Writing is a great career but ….. how much does it pay?

author 2Many romance readers seem to think that a writing career is something that is not only glamorous but a way to make pots of money quickly in their spare time and, if they’re very lucky, they can parlay writing into a full time career. However, only the most successful authors can afford to write full time and there are not that many of those rare beings in this genre, so it’s important to know what you can expect to make as a writer before you jump in.

And the dreams don’t stop. Readers also have visions of their books turning into movie scripts like one very famous (or infamous) writer who recently did just that! They figure they can write in their pyjamas and not have to commute to work, as the commute would be from their bedroom to the den/office, :) after they catch up with the morning shows and drink their second cappuccino or latte. Doesn’t that sound idyllic? However the truth may not be the picture I just painted because writing is hard work if you do it right and produce quality work, as any experienced author will tell you. So this post is an attempt to find out if there’s any money to be made from all that hard work, and if so, how much.

Where to publish? We used to think that there was only one way to get your literary works of art into the hands of readers – by publishers – but as current events and trends have shown us, publishers are facing stiff competition from an unlikely source: self publishing. Seems authors are doing it for themselves. To demonstrate how far we have come in this business, I’m enclosing a link my friend TJ sent me to a New York Times article about Steven Soderbergh, the well known filmmaker, who is publishing a hard-boiled suspense novella on Twitter, tweet by tweet, called “Glue”. So far, he has published seven chapters. Twitter may be the next mountain in publishing for writers to conquer, but not today. 😆 Of course if you tweet it you can’t charge for the book. 😯 Here’s the link to the article


Just how much money can be made? This started out as an article about self publishing and I’m still going to write that essay soon, but today I want author 3to zero in on how much money M/M writers make. This post is directed to all our writers out there, novice and experienced, and I’m looking for their help in completing the enclosed survey which could be used to develop a database of what M/M authors make, before taxes. There is no definitive or credible information around currently and this database of author salaries would be a boon to every M/M writer, either current or aspiring. With the incredible influx of new authors into the genre I thought this would be useful comparative information for everyone. I should say right off the bat that I’m sure it’s not just the money that attracts people to writing as a career because many writers have told me that they can sooner stop breathing before they can stop writing. However, conversely I know that a lot of authors write to supplement the incomes from their full-time or part-time jobs. Can a romance writing career be based on something so unromantic and prosaic? Surely creativity and art must play a major role! :) I’m sure it does.

authorThere are two important sides to the revenue coin. The first is that most M/M authors still currently publish their books through publishers – mostly epublishers – but this is changing. Today more and more authors are discovering self publishing. The main reason for this shift is money. If the writers are good at what they do and/or have a large fan base they typically make a lot more money by self pubbing. Royalties through an epublisher are usually between 30 – 45% of what the publisher nets (not grosses), meaning sales through a third party like Amazon earn an author less when the author is going through a publisher middleman.

By self publishing through Amazon Digital Services, on the other hand, an author can make as much as 70% of the gross receipts, depending on the pricing structure of the books. As writers get back their rights to books that were previously under contract with a publisher, the likelihood of them going the self publishing route rather than renewing their contracts is very real and publishers are bleeding a lot of their more popular writers. Likewise, some new writers choose to self publish from the getgo because they believe they can make more money that way rather than the traditional one through a publisher, and going by the numbers they may have the right idea. However, if you’re an aspiring writer don’t quit your day job without doing a lot of research, and the data from this survey could be part of that research in terms of the answer to the question: How much does an M/M writer make from his/her books?

Money, money, money. So how much does an author really make and is there a huge difference between releasing his/her books through an epublisher vs. self publishing? The enclosed short survey should provide some useful data on writer income that I hope will benefit all m/m authors. You can help your fellow authors and yourself by completing the survey which will also be on the right hand sidebar. BTW, no one will know how much anyone makes individually because the poll is completely anonymous: Here it is:

How long have you been published as an M/M author?

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How many stories/books are in your backlist?

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How much did your first book earn?

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Was it a:

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Do you currently use an epublisher?

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How much do you currently earn on average using an epublisher? > Per novel

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> Per novella

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> Per novelette/short story

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If you currently self publish how much do you earn? > Per novel

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> Per novella

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> Per novelette/short story?

