I am a writer, (unpublished) but have some basic questions. I have seen some financial numbers for the huge writers, but have been unable to obtain a ball park figure for what a good LDS author truly makes. I can't even get someone to tell me how many books a better author sells. What kind of money are we really talking here? Is this worth my time? Do you have time to give me a hint here?
I'm a guru! Wait till I tell my mom. She'll be so proud. :)
Okay. This is an area that is difficult to get good info on because: 1) most companies are tight-lipped about their numbers, and 2) there are so many variables that it's hard to really say.
For example, a lot of it depends on the publisher, the genre, the retail price of the book, the size of the print run, how much advertising the publisher does, how much promotion you do, whether or not Deseret Book/Seagull pick the book up for their stores. . .
In the companies that I've worked for, a first run printing for a new or mid-list author averages 2,000 copies. If they sell through in less than a year, chances are there will be a second printing but the size of that printing depends on how quickly the first 2,000 sell.
An author is going to make 6–10% on royalties—sometimes this is based on the retail price and sometimes based on the wholesale price (again, depending on the publisher).
Let's say you do average and sell 1,800 copies of a book priced at $14.95, and your royalty is 6% on the retail price. You'll make just over $1600.
If you sell 10,000 copies (I've heard DB reps say they won't accept a book unless they think they can sell that many), you'll earn $8970—or maybe a bit more because some contracts pay a higher percentages on a tiered sales schedule.
Is it worth your time? That's something only you can answer.
(P.S. If an author or publisher would like to answer this question anonymously, please send an email and I'll post your response without revealing your identity.)