You made how much?

We all know how hard it is to make money as an author, but cling to the hope that some successful writers are actually making real money. You know, crack the NYTimes best-seller list and you’re home and hosed kind of thinking. Well a posting over at straight goods puts the lie to that. Lynn Viehl, a successful fantasy author lays down the real figures for her book Twilight Fall, which made the NYT Top 20:

So how much money have I made from my Times bestseller? Depending on the type of sale, I gross 6-8 percent of the cover price of $7.99. After paying taxes, commission to my agent and covering my expenses, my net profit on the book currently stands at $24,517.36, which is actually pretty good

At current exchange rates that’s not a particularly good return. It’s less, for example, than a normal postgraduate scholarship here in Oz (when you take tax liabilities into account). And this is for a top 20 book in the USA! Publishers, on the other hand, seem to still do OK:

Speaking of comparisons, the publisher’s portion of sales on this book has grossed them around $453,839.68. I don’t have any hard figures on the publisher’s net, so I can’t give you the bottom line there. If I had to make a guess, I’d say they probably netted around $250K on this one.

Which has got what to do with ebooks? Only that the 450K grossed by the printed book includes printing, distribution and warehousing – and a whole lot of intermediation from the publisher to make all of that happen. What ebooks offer is the opportunity to reinvent the process, maybe 🙂



1 comment so far

  1. Charlie on

    A friend of mine wrote a really good book about the Beatles album Revolver which he’s never managed to get published. He just put it online for free instead

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