Talking about the Six-Figure Advance (Part Two)

Hi! Dominique Gibson is back with another post. So I just recently did a post about the six-figure and even seven-figure advance for a debut author who has no social media presence, no following, nothing but who ends up scoring a “major deal” in the publishing world with a big five publisher. My professor decided to add some more additional information about how the publishing industry really works and if it’s something an author want to consider in the future. Did you miss out on part one of this post? Click down on the link below for more information about what I discussed in part one of the six-figure advance:

Talking about the Six-Figure Advance (Part One)

Here is my professor’s response to the discussion about the six-figure advance:

  • 1. Whenever a publisher buys the rights to a book (they don’t buy the book itself), they do a Profit and Loss statement. This allows them to figure out what they think they will make and offer an advance to the author. If they think it will be a “big” book, they’ll plan to throw promotional and marketing money at it to help it go big. That will also impact how much they offer. 
  • 2. Advances are not paid out in a lump sum. They are paid out in three and sometimes more payments. The first is usually on signing the contract. The second is usually when you’ve turned in the revised draft (so after you’ve gone through the editorial process and the editor has accepted it as ready to move on in the publication process). The third is upon publication. Given that it can take more than a year from signing to publication, that advance is looking smaller and smaller in terms of keeping body and soul together and roof overhead. 
  • 3. Publishers offer an advance based on what they think they will sell in the first six months to a year. Obviously you will sell long after that, but they focus on that first year. Be aware that even if you don’t earn out your advance, they will still have made money. 
  • 4. If your contract is for more than one book and they’ve managed to slip through “basket accounting” on you, then that means that you will not see any royalties until after all the books have been released and you’ve earned out. That can be years. Separate accounting is when a book earns out and you start earning royalties on it, even if the next books don’t earn out. That way you will have a revenue stream. 
  • 5. Publishing is evolving, but it used to be that some publishers would start new authors in hardback and then cancel the contract or not buy any more books if those hardbacks didn’t sell enough, or if the subsequent mass market paperback didn’t sell. Putting new authors in hardback means that people have to spend a lot of money on the risk that they won’t like the book. Some genres have readers who will do that. Other genres (like romance, and urban fantasy, cozy mysteries, and so on), have readers who will not spend that much on a book. 
  • 6. If the publisher hypes you and gets your name out there, or if you have a following from a social media platform or from short story writing or some other work, you will already have fans, even if you’ve not published a novel. But that’s not really what Dominique is talking about. 
  • Now my questions are: what are you thoughts on the process? What would you like to have happen as you set out publishing your first novels? (some of you have publications already, but I think you can still answer the question, since you may not have a large following yet.)
  • Remember that typically you earn 10% of cover price on hardbacks, and 8% of cover price on paperbacks. Electronic versions vary hugely and you can earn anywhere from 15% of cover price, all the way up to 50%, depending on your publisher and your contract. Remember you have to pay out 15-20% of your earnings to your agent, if you have one. Another point to make is that you get paid approximately six months after the royalty period ends.

So, out of all of the responses I’ve read from my peers in this class, the majority of them is not just thinking about doing traditional publishing alone. The majority of them stated that they either: 1. Skip past the traditional publishing route altogether and self-publish their work or 2. Go the hybrid route by self-publishing some books and have other stories sent through a traditional publisher so that they will be able to have the best of both worlds.

What do you think?

Dominique Gibson

Dominique Gibson knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she sat down at her plastic table and wrote her first book out of sheer boredom at eight years old. Years later, she decided to go get her Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia College Chicago. She is obtaining her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When not writing, she is busy teaching two year olds at a daycare center in Skokie, IL. For more information, check out her website at for more information.

Published by Dominique Gibson

My first love has always been writing since I was eight years old. After getting my Bachelor's Degree in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago and struggling for years trying to get published the traditional way, I decided that the only way to promote my work was to promote myself which is why I am self-publishing my paranormal romance The Truson S.E.T. Series.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: