Mincemeat: on writing
  "The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business."
John Steinbeck

Writers and Riches

A question I often get from young readers (that the older ones seem too embarrassed to ask) is, "Do you make lots of money?" Hm, um, no. There are some famous and rich writers, but how many can you name? Keep in mind that in 2003, 135,000 titles were published, and I don't think I could name 30 of those writers. And those writers are the lucky ones. Many people write several books before they have one that anyone wants to publish. The following is an excerpt from Salon, 12-2002 that some may find enlightening. Keep in mind that he's specifically talking about adult publishing. For children's and young adult publishing, the percentages are even lower, 6-12 percent.

"Many readers are surprised to learn that the author's cut is quite low—as a general rule, it ranges from 10 to 15 percent, though very popular authors are able to negotiate a higher royalty and others must accept a lower one. Flashy news items about handsome advances (for hardcover or paperback rights) paid to such young authors as Jonathan Safran Foer or Dave Eggers create the false impression that writing books is a lucrative enterprise. (Advances are an upfront payment made "against royalties"; the advance is deducted from the author's royalty payments as copies of the book are sold, although many high-profile—and even low-profile—books fail to "earn out" their advances.) Except for a handful of bestselling writers, the overwhelming majority of authors make only $5,000 or $10,000, if that, on projects that took them years to complete. Most must rely on other sources of income, such as teaching, journalism or a gainfully employed spouse to get by."
Christopher Dreher

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