Pretty cool article –The Reality of a Times Bestseller.
Lynn Viehl made the New York Times Bestseller list. Twilight Fall was listed at #19. Very respectable. She had made a promise long ago though that if she made the list, she’d release how much money she made out of it. This might seem a bit boastful, but for writers, it’s incredible knowledge to have. And it’s more than a bit eye opening.
Long story short (and I strongly encourage you to read the article), Lynn made a $50,000 advance. A third of that wasn’t paid until the book actually hit the shelf (anywhere from a 12 – 24 months after acceptance). Her agent received 15% ($7,500) which is what an agent works for so that’s not too bad. Taxes ($15,000+) came out of the advance since the publishing company doesn’t pay that part. Then there funds held on reserve in anticipation of book returns, expenses, and a few other things. End result – $26,000 or thereabouts.
Not all everyone on the NYT list is a millionarie. Heck, one of my favorite authors (Matthew Woodring Stover) had the opportunity to write the novelization of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. That spent some time on the bestseller lists. To quote a post on his blog :
I can’t offer any details about the payments for Star Wars — that is, in fact, proprietary information that is covered by the confidentiality agreement all us SW writers sign. I can tell you, however, that SW pays better than any other media franchise I know of; this, however, ain’t sayin’ much. REVENGE OF THE SITH, for example, was on the NYTimes Bestsellers List for 10 weeks, and I still have to work a day job.
This year marked the first time I’d ever been paid to write. Not a great deal and I could bump that up if I decided to write more articles. Right now that’s not on the radar. I’m focusing on Genie Memories. I never had any real thought of retiring on the income earned from my writing, just having an avenue to tell the story.
And I think that’s key. To be a writer, you have to want to do it for the plot. The characters. The setting. The story.
Because the money isn’t going to be there.
If it is though, well, that’s just icing on the cake.