Monday, March 06, 2006

How much money does an author make?

According to many, not much.  I try to keep up with several authors (you being one Kurt) and Paul S. Kemp posted this quote from Elaine Cunningham.  Here are bits and pieces that stood out for me:

"Writing for a living -- more precisely, earning enough money as a writer to make a good living -- is quite rare."

"about 5% percent of writers earn enough from writing to make a living; of that 5%, about 5% of those earn enough to make a GOOD living."

"93 percent of ISBNs sold fewer than 1,000 units in 2004, according to Nielsen BookScan. These books accounted for only 13 percent of sales. On the other hand, 7 percent of ISBNs sold more than 1,000 units and made up the remaining 87 percent of sales."

"Obviously, those statistics are a blunt instrument, and make no distinctions between genres, fiction/non-fiction, small and large press, etc."

To preserve ownership, here's the source:

Quite eye-opening for me.  Even if the numbers are skewed (I have a large amount of distrust for statistics), it's still amazing how many books are out there and how few of them sell in large numbers.  And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.  Every time I go to the local bookstore, I see the same authors over and over again.  All it takes is one book to make it big, but best of luck in getting that "one book" published, marketed, sold, and enjoyed by readers.

While I enjoy writing (despite how difficult it is for me), it's something I've never (realistically) thought of as a living.  Sure, I can dream about making it big.  Sure I idolize several authors.  But, when the real world comes knocking (via the mortgage payment or car bill), I realize how much I'd have to make to survive.  And even if my profit was the retail price of a basic paperback novel (even hardback for that matter), I'd have to sell hundreds of copies.  Something I don't see happening anytime soon.    

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