Author Kay Thomas pointed me to this enlightening and honest blog from the author of a Top 20 NY Times bestseller. This is the author's 18th book, which is an incredible achievement in itself. The entire posting needs to be read, but here is her opening statement, followed by the url.
"A few years ago I made a promise to my writer friends that if I ever had a novel hit the top twenty of the New York Times mass market bestseller list that I would share all the information I was given about the book so writers could really see what it takes to get there. Today I’m going to keep that promise and give you the stats on my sixth Darkyn novel, Twilight Fall."
http://www.genreality.net/the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller

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Grant,
Very interesting article. Some writers DO make a living off their writing!
Thanks. That was quite interesting. Not really surprising that you hit the bestseller list and see no money, but she had a nice advance. What happened is that with 18 books she has spent years building readership. This is a slow process, and few authors are kept on long enough. Her readers have finally come through.

The only other way is to get the critics to sit up and take notice, to have an agent sell movie rights, to get a top star interested, and to have the publisher finally decide to shell out for publicity.
See there? The magical moving reserve ate her royalty check. Funny how that works. Nice to know, also, that you can make a series work commercially without putting on the chicken suit.
She was talking mass market paperback, right? Makes e-books look good just for the lack of returns and the magical moving reserves.
Chicken suit--that's good! I was pleased to see that myself. And all it took was 18 books . . . :)
The author's agent took $7,500 at a 15% cut off the advance. The government taxed $15,000 - a 30% cut - from that same advance.

What's wrong with that picture? Uncle Sam didn't sell the novel. The agent did. Regardless of how you feel about agents, shouldn't they get a bigger cut than Uncle Sam?

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