15 June 2009

The Money Line

Listening to: Bishop Allen, "The News From Your Bed." This song is just happy happy. I dare you to listen and not bop your head.

The big question people usually ask about being a writer is, "So, how much do you make?" Except for a fortunate few, that answer is usually "not enough." Then again, how much would you want to be paid to do something you love? And to have a publishing house print and promote your work? You'd probably pay them to do it wouldn't you?

For me, I've always been hesitant to say that I'm a full fledged writer until I've made enough to support myself. For most starting writers, a day job is a necessity and it could be many years before you can even begin to think about writing full-time. Then there are those brave people who quit right away and commit to making writing their career.

The basics of how an author makes money is through advances and royalties. You get an advance prior to writing the book (paid out in installments) and then after the book is published, you get a percentage of each book sold. The caveat is that you have to "earn out" your advance before you see more money. Here's a recent post from Editorial Ass breaking down royalties and advances into specifics. It's a fascinating read because most authors don't even know what a "typical" deal is.

And what happens if your book hits the best sellers list? Are you an instant millionaire? Should you plan for a trip around the world in celebration? Well, maybe not. Here's a revealing and much appreciated post about "The Reality of a Times Bestseller."

It can sound difficult doesn't it? To make it as a career author? Well, it is, but isn't finding any career pretty difficult? The upside is that once you've made it, you're totally doing what you love and become a shining example to inspire others. Here's one last link, an old article from 2004 titled "The confessions of a semi-successful author."

For my first book, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I'd actually cleared my advance and had made some extra cash to boot. I didn't ask about how well it was doing, and wasn't told, until the royalty statements rolled in months later. It was then that I found out the blogging book had gone on to a second printing and that I would be getting a check in the mail. Wonderful right?