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Old 06-28-2012, 06:32 PM   #1
EileenG
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Advance from Big Six

What's an average advance for a first time author from a Big Six publisher? If they are commssioning the book?
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:06 PM   #2
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Last I heard, unless you're an established author with large sale counts, you don't get an advance anymore. Those days seem to be long since gone. At least that's the last information I have.

Either way, unless you have a really good lawyer, a killer book, and a pension for being treated like dirt, I'd avoid the big six. Of all the good/bad stories I've heard out of them over the past couple years, 99% have been horror stories, or just bad, and only 1% have been good. It's what originally drove me to go small press at first, and then eventually indie when ebooks became mainstream and began outselling my print books hands down. With ebooks the way they are now, and the power the indie author has at their fingertips for marketing and self promotion, you're better off going indie these days.
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:43 PM   #3
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Eileen, that's a trick question. There's no objective answer because it really boils down to how many copies the publisher thinks your books can sell. (Whether you are a first time author or not only has a bearing in the sense that if you are a previously published author, they have a better gauge on how many books they expect to sell.)

Erin Morgernstern (Night Circus) for example was rumored to have gotten a $1 million advance--but they expected the book to be a hit and there was a big marketing push for her novel.

If you want a more modest example, midlist authors (midlist tends to be copies sold in the five digit figures but not breaking the 100,000 figure barrier) get an advance of a few thousand dollars, at an average of $5,000. Tobias Buckell conducted a survey back in 2005 with these results, which might help you: http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2005/10...ey-version-20/

(Oh, and a caveat, these figures I am quoting are for fiction. It might be different for nonfiction.)

I am confused by what you mean by commissioning. Under what context are they commissioning you to write the book? That's common for nonfiction, so I have no figures for that. Or is this for a media tie-in novel? Ghostwriting?

Depending on how much copies you think your book will sell, other options include selling it to an independent publisher (I'm using that in the sense of traditional publishers not under the big six, as opposed to self-publishers) or self-publishing it yourself, depending on your specific circumstance and projections.
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Old 06-29-2012, 07:15 AM   #4
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Yeah, I'm not sure what you mean by commissioning? Is this a topic/book they want written and have issued a 'call for authors' or some such? Or maybe just approached you/a single author about this? (if the single approach deal, I'd think they would be more forthcoming on the projections/pay)

That's a bit different, but also much the same as a traditional deal...but....the devil is in the details.

a few links:

http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/...ovel-advances/

http://jwikert.typepad.com/the_avera...the_avera.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...987870022.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/bo...w/Meyer-t.html
"....Today, some publishers are experimenting with low or no advances. In exchange for low-five-figure advances, the boutique press McSweeney’s, founded by Eggers, shares profits with its authors 50-50, as does the new imprint Harper Studio, which offers sub-six-figure advances. ..."

and one more: http://www.rachellegardner.com/2012/...cal-advance-2/

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Old 06-29-2012, 10:41 AM   #5
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This is a Big Six publisher who have approached me and asked me to write an erotic novel that will blow 50 Shades away. They want it before the end of August, so it can be on the shelves before Christmas and are offering an advance of $5000.
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Old 06-29-2012, 07:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EileenG View Post
This is a Big Six publisher who have approached me and asked me to write an erotic novel that will blow 50 Shades away. They want it before the end of August, so it can be on the shelves before Christmas and are offering an advance of $5000.
Earlier I had seen your first post on this subject and I thought a moment and came up with $5K to $25K.
This was based on "old" numbers I have heard over the years from friends and just a little knowledge about your published work, and I admit a lot of that is from this web site and what you have said.

I essentially agree with charlesatan on most points.

If you sell 25k to 50K books, that will be a start with the big boys. Sell 100K and you are a rising star.

Everything depends on the complete package. Granted you can write, but can you and are you willing to sell?
For example will you dye your hair, and dress like your avatar? Can you go on talk shows. Are you willing to take the time and make the effort to become a "personage." In view of the subject, can you tell little interesting titillating stories like the one you told here about the "food court."

But note this please. At $5K a shot, they may have contacted several prospects, may pick the one they want, and your effort may not be published.

Still it is a chance to "kick the door open."
I would suggest you take it providing they don't have some horrible contract that they want you to sign, committing you to lifetime indenture.

Once your work is out there, they may own the book, the title, and the character you brought to life, but your name is yours. Just make sure that you can still write, for someone else, books that are reasonably distinct from the book they are buying.

