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Want to be an author? Here's why you'll probably make less money

If you have ever dreamed about becoming a famous author, you're not alone. Millions of people for centuries have had the very same dream.

And, why not? You can just imagine yourself sitting at home, maybe from a desk overlooking the Maui coast or the Champs-Elysées in Paris, just letting your imagination run wild with fantastic characters and stories. You'll be famous and insanely rich.

That dream was always far, far out of reach for most people. But, these days, in a digital era when people self-publish just about anything they can write, living that dream is harder than ever.

Much of the blame goes to self publishing. That's a great thing, if you love to write and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Writing is the first part of a successful self-publishing career; getting out and selling your book is equally important, maybe even more important.

The problem is that self publishing is so easy to do now. Just write something, put it online, and hope people buy it. Of course, when there's a lot of any product, it pulls prices down.

There are other factors at work, too. The rise of online retailers has meant that a lot of the bookstores where authors used to sign copies of their full-priced, hard copies are now gone. Online, those high-priced hardcovers are often sharply discounted. Plus, the publicity that authors used to get from those book signings has also dried up.

The result? Authors are having a really tough time making a living. In fact, full-time authors on average make just $17,500 a year, according to an Authors Guild survey. That's down 30% from 2009. Part-time authors have seen an even steeper decline, down 38%, to $4,500.

There is an upside to all this, though. That is, if your motivation is recognition, more than money. There has never been a better time in history for authors to get their works published, and made available to millions of readers. Plus, authors can get immediate feedback from their fans. That may not pay the bills, but it's something.

Bonus: Want to find out how one self-published author is making hundreds of thousands of dollars? Read about it here.

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