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Do you plan to continue self publishing exclusively?

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How much do you earn now annually from your writing career? > Using an epublisher

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> Self Publishing

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NOTE: The term “epublisher” is used interchangeably in this post with “publisher” since the majority of epublishers also publish their novels in print.


  • Great poll idea. I’m only seeing the results and no vote buttons, so I guess I missed the cut off on voting. :( It’s definitely interesting to see the results though.

    ETA: A quick refresh popped up the vote buttons for me and I filled out the survey. 😀

  • Thank you for doing this story Wave. As a newbie, I kind of find it encouraging to see a lot of votes close to mine. I actually make more money being self-pubbed than under my pubs but I also work at two small houses.

    I planned on subbing to some of the bigger ones this year as I continue to learn my craft. No question longer books, particularly series seem to do best.

    I’ve also noticed even in my het books, the 99 cents book idea works. I feel the same as well, when pricing at 99 cents, sure you won’t get a lot of return unless you sell in the triple digits, but someone out there that hasn’t read you will take a chance if it’s priced right. As a whole I’ve made more on my 99 cent titles over my pubbed and self pubbed novellas that are priced higher.

    Although I do like being paid for what I do, I love to write. The love is what keeps me from quitting. :smile:

    • Hi Sharita

      You’re quite welcome.

      Obviously you’re a success story where it comes to self publishing if you make more money doing so than with a publishing house.

      I hope you filled out the survey as this information will be helpful to your fellow authors.

    If you’re reading the results of the survey and haven’t participated by filling in your information, please consider taking the time to do so as your information will be helpful to your fellow authors. Your input is very valuable as the data sample would be more credible if more authors took the time to provide their own information.

    If you have already completed the survey THANK YOU.

  • I’m not going to fill in the survey, because the last new title I had out was five years ago and the market’s changed enormously since then. But my backlist is still doing about $1000 a year, from a peak of $8000 in the last year I had a new title out. No idea what I’d get this year if I manage to get a new title out (I’m writing, I’m writing!), but because I’ve dropped out of sight, I would expect to make a lot more money putting it out through Loose Id than by self-publishing.

    On the publisher re self-publishing thing: You can’t just compare royalty rates. As noted above, few writers have all the skills needed to publish the book themselves, at least in a way that won’t result in reviews saying “will never buy this author’s books again”. So out of that juicy Kindle Direct rate, you as the publisher pay for the things that are the domain of the publisher, such as cover art, editing, formatting. You pay for them before you you get any income stream from the book. (And that 70% rate? Read the fine print very carefully, especially the bit about the per megabyte download charge taken out of your royalty.) And it takes time, time which you are then not spending writing. This is not a problem if you enjoy being the publisher, but not everybody does. I’ve been looking at self-publishing some material where I don’t have clear sole rights to sell, and discovered that I don’t enjoy the process of putting together the ebook anywhere near as much as I did putting together a printzine back in the day. I’ll do it, to make that material available again somewhere other than my website, but I’d rather be writing.

    As an example on the self-publishing front — I put up a short story at Smashwords in October last year, to test the sales profile before putting serious money/work into self-publishing more stuff. It’s a free download. I’ve not done any promo on it other than doing my best on the keywording. After 6 months, it has around 430 downloads in total, and is currently doing about a download a day. That’s a free title, on a distributor where I don’t have any name recognition. I’m still dithering about putting it on Amazon for comparison, because I’d have to put a minimum cover price of 99c on it, and I don’t actually want to charge 99c for something that’s been available on a couple of free-to-access webzines for years. Not even in the name of science…

    • Hi Jules

      Thanks for commenting.

      To respond to a couple of your observations, the publisher vs self publishing comparison was intended to be very general since this post is about author salaries and I didn’t intend to burden it with a lot of detailed information. I think I said that I’ll be writing another post that will be discussing this comparison more in depth.

      As for the costs for formatting, editing, covers etc. I briefly mentioned in my comments that these costs will have to be covered upfront, and I also indicated that since most authors don’t have the technical skills they should hire resources which I believe are available at a reasonable cost.

      No one is encouraging authors to try self pubbing – they are already doing so and some very successfully, going by what they tell me, but the learning curve for the first book is steep. Anyway this will all play out over the next couple of years as more and more authors try this route.

