Top Answer

Most novelists: nothing. That is, nothing from writing novels; they probably have day jobs if they are not supported by someone or independently wealthy.

Few novels find a publisher. Few published novels sell well.

Some stats from Harper's Index (June 2007):

Minimum number of different books sold in the U.S. last year, as tracked by Nielsen BookScan: 1,446,000

Number of those that sold fewer than 99 copies: 1,123,000

Number that sold more than 100,000: 483

For a few novelists, a very few, those that hit the best-seller lists: there's no upper limits. To skip right to the very top, J.K. Rowling is listed as the second-richest woman in entertainment (after Oprah) in a 2007 Forbes list, with estimated earnings of $1 billion. And that's with the seventh Harry Potter book only just out and two more movies to go.

There are quite a few novelists who do very nicely on an ongoing basis, but their range of earnings varies widely. Getting a book's sales to break 5000 is really hard. == ==

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