Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Show Me the Money! Guest Post by Lyn Cote

AuthorCulture welcomes the multipublished and award-winning author, Lyn Cote. Prepare for an eye-opening post:

Today, I'm parting the curtain and letting you know how much an author earns from writing a book. Of course, this varies widely from author to author and even from book to book by the same author. That's because it all depends on you-the readers who buy new books.

When I first began the trek to publication, my DH glimpsed the headline of a writing magazine which touted a first time author receiving a six figure advance. I grinned and said, "Honey, if that were commonplace, it wouldn't be on the cover of a national magazine." If you dream of six figures advances, drop by Brenda Hiatt's Show Me the Money for a reality check.

Look at the list and find Steeple Hill, the publisher of my Love Inspired mass market romances. (Mass market's what the small paperbacks that fit in your purses are called. The larger paperbacks are called trades or trade-size.)

Brenda uses three important phrases for writers:

1- advance or advance on royalties, which is what the publisher pays the author after approving a finished manuscript or a book proposal. (Its purpose is to keep the author alive till the book is on the shelves and earning royalties.)

2- earn-out, which is how much money the book brought in over the author advance. When the book comes out, the author receives no more money until the book has "earned-out" the advance on royalties.

3-standard royalty percentage-which is the amount of the price of the book that returns to the author in royalties. This varies with publishers.

Now to figure out what an author will make on a book in the form of a monthly income-

1-take the earn-out amount and divide it by six or twelve for the months that it takes to work through from inspiration to finished and accepted manuscript. If an author earns $7000 for a book but it took her six months to write, that's roughly $1100 a month. Not enough to quit her day job.

2-And notice the range of earn-out (what the book makes in royalties total including the advance.) It all depends on how many readers buy the book, and buy them new, not used. An author receives nothing for any book sold used or shared. The author receives a single sale to a library no matter how many times a book is checked out. (In Canada and many European countries, authors receive a stipend from the government according to how often their books are checked out at public libraries.)

So the next time you meet an author, unless you're shaking hands with John Grisham or J K Rowling, you are not shaking the hand of a wealthy person (unless they have already won the lottery or have a trust fund).

Writing is the road to fame and riches for very few. So why do we writers write? What's your guess about that? And are you surprised about what an author earns per book?

When Lyn Cote became a mother, she gave up teaching, and while raising a son and a daughter, she began working on her first novel. Long years of rejection followed. Finally in 1997, Lyn got "the call." Her first book, Never Alone, was chosen by Steeple Hill for their new Love Inspired romance line. Since then, Lyn has had over twenty-five novels published. In 2006 Lyn's book, Chloe, was a finalist for the RITA, one of the highest awards in the romance genre bestowed by Romance Writers of America (RWA).

Lyn’s brand “Strong Women, Brave Stories” always includes three elements: a strong heroine who is a passionate participant in her times, authentic historical detail and a multicultural cast of characters. Lyn also features stories of strong women both from real life and true to life fiction on her blog, Strong Women, Brave Stories (Lyn also can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Drop by and "friend" or "follow" her).

Now living her dream of writing at her lake cottage in northern Wisconsin, Lyn hopes her books show the power of divine as well as human love.

Keep an eye out for Lyn's newly released Her Abundant Joy, which can be purchased, among other retail sites, at her website, If you visit her blog, Strong Women, Brave Stories, this month and leave a comment, you'll be entered into a drawing for the book.

Final book in the Texas Star of Destiny series
Her Abundant Joy
Avon Inspire
ISBN # 978-0061373428
Tagline: Can a beautiful young widow find peace in the arms of a Texas Ranger?

In 1846, young widow Mariel Wolfe survived the grueling voyage from Germany to start a new life in the "promised" land of Texas. Forced by circumstances to become a servant, Mariel is now determined to quit a harsh master. But how can a single woman face the frontier on her own?

Texas Ranger Carson Quinn is responsible for leading her party of German immigrants safely through dangerous Comanche-held territory. As he watches Mariel hold her head high in spite of everything, he will stop at nothing to protect her.

But war is brewing: Mexico will not accept the U.S. annexation of the young Texas Republic without a fight. Honor bound to fight for Texas, Carson's deepest longing is to lay down his rifle. As Mariel and Carson fall deeply in love, could her painful past or this new war destroy all their hopes? Will the tide of history sweep them far from peace, far from a life together?

Lyn Cote
Her Abundant Joy 6-1-10
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  1. Thanks for this post, Linda. Lyn, you are so right. A best-selling author pal of mine told me you don't make any money in this business. It's not about that, I think, it's about answering the call on your life. We are missionaries in a global field. Thanks for sharing.

    many blessings, Karen

  2. Thanks for dropping by and sharing with us, Lyn. :)

  3. Yes, sad but true. I still like to watch CASTLE though, a fantasy.

  4. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Lyn, and crunching the numbers!

  5. I like watching anything with Nathan Fillion (and as someone living in Southern Wisconsin, I'd /love/ to write from a cottage on a lake in Northern Wisconsin!).

    Thanks for the post. My eyes have already been opened to the reality of what modern authors earn financially. However, as has been said, I'm also aware that there are other reasons to write, including a mission-minded approach. It's clear there's a real difference in motivation from 80 years ago until today. As long as people have a clear understanding of why they write, I think they'll be satisfied.

  6. I agree with the "clear understanding," Johne. But when I read Lyn's post to hubby, he watched his dreams of me buying him a new truck go down the drain!

    Thanks for the dose of reality, Lyn. You let me off the hook!

  7. Yes, very few writers make it big. But I am grateful for the fact that people actually do pay $ for what I write. And yes, my motivation for writing is not merely monetary. I do write to please God and as a ministry of hope. One of my main spiritual gifts is encouragement and I think that my books do encourage.

  8. I love it when people talk numbers! Thanks. Very enlightening post.

  9. Interesting article. I am also a writer and I would appreciate it if you would check out my blog. Thanks.

  10. I enjoyed your article. It reminded me of the time I wrote study guides for a Christian homeschooling program. I compared and contrasted a classic novel to the Scriptures. One of my friends asked me, "Gail, are you even getting ten cents a day?"
    I probably wasn't, but it was a worthwhile project.

  11. The thrill of seeing my words printed started this journey. Answering the call to service is continuing the journey. Writing a story I like to read finishes a project. Getting paid to do it would be the icing on the cake.

  12. So you think I can make enough to keep the pantry stocked with M&M's?

    Wonderful post!

  13. Great post, Lyn!

    One question, you said the the royalties percentage varies from publisher to publisher, but what amount would it be approximately per book sold? 10%? 20%? 50%?