How Much Money Can You Make Writing Romance Novels In 2024

It is without a doubt that romance books actually sell. Romance is the most popular genre, selling nearly twice as much as the second most lucrative genre, crime/mystery, at $728.2 million.

During the pandemic, the romance industry has even seen an increase in sales as more readers are looking for a means of escape with a happy ending.

During Fifty Shades of Grey's peak popularity, E L James's net worth was $95 million at the height of the book, and Danielle Steel's is estimated at $390 million at the end of 2021.

But can average romance writers make this level of money self publishing romance novels?

Just how much money can you make writing romance novels? Get the answers to this and more in the article below. 

How Much Money Can You Make Writing Romance Novels In 2024

So, How Much Money Can You Make Writing Romance Novels

So, How Much Money Can You Make Writing Romance Novels

This question is difficult to answer with a specific range or figure as it would depend on a large number of factors. Such as whether you:

  • Opt to self publish or traditionally publish
  • Are hitting the market expectations 
  • Publish one book per year versus four to twelve
  • Take a month to complete a book or a year, and
  • Have a large budget for effective marketing behind you or will choose to not market at all.

On average, however, a traditionally published romance novelist can earn an average of $1,200 to $26,000, depending on the publishing house, according to American Writers and Artists Inc.

While an independently published novelist can a similar or even higher salary based on the strength of their brand, and method of publishing,

Is It Possible to Earn a Full-Time Income From Writing Romance Novels?

Is It Possible To Earn A Full-Time Income From Writing Romance Novels?

When it comes to money, most people think that there are two types of authors. Authors earning millions of dollars in their contracts (such as E.L James) are considered best-selling authors.

The second type of author is the struggling author who earns their income by bribing a family member to buy their book.

In reality, many factors determine an author's potential income, so there is no fixed figure you can estimate.

There are indeed some authors who make millions, others who make thousands, and still many others who can't make $500. There are even authors who lose money.

But, it is also one hundred percent possible to earn a livable income if you remain consistent, study the market, and publish quality books.

It helps to look at different types of books in the sub-genre you are interested in writing, and the sales ranking of the people who write them to determine whether you can make a living as an author in that specific niche.

The Romance Niche As A Whole: How Profitable Is It?

The Romance Niche As A Whole: How Profitable Is It?

Most fiction writers write in the romance niche. Would that qualify?

The popularity is probably why most romance novels are so cheesy! But nonetheless, there is a huge audience for it.

The top-selling genres are romance and erotica, with $1.44 billion in sales. The sales figures include self-published romance as well.

With 30 million readers in this genre, you can succeed even if your writing is not the best, but you have to publish regularly.

There's an old idiom at work that says "Sex sells.". It is true for quite a few people.

As for the second-best-selling genre in fiction, crime/mystery novels make $728.2 million, approximately half what romance novels earn.

Is It True That Romance Novels Sell Better As A Series?

Is It True That Romance Novels Sell Better As A Series?

Romance writers can earn a lot of money self publishing romance novels if they plan and write a series. The right series can be highly successful and lucrative.

Series can be written in many ways, but a common thing is to have one central hero or heroine character who drives the plot of each book in the series.

It will be possible to weave together the main characters and the secondary characters with each book. In book two, a secondary character in book one could become the love interest of the main character.

Readers will be satisfied that the secondary character still exists in between novels if the secondary character continues to exist. Before you begin writing, plan out your central theme and storyline in the series if you can. You will find it much easier to write your series if you do this.

Whenever a reader becomes infatuated with a secondary character, their romance can become the focal point of a novel, whether as a recurring character or as a lead role for their own series.

How to Self-Publish a Romance Novel

Writers are most likely to self-publish. It is very appealing to some people to publish their work independently of traditional big publishing houses.

Your work may be published much more quickly if you take advantage of this method rather than the traditional publishing route. You can get your work out in a very exciting way, and many writers find that the investment is worth it.

You will probably only get a 10% royalty from traditional publishing, whereas you will get 60-70% from self-publishing. Getting started is more work, but the rewards are much higher.

To gain the most exposure and sales for your new title, this is the way to go.

You can market your new title with plenty of other outlets, such as Barnes and Noble and Smashwords, among many others.

Despite Amazon having by far the largest market for romance, there are still plenty of other options. Put your romance on as many websites as possible to reach as many potential readers as possible.

Smashwords and other services, as well as offering their own online store, also allow you to manage all your book sales through one location, usually at an additional fee.

You might want to consider it if you don't want to deal directly with so many publishing platforms.

Top Tip To Maximize Book Earnings: Make the Book Cover and Title Interesting

Romance novels are characterized by their titles and covers, which is why they are important. People decide whether to download or buy your book by looking at the title and cover.

When surveyed, many readers said they choose a book based on the title and cover. Covers contain several factors that may influence their decision.

To make More Money Writing Romance, Consider This...

Clearly indicate the sub-genre on the cover. You should research and use the elements that are common to them.

  • You can hire graphic designers who specialize in romance book covers to create the perfect image if you do not have the skills yourself.
  • Your book cover conveys an astonishing amount of information. It's important to plan ahead and perhaps even to hire a professional to help you.
  • Make sure the author's name is clearly visible and easy to read. Your goal is to encourage people to buy more of your work.
  • Are you writing a series? If so, tell your readers about it on your cover. Never miss an opportunity!
  • Make sure the readers know what to expect from the story without giving anything away.
  • Your title should reflect the overall tone of your story.
  • Don't overload your cover with text. You want the title and cover to be short.
  • On your cover, use images that are relevant to your story or characters.
  • Take your time to come up with the perfect cover design. If done well, it can help sell books.
  • You can use some of these designers' packages as-is or request changes or even a customized version, depending on the package. Some even offer packages that have been created exclusively for romance writers.

Does It Help To Use A Pen Name?

It's not uncommon to see you writing more than you want to publish under a single name once you've gained experience writing romance novels.

It's okay to use a pen name.  By doing so, you can develop more than one readership. If you want to sell different types of books to different demographics, you should write novels under several pen names.

You'll be able to find more books to appeal to readers who like paranormal romance and historical romance in this way.

You don't have to use your own name if you only intend to write under one name so you can use a pen name instead.

So, Writing Romance Is Easy Right? Can I Jump In And Make Money Instantly?

 This is a constant misconception that could not be further from the truth. The average romance novel is about 55,000 words long, and there's a "formula" to follow.

Many of us believe we could complete one in a weekend. But, when put to the task many find that it is not as simple as they may believe.

In fact, according to Mills & Boon (aka Harlequin Enterprises), the world's largest publisher of romance novels, the publisher takes on roughly 45 to 50 new authors each year, receiving nearly 9000 submissions.

So the odds are against you.

It's also not as lucrative as aspiring authors might expect. Based on Brenda Hiatt's recent survey of romance authors, the average advance for Harlequin's first book is around $3500 to $4000.

Some of the other big romance publishers are Kensington (who reports on average $3500), Avon/HarperCollins ($8000 on average), and Berkley/Jove (with an $8000 average).

So, definitely not your average get rich quick scheme.