Thursday, March 24, 2011

An Author's Salary

Okay, so you think that becoming an author will make you famous and you'll become a millionaire. Ah, I think every author has that dream, at least once in their career.

Sadly, that only happens to a very small minority. For the rest of us, we still need to keep our day jobs. Being an author is a true labor of love.

We write because we love to, not because we expect to get rich doing it. I'm still hoping for my NY Times bestseller and probably will as long as I write books. What can I say, I'm an optimist.

I was at a store not long ago and was commenting on the cost of something and the clerk said, "Didn't you just have a new book come out?" I guess they think the same thing--all authors are rich! Oh, how we all wish that were true.

The reality is that most of us earn a very small royalty. So much goes into the cost of the book and its publishing and marketing. The publisher makes the most, but then again, they are putting the most into it--money-wise.

Most authors will make a tiny percentage from a book sale. Say for example, a book cost $20 at the local book store.

The publisher had to give the book store a 40% discount, which means the book store paid $12 for the book. Wholesalers like Amazon get a 55-60% discount.

Normally, authors receive a 7-10% royalty based on the net receipt. That means that if the publisher sold an author's book for $12 and the author receives a 10% royalty, then the author  would earn $1.20 on that sale.

Can you see now why most authors aren't rolling in dough?

Most niche-genre books, meaning they sell to a small market, typically sell between 3000-5000 copies over a couple of years. And that's if you're lucky. Using the same scenario, let's say an author sells 3000 books in one year and they were all sold at 40% off ($12). The author would earn $3600.

Now, I don't know about you, but I sure as heck can live on that. Also keep it mind that most publishers only pay their royalties every six months.

All this might have you wondering why anyone would want to be an author. Like I said in the beginning--it's a labor of love.

Sometimes when the rejection letters come rolling in and I get down, I think I want to quit. But then, I get that spark or desire and I pull up my sleeves and get back to it.

Happy Writing!!


Anonymous said...

This was very helpful in my research on whether writing/being an author is part of the future changes I will make in my career. Thank you for your fresh, honest and simple explanation as well as the expression of your love of writing yourself.

Anonymous said...

I really like what you said. I really want to be an author when I grow up. However, I don't care about the money. I just LOVE writing! When an idea gets in my head, I just want to write it down. Thank you for what you said. It helped me a lot! Thanks again

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting considering I want to become an author as well known as Jo Rowling and make as much as her. This article is very interesting because I would never think a 12 dollar book in stores would only give me $1.20. I might reconsider this author thing and maybe not take it on full time.

Astronomer Emma said...

I'm in 5th grade and my dream is to become a good author...thanks for the peek in on reality. I realize I probably will need that other job as an astronomer...