Thursday, August 21, 2008


This is my first blog and I thought I would start it with one of those questions most writers don’t like to consider, much less talk about or put in writing.

I started writing twenty years ago for numerous reasons. Like most writers, I’m compelled to write. I have to get those characters and their stories on paper before my head explodes. I want to share something of myself with other avid readers. I want to make them laugh, cry, and to care about my characters as much as I do. Obvious reasons, right? What about money?

Ok, I’ll be honest. I avoided this issue for years because it’s just not something we’re supposed to talk about, right? But recently something grabbed my attention and I want to know what other writers think. I’ve seen one or two interesting lists circulating among the loops that show average advances, royalties, and earn-outs from various publishers based on reports from few or many authors.

Some of the earn-out figures surprised me and immediately brought a question to mind. How important is/was money in your first sale? Personally, I would like to move to PAN status when I make that first sale. This step is very important to me. However, some average earn-outs wouldn’t even put me on the map for PAN, which requires an advance and/or royalties of $1,000 or more.

So I thought about that. Imagine you get that wonderful, long-awaited call, the editor is very excited about your work, and he/she is easily the nicest person you’ve met in the last ten years, yet there’s one, tiny glitch. You won’t be receiving an advance and your average earn-out will be less (possibly much less) than enough to make PAN. What would you do in this situation? Is money important to you or is getting your work out there for others to read and enjoy the most important highlight for you in this writing thing we do?


Christy Reece said...

Welcome to the blog, Karen!

You chose a weighty subject, but here's my take. Each author must make a decision based on their own circumstances. This can be a difficult business, so whether it's a sale to a big house or a small e-pub, it's a major accomplishment and should be celebrated. That said, there should be no surprises if the author does her/his homework. If a contract is offered, then the author has submitted work to this publisher and should know what to expect, within reason.

Just remember, an agent many times can negotiate a much better deal.

But, again, each author must make their own decision. Nothing is easy in this business, but anything worthwhile never is.

Carla Swafford said...

Of course, the proper response is "I write to entertain and share my stories with others." But what most of think is "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"

We've heard about the small amount most authors bring in, especially newbies. Then we hear about those debut books that went to auction and brought in a six figure advance.

Chances are we'll be the former.

Me? Sure, I wouldn't turn down a six figure income, but I would be happy with less. But presently I prefer a large publishing house. Things can change. E-books are becoming more and more mainstream.

So for now, getting my book published is most important and the rest can follow.

Good question.

Karen Beeching said...

Thanks, Christy and Carla. I appreciate your comments. I definitely don't think there's a right or wrong answer. It's interesting to share and find out where each of us is at with this question. My response 15 years ago would have been quite different than it is today.

Naima said...

Hi, Karen!
Boy, you started your blog out with a bang! You're absolutely right, people really don't want to talk about this question, because somehow it may make them seem less loving of the "art". As an unpublished author, on that first sale, all I want is to make it. Being completely honest, just give me the opportunity and have people love what I write. But, of course, readers liking what you do equals them buying your books. So, it always comes back to money. My father has always told me, Chose a career that you are delighted to get up in the morning to go to. That's writing for me. I would LOVE to write for a living, and ONLY have to do that. But, if I had to continue working during the day, write at night, and still be published, push the doggone contract in front of me! Money is important, but if weighed against having people read and love what I give them, it's #2.

But not #3 or #4. Just #2. LOL!