Monday, February 28, 2005

Fantasy and Sci Fi Writers Advances

Famous Fantasy Writer

Somebody recently posted what appears to be a fairly accurate survey of the advances given to fantasy and science fiction writers, and then has a quick look at possible annual incomes. Seems that slightly over 50% pf the writers in these two fields actually make a living from their craft, which must be far superior to travel writers, of which I would guess that less than 10% can pay their bills with their efforts.

How much does a science fiction or fantasy writer make?
Source: Tobias S. Buckell

Several weeks ago I announced that I would be collecting data on genre advances to grab a snapshot of the field. I'd hoped we could get some better data for conversations. I posted a form online with a series of questions that I hoped would allow us to gather some basic data with which we could learn something together.

Size of Sample Group:

So far 74 writers responded, and since the responses have slowed down, I thought it was time to gather the data and present the results as best I could for what has been gathered so far, and address some of the initial concerns and criticisms I've received via email about this little project. 3 of the writers who responded were 'of genre' but had published outside of the SF/F/H I was looking at, so I have removed their contributions for now.


The typical advance for a first novel is $5000. The typical advance for later novels, after a typical number of 5-7 years and 5-7 books is $12,500. Having an agent at any point increases your advance. There is some slight correlation between number of books and number of years spent writing as represented in the 5-12.5 thousand dollar advance shift of an average of 5-7 years. Charting individual author's progressions, which I will not release to keep anonymity, reveals a large number of upward lines at varying degrees of steepness for advances, some downward slides. Some authors noted that they'd gotten large advances in the 90s but were being paid less now
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