Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Writer's Earnings

Posted on the bulletin board above my desk is my favorite Peanuts cartoon. I keep it there to make me smile whenever I get a letter of rejection. In the cartoon, Snoopy is on top of his doghouse typing a letter to the publishing house that has just rejected his novel. Snoopy writes: "Dear Sirs: Regarding your recent rejection. What I really wanted is for you to publish my story and send me fifty-thousand dollars. Didn't you realize that?"

Ah, yes.

Besides the obvious topic of rejection, this cartoon illustrates another myth regarding writing: money. I'm always amazed by the amount of misinformation on how much writers earn. For some reason, people seem to think that writers who don't make at least a six-figure income are doing something wrong.

Recently, I've come across a few authors who have graciously made the information about their earnings public. Jim Hines, a fantasy author with DAW, earned about $28,000 last year. YA author Kimberly Pauley reports about the same. Although this is not a bad chunk of change, it certainly is not enough to live on. Self-publishing authors, of course, make much less. SmashWords author V. J. Chambers reported that her yearly sales were a dismal $180.00.

Even a NYT best selling author has spoken out. Twilight Falls author, Lynn Viehl, blogged last April about how much she made on her book. Even I was shocked to hear that she netted only $26,000 from her first royalty statement.

So what about yours truly? I've not published with a major house (yet), nor do I self publish. My publisher, Mundania LLC, offers the same percentages as a large house, but - of course - the volume of sales is much less. Right now, I have only one book with them (thought I've signed contracts for two more.) While I'm not entirely comfortable giving the exact dollar figure for my earnings, I can safely say that it falls between the self-publishing Chambers and the DAW author, Jim Hines.

But, as I so often remind myself, I am in this business for love, not money. And I'll happily celebrate every victory - no matter how small.


Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Ellie,

I got off of the publishing merry-go-round before I was on it very long. I self publish because I know I'm not going to make the money and I don't want to loose more money on copies and postage.

I write because I can't not write. I don't expect to be a phenom.

If I want rejection all I have to do is go to my family dressed in my goth garb.

There may be a few superstars in writing but there is no real money to be made here. Thanks for pointing that out.

Hugs, Euphoria

Elle Scott said...

Thanks, Euphoria. You've confirmed what I've felt for a long time. It's nice to know that I'm in good company : )

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I write because it's an addiction for which there is no cure but to keep on writing. I never, ever thought of doing it for the money. Some short stories of mine have been published and won contests, but that was the "icing on the cake". I'll probably be writing right up and through my last breath...God willing!!

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