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View Full Version : Just got a $2500 deal- feel really miserable



phoenixking
09-19-2008, 09:12 PM
I just got an offer from a big publisher, who is offering me a deal for my 70K fantasy YA book. He said he'd give me an advance of $2500, with 9% royalties.
:Shrug:
He's only putting it out in paperback.

The deal was negotiated by my wonderful agent.

Considering that I spent 2 years writing and editing this MS, I really expected somewhere in the $5000-$10 000 advance range. I'm aware that most writers don't earn much from royalties, so no expectations there.
:cry:


BTW, I've been following the threads here for the last 3 yrs, but only felt the need to register and post today.

Clair Dickson
09-19-2008, 09:15 PM
I can empathize with the disappointment (who wouldn't want a big advance) but man, I'm still jealous.

Congrats on the deal.

Who knows, maybe you can sell out your advance and make those royalties. It can be done.

JoNightshade
09-19-2008, 09:18 PM
If nothing else, it's a great stepping stone to your next book.

And yeah, I am also jealous. :)

Edmontonian
09-19-2008, 09:22 PM
Seriously, phoenixking, you should be happy. You are experiencing what 99% of Americans (I don't have statistics for Canadians, sorry :-) never will. Being on the bookstore. What is the initial print run, by the way?

The money? It's a by-product. The fame? Who cares! It's not like you write for those two, do you?

If your novel fares well, you'll have a pretty good chance for another book and so on.

So, don't worry, just be happy!

ED

Kats
09-19-2008, 09:24 PM
Well done on selling the book! Try not to be too disappointed by the deal - at least your book was good enough to both get an agent and get published. There's so many authors who had small deals to begin with but kept writing and became bestsellers (like Chuck Palahniuk and Lionel Shriver - two of my favourite authors) so don't take it as an insult to your writing.

phoenixking
09-19-2008, 09:25 PM
I'm extremely grateful for the offer. It was almost impossible to get it because the editor asked for THREE revisions, the elimination of a CHARACTER and much worse. That's one of the reasons for my disappointment. I did everything they said.

Karen Duvall
09-19-2008, 09:28 PM
I understand your disappointment. What does your agent say? When there was interest from this publisher, did he attempt an auction? Average advances for a first book (MMPB) usually range between $4000 and $6000, but it could be different for YA. Still, an advance of any kind is a step up from nothing. My first advance was only $500 with a small press, then my epubbed book got a goose egg for an advance. I think you're pretty darn lucky to be getting $2500, and it's just the first book. Does the contract include a deal for book two?

C A Winters
09-19-2008, 09:33 PM
You have an offer from a "BIG PUBLISHER." Key words IMO. Depending on your contract, who knows how far the small advance may take you? Good job--Congratulations! :)

phoenixking
09-19-2008, 09:34 PM
I haven'y complained to my agent and I never will. My impression on her so far is that it's easy to work with me and I intend to keep it that way.

Hmmm. There was no mention of an auction. However, the publisher did try to do something about discount royalties, which my agent successfully countered and got me a 9% royalty on no matter what way the publisher sold the books. That took nearly a fortnight to settle.

Book 2 is just begun. It is significantly longer than Book 1 (around 160K words projected). I needed to limit the size of Book 1 to make it stand alone, and also because it was my first novel and agents run away from larger YA books.

The contract does not mention Book 2. I was told that it is a bad idea to do that, due to royalties generally coming in after Book 2 is sold, so I said no to that. I am free to submit book 2 whenever I like, assuming Book 1 sells.

BTW, they changed the name, and are considering changing it again. The cover is all right though.

I guess I should have expected less and be more grateful.

Shadow_Ferret
09-19-2008, 09:36 PM
Hmm. Let's see.

You're being published.

You're getting a $2500 advance.

You're getting 9% royalties.

And you're disappointed.

*checks his own status: no agent, no publisher, no nothing*

Yeah, I can see where you'd be disappointed.

katiemac
09-19-2008, 09:39 PM
Large advances aren't always a good thing. If you got $10,000, but never earned your publisher that money in sales, then it's less likely a second book of yours is going to get a similar advance or they might not bet on you at all.

Instead, $2500 is a low advance, but you have a bigger opportunity to outsell that advance and make a your money on royalties. You outsell your advance, you get a bigger one the next time around.

tjwriter
09-19-2008, 09:42 PM
I'm extremely grateful for the offer. It was almost impossible to get it because the editor asked for THREE revisions, the elimination of a CHARACTER and much worse. That's one of the reasons for my disappointment. I did everything they said.

It's common for an editor to ask for revisions. Editors edit. Hopefully after reviewing the suggested changes, you will be able to see where it makes your story stronger.


I haven'y complained to my agent and I never will. My impression on her so far is that it's easy to work with me and I intend to keep it that way.

Hmmm. There was no mention of an auction. However, the publisher did try to do something about discount royalties, which my agent successfully countered and got me a 9% royalty on no matter what way the publisher sold the books. That took nearly a fortnight to settle.

Book 2 is just begun. It is significantly longer than Book 1 (around 160K words projected). I needed to limit the size of Book 1 to make it stand alone, and also because it was my first novel and agents run away from larger YA books.

The contract does not mention Book 2. I was told that it is a bad idea to do that, due to royalties generally coming in after Book 2 is sold, so I said no to that. I am free to submit book 2 whenever I like, assuming Book 1 sells.

BTW, they changed the name, and are considering changing it again. The cover is all right though.

I guess I should have expected less and be more grateful.

It's also common for the name to change. That often happens as well.

And don't be afraid to discuss things with your agent. You can have discussions without being difficult or hard to work with. Afterall, her paycheck comes from selling your book(s).

Fenika
09-19-2008, 09:49 PM
Keep in mind the advance may not be a reflection on your work as much as the fact that you are a new writer with a YA book. Maybe they do this to all the new YA folks.
At least you proved you've got the guts to make changes and can work with them. Now go post in goals and accomplishments.

