I always like to know who is making millions of dollars writing books. It gives me a grim sense of satisfaction to know that I will never make that kind of money, because 1) I can't churn out a romance every three months, 2) I can't churn out a procedural every three months, and 3) I can't churn. Period.

Before you read this list of top-grossing authors, I want you to close your eyes and answer the question posed in the title of this post. Then read the list to see if you were right. (The list is courtesy of Forbes Magazine.)

#1 E.L. James: $95 million
Somebody once asked Groucho Marx what he thought of sex - probably meaning premarital sex. "I think it's here to stay," he replied. Fifty Shades of Grey is living proof that sex is definitely here to stay, and that people like reading about all sorts of kinky ways to do it.

#2 James Patterson: $91 million
One out of every 17 hardcovers sold in the U.S. is written by James Patterson.

#3 Suzanne Collins: $55 million
Collins may turn out to be a one-hit-wonder with The Hunger Games, but something tells me she will be around for a while.

#4 Bill O'Reilly: $28 million
Killing Kennedy was number 1 and 2 on the New York Times hardcover non-fiction best-sellers list, and O'Reilly's next book, Killing Jesus, could be the biggest of the series. Apparently, we like to read about killing famous people.

#5 Danielle Steel: $26 million
Danielle Steel is a fixture in the romance world. She has published 128 titles in 40 years (which averages more than three a year). She's sold more than 600 million copies.

#6 Jeff Kinney: $24 million
 Diary of a Wimpy Kid is yet another example of Scholastic's tried-and-true method of generating a huge amount of revenue from a single author: throw the entire weight of the company behind a series. They used this technique with J.K.Rowling, and look what happened.

#7 Janet Evanovich: $24 million
Evanovich's books are perhaps the clearest demonstration of what makes for a successful popular novel: formulaic plots, product placement, sexual tension, and guns.

#8 Nora Roberts: $23 million
Yet another prolific romance writer (are they all able to churn out 3 books a year?), Roberts sold more than 3.2 million ebooks in 2012.

#9 Dan Brown: $22 million
In spite of a plagiarism lawsuit, Dan Brown is still going strong. Inferno, at 369,000 copies, was the best-selling book of the first half of 2013. 

#10 Stephen King: $20 million
Stephen King - who has a remarkable talent for scaring the pants off people - has had the great good fortune of having competent screenwriters turn his stories into memorable movies. Now the popular television series, Under the Dome, is extending his media run.

#11 Dean Koontz: $20 million
Koontz has sold more than 450 million copies of his books. I have not yet read one.

#12 John Grisham: $18 million
Lawyers have to write a lot, and quickly. It's a training that comes in handy when you are churning out bestsellers.

#13 David Baldacci: $15 million
David Baldacci was a lawyer before he began writing novels. He has published 26 best-selling novels, once again proving that writing legal briefs is a great preparation for writing bestsellers.

#14 Rick Riordan: $14 million
Riordan sold more than 5.6 million copies of his Percy Jackson & the Olympians series in 2012. It helps to know your mythology.

#15 J.K. Rowling: $13 million
Rowling has gone back to her first ambition, which was writing adult books. (Years ago, she could not get them published, so she turned to the children's market.) Her book, The Cuckoo's Calling, (published "secretly" under the pen name Robert Galbraith) topped the hardcover best-sellers list. 

#16 George R.R. Martin: $12 million
George R.R. Martin is on this list by accident. As a veteran sci-fi writer he should be wallowing in self-righteous poverty. But his adaptation of Game of Thrones made Martin the best-selling paperback writer of 2012, after E.L. James.

This fascinating story was a guest post on BookRx. It's one of the better success stories out there, because Madeline Sheehan didn't "rocket" to success, she started off with only 6 sales - and she was thrilled! How did she get to #17 on Amazon’s Kindle Best Seller list (and get an agent)? Read all about it HERE

Self-Publishing, Blah, Blah, Blah…

By Madeline Sheehan

When I say “blah,” I mean it in the very best way. Because self-publishing, in a nutshell, is a three-ring circus.

But let me start at the very beginning, before I was introduced to the big, bad, kill-or-be-killed, survival-of-the-fittest world of independent authors. Back when I was just a lowly Public Relations Coordinator/Editor at a nonprofit organization with a writing hobby that I indulged in during my downtime, dreaming the dream of most writers to someday see their book on a bookstore shelf.