      • I did notice you point out that there are costs to be taken into account, and I’m grateful for that. :-) But I’m already seeing early signs in this thread of the “publishers are ripping off writers, why take only 35% from a publisher when Amazon will give you 70%!” conversation. I know where that can go, so I tend to put the boot in early and often.

        Just adding one more datum: my best-selling title is Dolphin Dreams, and that finally sold its 3000th copy last month, six years after it was first released. Fast seller I ain’t.

        • I don’t think I said anything about the pubs. ripping off the authors – I just stated what’s the current situation with royalties.

          As a matter of fact I heard on the grapevine that Dreamspinner dropped a shit load of money promoting their authors at RT – something in the region of $40K to $45K, which is a lot of money, even for DSP if my information is correct. So some authors are treated well by their publishers. (Of course my information on the amount may not be entirely true. 😯

          • You didn’t, and I’d be surprised if you did. It was a couple of the other comments that made me think “here we go again”. I do tend to be a bit hair-trigger on this because I get most of my exposure to this sort of discussion over in the sf blogs, where there’s a hard core of evangelists who will rant at length at the slightest excuse about how publishers are exploiting the writers and readers, and they could have the much cheaper ebooks they’re *entitled* to if only writers would see the light and ditch the Evil Publishers. And deal with the cost of art, editing, etc by “But we don’t want to pay money for unnecessary frills, we just want the text!” and “you can do it all by crowd-sourcing instead of paying for professionals!”

            I can just imagine the reaction on *this* blog if it was suggested that editing and proper proof-reading were unnecessary fripperies that we can do without in order to trim the price of a book. :->

          • Hmm. I’ve been glancing over the comments after not checking in for a few days. I don’t see that comment or even that sentiment anywhere. And the numbers would seem to indicate the absolute opposite. Most authors do *much* better under the wing of publishers.

            I did make the mistake of clicking the wrong box for total earnings from traditional publishing. But then again, maybe it’s not so wrong because I did earn that amount before I moved (the following year) to mostly self-publishing. That amount is absolutely earnable through a publisher, and perhaps that’s really what other authors need to see. Not *when* the money was earned, but that the amount is within reach.

            Though I mostly self-publish now, I will continue to work with publishers as well. I strongly discourage the idea of new authors going straight to self-publishing. I can’t stress this strongly enough. The author who believes this would be a good idea is the author who most needs to be working with a publisher.

  • I filled in the survey, although I feel my input is skewed a little because a lot of my numbers reflect books from some years ago when the climate was a bit different. (I’m a slow writer.) My latest book was last year and it seems to selling less, which might be the book itself, or today’s competition, or the fact I seem to find it harder to do the right things to market my stuff. (Remember when yahoo group chats were the thing? :)

    • I think that reflects the new reality of publishing, though. Backlist is now eternal. The AE books are covered in cobwebs but continue to sell about a hundred copies a month from Amazon alone. And I sell about ten copies of each in print. Most of my very old titles don’t do that well, but leaving out the AE books wouldn’t make sense because breakout and long tail titles are a reality in publishing. Most of my numbers are pretty consistent, but we all have those star performers. As well as the books that just never quite click.

      Interestingly, while I think it’s true readers prefer novels above all else, I sell about the same number of novels as novellas (I don’t earn as much, of course, because the novels are priced higher). Where I do see a big difference is between novella and short story sales. That’s partly because I don’t throw away short stories and partly because readers just do NOT like them as well.

      • Interesting stuff! My novellas don’t sell as well as my novels, but I doubt that’s generlizable. I find novellas more difficult technically, even if I like to write them from time to time.

    • Thanks for filling in the survey Joely. A lot of factors will skew the results such as genre e.g. historicals sell the least number of books while contemporaries sell the most, the age of the books, etc. That will be taken into account. :)

      • Thanks for running it! I’m finding it interesting. I also, in a fit of wishful thinking, have decided historical m/m is going to turn around. Some of the best books I’ve read in the genre, that have stuck with me the longest, have been historical, and I’ve got an eye on a couple coming out from Samhain this year. (I’m most aware of Samhain books, I’m published there, but I’m sure there will be others elsewhere as well.)

