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Old 03-09-2006, 11:50 PM   #1
loriann
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What do Romance Novels Pay?

This is just a question that I am curious about. I don't write romance novels, but my friend and I were discussing writing and books and royalties and for the life of us, neither of us could remember ever seeing anything about what the mainstream romance publishers pay for novels. A look through several sites turned up nothing and that really peaked our curiousity...why is this such a well kept secret??? LOL So how much do romance writers get paid for their books? Anyone know? A Set Fee? Royalties? If you can answer this, you will help two writing geeks stop being obsessed by something trivial and maybe we can get back to work on our own projects! LOL
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Old 03-10-2006, 12:23 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loriann
So how much do romance writers get paid for their books? Anyone know? A Set Fee? Royalties?
That's a more complicated question than you know. Much depends on which line with which publisher the author's negotiating with, how recognizable the author's name is, whether or not the author has an effective agent, and so on.

With commercial publishers, advances and royalties are standard. The author gets an advance--a certain amount of money upfront. This is an advance on royalties. If the book earns more in royalties than the author received as an advance, the publisher pays that to the author as well. If the author has done "work for hire," she typically is paid a set fee and that's it.

These sites might get you started:

Show Me the Money (specifically romance)

Genre advances (this is for SF, but it will give you an idea of what kind of variables are involved)
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Old 03-10-2006, 12:29 AM   #3
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Thanks! We just thought it was funny that it was so hard to find the information!
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Old 03-10-2006, 12:36 AM   #4
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Probably because there is no clear answer. Even if you only consider major category romance puiblishers is comes down to 'an advance' (depending on what you or your agent can get given book genre/quality and writer fame...) and royalties (so depends on how many sell).
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Old 03-10-2006, 12:38 AM   #5
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Romance

Let me just say that a romance novel can earn a LOT of money.

Nora Roberts earned thirty million dollars year before last.
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Old 03-10-2006, 12:44 AM   #6
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Why would authors of romances be paid any differently than any other novelist out there? Some receive advances, some receive set fees, some make decent money, some don't. It's all a matter of how well the book is written, who publishes it, what type of deal the author or their agent negotiates, etc.
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Old 03-10-2006, 01:06 AM   #7
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Romance is one of the genres where there is an abnormally wide range of advances. Part of that is because of the difference between "category" and "single-title" romances.


A category romance (Harlequin, Silhouette, Mills & Boon and formerly Dorchester and Zebra) is one which is set up similar to Doubleday Book Club or Columbia House Music Club. People sign up for a "category" of book, whether Regency or Suspense, Contemporary or Paranormal. Then, each and every month -- that person will be sent three to five books in that category, no matter who the author is. It's done the same way in the groceries and book stores, too. Every month, there are brand new books in that same category, which are often color coded for the reader's convenience. But because they're monthly selections, next month they're off the shelf to free up the space. They LITERALLY have expiration dates -- they're removed from the shelf on that date, like old milk or stale cookies. So, advances are much lower because of the short time span, and reflect what the publisher believes the "club readership" of the category will pay over the shelf life of the title. Many category authors write lots and lots of books each year (sometimes because they're shorter length books) to keep their advances up. As the individual authors grow, readers will order the back list of that author (like Nora Roberts), and the royalties can skyrocket years down the road.

Now, single title books, what you're accustomed to seeing on the shelf, are the same as any other genre of book. The books stay in print as "backlist" until people no longer buy them, so advances are higher. But a lot depends on how the subgenre is doing at any given time. Right now, paranormals are hot. So are spicy "erotic" romances. Regencies are nearly dead (but will probably come back.)

Brenda's list (Show Me the Money) is probably the best one out there, because authors keep sending her updated information about sales so her averages are pretty much on the mark.
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Old 03-10-2006, 01:22 AM   #8
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Is there any such list for the mystery/thriller genre?
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Old 03-10-2006, 02:34 AM   #9
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Romance novels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Birol
Why would authors of romances be paid any differently than any other novelist out there? Some receive advances, some receive set fees, some make decent money, some don't. It's all a matter of how well the book is written, who publishes it, what type of deal the author or their agent negotiates, etc.
As Cathy says, Romance novels can be very different from other genres. The romance genre is huge. Massive. So there's far more room to do things in more than one way. But not many receive set fees, at least not those who write for any of the major publishers. Niether do writers in the other genres, for that matter.

But when you're first starting out, there really isn't much room for negotiation in the romance genre, or any other genre, really. But especially in the romance genre.
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Old 03-10-2006, 03:00 AM   #10
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I found this list particularly thorough, although I'm sure it's not 100% updated:

http://brendahiatt.com/
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Old 03-10-2006, 03:23 AM   #11
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MediaBistro has a list of average advances from a couple of romance publishers here. Obviously this is no guarantee that your novel will earn the same amount. It could be less or it could be more.

