I’m getting published! In a three book deal! By St. Martins Press! SQEEEEEEE! My first book is due out sometime in the Fall of 2013. If anybody is still on the fence about what a good agent can do for you talk to me. Authors alone, especially new ones, cannot make deals like this by themselves. And even though this all happened relatively quickly I learned a lot. A LOT about everything. But the thing I zoned in on the most was how publishers pay authors. Here’s a couple of things I learned these past couple of weeks.
Most big six publishers will not look at your work unless it is submitted by an agent. UNLESS they request a manuscript from a contest or a live pitch.
Okay, so you probably knew that. But here are a few things to consider.
If you do get a request from a contest or a pitch be prepared to wait. Editors feel obligated to respond to submissions made by agents first. They work with them on a daily basis and rely on them to find talent. Plus they see them at all those cool industry events like BEA (Book Expo of America) and at conferences. And a good agent will hound an editor to make sure that they are reading and responding to your book. Six months on a full request is average. Some editors might take up to a year.
I’m sorry all you contest junkies (and I was surprised to hear this one) but many editors and agents just aren’t impressed by contest wins. Unless they are big ones like the Golden Heart. The reason being is that there are so many contests out there. The scoring is subjective and often done by untrained judges. They all say it’s a great way to get feedback but not to put all your hopes and dreams on them.
If you somehow can stand the wait and do get an offer, be prepared for a lower advance if you don’t have an agent. Publishers tend to pay between $1,500- $6,000. And you may not get things like world rights and other stuff that as a new author you just don’t understand.
The other thing about not going the agent route is less of a chance for multiple submissions. An agent can have six editors reading your book at the same time. Which means there is more likely a chance that more than one of them will like it and then fight over it and that means you get more money!
But also be aware that just because you have an agent doesn’t mean your book is going to get sold. I’m not embarrassed to tell you that I was rejected by Harlequin, Bantam, Hachette, and Pocket before my offers came in. Not everybody is going to like your book and the sooner you learn that the better.
- The average advance for a newbie author from a big six publisher( and lets throw Harlequin in there, but not their category lines) is $10,000.
The average royalty rate for a new author is 8%. Which means that the publisher gets to keep 92% of the profits from your book. (Now you see why some people self publish. 70% compared to 8% plus absolute editorial control.)
You won’t get paid for a very long time. Apparently it may take a few months for a publisher to generate a contract. Granted there are dozens of little things in it that need to be hammered out but still, the process is glacial compared to publishing yourself.
Also consider that you will not see all that money at once. You will get some on signing. Some on acceptance of your manuscript by the publisher and some on publication.
- It takes about a year for a debut author’s book to come out and after that you have to earn back your advance.So if you don’t sell many books don’t count on seeing any more money. And even if you do sell a lot of books you’ll have to wait until the publisher is ready to pay you. Some pay quarterly. Some pay twice a year. Either way you are in for a wait.
Smaller publishers will work for you too!
- Kensington and Sourcebooks are not huge publishers but just because they don’t have millions to throw at you doesn’t mean they can’t do big things for your career. Fern Micheals is currently with Kensington.Even Jill Shalvis has books coming out with them this fall. Those ladies are big New York Times selling authors. And sometimes going smaller means getting more attention. It may mean the people there will spend more time with you helping you build your brand as an author.
- But don’t expect big money from them. They offer brand new authors an average advance of $2,500. But they can get your book into Walmart! And isn’t that everybody’s dream.
- You also don’t need an agent, a pitch or a contest win to submit to them. Check out the guidelines on their websites and submit away!
Most E pubs don’t offer advances.
- But Entangled is doing big things for their authors. One of them got a royalty check for over three hundred thousand dollars and her book is racing up the bestseller charts.
- Samhain and Ellora’s Cave also boast happy authors. The point is that there isn’t just one way. Just find the way that is right for you.
I know for most of us it’s not about the money. It’s about getting our work out there, connecting with readers and doing what we all love to do which is write.
I hope I didn’t ramble. Anybody have any questions? Comments? Suggestions? Were things different in your experience? Have something to share with the group?