Sounds about right.
I'm not sure why that's significant. It's like 90% of all basketball players earn less than $500.
So they should earn more? Stop playing?
I keep seeing all this stuff, like publishing your work is a stupid egotistical thing to do. But isn't that why people write stuff? So people can read it?'
Maybe there's something here I don't get.
Tell ya what, though, I'm pretty brash, but I'd never set myself up as an authority on what other writers "deserve" to earn.
The problem with traditional publishers is that the large ones all want franchise series characters, the marketing department has more to say about the book than anyone else involved, if you get an advance it's tiny and barely enough to cover initial promotions costs, which, conveniently enough, publishers seldom provide.
If you have to do all the work anyway, then you may as well get as much reward as possible. I do have a traditional publisher for my Sherlock Holmes books, but at least they care.
Honestly, that's not been my experience at all and I would disagree with your generalizations. The first sentence, yes, my publisher is interested in a series rather than a stand-alone, but to me that shows an investment on their part. I don't know what you mean about the marketing department having "more to say about the book than anyone else involved," to be honest. But the story in each of my first two books are precisely the same now as when I wrote them.
And my publisher, a new mystery imprint of an existing small publisher, paid me a seven-figure advance for the first three books. Low seven figures, but still.... :) As far as doing all the work, yes, I wrote the books but they design the covers, edit them, put them on shelves, promote them, etc. Work I'm glad I don't have to do.
I don't write this, btw, to start/continue the self- v. traditional-publishing debate, but just to present my experience in case new writers come here while investigating their options.
Sounds like you got a good one. Who is it, and how did you find them? I will happily sign on with a publisher which actually supports the writers.
Maybe one should consider self-publishing a uniquely 21st century "interim step" to a more mainstream possibility? (At least self-publishing in its present guise.) I've been in all sorts of self- vs. paid- frays before (and some get unnecessarily nasty; it seems to be on that same emotional plateau with abortion rights)... but I'm just trying to look at this in a new way. Maybe, sometimes, it's not about the payout. I mean, if one can't not help but write, and is willing to cough up the expense, why not self-publish? Ignoring a plethora of downsides to this approach (market glut, horrible feedback for the truly unpublishable, a multitude of errors if you're not professional, whispers of egomania, etc.), the upside is you've now got yourself a 350 page (+/-) calling card of your ability and, if you continue to write, I guess it can't hurt.
Maybe it's similar to a semi-pro photographer using Flickr or Facebook to present oneself to the maximum number of people. Or a starlet camped out at the local drugstore, waiting for Mr. Goldwyn to stop by and notice her.
I don't know the stat's on this, but I assume a few self-published writers get picked up now & then, and perhaps wouldn't have, had they not self-published. Nor am I saying self-publishing IS the best way to structure a career. I'm just saying, oh, why not? Yeah, yeah - I know there are a 1000 downsides to this 7am, pre-caffeinated opinion... but I'm trying to be upbeat here. In other words, hey, if I want to see my name in print, my words on a page, my bank account oh-so-slightly ruined... why the hell not? Let Amazon sort out the rest.
What I've been saying for years, including in presentations to writing conferences, etc, is: Don't consider self-publishing your last resort, but your first option.
For one thing, it actually is an option. "Getting a contract" is not an option, it's a wish list you don't control.
There are plenty of SP books that have been picked up by publishers and even film producers. It's do-able. Whereas if you spend years chasing a contract, that time is just shot and leads nowhere. And your chances of getting there are, frankly infintesimal. Whereas a successful self-publish cuts thosse odds heavily.
You are out there building readership and skills on how to market--which you'll need no matter what happens. And it can happen this year. Even if you score trad publication immediately, it will take a year or two for your book to actually be out there for sale.
There is no better "proving ground" for your work than the actual market. You can improve and refine.
Approaching the market on your own has potential limited only by your book and your efforts. Playing the agent/pubco game is a one-shot... and a very long shot at that.
This is not a either/or, versus, sort of thing. Certainly not any more. It's all process towards people reading your work.