Jackie

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Old 03-10-2006, 03:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie
Let me just say that a romance novel can earn a LOT of money.

Nora Roberts earned thirty million dollars year before last.
Actually, she earned 60 million in 2004, 30 million in 2005. Wow...

http://www.forbes.com/celebrities200...atatype=Person


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Old 03-10-2006, 05:23 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheryll
Actually, she earned 60 million in 2004, 30 million in 2005. Wow...

http://www.forbes.com/celebrities200...atatype=Person


Interestng. I was given the reverse numbers. But Forbes pretty much always gets it right.

Either way, she has enough money in her purse at any given time to have me killed, so I need to get it right.
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Old 03-10-2006, 05:27 AM   #14
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Advance

Quote:
Originally Posted by clara bow
I found this list particularly thorough, although I'm sure it's not 100% updated:

http://brendahiatt.com/
Those look very accurate, from my experience. It's good to keep in mind that these are averages, especially for subsequent books. After your first book, advnaces for subsequent books are largely based on how well your first book sold, so they can be all over the place. The better your first book sells, the higher your next advance should be.

Of course, sales numbers and royalties are where you hope to make the real money on your first book.
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Old 03-10-2006, 06:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheryll
Actually, she earned 60 million in 2004, 30 million in 2005. Wow...

http://www.forbes.com/celebrities200...atatype=Person

Okay, Nora is totally in her own league. No one else is even in the same field. In fact, Nora is a whole genre unto herself.

And let me tell you, the woman works her fingers off. She writes at least 6 books a year I think. Talk about focus!

And her stories are terrific, at least, IMHO.

Also, don't forget that she releases under her own name, and the JD Robb penname. (I know numerous people who were shocked, simply shocked that the futuristic mysteries they were enjoying had actually been written by a <gasp> romance writer. <G> Of course, that cat is well out of the bag now.)

And don't forget that the millions she's earning now are in part, due to rereleases of her backlist. So that's money earned on "old" work. And isn't that a nice thing? So it's not one book that earned her the 30 or 60 million, and it's not even just the new releases. She's built up an incredible backlist that's out there, working for her.

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Old 03-10-2006, 08:41 PM   #16
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Quote:
A category romance (Harlequin, Silhouette, Mills & Boon and formerly Dorchester and Zebra) is one which is set up similar to Doubleday Book Club or Columbia House Music Club. People sign up for a "category" of book, whether Regency or Suspense, Contemporary or Paranormal. Then, each and every month -- that person will be sent three to five books in that category, no matter who the author is. It's done the same way in the groceries and book stores, too. Every month, there are brand new books in that same category, which are often color coded for the reader's convenience. But because they're monthly selections, next month they're off the shelf to free up the space. They LITERALLY have expiration dates -- they're removed from the shelf on that date, like old milk or stale cookies. So, advances are much lower because of the short time span, and reflect what the publisher believes the "club readership" of the category will pay over the shelf life of the title. Many category authors write lots and lots of books each year (sometimes because they're shorter length books) to keep their advances up. As the individual authors grow, readers will order the back list of that author (like Nora Roberts), and the royalties can skyrocket years down the road.

I thought this point is interesting, because other threads have talked about the problems authors face with second and subsequent titles. But it almost seems as if the low numbers for beginning romance novelists pay off, because if they're looking to build a career, they have a guaranteed market. As long as they continue to improve and produce decent stuff, eventually they'll have the opportunity to make a name for themselves. In other genres, you're basically working from single title to single title, and if your first novel doesn't sell well right out of the starting gate, you could be SOL.
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Old 03-10-2006, 08:55 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Susan Gable
Also, don't forget that she releases under her own name, and the JD Robb penname. (I know numerous people who were shocked, simply shocked that the futuristic mysteries they were enjoying had actually been written by a <gasp> romance writer. <G> Of course, that cat is well out of the bag now.)
I'm not entirely surprised. I have read only one of Nora Roberts's titles. It was Sanctuary. I found it in a random grab-box of the sort libraries give away from time to time. Being totally unaware of Nora Roberts as a Name In Romance, I kept saying to myself, "I'm loving this story, but Gods, there sure are some super-tawdry gratuitous sex scenes in this murder mystery!"

So, yeah, futuristic mystery, why not? I'd read 'em.

[making note of JD Robb on to-read list]
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Old 03-10-2006, 09:00 PM   #18
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Romance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeshanu
I thought this point is interesting, because other threads have talked about the problems authors face with second and subsequent titles. But it almost seems as if the low numbers for beginning romance novelists pay off, because if they're looking to build a career, they have a guaranteed market. As long as they continue to improve and produce decent stuff, eventually they'll have the opportunity to make a name for themselves. In other genres, you're basically working from single title to single title, and if your first novel doesn't sell well right out of the starting gate, you could be SOL.
I wouldn't say low numbers pay off. Sell though still maters, and the majority of romance writers don't sell well enough, or can't write fast enough, or can't write as well as Nora Roberts, to get rich down the line.