  • Actually none of these numbers surprise me very much. But no one ever listens to publishers. And for those who think publishers and Amazon are in one big partnership…no. The reasons why Amazon does anything are known only to Amazon.

    • They (the numbers) shock the hell out of me. Writers talk. Of course, we do. So I kind of knew where I was, how I was doing. But the majority of respondents so far report earning less than two grand on a novel and less than a grand on a novella? Holy fuckballs, Batman, that’s… :blink: WHOA.

      I sincerely hope readers are paying attention to this,. Even before this poll, I know I had my occasional chuckles whenever I saw a reader asserting so-and-so must have done xyz for the money…No. No, no, no. We aren’t doing it for the money. There are easier ways to make money. Judging by the survey results so far, the majority of us can best our writing income with a job at McDonalds — and work a whole lot less hours while we’re at it, too. We’re in it for love. We may struggle with our craft and our stories. No matter how hard we try, we may sometimes disappoint readers and not deliver what the reader wants. But we, generally speaking, aren’t out to rip anybody off. I suppose dollar signs may flash for statistical outliers, who knows. I doubt that. A lot. But those dollar signs sure aren’t flashing for the rest of us poor shlubs. We do it for love.

        • See, here’s where the “depressing” comes in. You’re such a wonderful writer, Anne! And Erastes’ Junction X is one the most brilliant novels I’ve read in years, regardless of genre.

          What’s going on? (Oh man, now Marvin Gaye will be singing in my head all day.)

          • What’s going on is probably the readers who drive the bus. I have said time and again that part of the problem with lower sales of quality books is the readers who seem to want page after page of sex and don’t seem to care about characterization or plot. I have had my ass handed to me on countless occasions for that statement, but it’s true. If we don’t buy what’s currently selling, the days of quality over the lowest common denominator will return. However that’s probably not going to happen until people are tired of what’s selling..

            • I do wonder how much piracy is also cutting into sales numbers. I see sites with hundreds of downloads of a single title. Sometimes it adds up to more copies than I’ve actually sold.

    • Hey Treva

      Welcome to the discussion.

      A lot of authors are learning a few things today (and yesterday). I’m sure this survey has been a big eye opener for them. The comments are particularly interesting and I’m sure you’re finding them just as revealing.

  • I think Kari hit the nail on the head. Most of us write because we love it and can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s certainly not for the money. The most I ever grossed (before promotion expenses and taxes) was 22k and that was a few years ago when I was much more prolific than I am now. Having just jumped back into writing after a nearly two year hiatus, I’m finding that the landscape of publishing has changed a lot in the time I’ve been absent and I’m sure that will carry over into future royalty checks as well. Only time will tell. I do think anyone rushing into publishing thinking it’s some sort of get rich quick scheme is in for a rude awakening.

  • I don’t think anyone should get into writing m/m with the expectation of making tons of money – do it for the love of writing it. Not that I don’t think there isn’t money to be made, just that burning readers with a bunch of hastily published crap to make a quick buck is not going to earn you fans. It’s a small genre despite the recent growth and word gets around fast.

    I filled out about half the survey. I only write novels, so had no input on the shorter works questions. My only self-pubbed book was free, so even though it’s had a large number of downloads (based on what I see in the survey), I obviously didn’t make any money off it (and with no regrets, even though it cost me $650.00 to publish it). I would feel comfortable self-pubbing another book now, for money next time, but I would just as happily have it put out by a publisher knowing I would make less because of the exposure and their expertise. I know this will piss you off to hear Wave, but sex sells. I write erotic romance and make no apologies for it. I also like to read it. And I’m shocked to discover from this poll and the comments, that I guess I’ve made above-average money at it. Hmmm….maybe I shouldn’t quit.

    Sad to see so many great writers are not making more money. I always buy from Amazon because of instant downloads that never go wrong, yeah lazy, I know, but now I think I’ll start buying more from the publishers directly to support writers with more cash. Readers – if you love an author, buy their stuff, don’t borrow/lend non-stop or download pirated stuff, because it just might be the last book you get to read from them.

    • Hi Finn

      I know this will piss you off to hear Wave, but sex sells.

