We write. We rant. We wrestle the magic.
No one usually goes digging through the Bureau of Labor Statistics by accident. Usually, it’s on purpose and for nothing remotely resembling fun. I tried digging around there for how much writers earn in a year, as I was pretty surprised with the salary numbers. That got me thinking about how much money the ‘top’ scribes earn around the world, and just what kind of content they’re churning out. All that dough can’t be coming from just books…can it?! Let’s take a look at the richest writers and the rest of us.
According to the federal government, writers pull in $55,490 a year, as of 2012. If you’re more in line with an hourly wage, that breaks down to a little less than $27 per. Total number of jobs available with the word ‘writer’ in the title? About 129,100 across the country. Now go through your mental role call of all the people you know who scribble words for a living. How many of them are actually raking in a middle class income solely on the back of their creative (or otherwise) work? I don’t know many and I actually have an advanced degree in that arena. Even when I was at my busiest as a freelance writer, I didn’t come close to that ‘median’ figure.
So, who’s earning all the coin and offsetting the scales?
The number one culprit, according to Forbes at least, is James Patterson (pictured above). The novelist pulls in close to $100 million annually and put out 14 titles in 2011 alone. That kind of prolific production rivals only the man second on the list of highest earning scribes — Stephen King. He sneezes ideas and they turn into film adaptations and successful television series. Patterson might earn his money from straight book sales, but King hauled in $39 million on a couple books and a boatload of movie/TV residuals last year. Suspense writer Janet Evanovich rounds out the top three with a cool $33 million earned this past year. It’s a tough life, but good work if you can get it.
No idea. If I knew that, I’d already be applying the formula and working my way up the list. Success in anything requires of you several key components: tireless commitment to your craft, an ability to meet deadlines and the desire to be great. If you don’t want to be successful, it won’t simply happen by accident. Even authors who didn’t expect critical praise or commercial success still loved their stories. They still worked on them without end to get the endings just right, to perk up the dialogue and brighten the narrative.
So go think up some interesting ideas. And when you have more money than you know what to do with, just send it my way.