All You Need To Know About Being An Author

Working as an author can be a great occupation if you are creative and also have a nice style of writing.

However, there are also many problems that come along with an author career that many people don’t think about.

Hence, you should definitely check out all the information about being an author in this article so that you will be better able to decide whether an author career really makes sense for you or not.

Not only will we talk about salaries, but we will also discuss job prospects, educational requirements, working hours, job satisfaction and a lot more.

Let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

What does an Author do?

Classical authors mainly write books. This includes paperback books, e-books and sometimes even audiobooks.

Some writers also write commercial texts for advertising purposes, for blogs or for many other things their clients want to get from them.

Duties of an Author

  • Writing books
  • Writing text for commercials
  • Using modern technologies to convert text to e-books
  • Promoting books on social media and other digital channels
  • Building a strong personal brand
  • Conversion optimization to increase profits
  • Maintaining a strong online presence
  • Building a big audience to monetize later
  • Getting some technical knowledge to scale a writing business
  • Outsourcing of content to scale even further
  • Additional editing tasks
  • Assurance of correct spelling and grammar
  • Developing characters, dialogues and other story elements
  • Conducting research
  • Fact-checking
  • Acquisition of new jobs

What a Typical Day of an Author looks like?

When you will get up in the morning as an author greatly depends on the type of person you are.

Since you will mostly work self-employed, you will have the luxury to sleep quite long or get up early and finish your workday early as well.

Hence, while some authors get up at 5 a.m., some of them sleep until lunchtime before they do anything productive.

Once you got up, the first thing you do is usually to check your calendar to see what’s going on that day and whether you have to join meetings with clients or not.

After structuring your day, you will get to the actual writing part. After writing for a few hours, your brain will usually be exhausted and your level of creativity will drop quite a bit.

Thus, you may need a break or may even finish your workday altogether, depending on your mood and your overall financial conditions.

Hence, how long your workday will be as an author greatly depends on your ambition and also on your mental capacity to process information.

Author Salary 2021

Author salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $85,000> $42.31
Top 25 %$63,000 – $77,000$31.29 – $38.37
Bottom 25 %$32,000 – $38,000$15.72 – $18.78
Bottom 10 %$18,000 – $25,000$8.69 – $12.31
Range$18,000 – $115,000$8.69 – $57.24
Average$59,000$29.28

Author salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$18,000 – $23,000$8.69 – $11.39
Junior$22,000 – $29,000$10.89 – $14.38
Professional$39,000 – $55,000$19.27 – $27.31
Senior Professional$48,000 – $72,000$23.78 – $35.82
Expert$55,000 – $78,000$27.31 – $38.47
Top Expert$69,000 – $115,000$34.34 – $57.24

Author salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$51,200$25.31
Alaska$54,600$27.09
Arizona$52,100$25.69
Arkansas$49,900$24.45
California$66,500$33.05
Colorado$61,800$30.61
Connecticut$62,700$31.14
Delaware$57,200$28.39
District of Columbia$63,400$31.48
Florida$64,100$31.72
Georgia$56,200$27.91
Guam$52,100$25.82
Hawaii$58,700$24.21
Idaho$53,900$26.61
Illinois$49,200$24.29
Indiana$50,100$24.74
Iowa$53,500$26.41
Kansas$52,800$25.83
Kentucky$51,700$25.38
Louisiana$57,400$28.47
Maine$52,700$26.09
Maryland$59,300$29.42
Massachusetts$61,200$30.29
Michigan$55,300$27.41
Minnesota$59,600$29.32
Mississippi$53,100$26.36
Missouri$52,800$26.21
Montana$61,200$30.44
Nebraska$58,700$28.82
Nevada$56,300$27.68
New Hampshire$58,200$28.78
New Jersey$62,600$31.02
New Mexico$58,300$28.91
New York$68,400$33.84
North Carolina$61,200$30.32
North Dakota$58,300$28.74
Ohio$56,700$28.08
Oklahoma$53,800$26.41
Oregon$58,200$28.69
Pennsylvania$63,800$31.51
Rhode Island$61,300$30.39
South Carolina$58,300$29.02
South Dakota$56,100$27.79
Tennessee$49,300$24.41
Texas$51,800$25.28
Utah$59,200$29.38
Vermont$51,600$25.44
Virginia$51,900$25.73
Washington$62,100$30.83
West Virginia$59,400$29.49
Wisconsin$61,200$30.38
Wyoming$58,700$28.73