      This is news to me? 😀 I have been saying all along in many of the posts I’ve written that this genre is now known as “the sex at all costs genre”. It’s no longer M/M. Contrary to popular belief, I have no problem with books that have lots of sex but there has to be more than the sex to interest me. Hell, I have given K.A. Mitchell’s books more 5 stars than a lot of other writers whose books I have reviewed. The reason I rate her books highly is that, in addition to lots of sex, there’s a credible plot and the characters rock; her prose and dialogue also sparkle.

      Sad to see so many great writers are not making more money

      The main reason they are not making money is that they write plotty books with very little sex. I know that the readers are driving this bus but what they are also doing is driving away some of the really talented and excellent writers in the genre because their books emphasize actual plots and incredible characterization. The only way these authors will make any money is to pocket their pride and write what sells – s-e-x. I know that we all have different tastes but some weeks, despite the number of books released, I can’t buy a book because I don’t want what’s on the menu. However these books are flying off the virtual shelves because other readers are just eating them up..

      • Just because a book has lots of sex, doesn’t mean it can’t be well written, have great characters or an interesting storyline. There’s room for both.

        • Amen, Finn. I may not always manage to pull it off, but God knows I work at it. I try. I’m not cranking out pornylicious first drafts. How much time & attention I invest in stories is absurd given how much I earn and I apparently earn more than the average bear. The story is the absolute best I’m capable of, though. Every time. A lot of sex isn’t directly equivalent to sloppy work, poor craft, shallow characters, etc.

        • I thought I gave a great example with K.A. Mitchell whose books have a shit load of sex. The reason I love her books is because of the other elements you mentioned – great characters and a plot. However, some of the books I have read omit the last two elements and focus on the sex. But there’s room for both in this genre – I’m just sorry so many authors are not making any money because of the lack of sex in their books.

          • I also like KA Mitchell’s books and I like sexy plots, but her last novel, Bad Attitude had WAY TOO MUCH SEX in it for me. I think I rated it on Amazon 3 stars.

            For me it has to be a mixture of plot, characterization and scorching sex scenes and if you add too much of one to the pot, it’s a pass for me. But I think I am in the minority on that as I know some authors who get a big failing F on characterization and plot and are only churning out porny plots are now out-selling well-known authors who have been nominated for LAMDAs. It boggles my mind but then I thought 50 Shades was a hideous piece of recycled fanfiction that ought to have been set afire and the buying public adored it!

            So what do I know? *g*

  • My first MM novel comes out later this year but my two MF historicals have both done similarly low(1k) numbers and I’ve written a couple of contemp MM novellas under another name that’ve done about 200-300 each. All epubs. I filled in the survey with reference to my MM novellas only since you’re looking for MM info.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I make out of writing and have come to the conclusion that the promo work associated with writing (which I find time consuming and not particularly enjoyable) isn’t worth worrying about since I don’t make enough to feel like it’ll make a difference if I do it or not.

    I’m kind of surprised no one’s mentioned piracy yet in this thread. I’ve had to send quite a few take down notices and the numbers of views/ downloads showing on the sites have tended to show higher numbers than I’ve sold. Sadly, one of the reasons writers make no money is because there’s plenty of readers out there who prefer to get their books for free, even if it is stealing.

    • And I’ve seen some of them use that idea – “Well, they write because they love it. ” – as an excuse. “They aren’t in it for the money, and they’ll never stop no matter how little they make, so I can just go ahead and not pay for this and it doesn’t matter.” Not that we want to get into a discussion about pirating here, but I do think it has to be making a difference, just as it clearly has for music sales.

  • This is an interesting poll, Wave, thank you for putting it up. A couple of years ago, I was making almost $30K a year on my books. My royalties have taken a nosedive since then, though. I’d die of shock if I cleared $20K in 2013. Keeping in mind that I have 20-something books out there, with more on the way. After this poll, I feel very lucky. Still, the downward trend makes me nervous. I only work part time, I have one kid still in college and I’m the sole breadwinner for my family. Yeah, I’d write no matter what. I started writing just because I loved it, and I’ll keep doing it regardless. But I need the money from writing to help pay the bills. I can’t afford to romanticize it. So to speak, ha.

    • Ally

      You’re very welcome. I thought it was time to bring the matter of salaries into the open so authors, especially those just joining the ranks of M/M, know what to expect. For someone like you who’s been in this genre for a long time, it gives you a perspective of what’s the current situation.

