Writing doesn’t make you rich. And debut authors have absolutely no bargaining power
Writing doesn’t make you rich. Here’s why:
The royalty any author gets is dependent on his track record and marketability and often on the price of his book too. The higher you price a book, the more comfortable your publisher will be in paying you a higher royalty.
While royalties for paperbacks are generally in the 5 to 12.5 per cent range, for a first timer they are more likely to be in the 5 to 7.5 per cent range or Rs 15 for a book with a selling price of Rs 200. And debut authors have absolutely no bargaining power.
In India, if a book sells more than 10,000 copies, it’s a big deal. Less than 0.5 per cent of books published in a year sell that much. For first-timers, this percentage drops even lower. Now do the math. If a debut writer sells 10,000 copies, makes a mark and gets recognised: all he makes is royalty for 10,000 copies, which is Rs 1.5 lakh.
This is the only commercial gratification for an effort which sometimes takes more than a year.
Ravi Subramanian is a banker and a writer. He has written commercial thrillers about banking and bankers. His novels The Incredible Banker (2011) and The Bankster (2012) won the Economist Crossword Book Award (Popular Vote). He keeps a day job, so he can write on the side.
From HT Brunch, April 19
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