Job Security for Authors

Authors often have barely any job security at all. In fact, while you might have low job security if you work as an employed author since you will be replaceable pretty easily, you will have no job security at all if you work self-employed.

Consequently, you will have constant insecurity regarding how to pay your bills in the near future and this can be a really tough mental and emotional burden in the long run.

Future Job Prospects for Authors

Job prospects for writers will be rather poor in the future since artificial intelligence becomes smarter every day and it is just a matter of time until machines will write books and other texts completely on their own and classical writers will no longer be needed.

Working Hours of Authors

How many hours you have to work as an author greatly depends on your ambition. If you work as an employed author, you will usually work around 40 hours per week.

However, if you work self-employed, you may just work 20 hours or even less while other self-employed authors may work 60 hours+ per week.

Job Satisfaction of Authors

Many authors are pretty happy with their jobs. In fact, you will be quite flexible as an author and can work from anywhere you want anytime you want.

However, please still keep in mind that authors often don’t make good money and that you may have to deal with constantly high levels of insecurity which may lower your overall job satisfaction quite a lot.

Promotion Opportunities of Authors

Employed authors barely have any promotion options. While they start as normal writers, they may get the opportunity to work in an editing role after a few years.

Yet, salaries will still be quite low after those promotions and you should not expect to have a fancy career in this industry anytime soon.

Career Levels of Authors

  • Junior writer
  • Senior writer
  • Author with editing responsibility
  • Author who manages other writers
  • Author who strategically plans and promotes a writing business
  • Owner of a blog
  • Independent publisher or large numbers of content
  • Owner of a media agency

Fields and Types of Authors

  • Paperback book authors
  • E-book writers
  • Authors that focus on audiobooks
  • Blog writers
  • Commercial writers
  • Novelists
  • Satirists
  • Poets
  • Lyricists
  • Librettists
  • Playwriters
  • Screenwriters

Educational Requirements for Authors

Authors don’t need a fancy degree. Instead, everyone can become a writer and barriers to entry are therefore quite low.

While this may sound great since you will not have to spend many years on education, it can also be problematic since competition will be quite fierce in this field.

How to become an Author

  1. Make sure that you really want to become an author
  2. Decide in what nice you want to produce content
  3. Write your first pieces of content
  4. Show your work to an experienced author
  5. Work as an intern in a media agency
  6. Refine your skills and improve yourself every day
  7. Give your work away for free for a few months
  8. Promote your work on social media
  9. Start your own website and promote your content
  10. Start a blog and/or a YouTube channel
  11. Build a huge audience and sell your work on a regular basis

Character Traits you need for Working as an Author

  • Persistence
  • You need to believe in yourself
  • Patience is key to succeed as a writer
  • You should not be disappointed if you fail
  • You need to get out of your comfort zone
  • Outgoing personality helps to get in touch with other authors
  • You have to set strict goals and chase them as hard as you can
  • You should be open to critical feedback
  • You should be able to deal with nasty comments in a healthy manner
  • Passion for writing is crucial to stay motivated in the long run
  • You need to be brave enough to show your content to the general public

Hard Skills for Being an Author

  • Authors need a good style of writing
  • Analytical skills help you to scale your business
  • You need good strategizing skills to expand your business in the long run
  • Profound digital skills become increasingly important
  • Good promotion skills
  • Editing knowledge helps you with keeping your production costs as low as possible
  • Knowledge of digital marketing helps you promote your business online
  • Programming skills can help you start a blog
  • You need to have good knowledge of grammar and spelling
  • Decent knowledge of writing assistants

