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Best selling romance authors make a very nice income. Horror writers, like Stephen King, own the world.

The best thing to do, if you're a new writer, is to ask around. email authors who top publisher's best seller lists. Start with the more reputable publishers, considered small press but big players; Samhain, Siren, Ellora's Cave, Red Sage and other publishers specializing in romance. These are the publishers securing lucrative book deals for their authors. Berkley, St. Martin and Pocket cash in with authors like Jackie Collins, Maya Banks and Lora Leigh. One can only imagine the kind of income they generate.

Don't quit your day job and start writing for a full-time income unless you're someone like Lori Foster or Lora Leigh. There again, after watching Siren authors Jenny Penn, Natalie Acres and Leah Brooke soar to the top of Amazon, maybe romance authors today make a nicer salary than the rest of us realize. Some in small press, like several above, see six figures but they're the exception and not the rule.

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14y ago
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16y ago

Most novelists: nothing. That is, nothing from writing novels; they probably have day jobs if they are not supported by someone or independently wealthy.

Few novels find a publisher. Few published novels sell well.

Some stats from Harper's Index (June 2007):

Minimum number of different books sold in the U.S. last year, as tracked by Nielsen BookScan: 1,446,000

Number of those that sold fewer than 99 copies: 1,123,000

Number that sold more than 100,000: 483

For a few novelists, a very few, those that hit the best-seller lists: there's no upper limits. To skip right to the very top, J.K. Rowling is listed as the second-richest woman in entertainment (after Oprah) in a 2007 Forbes list, with estimated earnings of $1 billion. And that's with the seventh Harry Potter book only just out and two more movies to go.

There are quite a few novelists who do very nicely on an ongoing basis, but their range of earnings varies widely. Getting a book's sales to break 5000 is really hard. == ==

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Q: How much money does a novelist earn?
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