Darzian
09-19-2008, 09:53 PM
Hmm. Let's see.

You're being published.

You're getting a $2500 advance.

You're getting 9% royalties.

And you're disappointed.

*checks his own status: no agent, no publisher, no nothing*

Yeah, I can see where you'd be disappointed.

Any space in your boat for me?

Toothpaste
09-19-2008, 09:59 PM
First of all congratulations!

Second of all, titles are changed all the time. I would know. That's why I don't even bother naming things anymore until the very end and even then I expect them to change it.

Third of all you mentioned not earning out royalties because that happens all the time, but that isn't exactly accurate. You have an advantage with a lower advance to actually earn out and earn royalties on top of that because you have to sell far fewer books to do so. You aren't in the exact same position as an author who gets a larger advance, in this way you have the upper hand.

Fourth, "you've never complained to your agent and you never will"? Well then why the heck do you have an agent? The point of an agent aside from just selling your work is to be your go between when you have issues with your publisher. She is the one you talk to about not being satisfied with say your cover or whatever. It is their job to take care of you. Your agent is a business partner not a friend. Yes you don't want to be a diva but you should be able to voice your concerns and offer your opinion. You should be told how the sale went down and ask her why you got such a low advance. None of these are offensive questions, they are mature, grown up, professional questions. Wanting to be unobtrusive because you want your agent to like you is childish and not helpful to your career (which in turn is not helpful to the agent's career. If there is something going down with a publisher that you really feel is wrong for your book, and you don't tell your agent who could possibly fix it, then not only you but your agent looses out. Yes I am sure she would appreciate that). Truly, you aren't helping yourself just because you want your agent to think of you as easy going.

I understand why you are disappointed. I would be too. Very. But . . . this is the first step. It isn't the be all and end all, as you write more and sell more things will improve. It's a slow moving business and heck at least you have your foot in the door.

And don't knock those royalties . . . you might very well find yourself doing quite nicely . . . JK Rowling sold her first book for 2500 pounds (around I guess $5000). Twice as much as yours, but still, not considered large by any stretch of the imagination . . . and she did okay . . . :)

IceCreamEmpress
09-19-2008, 10:04 PM
J.K. Rowling's initial advance from Bloomsbury for the first Harry Potter book was less than $15,000.



JK Rowling sold her first book for 2500 pounds (around I guess $5000)

I've heard this, too, but the best-sourced figure I've heard is "less than 10,000 pounds" which would have been less than $15,000 in 1996.

Robin
09-19-2008, 10:05 PM
Congratulations! If this contract is only for North American rights, there's still the possibility of foreign sales. Did your agent say whether this is a typical deal offered by this publisher/ this editor?

Straka
09-19-2008, 10:07 PM
Congrats.

It's good to know others experiences so thanks for sharing. This board certainly helps focus my expectations.

Irysangel
09-19-2008, 10:22 PM
You know, it really depends on the publisher. I've heard of one big publishing house that starts advances at 1,000 and goes up (albeit very slowly). So 2500 is not scrapings. It's not amazing but it's not awful either.

But!! 9% royalties? That is really good. I mean it. Especially on MMPB. So you're not getting as much up front - you're going to sell through like cake, and your royalties are going to be terrific.

Most importantly, this is a foot in the door that can lead to other sales.

geardrops
09-19-2008, 10:40 PM
Large advances aren't always a good thing. If you got $10,000, but never earned your publisher that money in sales, then it's less likely a second book of yours is going to get a similar advance or they might not bet on you at all.

Instead, $2500 is a low advance, but you have a bigger opportunity to outsell that advance and make a your money on royalties. You outsell your advance, you get a bigger one the next time around.

I was going to make this same point.

TrickyFiction
09-19-2008, 11:37 PM
Large advances aren't always a good thing. If you got $10,000, but never earned your publisher that money in sales, then it's less likely a second book of yours is going to get a similar advance or they might not bet on you at all.

Instead, $2500 is a low advance, but you have a bigger opportunity to outsell that advance and make a your money on royalties. You outsell your advance, you get a bigger one the next time around.

This is what I've heard also, which makes me think, while a large advance may give you more instant gratification, a small advance will make a career more likely. I'd rather have the career, truth be told.

Anyway, phoenixking, I'm sorry you are disappointed. I was envious of you until you said they wanted you to get rid of a character. That would break my heart (were it a character I liked). But you choose your battles, yeah? It's tough to do, sometimes.

maestrowork
09-19-2008, 11:56 PM
Advance is just that: an advance. The bigger the number, the higher the expectation and if it doesn't earn out, it won't look good for the publisher (or the author). True, the more you get, the more likely the publisher would push -- since they will like to make their money back. Still, don't let the size of an advance burden you. The truth is, you're getting published by a big publisher. That's a great first step. And as someone else said, Rowling only got 2500 for her first book -- it wasn't until Scholastic wanted the N.A. rights that the book actually took off. The idea is to get the book out and see what happens.

Yeah, we all want to make 7 figures and have the bragging right to go with it. But let's focus on a "career" and not just a deal. In fact, I'd say you're doing well given you've only worked on it for 2 years. Many people have worked on their books for much longer and they're still trying to find an agent.

If you're truly not happy, then tell your agent. That's what agents are for.

batgirl
09-20-2008, 12:08 AM
The Dundurn Group, in Canada, provides an advance of $250. But Canada is a much smaller market (3,000 sales = Canadian bestseller, reportedly).
Honestly, I can see why you're disappointed, and it doesn't sound as if you were expecting to get rich from one sale, or anything. I think you should consider talking it over with your agent - I mean, the advance is where she makes her money, right? Frame it as asking how you can work with her to get a higher advance next time.
-Barbara

Atlantis
09-20-2008, 02:00 AM
I just got an offer from a big publisher, who is offering me a deal for my 70K fantasy YA book. He said he'd give me an advance of $2500, with 9% royalties.
:Shrug:
He's only putting it out in paperback.

