I sold my first title in early Feb 2006. Since then I have sold 23 more books, & tried to sell a bunch more.
One question that comes up time after time, every time I speak with a potential client, is $. Obviously.
People want to know how they will get rewarded for their efforts. Writing a book is not easy, as anyone who has tried can tell you.
With a few exceptions, this is how it works:
1) NO ADVANCE
In this case, you receive nothing until the book is published. Then you are paid from royalties, i.e. a set % of each copy sold. Ideally that share will be at least 10% of the retail price. Ideally these royalties are sent twice a year; sometimes just once a year.
2) ADVANCE + ROYALTIES
In this case, the publisher pays you an advance, usually in thirds. (1/3 on signing; 1/3 on acceptance of final ms; 1/3 on publication date.)
To keep the math simple, let’s say your advance is 5k. And your royalty rate is 10% of the retail price & the retail price is exactly $30.00.
AFTER THE ADVANCE HAS BEEN PAID, YOU WILL NOT GET A CENT UNLESS THE BOOK SELLS AT LEAST 1670 COPIES, NET. (net=sales minus returns.) (1670 x $3.00=$5010.)
Does that make sense? Put another way, the advance is not a gift or winning the lottery. You have to earn it back through sales.
Next week we will tackle two kinds of royalty numbers–the kind discussed here, that are derived from the retail price, & the kind a lot of publishers prefer–those derived from ‘publisher’s receipts.’