Thanks to literary agent, Chip MacGregor, for passing along this great author interview with novelist, Lynn Viehl. I highly recommend that every author read Lynn's recap of how she made the NY Times fiction best-seller list - and how little money she actually made. Her account will give you a healthy dose of reality about the publishing business.
Also, when Lynn says that she did little to market her novel, keep in mind that she has already had over 40 novels published. So, she's a very experienced author with a decent platform.
I really appreciate Lynn's transparency and willingness to help other authors understand the reality of this profession. The good news is that there are many new ways for authors to make income besides just relying on publisher royalties. Multiple streams of income are available for those willing to take their books and turn them into speaking engagements, audio and video products, movie and theater scripts, coaching and consulting projects, etc.
To survive financially as an author, it's crucial to "think outside the book."