The deal was negotiated by my wonderful agent.

Considering that I spent 2 years writing and editing this MS, I really expected somewhere in the $5000-$10 000 advance range. I'm aware that most writers don't earn much from royalties, so no expectations there.
:cry:


BTW, I've been following the threads here for the last 3 yrs, but only felt the need to register and post today.

JK Rowling only got a couple of thousand pounds advance for her first Harry Potter book and look how successful she became. Instead of being upset you didn't get a large advance, turn your attention onto marketing now. Get your book out there so you can sell as many copies as you can.

smcc360
09-20-2008, 03:27 AM
Excellent work, phoenixking. Congratulations.

But I can sympathize with how you must feel, that $2,500 sitting there in your bank account, taunting you, mocking you, snickering to the other money about how you got dissed.

Tell you what we'll do. I'll PM you my PayPal info. You send me that discourteous $2500, and I'll punish it. It'll be debased, frittered away on Scotch whiskey, beef jerky, pornography, and gasoline.

You shouldn't have to put up with it for another minute, says I!

And again, congratulations. :D

Oddsocks
09-20-2008, 04:09 AM
The smaller the advance, the easier it is to earn it out in sales. That means it's easier to publish again. This is the reason I've always thought I'd much prefer a small advance, should I ever become published.

Congratulations!

Ugawa
09-20-2008, 04:21 AM
JK Rowling sold her first book for 2500 pounds

I was goin to say that :D

Well done, you should be happy, most people would be :D

good luck with book two.

XX

Christine N.
09-20-2008, 04:39 AM
Hey, in this economy, I'd take $2500. In a minute.

Don't worry about only being in paperback - LOTS of YA books are emerging as 'original paperbacks'. They're cheaper to make, therefore their cover price is cheaper, and more YA's will be able to afford them. I know a few YA authors who never had hardcover - mostly big publisher youth lines. No sweat.

Meantime...GO YOU!

willfulone
09-20-2008, 04:44 AM
I am gonna go with the good here and say you are blessed and once the initial glare of the situation wears off (maybe some of the shock of the advance rate) you will be doing the snoopy dance. Great for you to get this far and I wish you success with your other book too!

Christine

Rob Brown
09-20-2008, 05:29 AM
Congratulations. The reason for the low advance might be that they don't expect to sell any other rights. Large advance are normally for more than one book, books are usually published in hardcover and have a good chance to sell soft and mass rights, movie/TV, book club, foreign translation, etc.
By selling other rights, a publisher can recover all the advance and make a profit even if the book doesn't do will in hardcover. Also books only go to auction if more than one publisher offers on them.

Kirby
09-20-2008, 06:30 AM
That's too bad that you're not enjoying your first publishing deal. My understanding is that most first-time authors can expect $2500 and $5000 the second if the first does well. A big-time publishing company doesn't know if your work will sell well. Why on earth would they invest more? Get out there and sell your heart out when the time comes and don't leave it up to the publishing company to do all of the work.

Two-years of work? $10,000 still wouldn't be enough if you ask me.

Congratulations and let us know how it goes.

Pat~
09-20-2008, 07:19 AM
Congratulations! I agree with the posts here that have said the lower advance may be, after all, to your advantage. (And it really is the norm, I think, for first-time authors--if they're lucky to get an advance at all.)

I also agree that the most important thing here is that it's with a Big Publisher. My sister, also a writer, just sold her very first nonfiction book for a $2500 advance with Regal Publishers. She's even newer to this writing thing than I am (I dragged her to a writer's conference a few years ago ;)), so I'm pretty proud of her. And although she didn't get the 'auction' she wanted between this and another (Christian) publisher, I personally think she'll do better with Regal because of broader distribution.

CACTUSWENDY
09-20-2008, 08:08 AM
Congratz on your sale....W00t.

Much success with this. I would be thrilled to have mine sold as a paperback.

seun
09-20-2008, 07:12 PM
Sounds like the sort of deal I'd take in a second.

To be honest, I'd take ten bob and a pickled egg at the moment.

SPMiller
09-20-2008, 07:19 PM
I can understand why you'd be upset for such a relatively low advance. You did spend a very long time crafting the work, and averaged over the time it took, the per-hour rate is exceptionally low. Even if it's a moderate success, which we both know isn't certain, you won't earn much in the way of royalties.

On the other hand, as everyone else has said, it is a sale. A disappointing sale may be better than none at all. It will get your name on the market and provide you with an opportunity to achieve even more.

Stacia Kane
09-20-2008, 07:30 PM
Hey Phoenixking, I totally and completely understand your feelings, I really do. It's not selfish or terrible to have dreamed of making a Big Money sale and ending up with $2500. It is disappointing.

But as others have pointed out, 9% royalties is practically unheard of (at least in my experience) and you have an extremely good chance at that rate of earning out. Which means you can get a higher, better advance next time.

And...I have a pal who has a pal writes YA. One house (I suspect the same one as the one you just sold to but I could be wrong) offered said pal-of-pal about the same as your offer. The editor was incredibly enthusiastic and POP loved talking to him/her, and it was a very good house, but they just don't offer high advances to first time authors. Point blank.

Another house offered more. So the POP went with them. And totally regretted it, when the editor didn't show the same enthusiasm, when they proved difficult to work with, when their plans for the book seemed totally inappropriate to the POP, etc. The POP found him/herself bitterly regretting allowing money to be the only factor and wished s/he had gone with the other very good house, where s/he could have really built a solid relationship and grown a fantastic and happy career, instead of ebing at the other house where s/he felt spat upon.

So really, it's not always just about money. Maybe this house hasn't offered a lot as an advance but they're going to do an amazing, really clever promo plan. Maybe you'll earn huge royalties (you probably will, considering that at 9% you only have to sell, what 1000 copies to earn out? My math skills suck and I'm basically just pulling that figure out of my behind but I bet it's fairly close. 2k copies have to sell at the most, I bet, which you should have no problem doing.)

