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-   -   Published authors and percentage income (http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/534929-published-authors-and-percentage-income.html)

I, Brian 24th January 2012 08:01 PM

Published authors and percentage income
 
I'm curious - from the sale price of a traditional paperback, what actual percentage typically goes to the author?

I'm under the impression it's quite a small sum - somewhere in the region of 5% after the seller, publisher, and agent, take their share.

However, am having trouble finding out what tends to be the industry average for science fiction/fantasy/horror.

Anyone any sources?

MemoryTale 24th January 2012 08:27 PM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
It would depend on what the agent takes. Some take 10% of the royalties, some as much as 20%.

Teresa Edgerton 24th January 2012 08:40 PM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
The author usually gets 6-8% of the cover price. That's after the book has earned out on the advance. Sometimes the advance is larger than that 6-8% but of course the writer gets to keep that however the book sells.

The agent takes his or her cut out of what the writer makes. That's usually 15-20%.

Depending on the cover price and how many copies the book sells, that's usually a much better deal for the writer than it sounds.

Gary Compton 24th January 2012 09:03 PM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
Good post Brian. I'm also interested in this. Perhaps someone can expand on what an average advance is these days.

I started my writing career after watching a BBC documentary about an author called Sheila Quigley who had 300,000 advanced on a 3 book deal.

Random House won an auction ran by her agent Darley Anderson who also represents Martina Cole and Lee Child to name but a couple.

Does the agent make the difference? Darley seems to get big bucks for his authors where others seem to get an average of 10-20K. Maybe I'm wrong.

Please feel free to correct me:)

I, Brian 24th January 2012 09:50 PM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
[QUOTE=Teresa Edgerton;1570397]The author usually gets 6-8% of the cover price. That's after the book has earned out on the advance. Sometimes the advance is larger than that 6-8% but of course the writer gets to keep that however the book sells.

The agent takes his or her cut out of what the writer makes. That's usually 15-20%.

Depending on the cover price and how many copies the book sells, that's usually a much better deal for the writer than it sounds.[/QUOTE]

So the writer's share it about 6-8% of cover price for paperback, before the agent takes their cut?

iansales 24th January 2012 10:07 PM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
A typical deal for a genre novelist would be about 30,000 for 3 books, payment split over delivery of manuscript and publication of each book. Royalties, only paid once the advance has been earned back, are usually around the 5% mark for paperbacks, slightly higher for hardbacks. Print runs are generally small, though if a book sells well it can be reprinted - occasionally as early as only a few months after its launch.

An agent will get your manuscript onto the desk of editors. They will try and sell your book to the publishers. Which doesn't mean the editor will buy it, of course. And even if they do, it might take years for them to make a decision.

Most published writers can't afford to give up the day job. If you're expecting to earn a fortune as writer, think again - you'd have more success with a lottery ticket.

Gary Compton 24th January 2012 10:22 PM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
Thanks Ian, an interesting comparison is Scarfy on this forum. He's sold on average 1200 books per month on Kindle for the last 5 months. I think at 1.99 he earns 1.20 per book. If his sales hit 15,000, which they look like doing for the year. That'll earn him 18K before tax which is much more than the traditional route.

That's one book and the revenues should continue if the book is good and if he builds a fan-base.

Is the tsunami of internet publishing going to swamp traditional publishers?

Scarfy 24th January 2012 11:23 PM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
[QUOTE=iansales;1570439]A typical deal for a genre novelist would be about 30,000 for 3 books[/QUOTE]

Surely it's more than that. Is that for a first time novelist, or in the main..? Maybe I'm in Cloud Cuckoo Land, but I would've thought a 3 book deal would net an advance of 50k to 60k..?

[QUOTE]If his sales hit 15,000, which they look like doing for the year. That'll earn him 18K before tax which is much more than the traditional route.[/QUOTE]We'll see how that goes. After a while, you'll have sold all that you're going to and the slow down will start. I expect that I'll slow to around 500 a month by the summer. Would be nice, though.

iansales 25th January 2012 07:29 AM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
[QUOTE=Scarfy;1570474]Surely it's more than that. Is that for a first time novelist, or in the main..? Maybe I'm in Cloud Cuckoo Land, but I would've thought a 3 book deal would net an advance of 50k to 60k..?[/QUOTE]

The deals for first-time genre novelists I've heard about have all been around that figure, though some may be higher if the publisher thinks the trilogy will sell well.

But don't forget, even if it's 60k, that's split over as many years as it takes the books to get published. Say, 5k on signing of contract, 5k on delivery of ms for book 1, 5k on publication of book 1, 10k on delivery of book 2, 10k on publication of book 2, 10k on delivery of book 3, and 10k of publication of book 3. That final payment could be 3 to 4 years after you've signed the contract.

iansales 25th January 2012 07:31 AM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
[QUOTE=Gary Compton;1570452]Is the tsunami of internet publishing going to swamp traditional publishers?[/QUOTE]

Unfortunately, the actual "tsunami" is the tidal wave of poor-quality fiction being self-published. There is some good stuff out there, and there is some non-commercial stuff that would otherwise not see the light of day. But Sturgeon's Law is truer than ever for self-published ebooks, and that 90% of semi-literate scribblings will make it increasingly hard to find the good stuff.

Scarfy 25th January 2012 08:19 AM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
[QUOTE=iansales;1570523]But don't forget, even if it's 60k, that's split over as many years as it takes the books to get published. Say, 5k on signing of contract, 5k on delivery of ms for book 1, 5k on publication of book 1, 10k on delivery of book 2, 10k on publication of book 2, 10k on delivery of book 3, and 10k of publication of book 3. That final payment could be 3 to 4 years after you've signed the contract.[/QUOTE]

Gosh. I'd heard mention of that before, but always thought that that might be one particular publishers' policy. Well, I guess that's fair enough and it makes sense to pay it that way. And there would be additional royalties to come, so long as the advance is earned out.

Gary Compton 25th January 2012 10:10 AM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
[QUOTE=iansales;1570524]Unfortunately, the actual "tsunami" is the tidal wave of poor-quality fiction being self-published. There is some good stuff out there, and there is some non-commercial stuff that would otherwise not see the light of day. But Sturgeon's Law is truer than ever for self-published ebooks, and that 90% of semi-literate scribblings will make it increasingly hard to find the good stuff.[/QUOTE]

Isn't that what the 5 star ratings are for on Amazon - to sort the wheat out from the chaff?

HareBrain 25th January 2012 10:18 AM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
[QUOTE=Gary Compton;1570550]Isn't that what the 5 star ratings are for on Amazon - to sort the wheat out from the chaff?[/QUOTE]

In theory yes -- the trouble is, you have to try to work out if they were all placed by the author's mates. Five-star ratings of self-published books by people with no other reviews tends to make cynical old me very suspicious.

psychotick 25th January 2012 11:06 AM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
Hi Harebrain,

The stars are a problem, but not just because of those who get family and friends to write reviews and rate their books. There are also trolls out there, who've of late started going through some of the discussion fora, marking down threads and also writing, or should I say cutting and pasting, reviews. One star reviews of course, often with the same couple of lines for different books.

Your best bet is to see a book you like and then download a sample using the 'look inside' button on Amazon, then decide if it's your sort of thing.

Cheers, Greg.

iansales 25th January 2012 11:52 AM

Re: Published authors and percentage income
 
Word of mouth still remains one of the best ways of finding good books that will appeal to you, irrespective of whether they're self-published or on a major imprint.


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