Soft Skills for Being an Author

  • Patience to write until you succeed
  • You need to put in the work every day
  • You need a passion for writing, otherwise you will likely quit
  • You need good people skills to scale your business
  • Time management is crucial to increase your output
  • Good communication skills
  • Self-confidence is key to stay in this business in the long run
  • Mental stability to deal with constantly high levels of insecurity
  • Positive mindset helps to push through difficult times

Exit Options for Authors

Authors have pretty poor exit options. In fact, many authors start their careers in the writing industry pretty early in their lives and don’t get proper formal education.

In turn, it will be pretty hard for authors to find a company that would be willing to employ them in a completely different field.

Author – Similar Careers

  • Columnist
  • Technical writer
  • Speechwriter
  • Editor
  • Public relations officer
  • Independent publisher
  • Blogger
  • YouTuber
  • Social media manager

Author Career FAQs

Is working as an author physically demanding?

Working as an author is not physically demanding at all. All you need to do is holding a pen or writing on your computer keyboard.

While this may get exhausting after many hours, you will still not have to deal with the same high physical stress level as construction workers, roofers or welders who have to lift heavy things all day long.

Is working as an author mentally demanding?

Working as an author can be mentally and emotionally demanding. In fact, many authors experience writer’s block which means that you will no longer be creative enough to write good content in a reasonable volume and this can really bring you down as a writer if you are dependent on your income to pay your bills.

Is it dangerous to work as an author?

Working as an author is not dangerous at all. You will just work indoors for most of the time in a rather protected environment or also from home.

Hence, while many other people have to work outdoors under harsh conditions and experience the risk of accidents every day, you will be able to work in a pretty safe environment as an author.

How long do writers stay in their jobs?

Writers often stay in their jobs for quite a long time. While many authors like their jobs and just don’t want to work in a different field, others just don’t find someone who would be willing to employ them in a different industry and therefore have to stay in their author job to pay their bills.

Is it easy for authors to find a new job?

While you will have an easy time finding new jobs as an experienced author with numerous great credentials, it can be pretty hard for new writers to get jobs since nobody knows them and their quality of work yet and competition can be quite fierce in this industry.

Is it hard to switch from being an author to another field of work?

It is pretty hard for writers to work in a different industry since most authors simply don’t have the skillset that would be necessary to make such a switch.

In fact, quite often, you just focus on producing content while lacking many other hard skills that are required in the job market right now.

Do authors have a high social status?

Authors have a pretty low social standing. In fact, even your family and your friends may not believe you when you tell them that you make a full-time income from writing books and may also make fun of you since they will not see writing content as a valid way to make a living.

Can you help out your family and friends as an author?

Since authors will not learn many practical skills, they will also not be able to help out their loved ones all that much.

In fact, you could support your loved ones much better by learning craftsmen skills or other things that really help you create or maintain things that people urgently need instead of just writing books.

Can authors work remotely?

Authors can work remotely whenever they want. In fact, if you work as an independent author and have your own writing business, you will not only be location-independent, but also time-independent and this means that you will be able to work from wherever you want whenever you want as long as you have a solid internet connection.

Is it easy to find a partner as an author?

It is not that easy to find a partner for a long-term relationship as an author since authors often don’t make good money and also have pretty poor job security.

In turn, potential partners will often not get into a relationship with authors since they fear that writers will not be able to provide for them in the long run.

Do authors have to work on weekends?

While authors don’t have to work on weekends, it can still make sense to work during those times if you want to scale and expand your writing business as quickly as possible and if you have the ambition to grow your business with speeds that other authors just dream about.

Do authors have to work on holidays?

