This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
As an aspiring author, there’s a longing to be a fully-fledged published author, and despite the research we may do on how to write the novel and how to approach and find agents, one of the things that remains elusive is how much authors get paid. Do we know how much money authors make?
There aren’t many careers that you can’t get a feel for what you should be paid. For a normal job you usually get adverts which come with a nice little hourly rate or annual salary. When I used to work in the museums industry, the Museums Association even published expected salaries for different positions at certain skill and experience levels. But have you ever tried to google what an author makes? And have you actually succeeded?
There seems to be a lot of caginess around book deals and how much money authors make, mainly because every deal is unique and tailored to that author, and that book. The only book deals you hear of are those that have garnered a six figure advance. But that always gets me wondering too. I mean, have they got £100,000 over their two or three books, or have they got £600,000. On a three book deal over three years that’s a huge difference. From earning £200,000 per book/per year or £33,333 per book/per year. And what about E L James? She got a seven figure sum. Eep. Imagine that.
But what about your average author? The ones that don’t get a six figure deal, and perhaps get five figures, or even four figures. I’ve read enough interviews with authors to know that it’s a common misconception that published authors are really rich. There also seems to be an important stage that comes for writers when they can give up their day job and become a full-time writer. When is that?
I was speaking to an author who is published by one of the big six at an event earlier in the year. She told me that she was considering not trying to negotiate a further book deal with her publisher, and instead thought that as a “mid-level author” she’d be better off self-publishing. Realistically, sometimes things have to come down to money, and with the higher royalty rates that are offered to those that are successful with self or indie publishing it’s not surprising that traditionally published authors turn to different ways of publishing every day.
Often for an aspiring author, there’s a lust to see a book in print and the amount of money offered is inconsequential. After all, there’s the added benefits of being traditionally published in print; working with a publishing team, being nurtured by an editor and (hopefully) building a public author profile. Much like when you start working in a new industry you have to start on the first rung of the ladder, and a small book deal with small amounts of money might be the equivalent.
But without knowing what other authors get in the way of money, how does an aspiring author know whether they are getting a good deal? Does it matter? If you’re an aspiring author would you accept any deal just to be published?