      Lots of luck with the current series and I hope your leg is 100% better. :)

  • Given that the majority of the votes are “Under $1000” it might be good to do a follow-up with categories by $200 intervals in addition to the larger amounts. Many readers will be surprised to see how many books only earn $100-200, even novels and novellas from well-known authors.

    I know one who admitted that her recent book sold on 13 copies the first month. I have books that have not earned more than $200. The number of copies sold for many books is surprisingly low, on average. For example, the Going for Gold Olympic anthology I edited (even though it contains wonderful long (20+k) novellas by Kaje Harper and Sarah Madison, among others) has probably sold fewer than 50 copies in the 9 months since it came out. It’s gotten very good reviews and ratings, but not much attention or sales. Other books from big names, with poor reviews, sell in the thousands.

    In my experience the publisher makes a big difference in terms of exposure and perceived quality. (That’s probably another topic for discussion). I won’t name names here, but the lowest-sellers of mine all came from the same publisher.

  • I must be one of those weird outliers who gets frustrated when sex overwhelms the plot. Frankly, I’m kinda over writing sex scenes. I’m more interested in exploring the dynamics between my characters.

    I’m not even sure what I write is romance. Very few of my books have a traditional HEA ending. There’s just something in me that rebels against tying everything up in a pretty pink bow.

    RE: sales… I’ve had books that have done remarkably well, and some that have barely moved 200 copies.

    As for promo, I don’t think it makes much difference. My current Riptide book’s doing fine, and they didn’t even schedule a blog tour.

    In my experience, readers are interested in a very narrow range of subjects. They love military heroes, cowboys – basically, any kind of alpha male. They want sex, and plenty of it. And if there’s a woman in the story, she’d better be the hero’s mother or sister.

    • As for promo, I don’t think it makes much difference. My current Riptide book’s doing fine, and they didn’t even schedule a blog tour.

      The difference on the months I do promo and the months I don’t is easily 1 – 2K. It matters. But it is not the only thing that matters.

  • I filled out the survey (though it kept getting stuck and I had to keep reloading the page. I hope that doesn’t mess up the end result.)

    I don’t know how much benefit there may be in offering specifics, but I don’t mind doing so (not to discourage you if you’re starting out by writing sweet romance or historical romance or :death knell: sweet, historical romance. I think there must be writers who do all right with it. Aren’t there?)
    Over a four year period, my second novel, Whistling in the Dark, made approximately $3,400.00 in royalties; so, less than a thousand a year. I think that comes out to about 30 copies a month (but I may be wrong. I got the lowest math scores in the history of the SAT. And I know I’m not figuring POD vs. ebook correctly.)

    In Whistling’s first year of sales, it sold 122 copies. It did better in subsequent years.

    My first novel, Downtime, does about the same–30 copies in a good month, but usually 15-20 copies (although when it was first published, it sold almost nothing. Only in the past couple of years has it picked up some sales; helped, I think, by word-of-mouth on Goodreads. And having a modern-day POV character.)

    My third novel, The Only Gold, sells about 1 copy to every three of Downtime. So it’s doing poorly–but I probably should have known a story about stodgy bankers in love was not destined for big sales. :)

    My sales are at their current level because I’ve been fortunate enough to be reviewed at m/m review sites and m/f review sites, including DA.
    But good reviews don’t bring my sales anywhere near the level of contemporaries or books with sex scenes in them; nor will they, because what I write isn’t the type of story most readers of m/m are looking for.

    At this point, I’m not anticipating a day when I’ll make a living at writing. I’m not sure a writer can, if she produces only one novel a year (unless she’s writing the type of Twilighty story that has a ready-made market.)
    I don’t believe a writer can make a living selling “sweet” m/m, either (but I’d certainly love to have someone prove me wrong.) I don’t know if m/f historical authors make a living at it. Maybe for them, too, it depends on whether they include sex scenes. I really don’t know.

    I feel like I’m at a crossroads. Compromise and write explicit sex?
    Don’t compromise and write inspirationals? :) Plod on for another ten years and hope I get to the point where I’ll sell forty copies a month?
    In my case, I think trying out other genres and perhaps failing to succeed in them will give me a better idea of whether hoping for a more substantial career is realistic.

