|Can You Retire Early on Book Sales Alone?
People have a natural curiosity about just how much an author can make as a
result of publishing a book. And if that book happens to be about retiring early
(as ours is), then the curiosity can be even stronger because folks wonder
whether the book itself is what’s allowing the author to escape the nine to five
Well, we’re here to set the record straight, at least for ourselves. Below we
post our actual book royalties from the sale of our book, How to Retire Early.
This is in keeping with our tradition of publishing honest, detailed financial
information about ourselves (we’re just crazy that way).
So here goes. The book was published on Amazon in March 2013 and we
have royalty information through August 2018:
So in the 6 years since the book was published we've earned an average of
just under $4,000 in royalties per year before taxes.
Clearly this is nowhere near enough to retire on, despite the fact that the book
has performed reasonably well.
For us the royalties represent a small supplement to our annual income. Our
main source of support continues to be our nest egg of stock and bond index
funds, currently valued at $1.2 million (plus a condo valued at $230,000). We
typically withdraw $30,000 to $40,000 per year from these funds to live on.
We think the numbers make it clear that book royalties don’t replace the need
for a sizable nest egg saved up over the course of many years. No doubt an
exception can be made for New York Times bestselling authors with huge
followings and sales, but for the majority of authors a book is a labor of love
that rewards in ways other than just royalties.
Based on our own experience, the process of writing and revising a book is
labor-intensive. The wages earned, if divided up on an hourly basis, would be
less than minimum wage. A “normal” job worked on a temporary basis could
easily provide more income with far less effort. But of course financial
independence means getting to choose which projects you undertake based
on more than just money. If a book happens to make money in the end, that’s
just icing on the cake.
|Completely updated for 2018