Working on holidays is not really necessary for authors. However, you could still work on holidays if you urgently need the money or are also just very motivated to expand your writing business or your author career as soon as possible.

Do I have to work at nighttime as an author?

If you work as self-employed author, you can work whenever you want. Hence, while you don’t have to work in the evening or at nighttime, you might find it to be the most productive time of your day and you may therefore want to voluntarily sleep quite long, start your workday rather early and work in the evening instead of in the morning.

Do you have to travel as an author?

Authors don’t have to travel at all. While you could attend author conferences, it is not a necessity to succeed in this industry and you may even be able to join those conferences online in the near future.

Hence, becoming an author can make quite a lot of sense if you want to stay at home with your family instead of traveling a lot for your career.

Are author pensions good?

Author pensions are often not good at all. In fact, authors often just make rather poor money and will also not be able to save and invest enough money for retirement.

In turn, many authors don’t know how to pay their bills once they get older anymore and may suffer from serious poverty once they retire.

Are author salaries going up?

Author salaries haven’t been going up for many years. Due to the fierce global competition and the outsourcing of content creation to third-world countries, content is now produced at a pretty cheap price and chances are that this trend will continue in the future.

Can you have a positive effect on society as an author?

As an author, you can have a pretty positive effect on society if you produce content that other people love to read and that is also critical enough to address certain issues in society so that people may change their ways of life and make the world a better place in the long run.

How long does it take to become an author?

Since you will not need fancy college education or other certificates for working as an author, you can become an author within no time.

You just need to start producing content and can call you a writer within a few weeks or even days.

However, it may still take you many years until you make a living from what you are doing.

Is it difficult to become an author?

It is not difficult to become an author at all. All you need is to start producing content that you are interested in and that people want to consume.

However, if you not only want to become a writer as a hobby but want to make serious money with it, it can take quite a long time to get to this stage.

Do you need to be smart to work as an author?

You don’t need to be really smart for becoming a writer. However, you still need to be pretty creative and also need a strong mindset to succeed in this business in the long run since you will have to deal with many drawbacks over time.

Do authors have a good work-life balance?

Once you get to a certain stage and people know who you are, you will be able to make a solid living as an author while you will still be able to enjoy lots of leisure.

Yet, writers who are just at the beginning of their careers will have to put in lots of work and will therefore often have pretty poor work-life balance.

Do authors have to work many extra hours?

How many extra hours you have to work as an author greatly depends on your level of ambition.

The more content you produce and the better this content is, the higher your chances that you succeed as an author in the long run.

How to maximize your chances of becoming an author?

If you want to maximize your chances of becoming a successful author, you should start producing content as early as possible.

You may even start your writing career while you are still at school since every piece of content may help to push you to the next level and to open doors for you in the long run.

Can authors work part-time?

Yes, you can also work part-time as an author. In fact, many authors who work self-employed don’t have a fixed number of hours they spend on their writing business.

Instead, they just put in the work whenever it is needed and if they want to take some time off, they often only work part-time or even not at all for some days or even weeks.

Do authors work indoors or outdoors?

Authors can work indoors 100%. Hence, while many other people who have to repair things often have to work outdoors during times of bad weather, you as an author will be able to work in a really nice atmosphere while enjoying a nice drink at the same time.

What does the workplace of an author look like?

Since you will work from home quite a lot, you will be free to furnish your workplace as you want it to be.

What you will urgently need is a computer, a comfortable writing chair and some equipment so that you can produce content efficiently and use your time wisely on the things that matter the most for your success as an author.

Do you have to look good for working as an author?

You don’t have to look good as an author at all. Since people will just consume your content and will not know what you look like in person, it doesn’t matter whether you are ugly or pretty.

What really matters is how good your writing skills will be and how good you are at promoting your work.

Is an author career beneficial for your private life?

Working as an author can be rather problematic for your private life. Since you will often not have a fixed income and your salary will also be pretty low, you will just not be able to afford many nice things and this may lead to conflicts with your spouse and eventually to divorce.

