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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!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 4th, 2016 04:54 pm (UTC)
First, YAY YOU! And second,YAY YOU! (Sorry, I had another thought in there, but it got lost.)
Jan. 4th, 2016 05:03 pm (UTC)
I'm curious how you calculate how much to hold back for taxes - I'm guessing you send quarterly payments? Do you find yourself sending more than you think you need to, or have you figured out a fairly accurate way to calculate how much you owe?
Jan. 4th, 2016 05:42 pm (UTC)
I pay quarterly estimated taxes based on my income for the previous year. It's not a perfect system, but it's worked pretty well for me.
Jan. 4th, 2016 08:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for those stats, Jim.

And I'll be looking for your book this week. :)
Jan. 5th, 2016 05:43 pm (UTC)
Jan. 6th, 2016 11:41 pm (UTC)
Go you!

I sent a link for this post to the email loop for Novelists, Inc. I hope they'll be able to take a look.

(Wouldn't mind if you took a look at NINC, either, but that's by the way. http://www.ninc.com)
Jan. 9th, 2016 12:05 am (UTC)
Cool, and thank you!

I've heard good things about Novelists, Inc. in the past, but haven't yet gotten around to checking them out. I may need to change that now that I'm doing this on more of a full-time basis.
Jan. 13th, 2016 04:20 pm (UTC)
Yay for best year yet! Thanks for sharing the details. (2015 was my best year too! Also my only year.) :D

Since you asked for questions -- I am curious what the patterns for your novel sales are like. Is your latest novel consistently the biggest earner, or do you have certain books that have sold well for years? Or is this something you've not really tracked (or that your royalty statements make it difficult to track)?
Jan. 13th, 2016 09:42 pm (UTC)
I don't have precise figures, but it's generally a long tail effect: lots of sales when the book first comes out, and then things taper off to a slow-but-steady trickle. The size of that trickle varies. The goblins continue to do pretty well, for example. And releasing a new book in a series gives a bump to other books in the same series.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines

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