One of my favorite quotes by Pat Zalewski, a Golden Dawn writer, is that he has never even made grocery money from writing books. Nevertheless, there are people who think that he is lying about this fact. As a writer, one who also does occult writing, I tend to believe that he is writing because he wants to share information and not because he is making a good living at it.
For those who do not believe this, consider the fact that Llewellyn Publications, who is perhaps the biggest dog on the occult publishing block, thinks that a mere five thousand copies sold is a successful occult book. And some occult books are lucky to sell a couple of hundred copies. Obviously occult writing is a niche market, and those of us who try our hand at writing Golden Dawn stuff are operating in a niche of a niche.
So how much does a successful writer makes writing an occult book?
[I have been informed that my figures are wrong---see end of post.]
Assuming a ten percent share (royalities) and a twenty dollar price tag and five thousand copies selling, the successful occult writer would make a mere ten thousand dollars for their time and effort. Presuming that they are a quick researcher and writer, they will have spent nine months researching and writing their book---and that is not counting for all the changes that the publisher is going to insist on; it is also not counting how much time and energy and cost that the author is going to have to sunk into personally advertising their book. Realistically, an occult writer can make more money per year flipping burgers in some dungy restaurant. That is right, I am saying that a successful occult writer is only going to make thirteen or fourteen thousand a year. No wonder so many of them sell magical dragon blood and love magic kits to make ends meet.
The moral of this story is that occult writers are not making money hand over foot; and if you want to make money as a writer, you are better off writing something else.
(The inspiration for this post was a blog post on Llewellyn was about the true cost of piracy of occult books. In other words, occult writers cannot afford their occult books being pirated.)
[And now the update---less than ten minutes and I have already been told that my figures are wrong. Thanks to my writing friends on Facebook for pointing out my mistake.]
Ok, I have been informed that it is actually the wholesale price and not the retail price that the percent is coming from. Therefore, it is not ten thousand for a sucessful book; rather it is five thousand. Furthermore, not all publishers give ten percent royality...which drops the figure to below five thousand for a successful occult book. That makes flipping burgers for a living look even better, doesn't it?