Like I said, this disappointment really is natural. I think all of us feel it, no matter how good our deals are. (I suspect even when we get, you know, 100k offers, we were dreaming of 250, or whatever. Lol.) You worked hard; you were hoping for a lot more, of course you were.

But remember, this is just the beginning. You still have royalties. You have all kinds of subrights your agent can sell. You have more books in you, and who knows? Five years from now you could be commanding huge advances. You do have a book good enough to get you an agent and a deal at a major house. Try not to let your disappointment ruin that for you. It's an amazing accomplishment!

Congratulations!! :)

Darzian
09-20-2008, 08:51 PM
I assumed that most royalties were 7-10%. Is that incorrect?

Irysangel
09-20-2008, 10:36 PM
I assumed that most royalties were 7-10%. Is that incorrect?

Actually between 4-8% for MMPB, I believe.

I have a friend that is a NYT Bestselling author and she would kill to get 9% royalties instead of a fat advance. Royalty percentages are where you make the money.

Inky
09-20-2008, 10:43 PM
Be grateful.
As others said: take it as a stepping stone. This book will get your name out there, and possibly build you the fan-base that will make your next book the smash you want it to be--if your work is good stuff.

Honestly? I wouldn't stare a gift horse in the mouth!

timewaster
09-21-2008, 12:36 AM
J.K. Rowling's initial advance from Bloomsbury for the first Harry Potter book was less than $15,000.



I've heard this, too, but the best-sourced figure I've heard is "less than 10,000 pounds" which would have been less than $15,000 in 1996.

I think she got the standard which would have been around 2500 for a first novel. We are with the same publisher.

Darzian
09-21-2008, 08:18 AM
Actually between 4-8% for MMPB, I believe.

I have a friend that is a NYT Bestselling author and she would kill to get 9% royalties instead of a fat advance. Royalty percentages are where you make the money.

4% ? Oh my gosh, that's just evil. :Soapbox:

Stacia Kane
09-21-2008, 06:12 PM
Actually between 4-8% for MMPB, I believe.

I have a friend that is a NYT Bestselling author and she would kill to get 9% royalties instead of a fat advance. Royalty percentages are where you make the money.

Yes, sorry, I should have clarified; I meant it was practically unheard of for paperback. The highest ppb percentage I've heard of is 8%. And I agree, I'd rather have a larger royalty percentage. Not only does it mean you'll earn out the advance faster, it means more money later, and less worry about not earning out and whether anyone will be willing to publish you again if you don't etc. etc. etc. :)


10% is fairly common for hardcover, I believe.

IceCreamEmpress
09-21-2008, 09:46 PM
I assumed that most royalties were 7-10%. Is that incorrect?

Hardback royalties from big US publishers start at 10%. Mass-market paperback royalties (the small paperbacks you can buy at the grocery store) from big US publishers start at 4%, average is 6%. Trade paperback royalties (larger-format paperbacks) from big US publishers can be anywhere from 4% to 10%.

waylander
09-21-2008, 11:08 PM
I just got an offer from a big publisher, who is offering me a deal for my 70K fantasy YA book. He said he'd give me an advance of $2500, with 9% royalties.
:Shrug:
He's only putting it out in paperback.

The deal was negotiated by my wonderful agent.

Considering that I spent 2 years writing and editing this MS, I really expected somewhere in the $5000-$10 000 advance range. I'm aware that most writers don't earn much from royalties, so no expectations there.
:cry:


BTW, I've been following the threads here for the last 3 yrs, but only felt the need to register and post today.


I'll swap you.
My (agented) fantasy adventure got turned down all over town. I would have accepted a zero-advance deal with publication and marketing support.

ChaosTitan
09-22-2008, 03:27 AM
phoenixking, there is a wealth of support and information in this thread all ready, so I don't have much to add. Only that you read it and take it to heart. A contract is something that thousands of writers dream about, and while the journey may not be what you imagined, the end outcome is the same: a professionally published novel with your name on it, and your words between the covers.

Your agent works for you. Use him/her. Go over your contract. Go over your career plans. Make sure you both have the same vision for your career. Don't be afraid to ask questions. It is possible to explain your disappointment without it sounding like you're complaining. Communication is key to any business relationship.

And I'll be honest, sometimes my deal scares me. My advance was larger than what is common for debut authors in my genre, and while it's a terrific deal, it puts that much more pressure on me, the book, and the publisher. A part of me envies your deal, believe it or not. :)

It also sucks to lose a character. I very nearly did, so I can empathize. But again, think of the end product. Are you still proud to look at that manuscript and call it your own? I hope so.

Okay, so I had more to say than I thought. ;)

ideagirl
09-22-2008, 10:49 PM
I just got an offer from a big publisher, who is offering me a deal for my 70K fantasy YA book. He said he'd give me an advance of $2500, with 9% royalties.

You poor thing! </sarcasm off>. Guess what: you're exactly where JK Rowling was when she got started. Wasn't her first advance something like 2000 pounds?

polleekin
09-24-2008, 10:51 PM
I'm surprised at how many people are dismissing phoenixking's disappointment. Agents don't make their living from getting $2500 deals. Sure, sometimes debut novels don't sell for much, but $2500 is very low, IMO.

Comparing his advance to J.K. Rowling's is irrelevant because:
1) if phoenixking is in the U.S. there is no chance of an explosion after NA rights are purchased.
2) 2500 pounds (if that's even what she got, which we don't know for sure) is about twice what his advance was in U.S. dollars, and he said he'd have been happier with closer to $5000.
3) Very, very, very few people make it that big, so it's not a convincing (or encouraging) argument. What about the authors at her house who got the same advance and we've never heard of them?

Anecdotes about friends who went for more money and regretted it later aren't really relevant here because the OP hasn't said that his publisher seems to have a great plan for the book and is very enthusiastic.

