Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Life of an Author - Real Numbers

I just read this over on Jessica Foust's blog (agent for BookEnds, LLC), http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/,  and thought I'd share. It's from author Ellery Adams: www.elleryadamsmysteries.com. I found the numbers fascinating!

In Ellery's Words:

I’ve received enough emails lately to make me realize that folks are fascinated by what constitutes a writer’s life. I decided to reveal the naked truth from my perspective using the uncompromising language of numbers.

Please keep in mind that these statistics are only a reflection of my work. Me, little ole mid-list cozy mystery author, but I hope they fill in some of the blanks.

Number of books I’ll have published by the end of 2011 — 15

Number of author names I’ve used or will use — 4 (Ellery Adams, J. B. Stanley, Jennifer Stanley, and I’m ½ of Lucy Arlington)

Average page count per book — 300
Average word count per book — 87,000

Number of publishers I’ve written for — 3

Average number of series I’m writing at once – 3

Average advance received from publisher — $6,000 per book
Average amount paid for large print or foreign rights — $500 or $1000

Average amount of advance spent on promotion — 25% of advance

Average money my publishers give me for promotion — 0

Average time it takes me to write a completed draft — 6 months

Average positive emails I receive per week from readers — 6

Average negative emails I receive per week — 1 (These are usually to point out a typo or to complain about a character’s conduct)

Number of personal copies I receive of each title — 50

Time it took me to sign with an agent — 5 months
Time it took my agent (Jessica Faust) to sell my first series — 2 months

Average number of conferences I attend per year — 3

Average number of library talks per year — 2

Average number of times I check my sales ranking on Amazon per day — 5

My writing income based on my 2010 tax return — $18,000

Days per year I work — 360 (This is not an exaggeration. I consider promotion work, and unless I am sick or am forced to be away from a computer, I find time every day to write, edit, promote, or research.)

Age I knew I wanted to become a writer — 7

Number of canceled series — 2 (the Molly Appleby collectible series and the Hope Street Church series)

Number of new series debuting in 2012 – 2 (The Charmed Pie Shoppe mysteries by Ellery Adams and The Novel Idea Literary Agency series by Lucy Arlington)

Series I’m planning to continue as ebooks only — 2

Current income from my sole ebook title (uploaded in March) — $250

Times I’d trade this life for another — Every time one of my books is released and fails to make the NYT list. And then I get over myself and go right back to work.


After reading this, do you feel discouraged or do you want to work harder?


Phil said...

What a fascinating article. Sometimes it's nice to see just the facts so we know what we're getting into. I'm pretty certain that if I was ever lucky enough to be published, I would not be able to quit my day job. But it's a good thing I love my day job. Thanks for reposting!

Emily Rittel-King said...

This post gives great insight into what a writer does! It's hard work, and I think this shows that perfectly. Thanks for the post. I learned a lot.

Michael A Tate said...

What? Being published doesn't automatically allow you to purchase a fleet of BMWs? I'm getting out of this racket.

But yea, those with visions of getting wealthy from writing would be well advised to read this.

Violet Ingram said...

It makes me want to work harder. I've been slacking lately. Not because I want to but life has been getting in the way a bit.

Jeff King said...

The sad reality is: if I have to work 45+ hours a week on my reg job, after I get published… me aspiration to keep writing for a career just might wane. I will always write, I just don’t know if I could write full time, be a descent parent who makes all his kids functions, and still work from 5:30 am to 5:00 pm on my regular job.

It just might be too much to bear, maybe I could go part time and still writing if my book as moderate success? We shall see!

Megan said...

The numbers were a bit better than expected. But I'm a skeptic.

Liane said...

That is discouraging! But "when does a writer write? Always" (Throw Momma From The Train) :) A true, passionate writer will write always and I think they make the best authors.

Steven Whibley said...

you just made me cry! LOL. That's funny that she says foreign rights were between 500-1000 dollars. I know quite a few authors who's foreign rights deals have been +50,000 for just one country. But I do think that they are probably not the norm.

Great post. I think it's good to know what realistic expectations are.

Thanks for sharing

Alleged Author said...

I can't believe people actually take time out of their busy schedules to send a negative email to the author. I've never dreamed of doing that even when I read a book I hated. Bleh. Great post!