One subject I always try to explain, when giving talks etc, is how authors get paid. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the fact that celebrities earning huge advances for their books are the only ones ever mentioned in the Press, most people seem to believe that as soon as an author has a book contract, they've 'made it'. People used to ask me why I was still working at my day job, whether we were going to move to a bigger house, and even whether my husband could now afford to retire! It's quite difficult to get people to believe that the reality of authors' earnings is normally so far removed from this fairy tale, that it's actually quite hilarious to hear it discussed in those terms. For instance, some people seem to believe that virtually the entire retail price of a book goes to the author (a typical author's royalty is actually 7.5% on a paperback).
So I was pleased to read THIS post on author Kate Hardy's blog this morning:
She's summed up the whole process perfectly, and it makes really interesting reading.
The only reason for pointing out these facts, as far as I'm concerned, is to warn would-be authors not to go into it for financial reasons. Personally I never expected to earn a living from writing (and never have done) - so whatever I earn is a bonus for me and for my family - not our sole means of support. I write, first and foremost, because I love doing so, and it was always my hobby; secondly because I'm thrilled that my books are actually being published; and only as an afterthought is the consideration of the little extra income it brings in - I'm very grateful for it, but would never rely on it. Short stories (which I also write, under another name) actually bring in a much higher rate of payment if you consider how quickly they're written, compared with the time it takes to write a novel. Of course, it's just as difficult to write them, and to get them accepted for publication, so it isn't an easy option by any means.
Having said all that - over the next few weeks I'll be telling you all about my next book - 'Tales from a Honeymoon Hotel' - which is due for publication on 2 July and I'm very excited about it - so watch this space (as they say!). You never know, this one might actually make my fortune for me and I might become one of those 'rich' authors everyone imagines! Hmmm ....