Get a Free Ebook

Five Inspirational Truths for Authors

Try our Video Classes

Downloadable in-depth learning, with pdf slides

Find out more about My Book Therapy

We want to help you up your writing game. If you are stuck, or just want a boost, please check us out!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Life as a Bestselling Novelist


Gina Holmes is the President and founder of Novel Rocket and the bestselling and award-winning author of Crossing Oceans, Dry as Rain, and Wings of Glass. She holds degrees in science and nursing and resides with her husband and children in southern Virginia. She works too hard, laughs too loud, and longs to see others heal from their pasts and discover their God given purpose. To learn more about her, visit www.ginaholmes.com or follow her on facebook and twitter.  (photo credits: Nora St Laurent)

 

This month I was excited to see that my debut, Crossing Oceans, found its way once again onto ECPA's (Evangelical Christian Publishers Assoc.) bestseller's list. Now I can finally buy summer home in the Hamptons. Ehem, yeah right. Being "bestselling" sounds nice, but does it translate into riches?




There was a show on TV I caught with my husband that made us both crack up. It was a scene with a group of no-job, belly scratching types sitting around the TV drinking beer and belching. One of them said he was able to quit his job because he slipped in a supermarket, sued and got a $47,000 settlement. One of the other guys said, "Lucky SOB will never have to work another day in his life."

People think the same of thing of novelists. Even my family thinks I'm rich, and that was before my book showed up on any bestsellers lists.

Do you think that once you sell your novel your money troubles will be over?

I've read that the average first advance for a novel is $5,000. Say you're a good Christian and tithe--we're down to 4500. Your agent gets fifteen percent, so now we're down to 3750. Uncle Sam wants 30-40 percent, so now we're down to about 2000.

Not too shabby for a year's worth of work, eh?



Yes, you say, but what about royalties? Ask a few novelists about their royalties and see how hard they laugh. Most authors don't see those checks because they never out-sell their advance.

Before you feel too sorry for me, I got way more advance than most debut authors get.

Heck, more than most multi-published authors get... but again, do the math.

And I've earned some pretty decent royalty checks.

People think that everytime a book is sold I get money. Um... no. My publisher gets money, the store gets money, but I already got my money in the form of that advance that the moths ate up.

Even best-selling novelists, which now includes me, make enough to be able to qualify for food stamps. Most of us have a day job or spouse that supports them. (I have both).

That chalet in Paris you're dreaming of buying once you sell your great-American novel is probably not going to happen. If I stopped writing now and went back to work full time as a nurse, I would probably be better off financially and I would have much more down time.

A friend recently wrote me an email joking that it must be nice to be a best-selling novelist while she was charging Ramen noodles to her Visa card. I wrote back and said it was nice but that I was charging them too.

I hope you're writing for something other than the money. (Oh and the fame ain't so hot either. If you don't believe me, go to a debut author's book signing sometime.)



Am I complaining? Nope. I feel so blessed to be paid to do what I love. I am a writer. A novelist! The money may or may not follow but that's not why I do this. I do this because I love words, I've got something to say, and these stupid voices in my head won't shut the heck up already. And more importantly, writing is incredible therapy. Free therapy, which is something even a bestselling novelist can afford.

24 comments:

Nicole said...

Sounds about right, G. But you ARE a bestselling novelist! (Reminds me of Captain Jack Sparrow, "But you have heard of me.")

Jolina Petersheim said...

Great post, Gina; we do it because we love words, not because we're after money!

Ron Estrada said...

Ha. I can do marketing and white papers on the side for $40-$80 an hour. So, of course, I ignore that work and write my novel. We will never be accused if being financial geniuses. But we do get to hang out with cool people like us.

Jessica Dotta said...

Good post, Gina! I used to think when I worked as a book publicist, 'This is the only industry where you can probably make more money trying to break into it, than when you manage to break through."

Gina Holmes said...

That made me laugh. Love Jack Sparrow. I might have to steal that line :)

Gina Holmes said...

Thanks Jolina. Money's nice but certainly not the end all and this is anything but a get rich quick scheme!

Gina Holmes said...

You're right. Maybe the coolest part of the job!

Gina Holmes said...

ha ha. Quite true my brilliant writer friend. PS everyone, Jessica's debut, Born of Persuasion is releasing next month. Sooooooooo good!

Joan said...

Gina, I once thought how nice it would be not to have to work full time--only write. Recently, when I read where a best selling author was facing the possibility of having to return to work in order to make a living, I realized how blessed I am. I can write for the love of writing and not have to worry about making a living at it. (Oh, and by the way, it would be nice to be a best selling author some day!)

Linda Yezak said...

When Give the Lady a Ride released, hubby hinted for a new truck. I'm still looking over the selections at Tonka.

Christina said...

Insightful post, Gina! Thanks for sharing so much info about the world of being a writer.

Will Schmit said...

At least "best selling novelist" is a known phrase. Try working " best selling poet" into a sentence ...

Bookishqueen said...

I love that!

Bookishqueen said...

Well, it's more than Fisher Price.

Gina Holmes said...

I thought it would be nice too, Joan. But in the year I stayed home writing "full time", I never got so little writing actually done. Boring lives apparently don't interest the muse into visiting. Glad to be back to work part-time. It's a good balance.

Gina Holmes said...

You're welcome, Christina. Thanks for the comment.

Ane Mulligan said...

Face it, Gina, you write best under duress! I've never known another write like you. LOL

Gina Holmes said...

Will... ha ha. Now THAT would be impressive!

Ane Mulligan said...

Love it!! LOL

Gina Holmes said...

You sound like Adam. What's an ulcer or two? ha

Gina Holmes said...

Linda, that's funny. My husband thought he was getting an antique corvette when I first hit the "bestseller's" list. 3 books later, he's happy with Golden Coral. :)

BQ, I think I might tell my husband I bought him that corvette and surprise him with a wrapped box that jingles like keys. Just the right size for a matchbox. On second thought, I might rather see my 5th anniversary. :)

Jessica Dotta said...

That made me chuckle!

Linda Strawn said...

This post and this string of comments are cracking me up. Years ago, when I was more of a reader than a writer, I used to think a certain well-known, best-selling author who resided in my hometown lived in a mansion until I realized she lived in one of the subdivisions on the east side of the freeway. A nice area, but not a mansion in sight. Then I met her husband at the optometrist office where I worked. He was so humble and still worked for a living. Oh, and before that I gave this author a cough drop when she spoke at our church's annual women's retreat. She was humble, too.

Gina Holmes said...

Thanks Linda.