Just How Much DO Those Romance Writers Make?

December 22nd, 2004 · 19 Comments
by Jill Monroe

Something happens the minute a person realizes you’ve sold a book – that unwritten rule about not discussing another person’s salary just disappears. Although my friend Gena Showalter told me it would happen, I was still unprepared. The first time was at a PTA sponsored party at my oldest’s school. I was passing out the cookies with another mother, and boom!

“I heard you sold a book. How much did you get?” My eloquent response ran along the lines of uh, duh, hmmm. I think I finally managed to say something about how first time authors don’t make a lot of money. I could tell she was disappointed – she wanted real numbers. I’m sure she expected multiple zeroes.

Somewhere along the lines, people got the impression romance writers came along with buckets of money, dogs, bigs houses and pink. Lots and lots of pink. Have you seen the movie She-Devil?

When I was in college, a friend of mine said they knew where Janet Dailey lived and we decided to drive by her house. (Contrary to how the story has been retold, there was NO trespassing involved: see previous rule following blogs.) After seeing her place, my then fiancee now husband lifted a brow and asked, “You still want to write romance? Do it.”

Just like in any genre, some authors make quite a bit, some not so much. Below is a link (and we’ll see if it works) about how much money authors can expect. Brenda Hiatt’s Show Me the Money via Karen Fox’s website is an excellent resource. If you’re not familiar with royalty statements (and since I’ve not received one yet myself – the knowledge I’m about to impart is all just hearsay) the money listed is not paid out in a year or even in two. It takes awhile for an author to earn back their advance and for the publisher to determine reserves against returns. Additionally, writers are typically paid twice a year.

  • File Under: Jill's First Blog

    19 responses so far ↓

    • Okie Mom // Dec 22, 2004 at 9:41 am

      How about:
      Since I’m taking money for sex (omit word scenes) I don’t like to talk about the money.
      The amount is so obscene, I can’t even talk about it.
      Roll your eyes and say, “I can’t even pronounce numbers that high.”

    • daniel olivas // Dec 22, 2004 at 10:59 am

      i now get the following comment from my fellow government lawyers: “so, now that you’re an author, when are you going to quit the law?” i always say: “i ain’t no stephen king.” i get a chuckle and the conversation moves on to something else.

    • LEO // Feb 21, 2005 at 5:28 pm


    • booksquare // Feb 22, 2005 at 12:16 pm

      Scriptwriters make, generally, considerably less than actors and directors. Not only this, but they rarely get decent participation deals (backend deals that can be quite lucrative if a motion picture does well). The only ongoing compensation they receive is residuals.

      That being said, it’s likely you’ll earn more on a sold screenplay than the average novel. However, more novels are bought by publishers than scripts by studios.

    • tamika // Feb 24, 2005 at 11:41 am

      i just wanted to know how much a writer makes thats all

    • booksquare // Feb 24, 2005 at 3:38 pm

      Tamika, there’s no way to answer this question. Every writer makes a different amount (and most will joke that they average about one cent per hour). There are so many variables, including where you’re published, that I can’t even begin to give a ballpark.

    • Booksquare » And You Make How Much? // May 17, 2006 at 5:16 pm

      […] I’ve mentioned this before here on Booksquare. There’s an odd thing that happens when someone learns you’re a published author. This can be friend or complete stranger it doesn’t matter. Once they know you have a book on the shelf they now have a complete license to ask you anything. This can be your sex life. How much money you make. Whether you get along with your co-workers. Stuff many people would be horrified to ask, say, their dentist. […]

    • jimithekid // May 31, 2006 at 11:27 pm

      I was offered a £500 advance and then 10% of sales on my first novel yesterday. This seems about average for an unproven writer.
      Hopefully it will sell billions!

    • Tij Yahya // Jun 9, 2007 at 3:45 pm

      I am a previously unpublished author of adult fiction from Nigeria. I wish to submit my first novel titled ‘Faithless’ to any publishing company for publication and don’t know how to go about it. And again, if I have to submit the novel to a publishing company that is not situated in my country, how will I be sure that the book will be marketed by them and then send me my own share?

    • lord xerxes // Jul 15, 2007 at 2:42 am

      im a local movie writer i have write a movie once the movie earned 25 million and i got paid 500,000 bucks do you think i got a fair share?

    • Sean L // Aug 1, 2007 at 3:10 pm

      Lord xerxes, dude u got owned big-time

      that’s just 2%….very bad deal.

      wait… are u sure u wrote the entire movie, or parts ??

    • Austin93 // Nov 21, 2007 at 8:52 pm

      Writers for movies typically make more money than book authors, because these days, more people are willing to watch a movie than to read. I, myself am a writer, but i was wondering how much i could make for the book. I have several book ideas in mind, too.

    • James // Nov 27, 2007 at 4:41 pm

      How does one actually become a movie script writer

    • Bonnie // Jun 1, 2008 at 7:46 pm

      Has anyone self published? I understand that writers get more money per book for what they’ve written. Of course, then there’s the lack of publicity or being in bookstores. Anyone have experience with it?

    • robert kenibrew // Jun 5, 2008 at 8:52 am

      thats a fair deal

    • carrie // Oct 27, 2008 at 3:47 pm

      how much can someone make for an idea for a movie, love story/ drama?

    • Nicole // Nov 13, 2008 at 9:54 am

      Lulu.com allows you to self-publish. I think it’s a good start. You can also sell your book there–you would just be on your own to promote it.

    • Joe Renzo // May 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      I posted on my blog recently the actual figures from a book that debuted on the NY Times Bestseller List a #19. You can see the figures from the first statement, and then from the second. The second statement will show you what he made after 11 months since the books release date. Your info is great and I feel my post could also shed some light on the situation. Check it out.

      How Much Does An Author Really Make

      Joe Renzo

    • Blessing // Dec 8, 2011 at 8:51 am

      I recently signed a contract with Raider publishers in new york has any one heard or published with them? am hoping my book sells well.