The Average American Author Makes $9,000 Per Year?

That's what this article claims. That actually seems high to me. Maybe the big names are throwing off the average. But I'd take $9,000 a year in a second.

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Comment by I. J. Parker on November 4, 2011 at 12:24am

T.L. is right.  Any start is always slow, but if your earnings get smaller every year with the traditional publishers while you get excellent reviews, then the fault must lie with a lack of proper promotion and marketing -- and I have always assumed that that was part of the contract on the publisher's side.  If you ever get hold of a marketing brochure from a big publisher, the ones they send to book stores, you'll see that they list their new releases fom the heavily subsidized in the front to the midlisters in the back who get no promotion at all.  Whose books do you think the bookstores will order?

Konrath is a very good salesman.  He's also the kind of guy who got angry at the unfairness and set out to prove to authors that they can do better.



Of course, if you are one of the heavily subsidized authors and your name appears in the NYT, then you're better off remaining with trad. pub.


So, Benjamin and B.R., you'll need some patience and more books before you see that you can actually make a living at this. 

Comment by Patricia Gligor on November 4, 2011 at 12:00am
Interesting. If that's true, it's a good thing we're in this for the joy of writing, not the money. :)
Comment by TL Pouliot on November 3, 2011 at 3:27pm
Also, the ebooks potentially make money forever as they never go out of print. For the publishers to pay LESS royalties than the absurdly small royalty they pay on paper books is absurd. Authors have greater earning potential on e-versions of their books, not less.
Comment by TL Pouliot on November 3, 2011 at 3:22pm

That is a myth, Benjamin.  Many writers have needed day jobs because writers were grossly underpaid for their work, and because of slow publishing schedules, publisher reluctance to publish more than one or two books from the same writer per year even if the writer could write them faster, and other factors. But even so, there are many writers making far more than $9,000.

Check out this article by Dean Wesley Smith.

Comment by Benjamin Sobieck on November 3, 2011 at 11:44am

I wouldn't measure yourself against Konrath, IJ. He's a statistical outlier. If we all got paid for the actual work we put into this whole author thing, we'd be retired by now.


Writing has always been a craft for starving artists. It just sticks in my craw when someone, like the author of that article, scoffs at $9k a year. Most authors would deem that a success.


That attitude further illustrates the rift between big publishing and indie publishing (I'm guilty of having a day job in the former and night job in the latter). I see the different attitudes. $9k might not be a lot to a huge corporate publisher, but it's something to be proud of if you're the little guy.


So it's hard for me to take articles like this one seriously.

Comment by B.R.Stateham on November 3, 2011 at 8:49am
I'd be happy with $900 a year.  That's why just about writer I know has a day-job.  Sometimes several of them.
Comment by I. J. Parker on November 3, 2011 at 7:13am
Make that: not even the comparatively generous payments
Comment by I. J. Parker on November 3, 2011 at 7:10am

Benjamin, It takes me a whole year to write a novel in my series.  That isn't counting the time for editing, copy-editing, and galleys. I don't count promotion because I don't do it any longer.  $ 9,000.00 is totally inadequate for that much work.  In fact, even the comparatively generous payment from magazines like EQMM and AHMM come anywhere near covering the time it takes to write a story.

Joe Konrath claims to be taking in as much as 60,000 a month.

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