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Can an author make it big with just one successful book (not a series)?


I heard Harper Lee made it big from just one big; To Kill a Mockingbird.

8 Answers

  • Herve
    Lv 6
    2 months ago
    Favourite answer

    Jaws, by Peter Benchley, is a good example. It was selling millions of copies in the year before the release of the film, staying on the bestseller list for 44 weeks.

  • 2 months ago

    Yes, There have been some one hit wonders in the literary field.

  • 2 months ago

    well, I heard the Bible did pretty well. 

    still waiting for the sequel. 

    But seriously topic.........there is actually a film like this...........called  "Finding Forrester"......starring Sean Connery, as an author, who wrote ONE  dazzling,  phenonmenal  award winning book......and then completely vanished for 50 years. ., like a hermit, in his little apartment. 

    Since his one first book did so exceptionally well, and was recognized as a brilliant masterpiece......he was afraid to write anything else,  out of fear it could never live up to the first one. 

    But in fact, had spent the last 50 years writing.....just not publishing any of it. 

  • 2 months ago

    We'd have to consider only relatively current authors to answer this--and what "make it big" means is, as already noted, not clearly defined. Harper Lee's experience is not likely to happen in the 2000s.

    I'm part of a large online writing community. A handful of its members have had NYT bestsellers, won Hugo awards, and/or had movie and TV options. (No movies made, one Netflix series.) Of that handful, about half still work their day jobs or have another source of income, like a working spouse.

    Book royalties for a single book are not going to make an author rich enough for life unless they sell fantabulous numbers. Hardcovers often pay 10% on the first 5000 sold, 12 ½% on the next 5000 units, and 15% after that. Most first novels by people who are not celebrities sell under the first 5000. If you sold 5000 hardcovers retailing for $25, you’d earn $12,500. Sell 10,000, you're at $28,125. 15,000 sales, $46,875. You could live on that in many places, but you won't be in a mansion or anywhere near a major city.

    But let's say your book totally takes off and you sell 100,000 copies the first year it's out. That's $365,625--nice chunk of change, but nowhere near enough to live on indefinitely, no matter how wisely you invest it.

    Every writer's situation is unique, but the ones I know who talk money openly (which is few of them) say that when their royalties equal or are greater than their day job earnings for three consecutive years, that's when they consider quitting their jobs to write full time, living on the saved royalties they did not spend.

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  • Cogito
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    The expression 'to make it big' can mean virtually anything.

    A few writers have become famous from writing a single novel and a few have made a lot of money, but if the reason you're asking is because you want to be famous and make huge quantities of cash by writing a book, forget it.  Real writers write because they have a story to tell and they love writing.  Money and fame are not their goals.

  • Elaine
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    It depends on the talent of the author.  Here are a few authors.

    Margaret Mitchell:  Gone With the Wind". 

    Mary Shelley:  Frankenstein

    Emily Bronte:  Wuthering Heights

    Bram Stoker: Dracula.  While he did write other stories none were as successful as Dracula

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    That depends entirely on what your definition of "making it big" is. Do you mean "solidifying one's place in literature"? Do you mean "becoming a household name"? Do you mean "making a lot of money"? Or all three? Several well known authors only wrote one single book. And many, many more wrote one book that overshadows the rest. Americans think "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a terrific book, and while everyone has heard the name Harper Lee, nobody ever read another book written by her until her publisher decided to pass off some of her earlier work as something fresh and new. Margaret Mitchell wrote "Gone With the Wind", though people have attempted to flog her old writing as well. That eejit Emily Brontë only wrote the one awful book. John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces" is his sole book, if we're not counting old drafts that were never published. Some of the authors I've listed are recognised as being great writers. A few of the books on this list are very famous. And while none of these authors made enough money to fill a swimming pool, some were more than comfortable. 

    Imagine if you could write and publish only one single book and be given a choice: You could write a book seen as being absolutely brilliant and solidify your place in literature BUT make practically no money from it and the general public would largely ignore it OR you could write a book that sells with little to no literary merit. 

    The choice you make shows not only what sort of author you are, but what sort of person you are as well. 

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Not for very long that's why many successful books are made into a series. You'll be lucky to even get published let alone "make it big". If it was easy millions more would be rich off writing.

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