Why Isn’t My Name on the List?

The Shots Magazine blog reports that some authors are making lots of money writing crime novels:

Figures recently released show that earnings through the trade in 2007
for crime writers looked pretty healthy. Figures are shown as GBP MILLIONS

James Patterson  10.3
Ian Rankin  5.2
Martina Cole  4.8
Jed Rubenfeld  4.7
Alexander McCall Smith 4.4
Antony Horowitz  4.3
Patricia Cornwell 4.1
John Grisham  3.9
Lee Child  3.7
Tess Gerritsen  3.5
Clive Cussler  3.5
Andy McNab  3.3
C.J. Sansom  2.8

16 thoughts on “Why Isn’t My Name on the List?”

  1. Lee,
    I hasten to add that a large portion of my sales last year were from my backlist. Which just goes to show that if an old workhorse hangs around long enough, eventually someone might notice her.

  2. You have to forgive me on this one. What does “GPB millions” mean, exactly? Is it the gross of all the author’s sales in a year? (Sorry, it’s a new statistic for me.)

  3. Who Says the Crime Doesn’t Pay?

    In counter-point to my previous post about what some bestselling crime writers are earning, here’s what author John Scalzi says he has earned strictly from his science fiction writing:1999: About $400, from Agent readers2000: About $1000, from Agent re…

  4. David,
    I was informed of these numbers a few weeks ago, and they’re based on UK sales as reported by Bookscan, so they’re hard numbers. These aren’t author earnings; these are total retail sales. (Which makes them a lot less impressive).

  5. I think this only refers to their earnings in the UK (so for Tess G. this would cover only the reprint rights!). Imagine what they are earning in the U.S. or the rest of the world? But they aren’t up there with the $90 million Dan Brown earned in 2006…

  6. And in case anyone’s interested, the name topping the 2007 list (all book sales, both F and NF) was, of course, JK Rowling whose sales totaled 43.5 million pounds. Also bunched up near the top were three celebrity chefs: Nigella Lawson (10.3 m), Jamie Oliver (9.5m) and Gordon Ramsay (7.4 m). So yes, crime fiction did well in the UK. But cookbooks seem to have done better!

  7. I’m not sure of the point that is being made. That the sales are low? That the sales are high for the most popular writers? Both? Neither?
    Anyway, it sure looks good to me from where I am sitting in the library in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, with the snow falling outside and the promise of another six inches today. Looks mighty fine. But it goes to show that the old proverb holds true: “most of the people in any endeavor, if they have talent, can make a living, but they cannot make a killing.” Therefore, it’s the chance to live a writer’s life that is the real reward and success. And if a movie producer or a TV showrunner wants to make films or a TV series of a writer’s work, I guess that’s where “the killing” comes in (pun intended).

  8. The author will probably get a royalty of 15 percent on hardcover, and 8 to 10 percent on mass market and trade paper. In rough figures, a three million pound UK sale equals six million dollars, and a 15 percent royalty for that comes to $900,000, which is classy take-home pay no matter how you figure it.
    It beats writing western fiction. Last I knew, Leisure Books was paying a thousand-dollar advance against a 4 percent royalty for a western and an author was lucky to earn out his thousand.

  9. “I was informed of these numbers a few weeks ago, and they’re based on UK sales as reported by Bookscan, so they’re hard numbers. These aren’t author earnings; these are total retail sales. (Which makes them a lot less impressive).”
    Gotcha. I must have misread it. I thought this was saying that was what these authors earned.
    I am absolutely stunned that Jed Rubenfeld sold that well. I bet he didn’t sell 1/10 of that in the U.S.

  10. Jed Rubenfeld’s book, INTERPRETATION OF MURDER, was a Richard and Judy pick. For those who haven’t heard of Richard and Judy, they’re the equivalent of Oprah in the UK. Whenever they choose a book for their TV book club, it sells like crazy.

  11. What Tess said – the Richard & Judy pick pretty much saved Rubenfeld’s career because the UK visibility also made his international sales pick up, which allowed him to switch US publishers (to Riverhead) for his next novel. I also suspect the pb of INTERPRETATION did a lot better than expected in the US, though I don’t have Bookscan numbers to extrapolate from right now.


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