Estimates I've seen for how many he'd have to sell to earn out have been extremely underestimated. Assuming this is MMPB and not trade, let's say the price is $8 (but may even be a dollar or so less since it's YA). 9% of cover price is $.72 per book. That's almost 3500 books before he'd earn out and start getting royalties, not 1000 as I saw mentioned earlier. What if his print run is small, only 4-5000? What if there's no second print run even if he does earn out? Not to mention if you start in hardcover and do well, there's the opportunity for $$ for paperback rights.

At least with a bigger advance, he'll have that. And the level at which the publisher makes money on an author is not the same as the level at which the author earns out. The publisher starts earning before the author does, so not earning out is not a disaster. Sometimes you aren't even expected to earn out your first novel, but the publisher is investing in you.

I was disappointed to see how many told him he should be grateful to be getting anything at all. He has pride in his work and hopes to be paid what he thinks it's worth-- or at least a little more than a bottom-of-the-barrel no-risk for the publisher offer.

I was also disappointed to see people saying things like "well, I'm sure even people who get 100k wish for 250k" because 1) that is nowhere near the same thing, and 2) I am skeptical about that unless the author routinely makes more than that. People who make 6 figure deals post absolutely glowing announcements as far as I've seen.

Further, saying things like "we all wish for 7 figures of course" is also irrelevant because we're talking about $2500 vs. $5-10k. He didn't express an unrealistic expectation here.

People say a mediocre agent is worse than no agent. The same thing can apply to publishing contracts. I've watched writers accept bad low-advance multi-book contracts (agent-negotiated) and never manage to take off because they got locked into having too many books due at once and burn out.

Phoenixking, I wish you the best of luck, and I'm sorry you're disappointed with your deal. I would be feeling exactly the same way, and I also believe you should be talking to your agent, like others have suggested. Ask the agent why you got a low advance, what their plans are for your future career, and any other concerns you have. That's what they're there for and why you're giving them 15%.

I'm sorry if I came off as harsh, but I felt that many of the responses were dismissive and may drive away a new member who is here looking for some support and sympathy.

Stacia Kane
09-25-2008, 12:59 AM
I'm surprised at how many people are dismissing phoenixking's disappointment. Agents don't make their living from getting $2500 deals. Sure, sometimes debut novels don't sell for much, but $2500 is very low, IMO.

Comparing his advance to J.K. Rowling's is irrelevant because:
1) if phoenixking is in the U.S. there is no chance of an explosion after NA rights are purchased.
2) 2500 pounds (if that's even what she got, which we don't know for sure) is about twice what his advance was in U.S. dollars, and he said he'd have been happier with closer to $5000.
3) Very, very, very few people make it that big, so it's not a convincing (or encouraging) argument. What about the authors at her house who got the same advance and we've never heard of them?

Anecdotes about friends who went for more money and regretted it later aren't really relevant here because the OP hasn't said that his publisher seems to have a great plan for the book and is very enthusiastic.

Estimates I've seen for how many he'd have to sell to earn out have been extremely underestimated. Assuming this is MMPB and not trade, let's say the price is $8 (but may even be a dollar or so less since it's YA). 9% of cover price is $.72 per book. That's almost 3500 books before he'd earn out and start getting royalties, not 1000 as I saw mentioned earlier. What if his print run is small, only 4-5000? What if there's no second print run even if he does earn out? Not to mention if you start in hardcover and do well, there's the opportunity for $$ for paperback rights.

At least with a bigger advance, he'll have that. And the level at which the publisher makes money on an author is not the same as the level at which the author earns out. The publisher starts earning before the author does, so not earning out is not a disaster. Sometimes you aren't even expected to earn out your first novel, but the publisher is investing in you.

I was disappointed to see how many told him he should be grateful to be getting anything at all. He has pride in his work and hopes to be paid what he thinks it's worth-- or at least a little more than a bottom-of-the-barrel no-risk for the publisher offer.

I was also disappointed to see people saying things like "well, I'm sure even people who get 100k wish for 250k" because 1) that is nowhere near the same thing, and 2) I am skeptical about that unless the author routinely makes more than that. People who make 6 figure deals post absolutely glowing announcements as far as I've seen.

Further, saying things like "we all wish for 7 figures of course" is also irrelevant because we're talking about $2500 vs. $5-10k. He didn't express an unrealistic expectation here.

People say a mediocre agent is worse than no agent. The same thing can apply to publishing contracts. I've watched writers accept bad low-advance multi-book contracts (agent-negotiated) and never manage to take off because they got locked into having too many books due at once and burn out.

Phoenixking, I wish you the best of luck, and I'm sorry you're disappointed with your deal. I would be feeling exactly the same way, and I also believe you should be talking to your agent, like others have suggested. Ask the agent why you got a low advance, what their plans are for your future career, and any other concerns you have. That's what they're there for and why you're giving them 15%.

I'm sorry if I came off as harsh, but I felt that many of the responses were dismissive and may drive away a new member who is here looking for some support and sympathy.


Ummm...considering that most of the comments you dismissed above as "not relevant" or erroneous were from my post, I really have to say something here.

I was trying to be supportive. I was trying to make the OP feel better. I admitted my math skills weren't great, but I don't really think it matters and I certainly don't think I deserve to be picked on for anything I said.

I was not dismissive. I was as optimistic and supportive as I possibly could be. I was actually rather proud of that post, to be honest; I felt, having finished it, that if the OP read it, it might possibly go some way toward making them feel better.

I'm sorry that it wasn't good enough or accurate enough, and that my anecdotes and comparisons were not relevant enough for you.

ETA: Sorry, I can't leave this at that. What would you prefer we'd all said? "Yeah, that sucks, wow, there's no upside to this and you will probably never have a career. You might as well give up now"? "There is absolutely no way to look at this as anything but a slap in the face, and there's no point in you even trying to see it as anything else"? Yeah. That would have been much more supportive. And gee, it would have been relevent too. Which is apparently the only basis on which to judge.

