Stereotype: The rich and famous author.
Most people outside of publishing believe all authors to be rich and famous. Most published authors are, ahem, not. In fact, most books don’t even earn out their advance.
In 2004, Nielsen Bookscan tracked the sales of 1.2 million books in the United States. Here are the statistics:
–Of those 1.2 million, 950,000 sold fewer than 99 copies. (79%)
–Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. (17%)
–Only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies. (this is top 2%)
–Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000 copies. ( this is 1 in 2400)
–Only 10 books sold more than a million copies each. (this is 1 in 120,000)
–The average book in the United States sells about 500 copies.
Let’s assume every book is hardcover (okay, okay, try to stop laughing) and every author earns $3.00 a book, instead of the whopping .77 cents per book that a trade paperback earns.
The average hardcover author, making $3.00 a book, would earn about, $1500.
The average trade paper author would earn enough to take a party of six to that New York City hamburger joint that charges $57 a burger. Plus a couple of rounds of beers.
The good news is, you only have to sell 501 books to be above average.
I guess they all thought that my publishing contract came with a special invitation to a secret club, and that suddenly John Grisham (who, with his southern charm, would most certainly be heading the welcome committee) would invite me out for coffee on Thursday afternoons. Amy Tan would bring the struedel, or maybe something to spike the coffee with, and Stephen King, Mitch Albom and Jennifer Weiner would beg me to whisper to their dice when we all gathered around Maya Angelou’s kitchen table to play Yahtzee.
I know a lot of other authors who have been asked the same question repeatedly (and it’s always John Grisham, I guess that People Magazine Sexiest Author Alive thing is really paying off…)
I have been asked, so many times in fact, that a group of us have banded together. We call ourselves The John Grisham Coffee Club.
Mr. Grisham is not a member. But of course, he’s always welcome.
The Yahtzee game starts at 3.