Thursday, February 24, 2011
Show Me The Money
First a quick announcement. Mary Martinez will no longer be blogging with us. You can read Mary's blog here. We wish her the best.
This is an encore post from last year, but in light of the way the market is now, I thought it would be appropriate to repost it.
If you’re reading this because you think I’m going to tell you about the average payouts from each publisher, move on to another blog. That’s already been done…and very well, I might add. Check out Brenda Hiatt’s “Show Me The Money” list.
No, I’ve decided to talk about advances. How important are they really? In today’s economy, midlist authors are finding their advances shrinking and more and more authors are turning to epubs where they get no advance. Some are even going the self-publishing route, hoping to cash into that market in a JA Konrath sort of way.
I signed a three-book deal with a major publisher and pretty much got the average advance. Like any début author, I probably would have signed on the dotted line for much less just to see the printed book in my hands.
But what exactly does the amount of the advance mean?
I decided to do a little research and here’s what I discovered.
The amount of an advance is an indicator of how many copies of the book the publisher thinks they can sell. Let’s face it. Unless you’re the next Janet Evanovich with a ten million plus advance for your next book, it’s unlikely your publisher will pay for the front-of-the-store stacks nor will they go all out for publicity of your book...two things necessary to sell a lot of books.
The truth is (from my research) you may earn out your advance for a first or second book, but additional royalties are probably not going to make you a millionaire. That’s just the nature of the writing beast. You have to go after book sales yourself. Add in your expenses getting that first book published…conferences to network, mailings, ads, promotions, etc… and it’s likely there will be no profit and maybe even a loss to claim on taxes.
And I just heard that one major NY publisher is paying out advances in quarters. That's 1/4 when you sign, 1/4 when you turn in the final edited manuscript, 1/4 when it's published, and 1/4 a year later. Huh? What part of advance do they not get?
One myth we authors have is that the bigger our advance, the more likely we are of getting an even bigger chunk of change the next time around. This is not always true and sometimes can even backfire and produce the opposite results. If sales on your book do not earn out that big advance, there’s a possibility no one will take a chance on your next one. Plenty of authors have been dumped because of low sales.
So, now that I’ve totally depressed you, let me offer a bit of advice. Despite the economy, publishers are still looking to discover the next JK Rowlings or Charlain Harris in the slush piles. What can we do to increase our chances of this happening and of getting bigger advances? Write the best damn book we can, turn it into our editor on time and go gung-ho with self marketing.
It’s all about the numbers, folks.
Oh, BTW, I’d love for you to buy my book when it comes out, and I promise to buy yours. That’s another way we can help each other. It just so happens it came out on Amazon yesterday and is available for preorder. OMG! That's a shameless plug!
So, let me hear what you think about this or any stories you may have about advances.