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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A writer's worth

In her blog, Tess Gerritsen talks about money, specifically the advances that writers get or hope to get. And her answer to the question of just what a new writer should expect: "it's a crapshoot." For instance, Elizabeth Kostova garnered a $2mm advance, which is rare indeed. Usually, an author has to have some name recognition to get a figure like that. Other new authors may barely receive five figures. In other words, advances for a first-time author are "all over the board." Factors that go into an advance: "who your agent is, whether you've got a compelling personal history, whether you're a hot looking stud... " (This last part is sad, but has been written about here in this blog before.) And yes, writing a good book is also a plus.

Royalties for seasoned authors is a little more ascertainable. "With major publishers, hardcover royalties tend to run around 12 - 15% and paperback royalties tend to be around 6- 10% of cover price. So a writer who's sold 25,000 hardcover copies has earned $75,000 in royalties in hardcover sales alone, and his next book deal should certainly reflect that. His next advance should be, at a bare minimum, $75,000. (And we're not even talking about paperback earnings yet, which will be on top of that.) More likely, the next advance will take into account continued growth, and will probably reach well into six figures. "

Gerritsen then elaborates on the NYT bestsellers: "Numbers may no longer be anchored to real sales figures, but may soar much much higher." Even those low on the bottom third are worth at least a million a book. She concedes that some deals simply don't make monetary sense, like the recent three-book, seven-figure deal which went to an author who had never placed the NYT list.

Overall, it depends on how much the publisher is willing to gamble. Whether it turns out to be a good roll or snake eyes is just a matter of chance.

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 11/09/2005 01:32:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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