Do you need a college degree for becoming an author?

You don’t need to get a college degree for working as an author. What’s much more important than fancy education is that you are a good writer who can produce content that is interesting to the general public and sells like crazy.

Do you need to be certified to work as an author?

You also don’t have to get certified as an author. While getting courses and additional schooling may help to succeed in this field, you don’t necessarily take those courses and can still succeed as an author as long as you are willing to put in the work on a regular basis and also have some natural talent.

How much does it cost to become an author?

Since you will not have to go to college, you can become an author at virtually no cost. All you need is a computer and some basic equipment and you can start producing content almost for free.

Hence, almost everyone will be able to start an author career while just a small fraction of people will be able to make a living from it in the long run.

Is being an author a good career?

Working as an author can be a great career for you in case you love producing content and don’t want to work in a standard office job.

However, you should also be willing to deal with lots of insecurity on a daily basis.

Otherwise, an author career will not be for you and you should rather go for something more solid instead.

Is it easy to start your own business as an author?

It is pretty easy to start your own writing business. You can just start out as a one-man or one-woman show and scale your business after seeing some success.

Thus, an author career can be great for you if you don’t have lots of money to invest in the beginning but still want to work self-employed instead of working for someone else.

Can authors teach themselves?

Authors can teach all they need to know themselves. In fact, there are numerous free courses for writers out there and if you are willing to put in the work, you will not need to spend any money on learning how to write great content.

Do authors make good money?

While a small minority of writers make really good money, most people who work in this field struggle to make a living from what they are doing.

In fact, many authors even need a second job to pay their bills and this can be really annoying since working two jobs will take away lots of leisure from you.

Is it ever too late to become an author?

It is never too late to start your author career. Whether you are still young or already at retirement age doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you still have the drive to put in the work every day and that you are also passionate about what you are doing.

What is the most challenging thing about working as an author?

Overcoming writer’s block is the most challenging thing most authors experience in their careers.

Writer’s block can be a real issue since you will no longer be able to produce great content and this also means that your income will drop quite a lot.

Hence, overcoming writer’s block is crucial to stay successful as an author in the long run.

Can you provide for your family by working as an author?

Most authors are not able to make a full-time income from what they are doing. In fact, most authors only work part-time on their writing career and have to work a second job to provide for their family and to provide their loved ones with some luxury.

Will authors suffer from old-age poverty?

Since authors often don’t make good money and are also not able to save enough money for retirement age, many authors suffer from old-age poverty.

In the worst case, you may no longer be able to pay basic expenses like rent and may end up in the streets once you quit your active career.

When are authors able to retire?

Since author pensions are often pretty poor, many others are not able to retire in their 60s. Instead, most authors even have to produce content in their 70s or 80s to pay their bills so that they don’t lose their homes and can afford to buy some food.

Can you get rich as an author?

While it is possible to get rich as an author, it is pretty unlikely. Instead, it is much more likely that you will work many hours per week and still barely make a full-time income from what you are doing.

Hence, if money is really important to you, you should not become a writer but rather become a doctor or investment banker instead.

Do you get continuous training as an author?

You will not get any training as a writer at all most of the time. Instead, you have to train yourself, watch YouTube videos about how to improve your writing skills and so on.

Only then will you be prepared for the challenges authors will have to face in the near future.

Are authors organized in unions?

Authors are organized in the National Writers Union that is a union for freelance and contract writers.

However, while this union exists, it is rather weak and will not offer you lots of protection or good working conditions as a writer.

Instead, you have to care for yourself and write great content people actually want to pay for.

Do you get paid when you are sick as an author?

Since most authors work self-employed or only have short-term contracts, they usually don’t benefit from sick pay.

Thus, if you get sick, you will just not receive money at all and this can be a real issue, especially if you are quite vulnerable to chronic diseases.

Do authors have a high level of responsibility?