There really is no such thing as a guaranteed market. Not all the category romance novels sell well, and the fewer that are left to be pulled form the racks a month later, the better.

Romance readers do not automatically buy every writer, and never fall in love with many. Romance writers get cut just like all other writers do.
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Old 03-10-2006, 09:14 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie
Romance readers do not automatically buy every writer, and never fall in love with many.
My experience with romance readers is that they do buy a lot of new authors. Many, many readers buy every new book in a line, or in several lines, every month. They don't have to really, really love an author to keep buying the author's books--though of course that never hurts. In general, romance readers are very willing to try new authors, and willing to keep buying as long as the author can deliver a good story.
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Old 03-10-2006, 09:24 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aconite
My experience with romance readers is that they do buy a lot of new authors. Many, many readers buy every new book in a line, or in several lines, every month. They don't have to really, really love an author to keep buying the author's books--though of course that never hurts. In general, romance readers are very willing to try new authors, and willing to keep buying as long as the author can deliver a good story.
Yes, they do buy a lot of new writers, but when they find a writer they don't like they stop buying them. And if sales are any indication, they find quite a few they don't like. The key is that many new writers never do deliver a good story.

If all romance writers sold equally, they'd all be rich and famous, and there wouldn't be any need for new romance writers.

Not nearly enough readers buy every book in a line every month to make sure all the writers in that line are successful. Even category romance writers fall by the wayside on a regular basis.
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Old 03-10-2006, 09:33 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Susan Gable
Okay, Nora is totally in her own league. No one else is even in the same field. In fact, Nora is a whole genre unto herself.

And let me tell you, the woman works her fingers off. She writes at least 6 books a year I think. Talk about focus!

And her stories are terrific, at least, IMHO.

Also, don't forget that she releases under her own name, and the JD Robb penname. (I know numerous people who were shocked, simply shocked that the futuristic mysteries they were enjoying had actually been written by a <gasp> romance writer. <G> Of course, that cat is well out of the bag now.)

And don't forget that the millions she's earning now are in part, due to rereleases of her backlist. So that's money earned on "old" work. And isn't that a nice thing? So it's not one book that earned her the 30 or 60 million, and it's not even just the new releases. She's built up an incredible backlist that's out there, working for her.

Susan G.
*And* She's a super decent person. I love to see someone nice like Nora, who works her fingers off, get ahead in this world.
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Old 03-10-2006, 10:35 PM   #22
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Shadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsShadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsShadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsShadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsShadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsShadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsShadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsShadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsShadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsShadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsShadow_Ferret is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Well, as soon as I finish Cathy C's book, I'll know all there is to know about supernatural romances and then I can start pulling in those 5 figure advances.


Right?

Right?
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Old 03-10-2006, 11:31 PM   #23
Susan Gable
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Susan Gable is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Gable is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Gable is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Gable is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Gable is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Gable is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Gable is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Gable is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Gable is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Gable is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf
I'm not entirely surprised. I have read only one of Nora Roberts's titles. It was Sanctuary. I found it in a random grab-box of the sort libraries give away from time to time. Being totally unaware of Nora Roberts as a Name In Romance, I kept saying to myself, "I'm loving this story, but Gods, there sure are some super-tawdry gratuitous sex scenes in this murder mystery!"

So, yeah, futuristic mystery, why not? I'd read 'em.

[making note of JD Robb on to-read list]
I love her detective heroine in those books. It's the "In Death" series, and I finally just got around to reading the first two of the series. I may have missed a couple other beginning ones, too, but I was hooked from the point that I jumped into the series. But it was neat to go back and see how the characters had started out.

Still great sex scenes, though. <G> Which is fine with me because the heroine's love interest is hot. LOL.

As far as romance authors having more opportunity to "build" - I don't think that's so true anymore. It's the same thing in the romance industry as it is in any other genre - it's all about the numbers, and if your numbers aren't that great, good-bye, no more contracts for you.

I've seen some recent chatting by a number of authors who've been cut loose by their pubs, including one who's selling out her print-runs and still the publisher doesn't know if they want any more books from her.

So, it's the same story no matter which genre you're in.

Susan G.
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Old 03-11-2006, 05:27 AM   #24
Cathy C
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow_Ferret
Well, as soon as I finish Cathy C's book, I'll know all there is to know about supernatural romances and then I can start pulling in those 5 figure advances.


Right?

Right?
Heh. There are LOTS of "supernatural romance" authors who make waaaay more money than us! You should probably read them too (still buy US, of course, though... )
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