The Journeyman Author

On writing for writers.

Tag Archives: writing career

A last reminder! I’ve moved!

Hello again!

This is just one final reminder to all my followers here at that I’ve moved to a self-hosted blog. I was, unfortunately, unable to move my email subscribers, so you guys are missing out on new posts! Since I’ve left, two have been posted:

Eight things writers should avoid to be productive

Four tricks to reading like a writer–part one

Check it out! I would hate to lose your support, but I understand if you don’t feel like following me anymore (though I may cry a little bit–no pressure or anything).

Thanks again for reading!



The myth of the million-dollar book deal.

Let’s face it. As fiction writers, we absolutely love what we do. Every single word we pen to paper is worth millions more in our eyes than it could ever possibly be worth in the real world. We write to satisfy our creative needs, but deep down all we really want to do is share our stories with the world. It would also be fantastic if we could make a livable income off of the profits we make from selling our work. In fact, if we could all buy mansions, three cars, and a yacht, that would be splendid, too. At the very least, we want the fame and fortune associated with successful writers as nothing more than a benefit of all of our hard work. The true prize is seeing our book in print, but we wouldn’t say no to that kind of income, either.

Though I feel like most of us are rational enough to understand that very few writers will ever make the millions JK Rowling did (those millions, I should point out, came not only from book deals but movie rights), I believe there is a misconception floating about on what kind of living a published writer can actually hope to make. What kind of income could one expect? Surely the influx of money is a livable sum, right?

My advice to aspiring writers is this: in the even that a publisher agrees to take on your novel, absolutely do not, under any circumstances, quit your day job.

In my hometown, I had the pleasure of meeting an older gentleman who had, after sixty-five years or so, successfully signed a book deal with a small press and was in the middle of signing another one. He worked as a slot machine technician with my father, and had spent most of his life making a living through mechanical engineering. Of the three career choices, the mechanical engineering had undoubtedly been the most lucrative, and the writing the least.

He and I had a discussion about what most writers could expect to make on their novels. On average, most writers pull in three-thousand dollars per year for every book they have published. In other words, if you were to publish five books, you would be making below the annual income for someone working at a minimum wage of 8.25 an hour. That’s also assuming that none of your books were major successes or major flops.

Also remember that even big publishing houses only publish an average of three to five books per year. Once again, this statistic was quoted from my friend, so perhaps the numbers have changed, but I doubt it. Regardless, the number isn’t large. Printing books is expensive, not to mention somewhat risky, for publishers.

As it is, most writers who are able to make a livable income off of their novels have done one of two things: either they took the JK Rowling approach and simply have phenomenally written (or phenomenally marketed, if you want to take into consideration the atrocity that is Twilight) books that make it big quick, or they simply have devoted years and years of their lives to pumping out books and have twenty or so out on the market. The fact of the matter is, most writers will not write the next big hit, and most writers will not be able to publish the sheer volume of work it would take to make a livable income otherwise.

So, in other words, the idea of getting rich off your brilliant idea is a fantastic dream, and you shouldn’t give up on it. However, realize that the chances of you achieving fame and fortune are quite slim. That doesn’t mean, though, that you should stop writing. If you were only writing for the “money,” then you should never have started writing in the first place!


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