Friday, April 24, 2009

NY Times bestselling author nets a whopping...$26,000 on book- don't quit your day job, but there IS a silver lining to that dark little cloud

Ah, the luscious fantasy that having a New York Times bestseller under our belts will afford us fame, fortune and a true full-time writing career...

OK, pull your heads out. Of, er, fantasy land.

Read the reality in a post on, a website generated by a group of authors of fiction, where one of "those" NYT bestsellers list authors, S. Lynn Viehl, lights a candle in the dark corners of our knowledge of the publishing payment process, and reveals exactly how much of the fantasy is real. Seriously, go read it - I'll wait.

A published author with forty-five novels in five genres, she received a $50,000 advance. Although the word advance implies in advance, and most of us think up front, more and more publishers are holding back a portion of advances even on a high midlist author such as Lynn, until the actual physical books are on the shelf. In this particular case, over 30% was held until then. After expenses, paying her agent, etc., she netted around $26,000. Oh yeah, she's living the high life!

Is reading her post depressing? No, actually, it's liberating, because she also explains that she did minimal marketing, and received little from the publisher, and yet she made it on the NY Times bestseller list. Why?

She attributes the placement to her fans. It may have taken her a few books to get there, but I find it heartening that even with minimal marketing, and a known, but not super famous body of work, she has the kind of fan base that was built the old-fashioned way- with solid, consistent, regular writing. And that is the kind of fan base that sticks with you over a writing career.

I can only imagine what someone with those qualities coupled with the resources and ability to market themselves and their work can accomplish.

Oh, and on the subject of marketing, do not pause, do not wait - RUN to the newsstand/bookstore and pick-up the May/June 2009 issue of Writer's Digest magazine. It is stuffed full of handy info. on getting visible, known, and marketing yourself to stand out to agents and editors that is quite apropos to the self-promotion issue.

Because you need to get something published, and preferably something great, to start that fan base.

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