(For the record I don't think any of the statements I made in quotes are true.)

CheshireCat
09-25-2008, 01:13 AM
First, being published as a mm paperback rather than hardcover can work for you big time: readership in genre fiction tends to be built in mass market. Your publisher moves you to hardcover when the sales justify the move. In the meantime, they can print more books more cheaply, which gives you a better shot of a decent sell-through.


Actually between 4-8% for MMPB, I believe.

I have a friend that is a NYT Bestselling author and she would kill to get 9% royalties instead of a fat advance. Royalty percentages are where you make the money.

A 9% royalty, assuming it's on cover price and not net, is excellent, so kudos to your agent. Average is 6-8%. You can sometimes negotiate a higher rate after a certain amount of sales -- but that number tends to be in the hundreds of thousands of copies. Once you hit bestseller status, you can sometimes bump it up, but some houses are adamantly opposed.


Yes, sorry, I should have clarified; I meant it was practically unheard of for paperback. The highest ppb percentage I've heard of is 8%. And I agree, I'd rather have a larger royalty percentage. Not only does it mean you'll earn out the advance faster, it means more money later, and less worry about not earning out and whether anyone will be willing to publish you again if you don't etc. etc. etc. :)


10% is fairly common for hardcover, I believe.

Standard royalties for hardcover are 10%/12.5%/15%: first 5,000 copies, second 5,000 copies, and then every copy over 10,000. So if your hardcover sells 20,000 copies, you'll earn a 15% royalty on 10,000 of those copies.

As for getting a higher royalty percentage (higher than standard), very, very few authors have the clout to do so. It's just not negotiable for many publishers.

Me, I'm happy with big advances, knowing I won't see more money on those titles for years, if ever. But I also have a considerable backlist that is earning me royalties because they originally paid peanuts.

phoenixking
09-25-2008, 07:05 AM
Thank you for the support, everyone, and sorry for being the cause of any arguements.

I finally worked up the nerve to question my agent regarding the terms in the contract. She confirmed the following:

1) The print run is 9K paperback books.
2) Each book is priced at $ 6.79
3) The 9% royalty is applicable to the entire first print run.
4) If over 7500 copies sell, then the publisher has agreed to print in hardcover too. Royalty for that is 11.25 % (is that weird?)
5) If hardcover is printed, then the publisher will arrange a book signing event in a prominent New York bookstore (I'm not sure if I should mention the name).

Both the agent and editor are confident of high sales.

So, I feel much better. The most lovely aspect is that the release is scheduled for March 2009. I was afraid that it may take years.

Thanks again.

OctoberRain
09-25-2008, 10:44 AM
That's terrific! Congratulations and please keep us posted on everything that happens.

Stacia Kane
09-25-2008, 12:47 PM
Thank you for the support, everyone, and sorry for being the cause of any arguements.

I finally worked up the nerve to question my agent regarding the terms in the contract. She confirmed the following:

1) The print run is 9K paperback books.
2) Each book is priced at $ 6.79
3) The 9% royalty is applicable to the entire first print run.
4) If over 7500 copies sell, then the publisher has agreed to print in hardcover too. Royalty for that is 11.25 % (is that weird?)
5) If hardcover is printed, then the publisher will arrange a book signing event in a prominent New York bookstore (I'm not sure if I should mention the name).

Both the agent and editor are confident of high sales.

So, I feel much better. The most lovely aspect is that the release is scheduled for March 2009. I was afraid that it may take years.

Thanks again.

11.25% for hardcover to start with is great! As CheshireCat pointed out, hardcover royalties typically start at 10%.

I really believe from what you've said that you've perhaps just signed with a house that doesn't offer high advances. It certainly sounds like they are going out of their way to sweeten the deal for you, and that the editor is really excited about you. :)

I know that doesn't take away the disappointment, really. But I hope you'll be able to look more on the bright side as time goes on, because I'd hate to think your first NY publishing experience was disappointing. (Not telling you what to do, just hoping you feel better.)

And such a quick release date is awesome too!

Please do stick around. We'd hate for some of the less-than-helpful responses here to make you uncomfortable. We really are good people on the whole. :)

polleekin
09-25-2008, 04:17 PM
Phoenixking-- glad you talked things over with your agent, you sound much more sure of things now. :) The quick release date is pretty cool, sounds like you snuck into an open slot!

DecemberQuinn-- I wasn't trying to make you feel bad, and I know that the intention was to help. I'm sorry if you felt I was saying the opposite. And I really am sorry for picking on your post so much, especially as I do feel the tone of your post was quite supportive. I was paraphrasing, and didn't realize how much came from your post. I shouldn't post when I'm tired.

I do stand by my statement that I don't feel it really helps to give unrealistic comparisons. (Not saying they all were, even ones I mentioned-- primarily the JK Rowling stuff is, and maybe I should have stuck to that. Imagine you got offered a bottom of the barrel job at an office and someone said "Oh but Bill Gates once worked at an office! You could make millions!" That's a lame example, but sort of how I feel the JK stuff is.)

Of course I don't think everyone should be like "yeah, sucks to be you, dude." But at the same time, it seemed that he was getting a lot of JK comparisons as well as some dismissive sarcasm and I think some people were not aware of how that might come off to someone who is already disappointed and looking for advice on how to handle the disappointment.

But! I'm glad things seem to be working out for the best and I'm very glad to see that he talked to his agent and got it sorted out.

SPMiller
09-25-2008, 04:48 PM
polleekin, Gates isn't a particularly good comparison. The man is smart and a hard worker, but let's not kid ourselves: his is not a rags-to-riches, but rather a rich-to-richer story.

Rowling at least had some semblance of relevancy, albeit stretched.

Stacia Kane
09-25-2008, 04:55 PM
The point of the Rowling comparisons was to say a small advance doesn't mean the book can't/won't be successful. At least that was the point as I understood it. And I still think it's a valid point.

