Especially when you're a fantasy writer and that's the paycheck you're getting for a new series. That's how much Del Rey is paying Michael J. Sullivan of the excellent Riyria Revelations series. The new five book series will be called The First Empire and the the titles of each book are: Rhune, Dherg, Rhist, Phyre, and Fhrey. According to Fantasy Faction, there was a potential bidding war brewing between several publishers for the new series and Del Rey essentially said "screw that noise" and laid down half a million bucks. In addition, because this story needs some gravy, an audiobook company called Recorded Books picked up the audio rights for another six figures.
I think the reason why people are talking about the money is because I doubt a lot of writers - even a minority - get paid that much and the ones who do are probably the big timers like GRRM, Terry Brooks, and such. Welcome to the big time, Mr. Sullivan!