    I do agree with your post title. Writing *is* a great career if you love telling stories. But if you write a niche (sweet) in a niche (historical) in a niche (m/m,) the finding-an-audience part is just killer.

    • Mara is my favorite mm writer – there are a lot of authors whose work I like and enjoy, and couple that come close, but for quite some time she had been number one for me. Not that I find it a shocking surprise that sweet historicals are not selling well, but I still find it depressing that the stories which are written so well are not selling well.

      I will follow Mara into any genre she decides to try, that goes without saying (cookbook? So there :-)), but I still feel that it is mm genre loss if she leaves it. Too bad there are apparently not enough readers who feel like I do :(

      • I hope you don’t change your stories too much, and that appreciation grows for your backlist – I put Tamara Allen as my choice on the new Goodreads thread of “What book (or author) makes you wonder why more people aren’t reading it” In general, I think historicals are under-appreciated. Several of my all-time favorite M/M have been historicals.

      • I’m with Sirius! It’s a damn shame that Mara’s books aren’t making her millions. She’s one of my inspirations. I can only hope that I’ll write anything as perfect as one of her novels. (I LOVE stodgy bankers…well, she MADE me love stodgy bankers is her real talent!) I’m sorry to gush, but I, too, will follow her to any genre she tries.

    • I think 30 copies a month of an old title is quite respectable.

      The advice I give my mentorees (is that a word?) is 4 books a year, ideally novels. In other words, a new, quality release every quarter. If you can do that (and it is NOT an easy thing to do) you will steadily build your backlist at the same time you are steadily acquiring new readers. You keep your name out there — very necessary — and you keep the quality high. More than four books a year, well, I think very few writers in this genre or any other can write more than four quality full length titles a year.

      The key to a lucrative career in this or any other genre is the consistent and regular production of top notch commercial fiction.

      Next question: what is “commercial” fiction.

  • Wow, some awesome responses here. I’m doing okay, I guess, but not thinking of quitting the day job yet. Not with a mortgage and that damn cat who keeps running up expensive vets bills, at any rate…

    But I didn’t get into this for the money. And I think every writing class I’ve ever taken has warned me that if you think you’re going to make a bucketload of cash, you’re in the wrong game. And that’s okay. I think it’s a slow process to build up a fan base and really start seeing great returns. Self-publishing looks great, royalties-wise, but there is so much self-pubbed stuff out there that I think a lot of authors are struggling to get noticed. And that’s a benefit of having a publisher that I’m sot sure anyone has mentioned yet — you get to borrow their reputation while you get yourself established.

    As for promos and stuff…well, if I spent all my time on that, when would I find time to write? I think that some new writers make the mistake of concentrating too much on Facebooking and tweeting and blogging, when your best advertisement is a solid backlist. At least I hope it is, because that’s the theory I’m working on.

    My worst seller so far has been my one and only historical, which is no surprise going on the above comments. But will we see a turn around in the popularity of historicals? I hope so, because I love them and want to write more!

    Any my best seller so far, I think, will be The Good Boy, written with J.A. Rock. I’m only saying that because it actually hit Number 1 for a few days on the Amazon Gay Romance rankings, and hung in for a long time in the top numbers. But of course, I haven’t seen any money from Amazon yet, since I think it takes them three months to pass the royalties on to the publisher. So it’ll be interesting to see how that translates into a payment.

    But as for how it hit Number 1…well, I have no idea. I guess sometimes you just get lucky.

    And now I’m off to give the cat his expensive medication… :smile:

  • I think a lot depends on if your chosen sub genre happens to be popular at any given moment. I’ve been pretty lucky that BDSM erotic romance seems to have been doing okay over the last few years. (Although I think I’m starting to see hints that the tide might be receeding for it.)

    In general I find that longer books do better than shorter titles, paranormal books do better than contemporary ones, Christmas books generally do pretty badly, and, strangely enough, I’ve also noticed that books where the royalties are to go to charity do less well than non-charity titles.

  • I wish all writers will complain to Amazon about the kindle ebook refund within 7 days. This is encouraging free reading. I know people who finished reading and returned their kindle ebooks within 7 days. I did complain to Amazon but all they said was it was part of their return policy ?? It is a library for free lending!
    I am a fan of the gay/MM romance genre and this Amazon ridiculous policy is not helping you guys at all!

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