The current issue of CEMETERY DANCE includes an interview with Ray Garton. I retro-reviewed one of his best-known novels, LIVE GIRLS, on VampChix in March:Live Girls
Garton is a pretty big name in the horror midlist, a prolific, highly respected author. I was mildly shocked to read in the interview that he wants to get back into tie-in writing, not only because he enjoyed it, but because he "need[s] the work." He also commented that he has been increasing his short-story production lately to pay medical bills.
Another vampire author, one of my favorites, with a popular series that ran for a long time and an avidly loyal readership, posts frequently on Facebook about her financial troubles. She supplements her writing income with fannish-themed craft sales to make ends meet.
Inference from these two examples (and many others could doubtless be cited): Popularity as an author doesn't necessarily translate into financial security. Once the high-selling books recede into the backlist, the author can't live on their royalties. Sure, I knew this fact, but it's disheartening to notice fresh evidence of it.
I'm not sure whether to take some consolation (for my own modest sales record) in realizing even authors I consider successful can't live on their writing income or to feel discouraged over the state of the market. More the latter than the former, I think. It would be much nicer to see people whose work I admire receiving the deserved fruits of their creativity.
Author Brenda Hiatt compiles information about typical earnings for book-length fiction on her "Show Me the Money" site. Here's the page for traditional publishers (large and small, "tree" and electronic), updated to about a year ago:Show Me the Money
The "median" and "range" earn-out figures are very enlightening and make it clear why most authors can't survive financially on writing alone.
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt