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Ann the Downer: The Follow-up

16 Dec 2008

Just addressing some stuff found in my Inbox in regards to the original post:

  • What kind of deal did FA get?

First off, publishing deals are categorized as follows:

Nice deal is $1 to $49,000
Very nice deal is $50K to $99K
Good deal is $100K to $250K
Significant deal is $250K to $499K
Major deal is $500K and up

FA, from what I can infer, got a nice deal.  And, even though romance is the lion’s share of the book market, romance writers are on the low-end of the scale.

  • But I thought an NY contract means big bucks!

Uh, not really.  4 out of 5 of books do not earn out their advance. Yes, that’s 80%.  So, smart publishers offer low advances to no-name authors because there is fierce competition in the publishing world.  (Of course, just because a book does not earn out its advance does not mean the publisher has lost money on it, but it does mean your chances of getting a new contract with them is diminished because you’re not profitable enough.)  From what I’ve seen, it looks like NY publishers depend on the 80/20 rule: 20% of their authors (e.g. Nora Roberts, Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, etc.) to bring in 80% of the revenue, which is then used to take chances on new and mid-list authors.  However, they’re not going to keep on dead weight in hopes that someday you might make it big.  This isn’t the American auto industry, after all.

  • Really, NY authors making below the poverty level?

Yes.  I can name about a dozen authors off the top of my head, but I don’t want to embarrass them.  These women live in fear of getting sick because they don’t have health insurance; scrimp and save to go to conferences; forgo things like promos and ads because the cost is prohibitive; and have to do creative budgeting to pay bills and eat.  Brenda Hiatt’s romance money survey is by no means scientific, but there’s nothing better because it appears to be taboo to discuss the money aspects of being a writer.

  • But shouldn’t writers being writing for love?

Sure, most writers write because they love it.  I write because I love storytelling, and while I make a half-decent chunk of change, my writing income is only 5% of my day job income.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t live on 5% of my current income.  I like this thing called food.  A lot.

  • You don’t write full time, though.  Wouldn’t you make a lot more if you do?

Perhaps.  However, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take at this point in my life because I did poverty while growing up and I didn’t really enjoy it.

  • You really won’t say how much you need to quit the day job?

Nope.

ETA: Richard Curtis, the out-dated NY publishing business model, and why advances will be shrinking.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 Dec 2008 9:48 PM

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Deborah

    http://termlifeinsurance2.com

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  1. Please Don’t Pity Me « Ann Bruce | The Not-so-deep Thoughts

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