Some people have been emailing me and trying to do the math about being a working writer. The fact is, it's impossible math to do. Yes, there are people who live entirely off their novel writing. These people are few and far between - and not only that, but they usually have totally different financial setups when they do their taxes. Let me give some examples:
(1) The great novelist - Has probably won a Pulitzer at some point, or the National Book Award. Everything he (it's usually a he) writes will be a bestseller no matter how bad it is, at least for the first two weeks. He'll always get a review in the New York Times Book Review, probably close to the front. To live fairly comfortably, he only has to produce a book about once a decade, which is probably around his output anyway. Examples would be Philip Roth, Thomas Pychon.
(2) The bestseller - This guy or girl just writes really, really marketable stuff, and not only that, but produces it on a regular basis of every 1-2 years. He/she usually gets hammered by critics but is at the top of the list anyway, and his/her old stuff is always in print. This person could have retired years ago, financially, but simply can't stop writing - because he's a real writer. And for real writers, writing is like breathing. His breath just happens to be very commercial. Examples would be Stephen King, Tom Clancy, John Grisham.
(3) The mid-list author: Had one break-out hit, regularly produces a book a year that goes for 30-40,000 advance, possible royalties depending on the reviews. Probably works in a genre like fantasy or horror or mystery, because mid-list authors don't survive in general fiction. Eventually, he/she will probably get an offer to write some material for some fantasy series (like the Dragonlance novels) and will do it, but under a different name.
(4) The one-book author - Very, very few one-book authors can live off the proceeds of that book. You know their names and have read their books - JD Salinger, Cervantes, Dan Brown. (I can't believe Cervantes went in the same sentence as Dan Brown) Chances are, these writers have other material - some of it published, some sitting on a shelf - that you or may not have heard of or read. The point is, they wrote a classic of literature (or just something that sold enough to have them swimming in one-dollar coins like Scrooge McDuck). These people come along maybe a couple times a century.
I'm leaving stuff out here, but it's time for Shabbos. Happy Chanukah. And no, there isn't an official spelling of the holiday.