Thanks for the apology polleekin. No problem.

Toothpaste
09-25-2008, 05:45 PM
When people assume you will be the next JK Rowling just because you write children's books, yup that is an annoying comparison. Being told as an author you have every chance to be rich and famous is also annoying. But being reminded that JK had a very low advance herself, and that didn't preclude her from earning tons of money, isn't. It is simply an example of how despite getting a low advance, one can still earn a lot of money. I suppose it would have been better for you to choose a less famous name as an example, maybe lazy to jump to the obvious one, but it was an attempt to make another person feel better. That not everyone gets huge advances, and that getting a low one does not by any means mean you can't earn a decent wage on the book. And I do believe (at least I know I did) that I did the pounds to dollar conversion correctly and did say her advance was $5000. However adding to that, the ratio of dollar to pounds is basically the same, so that something that is one dollar in the states, is one pound in the UK, which means getting a 2500 pound advance is similar to getting a $2500 advance ratio wise.

Anyway, I am so glad you feel better phoenix, and that you spoke with your agent. I understand the desire of not wanting to be a diva (I personally always want to be the happy go lucky client that everyone likes myself), but asking questions and making sure your agent is doing her job is not being a diva. It's being an author. Good for you! (and despite the small advance it seems to me your agent got you a pretty darn good deal, congrats!)

polleekin
09-25-2008, 05:46 PM
polleekin, Gates isn't a particularly good comparison. The man is smart and a hard worker, but let's not kid ourselves: his is not a rags-to-riches, but rather a rich-to-richer story.

Rowling at least had some semblance of relevancy, albeit stretched.
Okay, I admit that was a bad example.


The point of the Rowling comparisons was to say a small advance doesn't mean the book can't/won't be successful. At least that was the point as I understood it. And I still think it's a valid point.

Thanks for the apology polleekin. No problem.
I get that, I do. And don't we all wish we could make it big like her-- castle in Scotland here I come!

I came across Rick Riordan's comments on becoming an "overnight success" after having been writing for at least 10 years and the Percy Jackson books only really taking off after a few had been out, similar to Harry Potter. I do agree with the point in general.

Hope there are no hard feelings, I don't mean to be antagonistic, I swear! :Soapbox:

MelancholyMan
09-25-2008, 06:03 PM
I just got an offer from a big publisher, who is offering me a deal for my 70K fantasy YA book. He said he'd give me an advance of $2500, with 9% royalties.

... And you feel miserable.

I've already picked up a reputation as a hardass so I'll go ahead and say it - WTF?

I don't know your publishing history, but if it is nil, you just got a credit. If you're already published, you just got published again. Sob stories about how long it took? Take a look at the R&D forum. The people there would donate their left pinky('a' key) to get the deal you got, including yours truly. This mentality you're displaying here, multiplied by 750,000,000,000, is exactly why our financial system is going straight to hell. Everybody wants everything NOW. And it is never enough. Our culture is never satiatied.

Count your lucky stars, use the $2,500 to throw a party and promote your book, and get started on the next one. Shit, I can't even get an agent to send me my own SASE with a form rejection in it.

ChaosTitan
09-25-2008, 06:12 PM
When people assume you will be the next JK Rowling just because you write children's books, yup that is an annoying comparison.

You don't even have to write children's books to get that. Half the time, when I say I write urban fantasy, all people hear is FANTASY, and ask, "You mean like JK Rowling?"

"No, not like her. URBAN fantasy."

*blank look*

:tongue

rostaria01
09-25-2008, 06:13 PM
I was goin to say that :D

Well done, you should be happy, most people would be :D

good luck with book two.

XX
But the book went to auction in the foreign sales and she recieved a cheque of something like 100,000

Phaeal
09-25-2008, 06:15 PM
CGs to phoenixking! It sounds like there's a lot of enthusiasm behind your debut.

Hey, Melancholy Man, I'm with you! I want my blasted SASEs back! Stamps don't grow on trees, ya know, grumble, grumble.

;)

rostaria01
09-25-2008, 06:21 PM
I think that you are very lucky. Congrats man or woman

Peachnuts
09-25-2008, 06:23 PM
I would say for a first book...
YOU DID AWESOME!!
Go out and party!
If you did this well with book #1 imagine what you can do from here?!?!

You must be thankful to attract more of this into your life.

Darzian
09-25-2008, 06:35 PM
phoenixking- unless you are in desperate need of a lot of cash RIGHT NOW, I would say that this deal could hardly get any sweeter. Maybe the advance could be higher, but establishing a career is important.

This is a BIG publisher, right? If you sell well, then you have a successful base for your next story. And, the print run is quite high too. It appears, to me, that the publisher has a lot of faith in the book. If that all works out, you're in for interesting royalties. Who knows- you may still be getting royalties for this in 5 years time. (I would love that).

CheshireCat
09-25-2008, 09:52 PM
1) The print run is 9K paperback books.
2) Each book is priced at $ 6.79
3) The 9% royalty is applicable to the entire first print run.
4) If over 7500 copies sell, then the publisher has agreed to print in hardcover too. Royalty for that is 11.25 % (is that weird?)
5) If hardcover is printed, then the publisher will arrange a book signing event in a prominent New York bookstore (I'm not sure if I should mention the name).

Both the agent and editor are confident of high sales.

-----------------

Well, having read the above, I have to say the only thing that concerns me is the (really) very low initial print run. In mass market the print run is usually higher, even for a first sale. 9k isn't going to make your book very visible in the market -- unless, of course, they go back to press prior to the laydown date, which is entirely possible if there are enough orders.

Math isn't my strong suit, but it looks to me like the total you could earn from that initial print run, assuming 100% sell-through (which doesn't happen much these days) would be $5,499.90 -- including your advance. (The publisher would gross over $50k.) ETA: Forgot about the agent's cut, so this would be less his/her 15%.