Authors can greatly influence the thinking and the mindset of people and therefore have a high level of responsibility, even though their work will not have an immediate positive or negative effect on the lives of people.

Can authors work abroad?

It is pretty easy to work abroad as an author. In fact, you will be able to work from wherever you want whenever you want as long as you produce great content and promote it on an international level on the internet.

Is it stressful to work as an author?

Working as an author is not that stressful. However, there is still a significant emotional burden that comes along with it and you will also have to deal with lots of insecurity regarding your financial situation and this can cause lots of emotional stress in the long run.

Is it boring to work as an author?

If you are passionate about writing and also choose the topics you are interested in, chances are that you will never get bored as an author.

In fact, many authors report great satisfaction with what they are doing and if you are born as a writer, chances are that you will stay motivated in this field for quite a long time.

Is being an author hard?

Working as an author is not hard from a physical standpoint. However, there is still a mental and emotional burden that comes along with it and if you don’t have a stable mental mindset, chances are that you should not become a writer but rather go for a different career instead.

Is there a dress code for authors?

There is no special dress code for writers. Instead, you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable with.

Since you will work from home most of the time, it doesn’t matter what you wear at all since people will not see you anyway.

What kind of authors are paid the most?

Writers who are experienced in writing texts for commercials of big corporations are usually paid the most.

However, it is pretty hard to get to this stage and you will therefore have many other smaller jobs at the beginning of your writing career until you build a good reputation in this field.

What percentage of authors are women?

Since many writers work self-employed, it is pretty hard to estimate the fraction of men and women in the writing industry.

However, studies conclude that around 25% of writers are women and 75% are men.

Do I need a mentor to succeed in the writing industry?

While you don’t necessarily need a mentor to succeed in the writing industry, it can still be helpful to have an experienced author on your side to help you push through difficult periods when you might lose faith in yourself and just want to give up.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as an author?

As an author, you will usually not be liable for mistakes or things people do after reading your content.

However, still make sure that you produce high-quality content that helps people instead of getting them into trouble.

Do authors have a high life expectancy?

Authors have an average life expectancy. While their work will not be that stressful, authors still have lots of emotional pressure that can be quite unhealthy and since they also have a rather low salary, many authors may not be able to afford proper medical treatment in case of emergency.

Do authors suffer from sleeping problems?

Due to the high level of insecurity authors have to deal with on a regular basis, many of them also suffer from sleeping problems that can cause serious physical health issues down the road.

What states are best for working as an author?

The best states for authors are the states where living costs are pretty low. Since authors can work location-independently, they can promote their content from wherever they want and don’t have to live in expensive regions for doing their jobs.

Who do authors work with?

Authors can work completely for themselves. However, they can also work for big media agencies and clients from all over the world.

Hence, how much social contact you want to have as an author is up to you.

Is working as an author cool?

Working as an author is considered cool by many people. In fact, if you work hard on it, you can build a huge audience and many people all over the world will admire you.

Do you have to be creative as an author?

You have to be pretty creative as an author. Otherwise, you will just not be able to produce sufficient high-quality content and may not be able to make a full-time income from what you are doing in the long run.

How employable are authors?

Authors often have problems finding a job. In fact, many writing jobs are outsourced to low-wage countries and this makes it pretty hard for people who live in high-wage countries to make a living in this industry.

Are authors happy with their jobs?

Even though authors don’t make lots of money, many authors are still happy with what they are doing since they can produce content that makes the lives of many people better and really enjoy the long-term growth of their business.

Is working as an author exciting?

Working as an author can also be pretty exciting. This is especially true at the beginning when you start producing content and see that you can build an audience that will grow bigger every day.

What are the pros and cons of working as an author?

If you are still interested in a writing career, you should also have a look at the pros and cons of being a writer.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Author

https://www.statista.com/statistics/961202/full-time-authors-book-income/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/572476/number-writers-authors-usa/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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