I’d been writing nearly my entire life but hadn’t completed a full-length novel until 2010 (The Soul Mate, a dystopian paranormal romance centered around modern-day gypsies), spending my evenings working tirelessly on the story line and character development. When I was finished, I didn’t have a clue what to do with it, but I did know right away I wasn’t going to be submitting it to any traditional publishing houses only to get my cherished manuscript tossed into their slush pile. So I opted instead to send it to a few family members for their opinions and amazingly enough, both my father and little sister, who are both avid readers, loved the book.

So then I thought, now what? You see, I didn’t know anything about self-publishing other than I loved Amanda Hocking’s Trylle trilogy and My Blood Approves series. I literally knew nothing about Amazon, Smashwords, or CreateSpace’s self-publishing platforms until one day my husband came home from work with a tip from a friend of his who’d self-published a book of poetry on Smashwords. Of course I looked into it, created a profile, and submitted my manuscript, and within a few weeks my e-book was available through Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc.


I sold a grand total of six books in six months. Don’t get me wrong; I was thrilled. Someone other than a family member had read my work. Had actually paid the $0.99 I was asking for it and READ it.

It was then that I decided to self-publish on Amazon as well, which, lo and behold, provided me with a lot more sales. A total of thirty in another six-month time frame.

Energized, I continued writing. While I was writing the sequel, My Soul To Take, I set up a Facebook author page to begin promoting my books to, well, my friends and family members. I had a total of a hundred likes, all of which were from people I’d known most of my life and weren’t interested in reading any of my books.

Halfway through writing My Soul To Take, I hit a mental brick wall. In the midst of trying to work through it, I pulled up a fresh Word document and began writing my third book, Undeniable. It was as far removed from the paranormal romance genre I’d been writing in as one could get. Undeniable is a motorcycle club dark romance set in a criminal underground world. It doesn’t hold back, it’s taboo, it’s gritty and ugly, it’s raw, and I make no apologies for it. I poured my heart and soul into that book; I used both real and fictional experiences, real and fictional character traits, and about a month after publishing My Soul To Take, I published Undeniable.

Fast-forward three weeks and the Internet BLEW UP...

Read the rest of this illuminating story HERE.

Last November, Random House announced the inauguration of three new digital imprints: Hydra for science fiction, fantasy and horror; Flirt for "new adults"; and Alibi for mystery and suspense. Random House, of course, has many imprints, but what was unusual about these imprints is that they were digital only. Even more unusual was the fact that authors could submit their manuscripts directly to Random House - without an agent. Major publishers have not allowed unchaperoned authors to enter their hallowed halls for decades.

The announcement, though welcomed by potential authors, was received with skepticism by those who knew better; In the publishing industry the deck is always stacked in favor of the house. The House, in this case, was offering "revenue sharing" in place of an advance. Random House was also requiring authors to foot the expenses of production, and, most onerous of all, demanding rights for the term of the copyright. (Why even have a copyright in that case?) John Scalzi called the Random House conditions "a horrendously bad deal" and advised authors to "run away" as fast as their legs could carry them.

Random House eventually bowed to pressure and offered a more traditional deal for writers. Apparently, that deal was sweet enough to attract several new authors. Of the six titles Alibi will release next year, five are by debut authors.

RH Imprint Alibi Announces Debut Titles

Publisher's Weekly, August 14, 2013

Alibi, the digital-original mystery and thriller imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, announced the acquisition of its first six titles. The new publishing program will launch with The Last Clinic by Gary Gusick, the first novel in the Darla Cavanaugh mystery series.

Alibi senior editor Dana Isaacson has also acquired the following titles, scheduled for release in late 2013 and throughout 2014: The Garden Plot, by Marty Wingate; The Final Age, by Pierre Ouellette; Maxwell Street Blues by Marc Krulewitch; The Travel Writer by Jeff Soloway; and A Penny for the Hangman by Tom Savage.

If you are a nonfiction writer, there are seemingly endless resources for publishing articles. I say "seemingly" because numbers are deceptive. Getting a nonfiction article published in a reputable magazine can be just as daunting as publishing a short story in The Atlantic. Unless you are a recognized expert in your field, the competition will be fierce.

