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pcarney
April 17th, 2003, 11:09 AM
Man, why does everything that interests me (writing, martial arts, writing inane posts) pay squat?!

Oh well. Actually getting something published will be reward enough (although a fat check would be nice, too).

KatG
April 17th, 2003, 06:22 PM
Jordan and Goodkind's advances are in the million dollar range. Not the high millions, but good enough. Jordan is the highest selling author in the fantasy genre, not counting Harry Potter and the like, which are considered children's fantasy. Goodkind made headlines with his first book, for which he received a million dollar advance, a first for fantasy and possibly a first for a first-time writer. (There was an auction and it got a little lively.)

The advance is not the purchase price of a book. It's an *advance* on royalties, like an advance you might get from your employer for expected travel expenses. If you sell enough copies to earn more royalties than the amount of your advance, which happens pretty regularly, you receive those royalties. So even if you receive only say a $3,000 U.S. advance, at say a 6.5% royalty per paperback for a paperback priced at say $5.99, if that book then sold 20,000 copies, you'd make $7,787, which includes the $3,000 advance. And there are other mitigating factors like price discounts that reduce royalties and royalty escalations that increase royalties and hardcovers get higher royalty rates, etc., but you do make a little money, even in small markets like Britain.

But money isn't the major point for most first novels. The point is to get in the door and try to build and establish a writing career, which could become highly profitable. There are also subsidiary rights such as film rights, which aren't as lucrative for sf/f as other genres, but still a possibility, and foreign territory rights, which can sometimes be more than the home country money even for no-name writers, as sources for money. There is the potential for increasing name recognition and sales, if not on Book #1, then on subsequent books. And there is the buzz factor, which is highly unpredictable.

Take for example, "Holes" by Louis Sachar. "Holes" is Sachar's *17th* children's book. It was a cult fantasy hit which now has 2.7 million copies in print. And it is going ballistic in new sales because the movie version is coming out, 5 years after its publication. I sincerely doubt that when Sachar was selling his first book that he was expecting this sort of thing to happen, do you? Yet it does. And even if it doesn't, there are writers making a decent living at fiction.

There are, obviously, about a zillion better ways to make money than writing a novel. You can write a non-fiction book, for one, which overall pays a lot more and is usually easier to sell. You can write articles, which can be lucrative en masse, you can get into computer software game design, etc. But there is an enormous drive in people to write fiction and a deep affection for the type of fame and status that publishing fiction gets you.

If you want to know about the type of deals that are going on out there, then there are many sources for that information. A good one is the website for Publishers Weekly, publishersweekly.com. PW is the trade magazine for the book industry and they regularly report on big deals with details of territories and advances, though exact royalties are usually not listed. You can find out about the big deals for leading sf/f writers as well as many, many others. Because sf/f is still considered a ghetto largely dependent on its core fan audience instead of a wider mainstream audience, the money is overall a good bit less. But the top leaders do pretty well and the established names make a living. It's just not guaranteed. But then again, no creative enterprise ever is.

Pluvious
April 17th, 2003, 06:47 PM
Originally posted by Mamb
Pluvious, what sort of magazine articles are you referring to? Just general market stuff, or short stories in fantasy magazines?

Anything. Of course the larger the subscriber base the more the magazine pays. And yeah, I realize fiction doesn't sell that lucratively to magazines, but I was trying to emphasize the quanity of writing as compared to the amount of pay (nothing else).

rotty1021
April 17th, 2003, 10:32 PM
Excellent post, KatG. :)

Hemingway
April 17th, 2003, 11:20 PM
Actually, based on a quote by a writer who had the same agent as Terry Goodkind, he recieved a $250,000 advance. Still a pretty nice hunk of change there! This is probably the best site I've seen regarding payment for fantasy work. It's written by a writer Holly Lisle, a pretty good writer in her own respect. http://hollylisle.com/fm/Articles/faqs5.html

milamber_reborn
April 18th, 2003, 02:36 AM
Unfortunately, the only job I can see myself doing other than computer tutoring which I'm going to start doing, is writing. And mainly fantasy.

As for a $5000 advance. I'd be happy with that. It'd be $5000 more than I'm earning at the moment. Of course, I'm not looking to feed a family or have a good annual income at this stage.

I think short stories are the way to go if you write good speculative fiction. It takes me a week to write a short story spending only a couple of hours a day. If I were to receive $200-$400 from a pro zine then I'm making good money for light work. You've just got be good enough to sell a lot of stories.

BTW, if I could think of something to write an article on that would sell, I'd be writing and submitting those like crazy.

milamber_reborn
April 18th, 2003, 02:38 AM
Anyone know if general/mainstream fiction short stories pay better than specualtive fiction?

Also, I've got a general fiction short story sitting here, that I've had good feedback on. I have no idea where to send it.

I, Brian
April 18th, 2003, 03:31 AM
:)

IaNo
April 18th, 2003, 04:34 AM
Originally posted by milamber_reborn
Anyone know if general/mainstream fiction short stories pay better than specualtive fiction?

Also, I've got a general fiction short story sitting here, that I've had good feedback on. I have no idea where to send it.

this is also something i would like to know. im not even sure where to send my sci-fi/fantasy stuff. All the places I've found aren't even close to the amount of money you are all talking about ($200). most are like $20 to $50 and that hardly seems worthwhile. I can write short stories but I don't really like to; i'd rather work on my novels and work at a real job for 50 bucks.

mistri
April 18th, 2003, 07:07 AM
Visit www.ralan.com (http://www.ralan.com/) for a great site on markets.

You'll see that with the pro markets, that for a 3,000 word story you could earn from $90 (ralan calls $.0.03 per word a pro market) up to $240 for somewhere like Analog.

Of course, you shouldn't be writing shorts if it's not what you want to write. But for those who actually like, or get something out of writing short stories, they can be useful, if sold to a credible magazine (especially the pro paying markets) as a writing credit. They help build your profile and career. If you later submit a book to a mainstream publishers a sale from one of the pro mags (and even semi-pro and other credible mags) can make them sit up and take notice.

It would be hard for even the best short story s/f writers to make a career out of selling shorts to magazines alone (maybe if they sold successful anthologies too). But they're great for supplementary income, or better still, as something to do as well as novel writing, or just because you like doing them, or because you value them as a writing credit.

I'm probably not the sort of person who would spend as much time writing if there was nothing in it at all. But nor do I write and fully expect to make a living from it immediately - even for those who sell it requires long, hard, constant work. And the projects that don't pay a lot often pay off in other ways.

If I wrote a short story in a few days in my spare time, tried the pro markets but eventually sold to a semi-pro mag for $50 I personally, would regard that as worthwhile. But yes, if you don't - spend that time writing a novel instead - no one said you had to write shorts - write what you want to write :)