Bookshelf | Reports | Community | KDP Select

Home » Amazon KDP Support » Ask the Community » General Questions

Thread: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes


Reply to this Thread Reply to this Thread Search Forum Search Forum Back to Thread List Back to Thread List

Permlink Replies: 12 - Pages: 1 - Last Post: Jan 27, 2018 12:40 PM Last Post By: Jackie Weger
blaze99

Posts: 189
Registered: 02/23/12
Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 20, 2018 7:19 AM
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
A very interesting article from The Conversation by a journalist who surveyed over 4,000 romance writers about their incomes and attitudes to the industry.

Apparently half of romance writers earn less than $10,000, but 15% earn at least $100,000. Hybrid authors report a median income of $87,000.

Seems about right to me.
Jonathan B

Posts: 4,612
Registered: 10/23/12
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 20, 2018 9:23 AM   in response to: blaze99 in response to: blaze99
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Interesting article. I agree with the premise, but I don't buy the figures. I don't think they are that good. I would suspect that the writer's sample is skewed.

For example, particularly in romance, many of the seven-figure writers have 20 to 30 ghostwriters working for them. I suspect that the writer of the article might have queried the seven-figure writer, but never had access to those 20 ghostwriters who would change those percentages.

However, romance is leading the pack. I joined RWA specifically to learn how they changed the paradigm. I wrote a single novella and published it so I could become a member of PAN, the group within RWA that is the Authors Guild or SFWA counterpart. PAN is where they have their secret handshake and focus on the business side of writing.

For anyone serious about the business of writing, I would suggest joining RWA.
Monique

Posts: 30
Registered: 10/22/17
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 20, 2018 10:05 AM   in response to: Jonathan B in response to: Jonathan B
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
I'm considering RWA!
MR R J LAIDLER

Posts: 1,002
Registered: 09/26/16
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 20, 2018 10:36 AM   in response to: blaze99 in response to: blaze99
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Here in the UK total eBook sales fell last year. However, romance seems to be booming. I saw recently 60% of romance read in the UK is as ebooks.
Emily Veinglory

Posts: 3,588
Registered: 04/25/13
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 20, 2018 3:35 PM   in response to: MR R J LAIDLER in response to: MR R J LAIDLER
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Romance has long been about 50% of fiction sales, but there are also a lot of people writing it, I think a true random sample would have an even smaller proportion earning over $10,000,
Jonathan B

Posts: 4,612
Registered: 10/23/12
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 20, 2018 3:45 PM   in response to: Monique in response to: Monique
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Monique wrote:
I'm considering RWA!

I think it is worthwhile. I don't write romance (except for the one I wrote just to get into PAN), but RWA really helps writers improve their craft and business.
Jackie Weger

Posts: 272
Registered: 05/13/13
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 20, 2018 9:01 PM   in response to: blaze99 in response to: blaze99
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Well: Here's the best data on romance author earnings: http://authorearnings.com/report/may-2016-report/
I'm editing this because I know a dozen+ indie authors earning far above the $10K a year. As it happens I know a number of the authors mentioned in that article. Many of us started with Harlequin in its hey day. A lot of authors got dropped after 20-25 years with Harlequin. I managed to get all of my rights back. Many did not, so went hybrid. When the author says newbies are asking authors about ehow, he is speaking to contracted authors asking how indie authorship works. I've mentored at least a dozen moving into indie authorship. I also know any number of contracted romance authors who don't come close to earning what I do, or many of my colleagues. Advances have fallen to rock bottom--and no ebook publisher, including Harlequin pays an advance in their Carina line. We're also speaking to gross income. Net income is whole different matter. I would never consider returning to contract. That's my take on it. Author Choice.

Edited by: Jackie Weger on Jan 20, 2018 9:09 PM
chris

Posts: 146
Registered: 09/26/14
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 21, 2018 8:10 AM   in response to: blaze99 in response to: blaze99
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
There are certainly over 4000 romance writers on the Zon alone, especially when you consider self publishers. That undoubtedly leaves a huge swath of authors that would not have been touched by the survey, much less heard about it.

I doubt the average is anywhere near $10K. "Less than $10,000" can mean anywhere from $1 to $9,999.

