block on one of your fantasy books, start writing a new one and get back to the other one later.
With dedication, effort, and consistency, you can earn money by writing a fantasy book.
Although you may not earn enough to quit your day job, there’s something really exciting about being a published fantasy author. Knowing that at least one person has read and enjoyed your work is certainly something to be proud of.