All About Advances

All About Advances Let’s talk about advances today. Please keep in mind all of this information is very generalized and won’t accurately describe every situation. First, what’s an “advance” anyway? An advance is a “pre-payment” of the royalties the publisher expects you to earn on your book. Let’s say the publisher has agreed to pay you a royalty of 8% on the retail price of the book, and your book is going to sell for $14.00. You are going to earn $1.12 for each copy of the book sold. So if the publisher has paid you an advance of $10,000, how many copies do you have to sell to earn out your advance? Your break-even would be 8,929 copies. Your publisher has already paid you the royalty on those first 8,929 units sold. If and when your book sells more than...
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What’s a Typical Advance?

What’s a Typical Advance? Writers always ask about “average” or typical advances in publishing these days. It’s a fair question—if you’re hoping for some kind of payoff, it’s nice to know what that might look like. But the truth is: There is no typical advance. Actually, it’s misleading and unhelpful to talk about “average” advances, because all that matters is your advance. If it’s below the average, you’ll be bummed and it will take some of the joy away from getting your book deal. If it’s far above the average, hopefully you’ll be grateful but you also run the risk of getting smug. Advances vary widely depending on what kind of book, which publisher buys it, and the size of the author platform. A typical first-timer advance might be anywhere from $5,000 to...
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It’s Not Always About the Money

It’s Not Always About the Money Negotiating book deals can be rather tricky. Many authors go into it with the mindset of “How big of an advance can I get?” But that is not always the most important question. In the last few months I’ve closed quite a few book deals and one in particular had a lot of publisher interest, and multiple offers. The publisher we went with wasn’t the one with the highest advance. But it was the best deal for a few reasons: → The quality, reputation, distribution and marketing track record of the publisher → The editor’s personal enthusiasm for the book, and the expressed enthusiasm of the entire publishing committee → The fact that the author will most likely earn back the advance and much more in the first year, setting them up as a success story with...
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Author Advances: Is There Such Thing as Too Much?

Author Advances: Is There Such Thing as Too Much? When an author gets a contract offer from a publisher, the first thing they want to know is, “How much?” And by that they mean, “What is the dollar amount of the advance they’re offering?” Obviously, the standard way to view advances is, the more the better. Right? Well, maybe… maybe not. A large advance is a good thing because it means that no matter how many copies your book sells, you’ll receive at least that much money (minus your agent commission). If we’re taking the short view—the “take the money and run” view—then this is a very good thing. If you’re an author who may not have books beyond this first contract, then getting as much money as possible up front is a great idea (from the author’s perspective). However… If you’re taking the long...
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Advances: How Can I Find Who Got What?

Advances: How Can I Find Who Got What? Today I debut my video blogging. Please go easy on me – I’ve never done this before! I decided that in my video blogs I’ll answer questions readers have sent me via email, Twitter, my Facebook page, or the blog. So if you have a question you want me to answer in a video, send it along one way or another. Today’s question: “Where can I find information on actual advances writers have received for books?” The writer noted that the Publishers Marketplace gives a ballpark advance – such as below fifty thousand dollars, or between fifty and one hundred thousand dollars. But they want to know specific advances. Here’s my answer via video, and the same answer appears written out below. My answer: Publishers don’t give out this information, so the only way...
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Is Your Book Worth It?

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/Svcy-J1XfbI/AAAAAAAADO0/DvebA7jLEtM/s200/dollar_signs_color.jpg Yesterday I told you how book royalties work, so today I want to go further and explain a little more about the finances of publishing, this time from the publisher’s perspective. One of the things that’s hard to remember is that the publisher makes a significant financial investment in each writer, with no guarantee that the book will sell. It’s one of the reasons publishers have to make such careful decisions. There’s so much competition out there, and each book costs a substantial amount of cash before your book ever hits the shelves and makes a dime. But what does that mean? How much will a typical publisher spend on your book before they’ve sold a single copy? Here’s a hypothetical overview. Keep in mind this is simply an example and the numbers...
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How Book Royalties Work

