Thursday, May 23, 2013
Money, money, money...
By OFW Editor:
Carlos J Cortes
Published: August 14, 2012
We are in the season when last year’s publishing statistics start circulating. A quick look at the figures serves to highlight the vast power of traditional publishing houses. It also highlights the gulf between those writers struggling to survive from their pen and the lesser scribes who stumble upon riches independent of their literary capacity. It’s unfair; I agree, but reality has always been.
In an article in
Jeff Bercovici writes:
The “Hunger Games” books sold more than 9 million copies in 2011, and sales got a fresh boost this year from the film’s release, but they’re not the trilogy of the year. That honor goes to the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series, which sold 20 million copies in their first four months in wide release.
At the height of “Fifty Shades” mania, the erotic novels were estimated to be generating as much as $1.3 million per week for their author, E.L. James. And that’s not counting the $5 million she received from Universal Pictures and Focus Films for the theatrical rights. Add it all up and James is assured of a place near the top of next year’s top authors list.
(Perhaps “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer deserves a cut of that? James’s books originated as works of “Twilight” fan fiction.)
As you can see, E.L.James is laughing her head off all the way to the bank. I had to smile at the barb contained in the last paragraph. Yes, Stephenie Meyer should share James’s bounty; their output has striking similarities in literary quality.
But Bercovizi didn’t leave it at that. He then zeroed on the billionaire writer:
Genre fiction and young adult are clearly where the money’s at. But one author who’s conquered those realms as thoroughly as they can be conquered is moving upstream, toward the more challenging waters of adult literary fiction. That would be J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series and the first woman author to become a billionaire.
In September, Little, Brown will publish “The Casual Vacancy,” Rowling’s first novel for adults. The reported $8 million advance Rowling received for the book was enough to vault her back onto the Celebrity 100, with $17 million in estimated earnings.
It also helped that she found a new way to monetize the “Potter” books, selling digital copies via a proprietary online bookstore, Pottermore. Unlike most authors, Rowling never signed over the digital rights to her books. Her timing in launching Pottermore was excellent, with e-book sales surpassing hardcover sales for the first time in 2012. Pottermore sold more than $4 million worth of books in its first month of operation.
There you have it. Rowling (or her shrewd literary agents) kept the vast goldmine of the digital rights in store, a little something for a rainy day. Methinks Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, the man responsible for buying Rowling’s first effort must be considering seppuku after failing to secure the digital rights.
Finally, Fobes lists the top-earning writers in 2011, which contains not a few surprises:
James Patterson ($94 million)
Stephen King ($39 million)
Janet Evanovich ($33 million)
John Grisham ($26 million)
Jeff Kinney ($25 million)
Nora Roberts ($23 million)
Danielle Steel ($23 million)
What? Our incombustible Renée is not listed? There must be a mistake. I bet next year’s list will look different; vastly different, with the ladies crowding the top spots.
James Patterson earns nearly all his money from his gargantuan book sales. He published 14 new titles in 2011.
to leave a comment, or Login using
No Comment Found.
Fact or Fiction?
Quote of the Day
The Craft of Writing
Terms of the Trade
Terms of Service
Work with Us
Copyright © 2011 OFW. All Rights Reserved.