For all aspiring authors, there is but one goal. Getting your book published. And what an amazing thing it is when dreams come true, am I right? Everything you’ve ever wanted right there in front of you, um yes, please!

However, once the excitement and sheer joy of the news of your own story being brought to life starts to fade, you’ll have a few logistics to sort out. 

And one thing, that especially first-time authors, can struggle to get their heads around is the advance that they’ll receive.

So, in this article, we’ll delve a little deeper into what an advance actually is as well as how much you can expect to receive. Spoiler alert – it’s around $10,000. 

Ready to learn more? Let’s begin. 

What Is A Book Advance? 

 So, what actually is a book advance? Simply put, it’s a payment that you’ll receive before your book gets published.

A publisher will give you a substantial amount of money and in exchange, they will get the rights to the book you’ve written. 

Usually, you won’t receive this payment as a one-off lump sum, instead, you’ll receive instalments of the payment over time. 

When it comes to book advances the overall value will have a few deciding factors. Your publisher will estimate the potential earning capacity of your book through sales and royalties.

So, the more popular your book is estimated to be, the more money you’ll receive. 

The purpose of a book advance is to enable the author to continue writing and working on their book while still having a steady income to survive on.

Really, it’s simply an advanced payment against future earnings from the sale of your book. 

How Much Can You Expect For Your First Advance?

I feel like this is a question asked by many aspiring writers. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve googled ‘how much does an author make’ in the past.

And honestly, there isn’t all that much information out there so it’s unsurprising that so many new writers don’t really know what to expect. 

So, I thought who would actually know the answer to this question? And the answer was glaringly obvious. Established writers seemed like a good bet. And thus the information investigation began. 

According to Wendy Higgins, an author signed to Harper Collins, you shouldn’t expect all that much from your debut novel. But that’s not to say that it won’t be worth it.

According to Higgins the first thing her agent told her was ‘don’t go thinking you’re going to be able to buy a beach house’ and buy a beach house from her first advance she did not. 

What she did get was an advance of $10,000. She also goes on to say that another author she was acquainted with also received the same advance for her first novel. 

I also found excerpts from bestselling author Rebecca Brandewyne who mentioned that first advances were usually anywhere between ‘$1000 to $10,000 for a single book’

Asking exactly how much you’ll receive for your first advance is a little like asking how long is a piece of string. The answer will really depend.

There’s no hard and fast set rule on how much an advance will be. It’ll depend on the author, the publisher, the estimated sales, and a whole lot more. 

A chosen lucky few might receive those big-buck advances but it seems that for the majority you can expect an advance of around $10,000. 

What Is A Common Advance For A First Time Author?

How Are Book Advances Calculated? 

So, now we know the general idea of how much you can expect from a book advance, let’s look at how they are calculated in a little more detail. 

As I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this article, there are several different factors that will be taken into account when calculating a book advance. It is usually determined by the potential earnings of the book being published. 

However, there is no exact formula for how they determine the potential earnings. It can vary from publisher to publisher.

With that being said, there are a few general factors that most publishers will consider before estimating your books value such as: 

  • Any previous sales or earnings (where applicable)
  • Authors platform and reach (online and offline presence)
  • The genre and subject matter of the book
  • The target audience for the book
  • The length and complexity of the book
  • Market demand for similar genres, stories, or authors
  • The competition for the publishing rights to the book 

Typically, all of the above will be taken into consideration to determine an advance offer that they believe is both reasonable and fair.

Sometimes, but not always, this advance may also include other benefits too. A marketing budget or the publisher’s resources and expertise may also be included in your advance which is always super exciting when it happens. 

Try to also keep in mind that a low advance doesn’t automatically mean that your book won’t be successful.

It’ll be used as a guide and if your book becomes astronomically more popular than predicted, you’ll probably make a lot more money based on your royalties. 

What Are Royalties In Publishing? 

Now that you know everything you need to know about advances, let’s take a minute to discuss royalties before we depart. 

Royalties are a percentage of the book sales revenue that will be paid to the author. This means that once you’ve received your advance and sold your rights to the book, there is still the potential for more earnings and revenue. 

The amount of royalty you’ll receive, again, will be determined by your publisher. Much like your advance, the value of your percentage will be based on a variety of different factors. 

Typically, though, you’ll receive anywhere between 5-15% from any hardback or paper copy of your books and around 70% for e-books. 

You will have to earn out your advance though. Essentially, what this means is that you’ll need to pay back your advance before you start earning any revenue from your royalties.

So say you received a $10,000 advance and earned 10% in royalties from every book sold at $10, you’d need to sell at least 10,000 copies of the book before you would start to receive your royalties. 

Final Thoughts

Any aspiring author waits for the day they can hold a copy of their very own book in their hands. It’s a milestone you’ll never forget. You turned a completely blank screen into a whole new world. And that’s amazing. 

For so many of us, it really isn’t even about the money. It’s the passion, hard work, and dedication that drives you forward. However, a big sum of money to go along with it sure is a bonus. 

And if you were wondering how much you could expect to earn from your first advance – now you know! Generally, most first time authors will be granted a $10,000 advance.

From there you’ll need to get promoting your book to sell as many copies as possible so that you can start cashing in on your royalties. 

To all the aspiring writers reading today, keep at it! With hard work and dedication you can get there! I look forward to reading your first ever published book! 

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