As I was surfing the web with the idea of doing a blog on a particular author I came across an interesting article at Http://work.cron.com. It was written by Tom Chmielewski, Demand Media for the Houston Chronicle. In the article Tom quoted some interesting statistics regarding author income as a result of publishing books. He used several sources including The Wall Street Journal in discussing averages on advances, royalties and total income.
To Summarize: The observation was made that the large literary publishers are taking on debut publishing less and less. I guess most of us know that, but the article suggested that independent publishers are where new authors can expect advances that range from nothing to as high as $5,000. This would compare to large publisher advances of up to $15,000 for book with a good marketing hook to well over six figures for a well-known author.
The typical royalty an author receives, according to the Wall Street Journal, is 15 percent of the retail price for a hardcover, and 25 percent for an e-book. But the prices for e-books are less than half the retail price for a hardcover, reducing the cash payment to the author. The article did not give out any well-known author incomes but most of us have heard the numbers.
As for self-publishing and e-book remuneration; the article points out a survey by The Guardian newspaper in London that indicates that half of the self-published authors made less than $500 on their work. The study was criticized since the sample size was only 1,007 authors suggesting that maybe more than half earn less than $500.
So it actually comes down to a simple question. Do we write for the money? If so, half of us better not spend more than $1.69 on a Starbucks coffee each day because that would cost more than the $500 one could hope to earn. I suspect we write for something more than the money. It may be even immortality. Who knows?