How Much Do You Earn From Writing?

Avery-mermaidI remember when I signed my first book contract and a friend’s husband wanted to know when I was going to buy a second house. I still want to know the answer to that. I think I could swing Barbie’s Dream House (finally!), but I won’t be basking under a thatched roof on my own private island any time soon.

Maybe I should start a Kickstarter campaign for the Avery Flynn island dream home, I hear that works (Yay, Veronica Mars movie!).

Joking aside, we all want to know when we’ll earn enough from writing to give the evil day job the old heave ho. I’ve seen some averages for advances and earn outs. Check out this great post from Brenda Hiatt for breakdowns by publisher. I’ve talked to friends and eavesdropped on others. Yes, I’m that girl. Come on you cannot be shocked by that. And I’ve researched using my Google Fu skills. But everything I found looks mainly at returns on one book (hello, backlists matter) and give self-published authors the short shrift.


Well most of the mermaids in this Waterworld Mermaid lagoon are too polite to ask, but you’re stuck with me today so I’m going to go for it. I want to know how much money you made from writing romantic fiction in the past year. Answer the anonymous poll below and you’ll get to see the results right after you vote.


*Note, only include income that went into your bank account (no counting agents’ cuts) from advances and all romance books sold, including from your backlist.

Not seeing the vote buttons? Click here to vote.

About Avery Flynn

Writer. Smart Ass. Lover of Chocolate. Bringing steamy romance with a twist of mystery to the masses, one hot book at a time.

36 thoughts on “How Much Do You Earn From Writing?

  1. Good Morning to one of my favorite Enquiring Minds! I tried to take the poll but the lagoo doesn’t seem to be cooperating. There’s no check box or circle to click in front of the monetary options.

  2. Hmmmm, I think it may be a browser problem. I can see it if I’m in Firefox but not Safari. Grrrrrrr. Let me see what I can do.

  3. I’m not making a penny, but I’m super curious about this as well. 🙂
    I know I should know that stuff about nice deal, a very nice deal, a super duper nice deal in the publisher’s thingy, but i can’t keep it all straight. 🙂 The business end of writing doesn’t occur to me–probably because I’m not at that level.

  4. I’m on Safari and I can see it fine! My book isn’t out yet, so it’s hardly fair for me to take your poll. But I’m glad you’re “that girl!” Somebody needs to ask the questions!

  5. Kudos to you, Avery for asking the tough question.

    I love your kickstarter idea! 🙂

    I’d be curious to find out how many folks are newly published (>4 books) versus not and see how that affects the amount earned.

    1. That would be an excellent follow up question. I think I can see a whole other post coming. What other questions would you want to know?

  6. Great post, Avery,
    I can’t wait to see the results. Just released my first book. Have no clue what to expect. Just hoping I will at least be able to take my family out to dinner. 🙂 Oh BTW, I’m sure I’m speaking for the group, we are all happy to be stuck with you! 🙂

    1. Flattery will get you everywhere in the lagoon, Nancy. 😉 Congrats on the new release!!! I’m wishing many chi chi dinners in your future.

  7. It’s a great question, Avery, and kudos to you for asking it. I wonder if you shouldn’t segregate people though — those traditionally published and those self-published. I’d like to know who earns more. I have a sinking feeling (being a self-published author), that it’s the traditionally published since self-published authors don’t get that sweet advance, but instead have to pay to get our book into shape to be published. On the other hand, we earn more per book… so I’d be curious.

  8. Hey, looking at those poll results, I’m doing better than I thought I was in comparison, so that made me smile 🙂 Long way off before we can buy a house though, lol.

  9. I’d love to see this in relation to the number of years the authors have been published. I really think it takes a solid 5 years with consistent releases to make any serious cha-ching.

    Great survey, Avery!

  10. It’s only May 2nd, so too early to tell, but so far, 86% of the 46 people who voted earned less than $15,000 (including me). And that’s before deducting expenses. Tell me again why we write novels.

  11. I note you don’t make a distinction between traditional vs digital first, although I am guessing the majority of your respondents are digital first. There are no surprises in the trending result!

    One thing that would interest me is how the result differs between digitial first hot/erotica genres vs sweeter genres. My gut feeling is the big earners are at the hot end of the market.

  12. I’m seriously considering selling a print out for $1 so i can bump up to that next level. Yeah, the ink would cost more than a $1, but it would make me feel real. Like the Velveteen Rabbit. Or Pinocchio. I’m a real live author….

  13. Great idea to do this Avery! I’ll be curious to see how the results vary as time goes by. People have given you great suggestions for other polls, too.

    I could not do the survey on Safari – but it worked fine using the link to the other format.

  14. Excellent starter question. I’m trad Regency, and doing OK, though my initial advances were the minimum necessary to avoid vanity status, and it took two years for any cash to flow. My guess is the authors with the greatest range–indie/self, trad, front list, backlist, historical + contemp + erotica–probably see the best results. I also get the sense if you are trad only, your foreign sales can easily become half your revenue…. eventually.

  15. Avery, I answered, but since you said past year I could only answer for August through December, when I started pubbing. But, I’m doing MUCH better now. I love being an Indie Author!!!

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