2015 Writing Income

For eight years now, I’ve been posting about my annual writing income. There’s a lot of misinformation about what it’s like to be an author, and not as much actual data. You can’t draw any broad conclusions from one data point, but I figure one data point is still better than none, right?

Previous Years: Here are the annual write-ups going back to 2007: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.

My Background: I’m a U.S.-based fantasy author with eleven books in print from a major New York publisher. My first novel came out in 2006. I’ve also sold about 50 short stories over the past 15+ years. I’ve never hit the NYT or USA Today bestseller lists, but my last three books have been lead titles for my publisher. For most of 2015, I had a full-time job as a state employee, meaning I was not working full-time as a writer. I’ve self-published a few things, but I’m primarily “traditionally published.”

2015 Summary: I’m happy to say that 2015 was my best year yet, edging out 2013 by about $900 or so. Before taxes and expenses (but after my agent’s commission), writing brought in $61,756.93.

Annual Income Trend Graph

I didn’t sign any new book deals last year, but I did have two new books come out — the hardcover edition of Unbound (mass market edition comes out tomorrow!), and the tie-in novel Fable: Blood of Heroes. Other significant income included the Delivery & Acceptance payment on Revisionary, and royalties on Libriomancer, which was a $1.99 Kindle Daily Deal twice during the year.

2015 Breakdown:

  • Novels (U.S. editions) – $50,171
  • Novels (non-U.S. editions) – $7194
  • Self-published Work – $3368
  • Short Fiction & Nonfiction – $890
  • Other – $125

Pie Chart: 2015 Income Breakdown

I only sold one short story last year, since I was putting the bulk of my time and energy into novel-length work. That trend will probably continue in 2016.

One interesting note — interesting to me, at least — is that the self-publishing slice of the pie is more than double what it was last year. This is primarily thanks to Rise of the Spider Goddess, which I self-pubbed at the end of 2014.


As always, a significant chunk of that money will go right back into taxes. There will also be at least a few thousand dollars in other expenses, from convention travel costs to postage to other business expenses like website hosting, bookmark printing, etc. But I won’t have final numbers on all that until I’ve done my 2015 taxes.

Looking Ahead to 2016:

There’s a very good chance that 2016 will be an even better year. I’m hoping to sign a new multi-book contract with my publisher. I also have my NaNoWriMo project that we should be able to shop around this year. And if I can make time, I want to delve more into the self-publishing side of things. The short story I put out a few weeks ago confirmed that there’s a market for tie-in work to my various series, and I’d love to go back and write a bit more in those different worlds.

Of course, 2016 will also be the first year where I don’t have the income of my full-time job, which is intimidating. But right now, I’m feeling pretty good about it all.

Any Questions?

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to ask questions. And here’s to a wonderful and productive 2016 to us all!