Anonymous said: has it ever been difficult making a living off being a writer?
I’m not going to sugar-coat this: it is VERY difficult to make a living off of being a writer—which is why most of us have day jobs! A lot of people seem to think that if you find yourself with a good advance, you’re set for life, when that’s actually not really the case. In the first place, your agent takes 15% off the top for domestic sales and the agency gets 25% for all foreign rights sales. Not to mention, depending on where you live, taxes can take another 20-40% of it. To really put this into perspective for you, say you sell a book for a $50,000 advance. Sweet, right? Well, your agent gets $7,500. Taxes will be around $15,000. You’re left with around $27,500 (depending, of course, on your state and federal taxes). Totally depressing, right?
You ALSO have to remember that writers have their advances broken up into 2-4 payments, too, depending on their contract. It’s usually 1/3 of the total advance on signing the contract, 1/3 on delivery/acceptance of the manuscript (after editing), and 1/3 on publication. So you’re not going to get all of that $27,500 upfront. If you’re not married to a spouse with health insurance, you’ll also discover the joys of having to pay for that.
You don’t actually start getting royalties until you “sell through” that initial advance, either. (This is one reason why it’s not necessarily a great thing to get a huge advance up front—they’re almost impossible to earn through.) Authors make 10% royalties on hardcover sales (6% on paperback). So… if my book was sold for $16.99, I would earn $1.70 toward my $50,000 advance for every hardcover book I sold (meaning I would need to sell over 29,000 copies of my book to earn out my advance and start getting royalty checks).
So yes, it’s very hard to make a living off being a writer. :/