The advance. The bit no one talks about
I won’t lie to you and I think it’s really important to be transparent for the sake of growth and education. Let me start by saying, I am giving you my two cents from my own personal experience, of course there’s other information out there but going on the fact that I struggled to find any I thought it would help to get SOMETHING out there.
At the beginning I couldn’t find information online that really helped me to understand how much I should expect for an advance and how it really worked. So I want to lay it down for you:
The advance for my first book after agent fees was LESS than £7k .
No, you don’t receive all of this money straight away.
If you get an agent on board they charge you a fee but they usually can help to bump up your advance to cover this. The agent will then take a % of your royalties FOREVER. However do bear in mind that your agent will help to make sure you get paid on time and they help to guide you.
Typically your advance will get broken down into thirds. You will receive:
1/3 when you sign
1/3 once handed in
1/3 when the book is published
A lot of the time your first chunk of money will need to be used for your time, testing and working on the book, ingredients and expenses. I worked 2 jobs whilst writing my book, I would come home after work (10pm) and stay up until 2am writing everyday to get it done. Typically you would use the first 2/3rds on covering your ingredients costs, recipe testers if you want to pay others to help you etc. And the final chunk is just that little PHEWWWWW it’s out let me throw it in the air. Well I didn’t do that and i’m yet to properly celebrate my first book, being in a global pandemic and all.
The royalties bit is an odd one and I still haven’t completely wrapped my head around it. But i’ll tell you what I do know. That advance money is almost like an upfront chunk of money that the publishers are using to hedge a bit of a bet on you, knowing that they will make it back once the book starts selling. Once the publishers have made their advance chunk back you will then start to receive royalties. Technically, the larger the advance the longer it will take for you to get royalties, unless you’re like a mega super star sell out author of course. With royalties you receive a % of each book sold and your contract will explain the percentage breakdown. I think a lot of people around me thought I was instantly rich because I had a book out and they would say things like ‘let me buy it off you so you make more’ but it doesn’t really make that much of a difference, for every book sold wherever that is I’ll get a small % of that AFTER the advance has been paid back. Get it? Kind of? Me too.
I’ve been told that the advance offer was low and I could have pushed for more and I also now know that other first time authors were offered more. However, I wanted to make it work. To me it wasn’t about the money, I had an intention with what I wanted to produce and I would make it work however I could.
The publishers were taking a punt on me, I didn’t have a big following or committed audience that would buy this book, I want to emphasis that this worked for ME, I was just grateful for the opportunity.
I totally understand that it’s not always possible to work more to make something work and that’s ok, a few of my friends since have told me how much they got and I’ve heard of first time deals between £1k-55k. So perhaps I was pitching myself low, but again it worked for me and i’m now in a position where i’m on book number 2 with, you’ll be glad to hear, a much better deal.
I hope that’s cleared up some of those advance related questions, if you have an agent they will be a lot better at explaining the royalties etc! Now that you’ve read part 1 and part 2 on writing a cookbook let’s end with a summary and actionable points.
Steps to take to get your book out into the world.
Have a clear idea of what you want to write and why
Get a proposal together, remember you are selling yourself. If you have pictures include them, stats about your audience, quirky pieces of information. It’s all useful.
Either find an agent who can help you to take the proposal to publishers or send it directly to publishers that you would want to work with.
Be persistent with it, if its something you believe in there’s no reason as to why it can’t happen. No doesn’t mean you should give up.
Be open to feedback.
Sign that deal and get started! – Breathe a little; sometimes it can take a while to lock down the deal on paper. You need to be a self starter to get the book written, I always advise people to start writing it once you have agreed it with the publisher. The contract notoriously can take a while.
Use your vision of what you want your book to be to drive you and go go go!
RUN WILD HONEY, YOU DESERVE IT.
P.S. If this article helped you to get your deal let us know! We love shouting about this gorgeous community and the more we can help each other the better. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Fisk for OFM March 2021