May 24, 2010

Author Royalties

By: Rebecca Irvine

I just realized I posted this on the wrong blog yesterday. Sorry for the mistake!

I know many people wonder how much an author makes. Even more assume authors are rolling in the dough, when in fact the opposite is true for a strong majority of authors. If you have ever heard the phrase "starving artist" then it should not be a surprise to know his brother is the "malnourished author."

To help clarify what authors earn, especially LDS authors, I posted an online survey and then spent the past two months pestering fellow authors to take the survey. I was successful in getting 36 to do so. Here are the general results of that survey:

Number of books published per author
One book - 33%
Two books - 19%
Three books - 8%
Four books - 11%
Five books - 3%
Six or more books - 25%

More than half of the authors, or 64%, indicated only one or two of the books they have published are currently still available on the market.

The vast majority (95%) indicated none of their books had sold more than 10,000 copies.

Market Targeted by Author
National market - 31%
LDS market - 44%
Both - 25%

Royalties Earned in 2009
Less than $250 - 46%
$251 to $500 - 9%
$501 to $1000 - 14%
$1001 to $1550 - 6%
$1551 to $2000 - 3%
More than $2000 - 23%

2009 Royalties Compared to 2008 Royalties
Higher - 21%
Lower - 24%
The same - 29%
2009 was first year earned royalties - 26%

Of course, greater participation in this survey would help to ensure the data is more reliable. If you are an author and have not yet taken this little survey (8 questions total), please do so! If I get another five authors to participate I will re-post with the updated results.

Click here to take survey


  1. I can draw one conclusion from these results. Doing everything necessary to have a book published (from writing to marketing) should be considered a worthwhile hobby but not a primary source of income.

    I am curious. Would the authors here consider this to be an accurate statement?

  2. I know I do. That is why I have not quit my day job as a research analyst.

  3. This is coming from a person who has yet to be published, but I had to chuckle - it's an ironic post, coming after those somewhat breathless "ten writing highs." Obviously, we go for the highs because we love it, but it's good to be realistic. If you're doing it for the money, don't quit your day job.

  4. Interesting numbers. They look accurate to me. The LDS market is very small compared to the national, and then the LDS fiction market is even smaller. I better find a day job!

  5. Nice to know. I just like writing, I pick expensive hobbies I guess. But I have to say I would like to experience the high of seeing my name on the cover of a book. I am so glad all of you feel the need to write too because I love all your stories and life will never be long enough to read all the books I want to read.


Thank you for visiting. Feel free to comment on our blogger's posts.*

*We do not allow commercial links, however. If that's not clear, we mean "don't spam us with a link to your totally unrelated-to-writing site." We delete those comments.