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Apr 18, 2009

New York Times Bestseller Bares All


Lynn Viehl
reached covetted New York Bestseller list with her latest book Twilight Fall. And she's kind enough to give us the down and dirty on what this means to one's pocketbook.

My advance for Twilight Fall was $50,000.00, a third of which I did not get paid until the book physically hit the shelf — this is now a common practice by publishers, to withhold a portion of the advance until date of publication. Of that $50K, my agent received $7,500.00 as her 15% (which she earns, believe me) the goverment received roughly $15,000.00, and $1594.27 went to cover my expenses (office supplies, blog giveaways, shipping, promotion, etc.) After expenses and everyone else was paid, I netted about $26K of my $50K advance for this book, which is believe it or not very good — most authors are lucky if they can make 10% profit on any book. This should also shut up everyone who says all bestselling authors make millions — most of us don’t.

She also recieved her first royalty statment (links on her blog):

To give you some background info, Twilight Fall had an initial print run of 88.5K, and an initial ship of 69K. Most readers, retailers and buyers that I keep in touch with e-mailed me to let me know that the book shipped late because of the July 4th holiday weekend. Another 4K was shipped out two to four weeks after the lay-down date, for a total of 73K, which means there were 15.5K held in reserve in the warehouse in July 2008.

Here is the first royalty statement for Twilight Fall, on which I’ve only blanked out Penguin Group’s address. Everything else is exactly as I’ve listed it. To give you a condensed version of what all those figures mean, for the sale period of July through November 30, 2008. my publisher reports sales of 64,925 books, for which my royalties were $40,484.00. I didn’t get credit for all those sales, as 21,140 book credits were held back as a reserve against possible future returns, for which they subtracted $13,512.69 (these are not lost sales; I’m simply not given credit for them until the publisher decides to release them, which takes anywhere from one to three years.)

My net earnings on this statement was $27,721.31, which was deducted from my advance. My actual earnings from this statement was $0.

That could change, if her book keeps selling fast and furious. Though she might have netted only 26K or roughly half, of her advance, she won't see money from royalties until those have caught up with the total amount of the advance.

* * *

UPDATE: An agent breaks it down for us.

15 comments:

ban said...

and that's on the NY best seller's list ...

Windsong said...

o.0

Wow! And so my dreams of becoming rich off my writing turn to ashes and fade away.

sraasch said...

You mean -- writers AREN'T rich??

It's good to see some actual numbers. I always wondered what the "norm" was money-wise, and how much to reasonably expect. I definitely wouldn't say no to $26k (then again, being a college student, I wouldn't say no to any amount of $).

The Screaming Guppy said...

Wow, thanks for sharing. It's cool to see the actual numbers like that.

Lady Glamis said...

So, in essence, don't quit your day job. :D

Anita said...

Very good info...thanks for sharing...will now go burn manuscript :)

Just_Me said...

I'm really glad I'm not in this game for the cash... I'm not writing anything that's going to wind up on the NYT list. I don't sci-fi ever hits there. Maybe Ender's Game or Asimov, but not normal debut sci-fi.

And to get 10% of the money. What's that for those of us in the cheap seats? Maybe $300 per book?

*looks at piggy bank*

Well. Every penny counts.

Rebecca said...

Great information on the reality of what authors make. But there is always the exceptions out there and I think we have to pay attention to both sides. You never know who will be the next big success so you have to keep pushing ahead! Someone has to be that one in a million right?

Solvang Sherrie said...

Wow, that is pretty humbling. Wow. That sucks! Especially the part with the publisher holding back part in case of returns, for up to three years! Wow. This is such a weird business...

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oooh, I love these posts about the numbers behind writing. It is so hard to find this kind of information, and I think it's great stuff to know!

Dara said...

Very interesting! Thanks for that!

The advice of not quitting your day job is good. However, in my case, said day job is only part time and supplementary income anyway and only breaks 10K a year (at best). Even if I only earn a few thousand on an advance, it's more than I'd make in a few months at my current job.

Now if I had a full time job, I wouldn't quit. But my scenario is different than most.

lotusgirl said...

thanks for sharing. In other words, don't be in it for the money.

Kim Kasch said...

Oh I love that info. Thanks for sharing.

Damyanti said...

That is great info. Would show this to my friends next time they ask me when am I writing that bestseller.

Annie Louden said...

I was happy (and sad!) to find this post.
Anything to keep it all in perspective and let me know it's not worth freaking out about.