Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Authors Should Know about Advances

An advance is a topic brought up a lot in the publishing industry both by the publisher and by the author. Is it a thing of the past? No? Are they more selective on who is getting an advance? Yes. Do you feel you should be getting an advance? Probably. My question is, who the heck are you to deserve an advance? 

I say that not to mock but to make you think. Do you really know what an advance is? It’s a loan. A loan based on anticipated sales. If you are a first time author you haven’t proven you can sell anything. Now if you are a celebrity then that is something different all together. People are buying your name. Publishers know you will sell. 

Over the past year of book touring I have been asked numerous times if Passionate Writer Publishing, the company I work for, gives advances. All I can speak for is myself. I am on book number seven and no I have not been given an advance. But, I don’t want one either. So to the people who keep sending emails to the Publisher saying, “Omegia guaranteed I would get an advance.” Please stop the madness! Your book needs to be accepted first. Sorry, got a little off track there. I don’t want an advance for the reason I stated above. Advance=loan. 

Let me run some numbers for you.  Let’s say Publisher X really sees something in your work and gives you a $7000 Loan Advance. Advances are paid back off your royalties. I will go with the higher median and go with 15%. Royalties are based off net profit. Oh, you thought it was the actual list price of the book? No, someone has to pay a print charge and then those distribution discounts (see previous blog on book pricing for this). An average $15.00 book net profit is around $3.50. 15% of $3.50 is about $0.53. The author will need to sell 13,207 books! And that is just to pay back the publisher. If the author does not sell the promised amount of books within a certain time frame then Publisher X will be seeking legal action—meaning they can garnish you day job checks. I know three authors personally this has happened to. Two were published under Simone and Schuster and one is still under St. Martin’s Press. Yes, they may even drop you as an author.

You still want that advance? I would rather focus on selling books than losing my mind over how to make back money owned. From experience, the 15+ events I attended this year alone, it is much easier to sell books with no pressure than knowing you have to sell a certain amount. Authors under pressure come off like a used car salesman. On my last event at the Miami International Book Fair, a lady was in the booth next to me selling books via name your price. I watched her for hours and not one person took her up on her offer. I on the other hand sold over 40 of my titles and that is with me pushing other authors, under Passionate Writer Publishing’s, titles.

In the end if you are dead set on the advance know exactly what it is you are asking for. Also, make sure your book is worthy of it. 

Until Next Time,
Omegia Keeys
Rise and Fall of a Track Star
Publishing Liaison
Youth Motivator  

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