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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had always pictured novel writers as making a lot of money so it was shocking when Larry McMurtry said in his literary work that he never made much money off of his books, even Lonesome Dove.  He made most of his money off of the screen plays.

My sister has had 17 christian books published.  Most were novels, but a couple were nonfiction.  She has made a little bit over the years, but not enough to bring in any real income.

My brother-in-law has written 3 very good westerns.  Since he had them published himself, according to my sister, they actually cost them money.  He told me that he gets a small amount from them from time to time, but will never break even.

I guess there are some of the more famous writers that make a actual living out of writing novels, but there are probably not a lot of them.

So if you are a novel writer, have you made any money off of your novels?
 

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Sam,

If you drop by "The Writer's Cafe" on this board, you will find some authors making quite a bit of money from their Kindle books.  I'm certainly not in that category, but I make what my husband calls "mad money."  In other words, I write more for the enjoyment than the income.

Patricia Rockwell
 

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Sam Rivers said:
I had always pictured novel writers as making a lot of money so it was shocking when Larry McMurtry said in his literary work that he never made much money off of his books, even Lonesome Dove. He made most of his money off of the screen plays.

My sister has had 17 christian books published. Most were novels, but a couple were nonfiction. She has made a little bit over the years, but not enough to bring in any real income.

My brother-in-law has written 3 very good westerns. Since he had them published himself, according to my sister, they actually cost them money. He told me that he gets a small amount from them from time to time, but will never break even.

I guess there are some of the more famous writers that make a actual living out of writing novels, but there are probably not a lot of them.

So if you are a novel writer, have you made any money off of your novels?
Hey Sam, good question. Before I got into self-publishing on Kindle, I did quite a bit of research. Most authors--the vast majority, do not make much money, if any. When they make some money, they end up putting it back into promotion. The average royalty for a paperback author is 7 percent. Hardback can range from 10 to 15, but most authors don't make it to hardback. Some, the Stephen Kings and the like, are rumored to get 25 percent for hardback and even more for e-books.

Amazon and Apple have made it possible (RIGHT NOW) for authors to make as much as 70 percent of a book priced between $2.99 and $9.99. That is why you see a lot of pricing there--and why you see a lot of authors putting their backlist in ebook form (backlist is books that are out of print. If the author holds the rights, they can republish however they please. If the publisher holds the rights, the author might get 25 percent of list price.)

Books in the .99 to 2.89 range earn an author 35 percent in ebook form from Amazon and Apple. Barnes and Noble has different terms, not quite as good at the A's.

Thus you're seeing a lot of authors give it a try--because if an author can make 2 dollars from most ebooks sold, they are actually making more than a traditionally published author was making from a paperback. A living??? Well...you still have to sell a lot of books to make a living at it. But. It's more likely at this time and place than it has been for a long while.

Thanks for asking. It's a great question!
 

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It should be noted that self-published authors pay for copyediting, artwork and a number of other expenses that are normally picked up by the traditional publisher; so the expenses for the self-published author can be higher out the gate.  Hopefully the long term profit makes up for these things!
 

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As others have pointed out, writing is not a great way to make money. At least, not for the past thirty or forty years. Those who do make money are either lucky, or they are very good business people who hustle to not only write more, but to take every advantage to sell subsidiary rights for a small amount here and a small amount there. Even under the old system, writers could make a good living, but not by just writing and leaving things to an agent to take care of.

Now with indie publishing, we still have to be great business people, and work really really hard at the business side... but since you get more of the take per sale, you can actually make a living even at the lower levels.

Me? I'm not making a living yet (no where near it) but I'm doing better than I ever have in 30 years of writing.

Camille
 

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JeanneM said:
I make mad money too. When I see what I'm making, I get mad. ;D
;D ;D ;D

To add to what others have already said, the vast majority currently trying to make money as ebook authors are only bringing in a pittance, owing to the fact that they are spewing out drivel and just tossing it up there. There are, however, many people on this board (and some who are not on this board) that are making anywhere from a decent living to a rather lavish one, so it is indeed possible. It appears that the magic ingredients are hard work, writing talent, hard work, business acumen, hard work, a dash of luck, and more hard work.

:) Maria
 

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par2323 said:
Sam,

If you drop by "The Writer's Cafe" on this board, you will find some authors making quite a bit of money from their Kindle books. I'm certainly not in that category, but I make what my husband calls "mad money." In other words, I write more for the enjoyment than the income.

Patricia Rockwell
I'm with Patricia! I write for pleasure. My debut novel, Carpe Bead 'em, has done really well. My problem, I love to give back to my readers and I make a bunch of reader swag to send them. If I didn't do that, I'd made a little.
 

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On some threads here certain writers are listing monthly royalty checks in the thousands which impresses the heck out of me. I can't live on mine yet but they sure make life more pleasant. My royalty from Kindle came a couple days ago and I treated myself to a couple sets of  microfiber, anti-bacterial towels, and two sets of Egyptian cotton sheets with matching duvet covers. I figure maybe they'll help me dream better dreams to write about.........  :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It seems like some authors are doing okay.

Maybe I need to get some of my novels in order and send them in to Amazon and get them published? 

Since I am retired, it would be nice to have a few more bucks.
 

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Sam Rivers said:
So if you are a novel writer, have you made any money off of your novels?
Hi Sam. I've been writing and publishing for several years now but only since I started self-publishing this spring have I begun making decent money. By decent I don't mean anywhere near enough to live on but enough to cover my writing expenses and have something left over. Keep in mind I'm a slow writer though, so authors who can put out new work faster might have more success with small presses than I have.
 

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Lots of writers are making lots of money.

Even more writers are making even less money.

Almost all writers who publish-whether traditional or indie-are making some money.

The best way not to make make money writing fiction is not to publish.

Read this article by Dean Wesley Smith: "Killing the Sacred Cows of Fiction: Can't Make Money in Fiction"

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=607

David
 

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Some are earning a living, some are not. But I am convinced more Indies are making money than trad published authors.

I am lucky to be earning a living right now. And I am convinced I never would have gotten a traditional deal that made more.

Vicki
 

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As of the last two months, I am making enough to live on.  Of course, you have to factor into that the fact that I own my own house outright and I live in what others might call poverty. However, if sales continue at their present rate, I could live quite comfortably in my poverty. I haven't seen the money yet, but it is supposed to be out there . . . somewhere. Next month I get my first real cheque.
 

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I made a small profit on my June Royalty check and I know it goes up for the next two months, so  can say yes, I make money. Get rich? No. Make money, yes. :)
 

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If I had attempted to live off the money I made from the books I traditionally published, the wife and I and the kids would have had to call a shopping cart under the overpass home (pass the wine, bro).  Most writers don't live off their royalties, only a small, very lucky (yes, and talented and hard-working) percentage.  But now, although I'm still working a regular job, I'm making more money off my writing than when NYC was handling my books.  Here's to hoping that trend continues.

Best!
 

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Most writers--the vast, vast majority--have been lucky to eke out a living since we first started marking cuneiform on clay tablets. Seriously. I think we probably have similar numbers to the acting community, where about 3% of them are actually working as actors let alone making serious bucks. It has nothing to do with traditional publishing or self-publishing; making enough to live on in this business is and has always been a crap shoot.

That said, writers have a better shot at it now than possibly at any point in history. I know I've already made more off my first book than I would have been given in the most optimistic advance for a first-timer I could imagine. Had I tradpubbed there's no way I'd have even earned out yet.
 
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