Yesterday's post about doing things for love or money generated some fascinating discussion about finances, passion, prostitution, and the potential ogling of my new young tenant (for the record, he's a sweet, slightly naive young man to whom I could have easily given birth. Definitely NOT going there!)
A lot of authors shy away from talking about money in public forums. I'll admit it, I'm one of them.
I vowed at the start that I wouldn't discuss my advance, royalties, earn-out, or any other specific financial details. It's just not something I wish to share, but that doesn't mean I don't admire the hell out of authors who choose to. They're the ones who help keep the rest of us firmly grounded and remind us we probably shouldn't begin drafting a scathing resignation letter to the boss the day book deal comes through.
There's a statistic I've seen thrown around again and again that I'm too lazy to go out and confirm right now: Less than 10% of published authors are able to make a living solely on their careers as authors. The vast majority maintain a day job. I remember being stunned by that when I first read it. The more I learned the facts, the better I understood.
One of the best explanations I've seen on this subject was written by New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries. If you haven't read The Big Misunderstanding about Money and want to know more about the financial side of writing, I encourage you to check it out.
Another amazing (and more recent) article on the subject comes from author Lynn Viehl. She vowed several years ago that if she had a book hit the top 20 on the New York Times mass market bestseller list, she'd share every scrap of information including her advance and royalties. She made good on her promise with an article titled The Reality of a Times Bestseller. If you want the nitty-gritty details (including a look at her actual royalty statement) it's an incredibly enlightening article.
Finally, there was a post just last week from romantic comedy goddess Lani Diane Rich (writing as Lucy March). She's a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who's published nine delightful novels all with "big six" New York publishing houses, and I adore her so much I want to pick her up by the ears and squeeze her.
But I'm leery about the restraining order, so instead I'll share a link to her ballsy, beautiful blog post about how she recently took a part-time job working retail in a mall. It's not packed with numbers and specific financial details like the other two, but it's a fascinating glimpse into the realities of author ego and the fact that most of us are not rolling in piles of cash tossed at us by our nude cabana boys.
So there you have it. While I won't share my financial details, I'll happily share them for other authors. Nice of me, huh?
For those of you still in the early stages of your writing career, do you entertain the "quit your day job" fantasies of authordom? For those at a different stage in your careers (or those who aren't writers at all) have you stumbled upon anything that's shaken your preconceived ideas about authors' financial lives? Please share!
Oh, and if you do happen to have those nude cabana boys who throw money, please share them as well. It's only fair.