Last edited by frahse; 06-29-2012 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 06-29-2012, 08:09 PM   #7
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I'm pretty sure that the reason they approched me is that I've been busy publicizing my current erotica. I've been in newspapers, on the radio and on a webcast and am going in a glossy magazine next week. They did want to read the erotica before they asked me to meet them.

I got a nibble from Hachette as well, but they were dithering and seem to have no real idea about the difference between e-pub and print books, and wanted me to stop the publicity on the current e-book so that they could have a better shot at it when (If!) they bought the print rights. Er, no, I don't think so. I have a contract with EC on that book, and nothing with Hachette.

Okay, it doesn't sound as if they are madly out of line. So now to get writing. Only 90,000 words to write before the end of August.
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Old 06-30-2012, 04:05 AM   #8
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You should expect the advance to be the last money you ever get from them, so make sure it's enough. And hire a lawyer that does IP to get the worst stuff stripped from your contract. The big publishers like to use contracts as leashes.
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Old 06-30-2012, 07:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EileenG View Post
This is a Big Six publisher who have approached me and asked me to write an erotic novel that will blow 50 Shades away. They want it before the end of August, so it can be on the shelves before Christmas and are offering an advance of $5000.

That helps clarify. Given the conditions, it sounds a bit low to me. That is typical of a "never head of before author" advance. I'd probably ask them to at least double it, particularly due to the time-frame and the fact that you seem to be gaining some traction as an author.

And of course, you should be sure you are happy with that as the only money you'll make from it and with the amount of work required to meet the deadline.

I also would suspect they are also soliciting others with the same proposal.

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Old 06-30-2012, 07:58 AM   #10
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Another option would be to write the book self-publish and perhaps make even more. You say you have been publicizing yourself already and that's a big part of self-publishing.

It could work.

Erotica, Romance, Thrillers, Fantasy are really big right now in the self-pub world.

all of this of course is just my opinion.

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Old 06-30-2012, 08:56 AM   #11
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That helps clarify. Given the conditions, it sounds a bit low to me. That is typical of a "never head of before author" advance. I'd probably ask them to at least double it, particularly due to the time-frame and the fact that you seem to be gaining some traction as an author.

And of course, you should be sure you are happy with that as the only money you'll make from it and with the amount of work required to meet the deadline.

I also would suspect they are also soliciting others with the same proposal.
No, I'm pretty sure they are not asking anyone else. They are going to pay the advance BEFORE I write the book, which is not something they normally do.

Considering the pulling power of this particular publisher, I'm fairly happy that there will be royalties as well, unless I write a really, really crap book.
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Old 06-30-2012, 08:59 AM   #12
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Another option would be to write the book self-publish and perhaps make even more. You say you have been publicizing yourself already and that's a big part of self-publishing.

It could work.

Erotica, Romance, Thrillers, Fantasy are really big right now in the self-pub world.

all of this of course is just my opinion.

No, there is no way whatsoever I could match the marketing power of this pubisher. They are planning to have shelves of this book in all the bookshops before Christmas. I swear, I'm terrified just thinking about it. And they want to know if I have a problem going on television and talking about sex?

My mother still doens't know I write erotica. She was out of the country for the media storm, and I'm not telling her.
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Old 06-30-2012, 11:59 AM   #13
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No, there is no way whatsoever I could match the marketing power of this pubisher. They are planning to have shelves of this book in all the bookshops before Christmas.
So they have massive marketing power, they're going to have 'shelves of the book in all book shops'... and they're only offering a $5,000 advance?

Does not compute.
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Old 06-30-2012, 12:58 PM   #14
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You probably already know this, but it doesn't hurt to post it here just in case you don't. Plus, it might help others who are new to the publishing world.

Keep a close eye out for the non-compete clause in the contract. If it's there - and the Big 6 love to include them - make sure it's something you can live with or something you can negotiate so it doesn't impact your other writing. I've seen other writers turn down a contract with a Big 6 publisher because their contracts included clauses that tried to restrict them from selling anything elsewhere.

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So they have massive marketing power, they're going to have 'shelves of the book in all book shops'... and they're only offering a $5,000 advance?

Does not compute.
Advances are down everywhere, Edward, as are print runs unless you're already a Very Big Name.
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Old 06-30-2012, 01:42 PM   #15
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Advances are down everywhere, Edward, as are print runs unless you're already a Very Big Name.
If they're going to have 'shelves of the book in all book shops', that's a heck of a big print run and worthy of far more than a $5,000 advance.
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