But it obviously is a large selling genre. And -- as suggested by many experts or veteran writers here -- if you want to make a few bucks, you not only aim at the genres in which you can write well, but you also aim at the ones which sell.
Jonathan B

Posts: 4,612
Registered: 10/23/12
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 21, 2018 8:42 AM   in response to: Jackie Weger in response to: Jackie Weger
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Jackie Weger wrote:
Well: Here's the best data on romance author earnings: http://authorearnings.com/report/may-2016-report/
I'm editing this because I know a dozen+ indie authors earning far above the $10K a year. As it happens I know a number of the authors mentioned in that article. Many of us started with Harlequin in its hey day. A lot of authors got dropped after 20-25 years with Harlequin. I managed to get all of my rights back. Many did not, so went hybrid. When the author says newbies are asking authors about ehow, he is speaking to contracted authors asking how indie authorship works. I've mentored at least a dozen moving into indie authorship. I also know any number of contracted romance authors who don't come close to earning what I do, or many of my colleagues. Advances have fallen to rock bottom--and no ebook publisher, including Harlequin pays an advance in their Carina line. We're also speaking to gross income. Net income is whole different matter. I would never consider returning to contract. That's my take on it. Author Choice.

Edited by: Jackie Weger on Jan 20, 2018 9:09 PM


I would like to see updated figures. I suspect there are many more big-money earners. Just in my little neck of the woods, I know or have listened to speak at least eight indie seven-figure writers and only four trad seven-figure (one just passed away, but his books are still earning). And that doesn't touch the romance writers. I don't know any personally, but there are many seven-figure writers at the RWA convention.

In my observation, what I've seen confirms what the study shows about small press. I know more small press writers than anything other than indie, and not one can make a living at it. Some have won prestigious awards, but they don't make much.

One thing about Big Five writers, though. Amazon sales may not be the bulk of their income. THey get amazing movie options and other income streams. George Martin, for example, gets $9.5 million/year from HBO alone.
blaze99

Posts: 189
Registered: 02/23/12
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 21, 2018 10:20 AM   in response to: chris in response to: chris
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
And yet - to earn $10,000 annually at say $3.99 per book on 70%, a writer only needs to sell 10 books per day. And that's excluding KU income.

To give a comparison: when I was published by Hachette, the advance was $14,000 per book, which represented an entire year's work or more.
Jackie Weger

Posts: 272
Registered: 05/13/13
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 26, 2018 11:34 AM   in response to: Jonathan B in response to: Jonathan B
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
JohnathanB: New updated figures are out now here: http://authorearnings.com/report/january-2018-report-us-online-book-sales-q2-q4-2017/

What surprised Data Guy is he did not recognize most of the bestseller names in romance. I get it because many of us indie authors are not shouting to the rooftops. We're just plodding along promoting and selling our books. Newbies stepping into the romance genre are often not writing books, per se but 35 pages stories and trying to market them at 3.99. Those authors don't do well. I consider my sales modest, but I know where I stand among listed authors. Savvy indies are quietly building their newsletter subscribers and keeping them interested. I design promotion for romance authors and we move books--all of the books are well-edited, proofed, with professional covers. Plus, the savvier indies listen--improve their book descriptions/covers/formatting. I'm often approached by contracted authors and there isn't a thing I can offer them because they have no control over their books.

Very interesting report this year and IMO, far more accurate than in the past.
wirdmonger

Posts: 1,137
Registered: 01/07/12
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 27, 2018 12:06 AM   in response to: Jackie Weger in response to: Jackie Weger
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Thanks for posting - very interesting.
Jackie Weger

Posts: 272
Registered: 05/13/13
Re: Romance Authors: Earnings & Attitudes
Posted: Jan 27, 2018 12:40 PM   in response to: Jonathan B in response to: Jonathan B
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
JohnathanB: You are so right about small presses whether literary or run-of-the-mill. When I first learned of ebooks, I signed a contract with an epublisher. In a year the book earned $400. I negotiated my rights returned and when I self-published and promoted the same book it earned out above $7K in three months. Fact: it is not difficult for an indie romance author who publishes and promotes full-length books to earn $10K or 5x's that a year. The savvy author whether contracted or indie keeps records like you would not believe so we can expense down. I have not one whit of envy for an author with a six or seven figure income because I can tell you in October that author is in her accountant's office asking: "What can I do?" Been there. Contracted authors get paid twice royalties a year--less the advance. We used to live on our advances--now one can't. Somebody in the family has to have a day job.

Since I was under contract with Harlequin for 20 years and now four years indie, if I added up my royalties I would easily be a seven-figure author. I often see former contracted authors touting they have five million books in print world-wide. I did, too, because Harlequin published our books in 25 languages in 27 countries. But that hey day has gone by the wayside so I don't mention it. Who cares?
Legend
Helpful Answer
Correct Answer

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in all forums