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Virector
05-05-2008, 11:43 AM
I myself have not completed a book by a long shot and I ask this on behalf of a friend who has completed his fantasy manuscript and is ready to send out queries to prospective publishers. Forgive my and his lack of knowledge, but how do writers get paid for their book sales? Is it on commision, is it a percentage of the sales or do you recieve a fixed amount. Also... No, the best way I can ask this is to use an actual example: Say your book gets published and sells 1000 copies for, say, $1 each- on average, how much of the $1000 generated comes to the author? I understand that things vary considerably, but I would appreciate any relative feedback, or just 'on-average' facts. Thank you. :)

steveg144
05-05-2008, 12:38 PM
Two concepts here: "advance" and "royalty."

An advance is paid to the author up front, before a single copy is sold. Note, this is an advance against future sales; think of it as the publisher loaning you some of your future royalty money (see below). Famous people get huge advances; subject-matter experts can sometimes get decent advances, as can writers who already have a book out there that has done well; first time authors get very modest advances, at best.

Royalties are a per-copy $$$ paid to the author. So, for example, let's say your book sells for $10 and they pay you $1. That $1 is your royalty. That's all you get (unless your agent is able to sell foreign and film rights, which is a whole nuther conversation). Note that if your publisher paid you an advance, that is deducted from your royalties. So let's say you're getting $1 royalty, and the publisher paid you a $1000 advance. Your book has to sell 1000 copies to "pay back" that advance ($1 x 1000 copies). Only when you hit the 1001th copy do you start getting more royalty money.

Hope this helps.

Virector
05-05-2008, 01:34 PM
Thank you, Steve! This is great info!

maestrowork
05-05-2008, 02:23 PM
Basically authors get paid through royalties. An advance is just another form of that -- it's an "advance" against royalty. Once you earn out, the rest of your royalty will kick in.

Of course, it all depends on the contract and what kind of rights you're selling. If you're talking about movie rights, foreign, video games, etc. then there are some other forms of payment such as options, profit sharing, merchandising rights, etc.

Check out some books on the business of publishing at the library or book stores. I think you or your friend needs to learn about the business before plunging in.

steveg144
05-05-2008, 05:49 PM
Thank you, Steve! This is great info!

Actually I botched that post a bit (teach me to post before my second cuppa joe...) I just edited it to make it more coherent vis-a-vis the relationship between royalties and advances. Good luck!

Phaeal
05-05-2008, 06:04 PM
Vee, buy a book about the publishing business and share it with your friend. This is a very complicated subject, and you both need to have a good basic understanding of what you're getting into before jumping into querying.

A book I've found very helpful is Elizabeth Lyon's Sell You Novel Toolkit. She goes into detail about contracts and also gives detailed examples of queries and synopses, those basic tools of selling.

Check it out on Amazon, and Amazon will kindly give you the titles of other useful books on the subject. ;) The Toolkit is advertised at $10.17. What a deal!

Full disclosure: I don't work for Lyon or Amazon. No commissions coming in here. :D

James81
05-05-2008, 06:27 PM
Two concepts here: "advance" and "royalty."

An advance is paid to the author up front, before a single copy is sold. Note, this is an advance against future sales; think of it as the publisher loaning you some of your future royalty money (see below). Famous people get huge advances; subject-matter experts can sometimes get decent advances, as can writers who already have a book out there that has done well; first time authors get very modest advances, at best.

Royalties are a per-copy $$$ paid to the author. So, for example, let's say your book sells for $10 and they pay you $1. That $1 is your royalty. That's all you get (unless your agent is able to sell foreign and film rights, which is a whole nuther conversation). Note that if your publisher paid you an advance, that is deducted from your royalties. So let's say you're getting $1 royalty, and the publisher paid you a $1000 advance. Your book has to sell 1000 copies to "pay back" that advance ($1 x 1000 copies). Only when you hit the 1001th copy do you start getting more royalty money.

Hope this helps.

What's a typical percentage for a royalty?

Is the $1 for ever $10 book (or in simpler terms 10%) a typical royalty? Or is it more or less?

Irysangel
05-05-2008, 07:41 PM
Royalties depend on the format (in most cases).

I've heard that a lot of e-book companies give 40% royalties.

MMPB tends to be the lowest royalty percentage, I think, with TPB scaled upward, and highest is Hardcover.

Lowest royalty percentage I've heard is 4%. Highest is 12% (and that's usually if the book sells over a certain amount of copies and does better than the publisher expected).

Everything is always subjective to your contract, of course. :)

Toothpaste
05-05-2008, 07:42 PM
It's usually a percentage, usually 10%, but it can go up to 12.5%. Sometimes an author can negotiate an escalating royalty which is they start at 10% but after they sell a certain number of books they then go up to 12.5%.

That's for books in bookstores though. Things get way more complicated with audio books, and ebooks etc. And to be honest, I can't give you the numbers right now.

Old Hack
05-05-2008, 09:23 PM
Get hold of a copy of Jenna Glatzer's "Street-Smart Writer", as it explains a huge amount about contracts, royalties and the writing life.

I prefer real, print copies but if you are short on cash, check out the Bewares board as there are instructions there on how to get a free download of the book.

James81
05-05-2008, 11:36 PM
Get hold of a copy of Jenna Glatzer's "Street-Smart Writer", as it explains a huge amount about contracts, royalties and the writing life.



Maybe we should just send her a mass PM demanding requesting her to tell us the information in said book. :D

maestrowork
05-05-2008, 11:40 PM
Typical royalty is between 8% to 15%, sometimes on a sliding scale. Mass market paperback may be on the lower side. Some are on net, and some are on cover. It differs from contract to contract.

Redhedd
05-06-2008, 12:56 AM
Here is the royalty breakdown from my current contract:

ROYALTY RATE:
Hardcover: 10% to 5,000; 12.5% to 10,000; 15% thereafter
Trade Paperback: 7.5%
Mass Market: 8% to 150,000; 10% thereafter

These are royalties on cover price, with a major publisher.

Hope that helps.

Danger Jane
05-06-2008, 01:12 AM
btw:

You say your friend is trying to find out this stuff before submitting to publishers. Is he aware that the typical course is to submit to agents, who then sell the story to a publisher?