But what if you are an unrecognized expert? If you are, let's say, a gardener with years of experience, you are an expert. Having a degree in horticulture doesn't add to your qualifications. The same holds true for numerous areas in which experience counts more than public recognition: raising children, raising chickens, dealing with aging parents, marketing your own  crafts, and so on. I am sure you can think of several areas in which you have a body of knowledge that would be beneficial to others.

Internet sites that will pay for your articles

The best way to capitalize on that knowledge is to write articles on highly trafficked sites on the net. How does it work? Some sites offer writers a share of the income generated by ads on their site. Others give you a set payment for a certain number of clicks.

Here are three income-generating sites:


Yahoo Voices (Read Angela La Fon's article on how to get started)

HubPages (Read Can You Make Money Writing for HubPages first)

Writing for the net has its own protocol. The following article by Alexandra Romanov is an excellent primer. If you want to learn how to get published, get views, and get paid -  read what she has to say.

How to Build a Residual Income With SEO & Yahoo Voices

By Alexandra Romanov, Freelance Writer

Using SEO to Maximize Your Residual Income on Yahoo Voices

I’ve had articles on Yahoo Voices that averaged 100 views a month and I’ve had articles that, once I mastered SEO, averaged 100,000 views a month. The financial difference is hundreds of dollars per month and thousands of dollars a year.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. What that means, in a nutshell, is a manner of writing that makes it easy for the search engines to read and add your articles to their results list. The better you are at SEO, the higher your article will list on the results page.

Internet Writing

The difference in writing for the Internet as opposed to writing for print media is that in print writing you focus on a catchy title and a compelling article. While both of those factors are still extremely important, people have to find your article before those two aspects come into play. That is why SEO is so important for writers to master quickly: It’s how we get read.

Read the rest of this informative article HERE.

If you have published your book on Amazon and have signed up for the KDP Select program, you are probably wondering how you are going to let the world know that you have giveaway days coming up.

There are two steps to this process. First, you need to make sure your book has reviews. Many of the sites that advertise Kindle giveaways require a minimum number of reviews (three, five, ten or, in some cases, more than twenty).

How do you get reviews? Send out a press release, well in advance of your book's publication, to any groups, online media, and reviewers who might be interested - including everyone you have ever known or met. Offer to send them a free PDF file, and make sure you have a dynamite summary that will get them interested. (Pester the people who have promised to write a review until they do. This is not the time to be shy.)

Now choose your free days on KDP Select.

Once you have booked your free days. Send out notices to these sites. (Read their guidelines now. Many require advance notice):

Author Marketing Club (join, and then use their free marketing tool)
It’s Write Now (fill out form on Author Marketing Club Submission Tool)
Free & Discounted Books (fill out form on Author Marketing Club Submission Tool)
The Kindle Book Review (fill out form on Author Marketing Club Submission Tool)
Pixel of Ink
Ereader News Today
Ereader Utopia
Free Book Dude
Book Goodies
Kindle Book Promos
Ereader Café
Awesome Gang 
Frugal Freebies
Indie Book of the Day
Bargain Ebook Hunter
The Frugal Reader
Free Booksy
Ebooks Habit
Ebook Lister
Indie Books Promo
That Book Place
Orangeberry (3 reviews needed)
Ebook Lovers (10 reviews needed)

On the day your book is free, submit here:

Addicted to Books 

And post on these Facebook Sites:

President Obama's recent public endorsement of Amazon - delivered in Amazon's warehouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee no less - has generated a firestorm of criticism from just about everybody: the GOP (which considers anything Obama says to be an "old idea"), The American Association of Booksellers (which called it "greatly misguided"), and competing online booksellers (which immediately dropped their prices in response to Obama's "grand bargain" comment). 

The truth is that even though Amazon has not reported a profit in years, its clout in the publishing industry is tremendous. Even mighty dinosaurs like Random/Penguin are shifting their publishing strategies to compete with the Amazon model (which is to sell lots and lots of stuff for cheap - regardless of quality - while shifting overhead expenses onto independent sellers, in this case, authors). 

There can be no doubt that Amazon's slash-and-burn policies are hurting brick-and-mortar retailers like Barnes & Noble, which rely on higher-priced physical book sales. Other online booksellers are also suffering. In an effort to win back some of Amazon's huge market, Overstock dropped its prices to 10% below Amazon's. The result? Amazon slashed its prices even further, making it impossible for Overstock to even think about turning a profit.

