The Next Circle of Hell, Vol. 2

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Harlequin

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Author portal?! I wish more publishers had such a thing! It's an excellent idea and I am glad it helped with your anxieties, Fuchsia. Royalties statements are usually as clear as mud. Sales figures can be really insightful, especially if they are broken down into paperbacks/e-books, etc - I've been told childrens/YA editors only really focus on physical sales. I got my lifetime sales figures from my first agent when I left her and they were really startling - I had no idea just how successful my debut was (in stark contrast to books 2 and 3 where the publisher dropped the ball!). Was very useful to have numbers when approaching new agents.

Sales figures I'd also like to know is how many sales a book needs to make before it is considered "successful" (though appreciate this is complicated and very much "it depends").
Totally depends on advance and many other factors, mostly print run.

Eg a friend had a print run of 2k books so 4k sales was great and she earned out.

But a lead title with a print run of 35k or more would chalk up 4k sales as a failure. If that makes sense.

For lead titles from a big 5, it still varies but publicists will breathe easier if/when you hit 15k hardcover sales. (But again for context, if midlist, a book likely won't have hardcover at all, and the entire print run might only be 8k).
 
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Fuchsia Groan

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For lead titles from a big 5, it still varies but publicists will breathe easier if/when you hit 15k hardcover sales. (But again for context, if midlist, a book likely won't have hardcover at all, and the entire print run might only be 8k).
In children’s/YA, I think it’s common to release even midlist books (like mine) in hardcover, because libraries buy a lot of kids’ books. For my 2020 hardcover release, I saw low retail sales, as expected, but at least 80 percent of the sales were non-retail, which I’m guessing means schools and libraries (none of which shows up on BookScan/Author Central). That was a pleasant surprise, though I’m hoping the paperback reaches a few more consumers.

This is also the first time I’ve ever known the print run for my 2016 book! My previous publisher did not release that information. (New publisher bought the book from old publisher. No, I don’t understand the details either.)

Raggy, years ago someone did a survey and came up with 20k as the “average” sales figure for a YA book, but every YA author I’ve spoken to says that seems high to them. It certainly seems high to me!
 

RaggyCat

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I think you're definitely right to point out the print run as a factor, Harlequin, and the press size too. I know some smaller presses can have sub 1k print runs. I do know one of the print runs from one of my books must have been deemed a failiure, as my publisher pulped some of the printed books - I only know this because they asked if I wanted to buy any before they did so!

I think it's totally reasonable for authors to ask and to be informed of print runs. I don't know mine for October 2021 release book, but I do know what the sell in to bookshops/supermarkets was, so if we go to print again I'll have some idea of what sold.

20k does seem very high to me for the average children's/YA. Less so if it includes ebooks too, but still high nonetheless (I've read many reports suggesting that children's/YA is still overwhelming dominated by physical books rather than ebooks). I'm often stunned by how low sales are of even very successful authors. In The Bookseller (UK trade magazine) there was a spread a while back on a successful children's/YA author who is definitely a career author, and it featured his top three books. The top book had sold sub 6k. Now, I'm thinking those are physical copies only, as it was done via BookScan, but even so, that felt low for an author who is definitely successful, and would as it stands probably have no problem having his publisher renew his contract. The second two books were around the 3k mark.

I'm bearing in mind here, though, that this is the UK market, which of course is much smaller than the US one, so any figures would need adjusting. It's funny you say that it's common for hardcovers of even midlist books in children and YA, Fuchsia, because that definitely is not the case here! Even pretty successful children's/YA authors go straight to paperback.I'd say hardback is reserved for the biggest releases. Lots of hardbacks in Adult, though.
 
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Fuchsia Groan

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Oh, that’s interesting! Straight-to-paperback isn’t the norm here for YA or MG, though it’s more common for adult genre books (SF, romance, mystery). I prefer to buy trade paperbacks, myself, so I almost wish it weren’t so.

After seeing these figures, I don’t think I’ll put much stock in BookScan ever again, at least for YA! Library sales account for a LOT. And now I see that starred trade reviews can translate into sales, even though the general book-buying public doesn’t read them.
 

Harlequin

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Ah yes sorry, I should account for country and age category in genre re hardcover.

For adult sff, it's mostly only hardcovers which get hardbck releases, but even that is skewed. Tor tends to mostly release hardback even for their midlist and Harper Voyager UK always do because they effectively have no midlist.

Sales vary so much and even bestsellers can be a manipulation case re figures. Eg getting preorders from a certain specific bookstore who also push it can mean your book ends up on the best seller lists but doesn't sell well overall or for very long.

It's all very daunting.

I've worked out more or less how many copies I need to sell to earn out my advance and concluded it just isn't going to happen, given how many copies most books sell.
 

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I think I read somewhere that most books aren't expected to earn out their advance. But there is still a critical point where a book can be considered a success and I do wonder how publishers decide on what that is. I suspect things like foreign rights deals also help.

I don't think I would have the stomach to do the maths like you have, Harlequin. However, even though it is an incomplete part of the jigsaw, I do find myself looking daily at my most recent book's ranklings on Amazon. It's interesting to see how it jumps about, though I don't know how many books you'd need to sell in a day for it to jump 150,000 places in popularity.

Word of mouth definitely helps in addition to prominent reviews and library services. There hasn't been any of that on my October 2021 release as far as I can see - barely anyone posting about it. I wonder if this is a situation ARCs would have played into. It feels to me like they play a big part in generating early buzz.
 
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Harlequin

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Ah I have no stomach for it! But there are a couple very smart cookies have worked it out.

I don't know about amazon rankings but a rough calculation is [your advance] / 1.5 = X, where x is how many copies you need to sell, to earn out.

