Millionaire authors can seem so grandiose. It’s hard to imagine an author making six figures a year from their work, let alone ten times that amount. Despite the apparent monstrosity of this task, there are many indie authors achieving this monument every year. Perhaps they know something the general public doesn’t—or perhaps they think differently than most authors do. Are seven-figure authors really that different from the everyday writer, and is there advice these publishing dynamos can give to help elevate the dreams of others?
Lee Savino is a seven-figure author with a collection of over two hundred English and translated titles in the Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, and Sci-Fi genres. Savino went the traditional route of going to college and landing a conventional career but discovered she wasn’t happy. Her heart was in writing books, and one day, she decided to take the leap and become a full-time author. After years of publishing, she managed to accumulate her publishing expertise into a seven-figure author career.
“The biggest common denominator was we [my coauthor and I] wanted to make money from our books and we were okay with making money from our books. When I started out, I wanted to make money, but I wasn’t allowing myself to make money,” Savino says. “It can be helpful to dig into any resistance you have.”
For many years after publishing her first novel, Savino struggled to increase her author income. She’d plateaued around thirty thousand dollars and wasn’t able to increase her income beyond that rate until she looked into changing her mindset.
“I used to believe you have to work hard and do something you hate in order to get paid well. I also used to believe rich people are all bad and evil, and I didn’t want to be evil, so I made sure I didn’t make above a certain amount,” Savino says. She had to change that mindset in order to become a bestseller, and that meant allowing her subconscious to lead the way, rather than her conscious mind.
“When you let go, you’re able to create, and creation comes from the subconscious mind creating, versus the conscious mind, which is the manager mind,” Savino says. “And if you’re critical of yourself, you’re shutting yourself down.”
One of the most optimal ways Savino helps to control her ego is to practice exercises in letting go of fear. “I talk about goal setting and putting stuff out there and writing it down, but it can be helpful to write something down and put it in a box, then let it go,” Savino says. “What happens is your subconscious mind works on solving the problem.”
Savino says her routine varies, and that she doesn’t put pressure on herself, which is key to generating success.
“I dither around for an hour with social media and emails, and try to do a good chunk of writing in the morning, then I’ll go to yoga, because I used to sit in bed and write all day, and now I have back issues,” Savino says. “Taking care of your health and paying attention to pain is becoming increasingly important. After yoga, I goof off—I could write again, but I usually book a lot of meetings.”
Savino’s schedule remains untethered, and she insists that every day is different, with her responsibilities requiring her to wear a lot of hats. “I have a busy business with all these things to do,” she says. “There’s a lot of moving parts, so there’s more to my business now than writing one book a year in English.”
One of her most powerful tips for achieving seven figures for authors is to learn to delegate the tasks that you don’t have to do, while focusing on the tasks that you’re best at. “It’s okay to be yourself. I had a goal of being a millionaire author, but that doesn’t have to be anyone’s goal, and you don’t have to be alone,” Savino says. “Hire people to help you, because that’s what it’s about. You want to write the book, but once it’s done, you get help. Do the things that only you can do, and the things that you can do, but someone else can do too, hire that out. Use brain power, and delegate things to get off your plate.” Though this might sound like an impossible summit for a new indie author, Savino encourages that finding help doesn’t have to break the bank, as she often traded services with other authors early in her career to find the assistance she needed.
“Start where you are. Hire who you can; barter with other authors, do beta read and editing swaps, because you can learn a lot from critiquing somewhere else. You need to find out what in your business is necessary,” Savino says. “Then, if you’re grouchy about your progress, look at where you are, look at where you want to be, and then look back at where you started. That’s gratitude, which is super helpful for your mindset.”
Savino also suggests that authors do a lot of experimenting to find their niche in different markets. “Look at the top-selling series. Ask yourself how you can do it better, or if you decide to write something different, hop around and experiment,” Savino says. “For me, it was about taking the money coming in and investing it in ads, BookBubs, newsletters. Try to find more readers and build your mailing list, because you want to have fans you can touch over and over again. Put some of that investment into audiobooks, then do translations. Ideally, all these moving parts enable you to do something even better, then bring all your fans with you while finding new ones.”
She encourages authors to keep pushing forward, especially if they see potential in a new series.
“If you can make fifty thousand [dollars] a year, you can make a hundred thousand. If you can make a hundred thousand, you can definitely make seven figures,” Savino says. “You’ve gotten readers who like your stuff, so now it’s about getting more readers, and there are always more readers. Your fellow authors are never your competition, because they are always helping you bring more people into the market, and if you’re jealous of another author, it’s because you believe you can’t have what they have.
“Colleen Hoover is finding new readers every single week. This market is infinite, and you will never reach all your readers. It’s just a matter of scaling,” Savino continues. “Ask yourself how to take your intellectual property and sell it in different formats and languages. Reinvest your money so you can have more reach.”
Of course, experimenting with platforms and different avenues of media entertainment takes financial risk, but Savino knows that the more an author is willing to take risks, the greater potential of returns for their career.
“The most successful authors know if they lose money, they’ll get it back,” Savino says. They know they’re not a bad person or unworthy because they lost money, and they’re not afraid to make money and lose it all again. It’s all because they know they’re good enough as they are.”
Savino believes that within a few years, indie authors will be producing graphic novels, webtoons, animation, theme music, and even films for their own work. “First comes the intention that you want something that big. It sometimes doesn’t feel that safe to be that rich, but we’re on this planet to have fun and do what we want, so you have to ask yourself what you want. Because if it pops in your head and you want it, you’re meant to have it.”
Above all, Savino insists, there’s one key to having a seven-figure author career, and that’s self-love, accepting yourself as you are wherever you might be in your business, and not pressuring yourself to be more than what you’re able to be at the current moment.
“It becomes an exercise in raising your own self-esteem, unconditionally loving yourself—not when you finish the book or when you hit [the] New York Times, but right now, and knowing you don’t have to prove yourself. I thought by reaching these goals everyone would celebrate me and I’d be good enough, but I can celebrate myself and be good enough right now, even if I’m getting out of bed at noon.”
Lee Savino is an author of Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Dark, and Contemporary Romance that leaves a lasting impression. She also teaches courses on millionaire author mindset, which can be found at https://millionaire-author-coaching.teachable.com/courses. You can discover her books at https://leesavino.com.