Why is Amazon driving other publishers out of the industry?

Because it can. In spite of antitrust laws, monopolies are the rule of the day in the publishing industry. There are only five major publishers left, which have gobbled up the lion's share of the print market. Amazon is simply following suit. It is also worth pointing out that Amazon is more diversified than traditional publishers. It sells everything. In that regard it is more like Walmart than Random/Penguin. And in the fine Walmart tradition, it stiffs its employees, busts unions, and buys influence.

Money Talks: Politicians Walk

After Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, announced he was buying the Washington Post (for a cool $250 million), the media were quick to point out that Amazon's influence had already extended deep into the political realm. 

Amazon is no stranger to hawking its goods to the feds. It was an undisclosed contributor to the Obama campaign, cheerfully donating its cloud infrastructure services, which easily outstripped Romney's unreliable IT.  What's more (conspiracy theorists will love this!), Amazon has strong economic ties to the CIA, which recently signed up Amazon to build a private cloud infrastructure for a tidy $600 million.

According to the FCW's March 18th report

"Amazon Web Services will help the intelligence agency build a private cloud infrastructure that helps the agency keep up with emerging technologies like big data in a cost-effective manner not possible under the CIA's previous cloud efforts."

With those kinds of connections Amazon doesn't have to turn a profit on its books. It can run at a loss for decades, which, in some respects, is no different from laundering money through real estate "losses" (a favorite accounting trick of the Mafia).

Too much information

At this point, you, the humble author, are feeling overwhelmed. What has all this got to do with whether you self-publish your book or follow a more traditional  publishing route? And, who do you root for? Amazon, with its open-door policy, or the giants, with their musty, and somewhat self-righteous, air of respectability (which you hope will somehow rub off on you)?

As an author, you should root for neither. As far as the publishing industry is concerned, nobody has your best interests in mind. It's a dirty business. And it's only getting dirtier.

If you are an unpublished writer looking for a literary agent, your best bet is someone who is building a client list. These agents are hungry for success, and will go the extra mile for their clients.

The only drawback to working with new agents is that they generally don’t have extensive contacts in the publishing industry. However, the agency they work for might.

Reading the bios of all the agents in an agency will give you a good idea of the breadth of the agency, as well as its contacts. (Which publishing houses, for example, has the agency worked with?)

Beth Campbell of BookEnds, LLC

Note: BookEnds is recommended on Preditors and Editors 

What she is looking for: romance, cozy mystery, YA, fantasy, science fiction, and women's fiction submissions.

Contact: BCampbell@bookends-inc.com.

The Details: “After an undergraduate career filled with publishing internships, Beth joined BookEnds as a literary assistant in September 2012. She is currently working on building her list and is particularly interested in seeing romance, cozy mystery, YA, fantasy, science fiction, and women's fiction submissions.

In addition to working as an assistant, Beth is also the company's rights coordinator. She works with BookEnds' authors to sell the foreign, audio, and performance rights for our available titles.

Beth graduated from Dickinson College in May 2012 with a BA and honors in English Literature. She is happy to be living in her native New Jersey and thrilled to be working in an industry she loves. She is an avid reader of fantasy, YA, and sci-fi novels and also enjoys drawing, cooking, and spending far too much time on the Internet. Beth currently lives with her fiancé and a handful of cats.”

Sarah NegoCorvisiero Literary

What she is looking for: middle grade and young adult fiction manuscripts, particularly speculative fiction.

Contact: “To query me, send your query letter, 1-2 page synopsis and the first 5 pages pasted into the body of an email to Query [at] CorvisieroAgency.com. Please use ‘Query for Sarah’ as your subject line. I will respond to all queries. If I have not responded and you queried me prior to the dates listed above, feel free to send a follow-up email. Otherwise, please wait to follow-up unless you receive an offer of representation from another agent.”

The Details: "I am only accepting middle grade and young adult fiction manuscripts. I'm open to any genre within those age groups, but prefer speculative fiction. Contemporary is not my favorite, but I will look at it. I am not interested in seeing poetry, novels in verse, short stories/novellas or anything focused on saving the environment (I'm all for recycling, but don't want to represent it)."