2/3rds of X = how many your publisher wants to sell to at least make a profit.

Foreign rights deals help if you have sold world rights to your press as they then count against your advance, but if your foreign rights were sold separate through your agent then you have to earn out with every foreign press and your home press independently if that makes sense.

Sorry for the deluge. I've been gently torturing myself with knowledge for months. I am prepared to measure my failure in real time as it happens (if it does--hopefully not.)
 

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I feel like publishing is a drug, and the more crumbs it feeds me, the madder and more addicted I get to it. So I'm completely there for the maths and theorising and even, at this stage, the torture.

World rights were sold for my titles (it's the publisher's norm) so any foreign territories sold would count against my advance. Mind you, I sold World rights to my previous publisher and had a few foreign rights deals but that didn't help what happened there...

With your calculation what I'd need to sell feels ambitious but not horrifying to me - hopefully this isn't a case of FAMOUS LAST WORDS! Thanks, Harlequin.
 

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(the maths are a drug for me!)

You won't fail, Harlequin! :)

(I keep checking this thread to see if Famous Agent has asked for a phone call with Carrie. It's all so exciting! :) )
 

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I've been doing the same, Woollybear! Glad you're enjoying your home improvement as you (and we!) wait, Carrie.

I just got notification that I can FINALLY share some publishing news I've been sitting on for 10 months AND do a reveal of the cover I got sent two weeks ago tomorrow! AAAAAHHH excuse me why I hyperventilate, this is surreal.
 

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Haha, so in the end, my big announcement has been delayed, because we're going to do a trade announcement instead of a social media one. I get the impression my agent put a little pressure on my publishers, which I love her for and I'm very happy with. A trade announcement feels as though it has more clout, somehow. It's also a good thing as the pre-order option on Amazon appears to be broken somehow and the book isn't yet on Goodreads, so an announcement today may have not been the best idea...

I feel slightly silly for whipping up my Twitter followers with the teasing of incoming news, but it really was a last minute turnabout so I did it in good faith. Hope it didn't create too much of a headache for my agent to sort out!

BTW, Fuchsia, this is the book you beta read for me but with a different name!
 
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Harlequin

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Oh no lmao! Everything is so slow in publishing. I hope you get to announce soon Raggy!!

I'm sure you'll be fine Raggy - also it doesn't have to be in the first year, there's some leeway. If yo'ure looking at it across two years it becomes much easier for example.

I'm hoping we've gotten accepted into a crate on the UK side (should find out soon) as that will solve a lot of my fears in one go.
 

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Yes, lmao at publishing! I'm not at all unhappy about the delay though. I think a trade announcement is better in this case and my agent does too as she pushed for it. Feeling very lucky to have an agent fighting for the best for me and my books.

I wonder how long publishers reasonably give before deciding whether a book is a success or not? I'd always thought they would quite quickly decide, but then some books are growers, aren't they? And a lot of book awards take place a year or more after a book's release, depending on its pub date.

Fingers crossed that things work out the way you want and your fears are solved! That would be great.

Btw @Harlequin , I just followed you on Twitter. I see your tweets quite a lot and thought I had but apparently not!!
 
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Fuchsia Groan

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I’m glad you’re getting a trade announcement, Raggy! (Will we also see the cover on social media soon? I’m excited!) And it’s great to have an agent who’s looking out for you.

I did not earn out on either of my books. The pandemic release isn’t yet in paperback, so it could conceivably earn more—they’ve certainly put a lot of effort into the gorgeous new illustrated cover! And that book had an audio deal that paid the publisher a good advance (about a third of what the publisher paid me).

But I thought I’d sold even less than I had, so the numbers were still a pleasant surprise.

I made a teaser to introduce readers to Book 3: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZM8gh2gFb/ It’s not getting much play, but I’m having so much fun that I’ll probably keep making more, experimenting with different approaches. This book has a lot of story to tease!
 

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I imagine I'll be able to share the cover once the trade announcement goes live, but I don't know when that will be. I really hope soon! I might not get very much notice.

Fuchsia, I'm guessing paperback release will give your book a new lease of life and the chance to be picked up by new readers, so I'm sure it will earn more just as more books become available! FWIW, I've always thought it was a very timely book, and still is. I'm glad the figures weren't quite what you feared they might be. And I think your video is very cool! Anything with creepy woods I'm so down for. (And I think again we have similar character name taste!)
 
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litdawg

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I got to make my announcement! Wasn't expecting the press release today, but I guess sometimes publishing does move quickly.

Was super stressed because I had to get right on it and the coffee shop WiFi was glitching, and I think I RTed the wrong thing, but I don't suppose it really matters.
What an amazing deal, Raggy! Congratulations! And the endorsement is really powerful--I see a lot of reading clubs picking up a title like this.
 

Carrie

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I got to make my announcement! Wasn't expecting the press release today, but I guess sometimes publishing does move quickly.

Was super stressed because I had to get right on it and the coffee shop WiFi was glitching, and I think I RTed the wrong thing, but I don't suppose it really matters.
Congratulations! Such good news. I am so happy for you -- and your cover ROCKS.
 

Fuchsia Groan

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I got to make my announcement! Wasn't expecting the press release today, but I guess sometimes publishing does move quickly.

Was super stressed because I had to get right on it and the coffee shop WiFi was glitching, and I think I RTed the wrong thing, but I don't suppose it really matters.
Congratulations, Raggy!!! I adore the cover—it seems perfect for the mood and atmosphere of the book! And comparing it to I May Destroy You is a real draw. (Watching that now. Love it.) I’m so glad this book’s getting the publisher attention it deserves.

And thank you for saying that about my book! I hope it will find an audience, even if I’m feeling more invested in the new one now. We totally have the same taste in names! :D
 

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