A Snarkling is thumbing her dic-tionery
I have some questions about the basics of the publishing business on the writer’s side. I keep hearing terms that I don’t understand; can you please explain them?
Sure. You'll want to invest in a couple books about the publishing process if this is something you'll be spending your creative energy doing. Start with Writers Market. The essays and information, even aside from the listings, will help you. You can read a copy in your library, but this is one book I advise everyone to actually buy at least once, and read often.
What EXACTLY is an advance? Does an author every have to pay money back if the advance is never earned by the sales?
An advance is "an advance against royalty payments". The publisher pays the author some portion of the money the publisher thinks the author will earn from royalties. The author doesn't have to pay it back if the book doesn't sell enough.
How are royalties typically figured?
Cover price of the book x sales x royalty rate
$20/book x 1000 copies sold x 10% = $2,000 royalty
Do you have to sell a certain number of books to fulfill the advance, then start getting royalties? Yes.
And you get something like 6% of the cover price of each book you sell after that?
Does an author give 15% of royalties to the agent?
Yes. Technically the agent sends the author 85% of what the agent gets from the publisher but you've got the right idea.
Fifteen percent of EVERYthing?
We let you keep your first born son, but everything else...
Only 15% of deals we make, or deals that come from that deal.
Contract language varies.
We don't get 15% of your income teaching or your tax refund. Just the book stuff.
What is “earn through” or “sell through”? Is that when your books earn your advance?
And what of “returns”? How long does a bookstore typically keep your books, and how many do they return to the publisher and why?
Chain stores 6 weeks if it's not selling.
Indie stores maybe 3 months.
They return everything they can't sell. How many they can return is subject to their buy agreement with the publisher. Industry wide returns are 25-35% of a print run.
Will they always keep one or two just in case?