Self-Publishing Romance: How Much You Can Earn (Real-Time Sales Figures)

In Inkwell Editorial’s course on how to make money self-publishing romance novels, one of the things I preach ad nauseam is that sales in this niche are made by continuous output. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme (cuz writing is hard work!), but doing the following is practically a fail-proof way to make a good living writing romance. 

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2 Keys to Making a Full-Time Living as a Romance Writer

i) Write well: And I’m not saying you have to be a world-class writer, just one who knows how to create believable characters, put them in believable situations and craft a story that flows well; and

ii) Publish regularly: Romance readers are prolific readers (and buyers), and out of sight means out of mind as an author. What that boils down to is you need to publish regularly to retain readers, or they’ll be off to the next author.

How Often You Need to Publish to Make a Full-Time Living as a Romance Writer

You could luck and be an EL James (author of 50 Shades of Grey); publishing one book that goes on to sell millions of copies. But for most of us, it just ain’t gonna happen like that. And this is not said to be discouraging.How to Make Money Writing Romance: Sales Figures from Self-Published Author Yuwanda Black

On the contrary, it’s encouraging because if you publish regularly, you increase your chance of something like that happening. BUT …

If it doesn’t, you’ll still be making a good living as a romance writer. So back to the question of how often you need to publish to make this a reality.

In my opinion, putting out one new book every month or two is ideal to building an audience pretty quickly.

And if you’re thinking, “That’s too much,” or “You can’t possibly put out a good product if you’re writing that many books,” then I’m proof that you can — because that’s exactly how I built my romance writing career.

If you do the above two things, you’ll build an audience (and a subscriber list, which you should start doing from day one).

Once you get a few thousand loyal readers on your list — ie, those who will buy practically everything you put out — then you’re golden.


How Much Can You Make as a Romance Writer? Real Numbers

Imagine this — you have a mailing list of 5,000. If just 5% of them bought every new book you put out, and you priced it at $2.99 (on AMZ), that’s over $500 right there (you get 70% of a $2.99 book on Amazon).

This does not include sales that will come from other outlets … and other books that will pick up some steam when you put out a new release. This is why I preach that publishing regularly is the key to making money writing romance.

When I wrote those 40 novels in 22 months, I broke the $2,000 mark within six months. I was putting out one every 7 to 21 days. That’s why sales ramped up fast. And this is with bad reviews.

But enough of an audience liked my writing that I was able to find an audience of loyal readers – readers who kept coming back and buying other titles. See these reviews? The same person bought multiple books, which brings me to recent sales.

Amazon Reviews Can Help You Build a Loyal Readership

Amazon Reviews for Yuwanda Black Romance Novels

When you publish regularly, you build up a catalog of work. And if people like one book, they’ll automatically look to see what else you’ve written. And if it’s in the same genre (muy importante), you have a good shot of them going on to purchase another … and another … and another, just like the reader in the graphic above.

Then it’s just a matter of a snowball effect taking hold. More readers who buy more books mean you earn more. Before we get to some actual sales figures though, let me give some background.

I published my latest romance novel on Amazon on February 1, 2018. Before this release, it had been over a year since I’d published a romance (October 2016). In 2016, I only released two romance novellas. Most of the 45 or so I’ve written were published between 2014 and 2015, as discussed in this post.

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My Best Month Writing Romance: How Much I Earned

In my best month self-publishing romance, I earned in the neighborhood of $3,200. And to this day, I average $200 to $400/month from all outlets (AMZ, Barnes & Noble, and the outlets that Draft2Digital distributes to). Not bad for not writing anything for almost two years.

Now, this brings me to some recent sales figures (click on each graphic for larger view).

Writing Romance Novels for Kindle: Sales Figures

How Much Can You Earn Writing Romance

In the graphic above, I’ve highlighted my most recent title, A Lover for Beth: Part IV. Now my sales in January were nothing to write home about. Remember, I hadn’t published a new romance since October 2016 before publishing this one. Here’s what January (2018) Amazon sales looked like.

Romance Writing Sales: Yuwanda Black, Amazon

Notice that there are 17 sales for the whole month of January; and of these sales, almost half (8) are non-romance.

Compare that to February’s sales report. Only 7.5 days into February (I ran the report before noon), there were 29 sales already, and all but one of them are romance sales. The reason for pointing this out?

When you publish regularly, new releases will generate sales of your new title and of older ones, as the Feb sales chart shows. Only 8 of the 28 romance sales were of the new novel. The rest were older ones.

Why HostGator is the best web hositing company for freelance writers (IMO)This is one of the beautiful things about writing romance. These books never have to be updated, unlike non-fiction, which let me tell ya, it’s a pain in the butt, especially when you have as many as I do (I’ve cut way back on publishing non-fiction).

Also, romance novels can earn you money for years. So write once; earn forever. I like that writing formula!

Heck, I still pick up old Harlequins and historical romances (my favorite genre) when I visit the thrift store back home in Atlanta. I don’t care if it was written in 1978 or 2008; it’s the story that grabs me.

Self-publishers who go on to become top, self-published romance authors realize that love is timeless, and so are romance book sales. FYI, here’s some insight into romance author salary(ies) / earnings. And if you’re waiting on a traditional publishing contract, here’s some insight into how and how much, for example, Harlequin pays its authors.

Even though the numbers in my example here are small, what I hope  sticks out about this section is that making a living writing romance is something anyone with dedication and patience can do. And, you can do it on your own (ie, as an indie publisher). So don’t sit around waiting for a big publisher to call. Most likely, they won’t and if they do, the earnings are not what you may be thinking.

One of the Biggest Mistakes I Made as a Romance Writer

If I hadn’t taken almost a year and a half off from writing romance — really more like two years when you consider that I only published two romance novellas in 2016 — my earnings wouldn’t have taken a dive, at least not such a deep dive. As my figures show, as soon as I started publishing agin, things picked right back up.

Taking such a long break from continuing to write was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made as a self-published romance author. I’ll never do that again.

My plan is to bring on one or two ghostwriters so I can keep my output consistent. Hiring other writers is an easy way to increase your income as a romance author. But, good writers are hard to find – as is the case in any genre. So it takes a while to find reliable ones who write well – consistently.

All of this is discussed in the romance writing course, by the way.

Romance Ebook Marketing: How Often to Promote to Make Good Money

A Lover for Beth: A Multicultural Romance Series

For the novel I just published, I haven’t done any promotion. And I don’t plan to because I have a back catalog and as you can see, once you start publishing regularly, sales pick up. So, I’m already writing the next book.

As discussed in this post, one of my writing goals this year is to publish 12 romance novellas (one per month). So at the end of every month, I’ll be releasing one new title, and possibly more when I bring on a writer or two.

FYI, here are 6 quick things I usually do when I release a new romance novel. Most of these you’ll do on auto-pilot. The only ones on that list that I stopped doing regularly was posting to my blog on SheWrites and ordering gigs on Fiverr.

I have enough traction now that I pour my energies into blogging here on my own blog (as opposed to Fiverr). And, I have an email list; it’s tiny, but growing. All of this helps to get some initial sales flowing in when a new book is released.


I hope this has given you more of a window into what it what it takes to make a full-time living writing romance.

P.S.: Enroll Now. If you have more questions, the free romance writing course is a good place to start. I answer a lot of the questions newbies might have, and in Lesson #4, you’ll get to see more sales numbers – and how quickly they can add up.

How to Become a Romance Novelist: FREE EcourseHow to Make Money Writing Romance: Free Ecourse

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