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/Svlrdy0bAnI/AAAAAAAADO8/97fHxXHtHAc/s200/dollar-bills.jpg This is one of those basic topics about which you may be confused if you’re just entering the world of publishing. You’ve heard the terms advance and royalties but you’re not quite sure how it all works. I’ll try to explain as simply as possible. The concept of a royalty is that the author receives a percentage of the revenue for each book sold. The exact percentage can’t be generalized because it depends on a variety of factors: the size of the publisher, whether it’s a CBA or ABA house, the author’s platform and saleability, and each publisher’s own criteria (of which you may never be aware). Keep in mind that as technology continues to develop and publishing models change, this age-old royalty model is going to be changing, too. Very soon...
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More on Advances

Shelli asked: in your experience – what is the average advance $ amount? debuts vs others? I think it’s misleading and unhelpful to talk about “average” advances. All that matters is your advance. If your advance is far below the average, you’ll be bummed and it will take some of the joy away from getting your book deal. If it’s far above the average, hopefully you’ll be grateful but you also run the risk of getting smug or thinking you’re all that. Advances vary widely depending on what kind of book, which publisher buys it, and the size of the author platform. A typical first-timer advance might be $15,000 per book. As a new agent, I’ve sold 26 books (mostly debut authors) with total advances for all of them adding up to $504,000. If...
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Maybe You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job Just Yet

I’m back from the long holiday & birthday weekend… thanks for all the great birthday comments yesterday and thanks for the 181 responses to my Guest Blog Challenge! It’s going to take some time to get through them, so please be patient. Hope your holiday was terrific! Today I’m going to discuss the cold, hard reality of the finances of being a published author. Many writers have an ultimate goal of quitting the “day job” and writing full time. Your ability to do that will depend on numerous factors, not the least of which is the amount of income your lifestyle requires and how many people you’re supporting. As you think ahead to the time when you’re making money from writing books, you may need a clearer picture of what it might look...
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Advances Part Two

Yesterday we discussed advances and there were several questions, so today we’ll talk about them some more. First, what is an “advance” anyway? An advance is a “pre-payment” of the royalties the publisher expects you to earn on your book. Let’s say the publisher has agreed to pay you a royalty of 8% on the retail price of the book, and your book is going to sell for $14.00. You are going to earn $1.12 for each copy of the book sold. So if the publisher has paid you an advance of $5,000, how many copies do you have to sell to earn out your advance? Your break-even would be 4,464 copies. In other words, your publisher has already paid you the royalty on those first 4,464 units sold. If and when your book sells more than that, your additional royalties...
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Ask the Agent: Advances

I’d like to know your perspective on advances. What is the average advance, in CBA versus ABA? How are advances paid out? Is an advance negotiable, and if so, to what degree? It’s impossible to give an “average” advance in either CBA or ABA. They’re wildly all over the map depending on so many factors. In my first year agenting, I’ve done contracts for advances ranging from $1,000 all the way up to six figures. I haven’t found ABA advances to be a whole lot higher than CBA for comparable books, but it’s true the big New York houses can generally pay more than the smaller independent Christian houses. Of course, there are plenty of smaller, independent general-market (ABA) publishers who pay smaller advances, too. While there’s no...
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Getting an Agent… Later in the Game

I’ve just sold my second novel (unagented) to a major publisher, and have signed the contract. Would it be prudent to look for an agent? Do you think the publisher would mind one coming on board at this late stage? Do I need one? Good question. Since there are so many reasons people desire to have agents, or find that they need an agent, it’s good to consider this from different angles. Most writers who have published a couple of books can benefit from having an agent step in to help manage their career. Usually the agent will be able to steer you in the right direction as far as what to write next and which publishing houses to approach. They can help you get the advance you deserve which is often more substantial than one you could get on your own. (I’ve seen...
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Earning Out Advances

For any of you hoping for an update on the CCWC, here it is: I went, I taught, I met with writers (including some of my blog regulars which was really fun), found some potential clients, said hi to my industry friends, was forced to eat really bad food, had a fanastic dinner with a client who flew in from New York… then I took off and had lots of fun with my family. That’s about it! So, on to today’s post. You all were so talkative while I was away. Great discussion last week and it led in so many interesting directions. I noticed some misconceptions popped up in the comments so I want to try to clear them up. Today, just a few words to address a couple of misunderstandings about the earning out advances. First, there was a comment that indicated only “a shocking...
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