More on Advances
Shelli asked: in your experience – what is the average advance $ amount? debuts vs others?
I think it’s misleading and unhelpful to talk about “average” advances. All that matters is your advance. If your advance is far below the average, you’ll be bummed and it will take some of the joy away from getting your book deal. If it’s far above the average, hopefully you’ll be grateful but you also run the risk of getting smug or thinking you’re all that.
Advances vary widely depending on what kind of book, which publisher buys it, and the size of the author platform.
A typical first-timer advance might be $15,000 per book. As a new agent, I’ve sold 26 books (mostly debut authors) with total advances for all of them adding up to $504,000. If you average that out, it comes to $19,384 per book. But that’s meaningless to authors who received advances of $5,000 or less and those who made $50,000 or more.
It’s even less helpful to talk about “average” advances for experienced authors. It depends again on genre as well as your previous sales. If you’re a NYT bestselling author, the picture is quite different than if you’re selling 20,000 copies of each book.
A publisher will pay the advance they think your particular book merits. Many publishers offer the advance they hope your book will earn back in the first six to twelve months after publication. Many books don’t earn out their advances at all. But if you don’t earn back your advance in the first year, your publisher might not be falling all over themselves to publish you again.
When your agent is shopping your book, you can ask them what their expectation is for your particular advance. It’s a tough question, because things always seem to surprise us in this business, no matter how long we’ve been in it. But at least you’d probably get an idea of whether your book is good for a few thousand dollars or six figures, or something in between.