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.