Of course, sales could be better than that, and a hardcover run could add to the earnings. So could foreign and other subrights sales. You should know, however, that mass market-to-hardcover isn't the usual way things run, so a hardcover edition of your novel isn't likely no matter what they say about sales. They'd be much more likely (if this is a traditional publisher) to want to publish your second or third novel in hardcover if the mm sales on the first one were strong.

Finally, the booksigning "in a prominent NY bookstore" isn't going to make much difference. Honestly, even multi-city tours don't make much difference in sales, certainly not in the short run. All they do is indicate that your publisher has hopes for your future --which can be a good thing, but only if they continue to promote you and your work, consistently, over time.

I don't write in your genre, so somebody with more experience may disagree with part or all of what I've said.

As always, just my opinion, based on my own experiences.

benbradley
09-25-2008, 10:14 PM
Thank you for the support, everyone, and sorry for being the cause of any arguements.

I finally worked up the nerve to question my agent regarding the terms in the contract. She confirmed the following:

1) The print run is 9K paperback books.
2) Each book is priced at $ 6.79
3) The 9% royalty is applicable to the entire first print run.
4) If over 7500 copies sell, then the publisher has agreed to print in hardcover too. Royalty for that is 11.25 % (is that weird?)
5) If hardcover is printed, then the publisher will arrange a book signing event in a prominent New York bookstore (I'm not sure if I should mention the name).

Both the agent and editor are confident of high sales.

So, I feel much better. The most lovely aspect is that the release is scheduled for March 2009. I was afraid that it may take years.

Thanks again.
Congratulations on the offer/deal, and also congratulations on feeling better about it. So are you glad the other posters prompted you to ask your agent for more details? :)

I've got a general question - is it common for a paperback original to later come out in hardback if the sales are good? It seems to me if the publisher is that confident in a novel, they'd publish it in hardback first. But I suppose this varies with genre (I can see where a YA would be published in paperback with the target audience generally not having enough for hardback), and also with the OP being a first-time-published author.

Edmontonian
09-25-2008, 11:06 PM
You say that "in mass market the print run is usually higher" - just curious, what would it be, like 20,000 or 30,000? What's the typical first print for a first time author, especially in suspense thrillers?

Thanks,

ED

CheshireCat
09-26-2008, 02:09 AM
I've got a general question - is it common for a paperback original to later come out in hardback if the sales are good? It seems to me if the publisher is that confident in a novel, they'd publish it in hardback first. But I suppose this varies with genre (I can see where a YA would be published in paperback with the target audience generally not having enough for hardback), and also with the OP being a first-time-published author.

It's not common in any genre I've written in. I've known a few writers hit it big years after they started and then get reissues that were mass market originals "repackaged" as hardcover (your basic publisher greed), but for a publisher to say they're trying something out in mass market and will afterward publish the same title in hardcover is ... Well, I've never heard of it.


You say that "in mass market the print run is usually higher" - just curious, what would it be, like 20,000 or 30,000? What's the typical first print for a first time author, especially in suspense thrillers?

Thanks,

ED

It depends on the genre. A decent hardcover run is somewhere between 15,000-30,000 copies; if you sell 20,000 in hardcover, your publisher will be thrilled, since the average is about 5,000 copies.

Decent mass market run in suspense/thrillers would be, maybe 75,000-80,000 copies for a first novel. That's an estimate, based on print runs I know of for a few first timers in the last year or two. I also know several writers whose first print runs were less than 50,000.

The thing is, one national chain alone may have an initial order of anywhere between 5,000 and 30,000 copies (with Anderson Merch. -- Walmart -- generally going much higher) of a book they expect is going to sell. So if your entire print run is that low, orders for individual chains, big box stores, indies, and other outlets are going to have to drop, assuming they order the title at all.

It's not really a dirty little secret of publishing that when buyers see that the publisher has an initial run of 500,000 copies or more, they assume it's going to sell big -- and they order big. At least until the author has a track record of sales they can study to determine their order.

Lauri B
09-26-2008, 04:08 PM
1) The print run is 9K paperback books.
2) Each book is priced at $ 6.79
3) The 9% royalty is applicable to the entire first print run.
4) If over 7500 copies sell, then the publisher has agreed to print in hardcover too. Royalty for that is 11.25 % (is that weird?)
5) If hardcover is printed, then the publisher will arrange a book signing event in a prominent New York bookstore (I'm not sure if I should mention the name).

Both the agent and editor are confident of high sales.

-----------------

Well, having read the above, I have to say the only thing that concerns me is the (really) very low initial print run. In mass market the print run is usually higher, even for a first sale. 9k isn't going to make your book very visible in the market -- unless, of course, they go back to press prior to the laydown date, which is entirely possible if there are enough orders.

Math isn't my strong suit, but it looks to me like the total you could earn from that initial print run, assuming 100% sell-through (which doesn't happen much these days) would be $5,499.90 -- including your advance. (The publisher would gross over $50k.)

Of course, sales could be better than that, and a hardcover run could add to the earnings. So could foreign and other subrights sales. You should know, however, that mass market-to-hardcover isn't the usual way things run, so a hardcover edition of your novel isn't likely no matter what they say about sales. They'd be much more likely (if this is a traditional publisher) to want to publish your second or third novel in hardcover if the mm sales on the first one were strong.

Finally, the booksigning "in a prominent NY bookstore" isn't going to make much difference. Honestly, even multi-city tours don't make much difference in sales, certainly not in the short run. All they do is indicate that your publisher has hopes for your future --which can be a good thing, but only if they continue to promote you and your work, consistently, over time.

I don't write in your genre, so somebody with more experience may disagree with part or all of what I've said.

As always, just my opinion, based on my own experiences.

Cheshire Cat,
I was thinking the same things. Well said.

Irysangel
09-26-2008, 06:19 PM
I think it depends a little on your genre too. A friend of mine is published by a big name SFF line, but her books were not in Wal-Mart or grocery stores. Her first print run was 35k. Her book is now in multiple printings, so her next print run is significantly larger.