Have you heard about the Justine Larbalestier Survey?
Justine Larbalestier, a novelist from Down Under, conducted his own informal survey and asked his 18 “fellow Aussies, folks from the UK, Canada and the US” how much they got for their first novel. Seven of those who responded are full-time writers.
Here are the results:
1985: $2,500, $8,000
2004: $350, $10,000
Average advance: $5,920
Note that a writer in 2004 earned the same amount of advance as he did back in 1970 ($10,000) !
Adjust that by inflation, and you’ll realize the dire odds most novelists are battling against. Despite a handful of stellar novelists who make big bucks, overall, novel writing is a sure way to the poor house.
Here is Larbalestier’s advice for those who are thinking to become novelists:
“So my sage pieces of advice to someone contemplating a career as a novelist who begins by trying to find out what the average advance is? First I’d like to congratulate you—if you’re in this game for the money it’s a good idea to find out as quick as you can that there’s not a whole lot to be made writing novels. Find another way to make dosh. Personally I’d recommend plumbing.”
You can read the full details of his revealing and candid report by clicking here.
*** Discussion Thread
To read more about the financial “bread crumbs” with which an average novelist needs to make her peace, please read this discussion thread.
*** BOTTOM LINE
If you are an unknown fiction writer like me, your chances of both getting published through traditional publishers AND making money at the same time is not that good.
From the time you start shopping around for a traditional literary agent to when you see your book in the bookstores it will be an average of TWO years. Think about that…
Keep writing your novel but try such non-traditional channels of marketing as self-publishing and print-on-demand solutions like Lulu.com or Amazon’s BookSurge.
There are quite a few literary agents and traditional editors trolling such sites to discover new talent that did not cost them a penny. So if you’re good, trust me, the world will be happy to beat a path to your door.
Write well and from the heart, frequently.
Get them printed whenever you can.
And let your readers and the market place separate the wheat from the chaff, not the top-heavy bloated publishing dinosaurs of yesteryear. Whether you’re going to sink or swim, let it be on your own terms and not on somebody else’s.