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  1. #1
    Herman Munster
    Guest

    % deals you can expect to find as a rule of thumb?

    I saw Gary post this:
    "be little or no profit left"

    From what I have gleaned over the last 6 months or so, if you go to a trad pub you can expect to be offered around 4-6%, as a general rule of thumb, as much as a thumb can rule!?!?

    Now, I have also seen that an agent can expect a deal where they get around 15% as their commision. I was actually SHOCKED when I found these type of numbers seemingly as industry standards.
    SO, does the agent get a 15% commission of the gross? Surely not?
    Or is it as I suspect that they get 15% of your 4-6% of the gross?

    I am just fishing, I am nowhere near any deal with anyone at all. These are simply numbers I have picked up around here and there!
    I was told that you "virtually have to market" the whole book deal yourself, these days, since there are no margins left with the pub to fund any promotional activities. If this is the case, then POD could be a little more appealing, since you can expect retail sales around 35% margin. Not sure what the reseller margins generally run at, perhaps someone could post ideas they have heard about in this regard!?!?



  2. #2
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: % deals you can expect to find as a rule of thumb?

    Herman,
    Traditional publishers pay writers an advance--a lump sum of money up front (usually divided into 3 payments over a year's time). Hopefully, Gary or Cathy will come along and give you specifics.

    The size of the publisher and the genre dictate the size of the advance. Several times a year contributors on these boards report landing an agent who got them a six-figure deal ($100,000.00 to $999,000.00). Smaller publishers will only pay $1,000.00 to $5,000.00. That's still way more than you would reap from POD. A few thousand vs. a few hundred is a no-brainer.

    Yes, most traditional publishers don't do much PR. Compare that to zero from POD.

    A traditional publisher will get your books into brick-and-mortar stores. Not, we-can-order-it. It's there already when your fans walk into the store. It's there already when browsers who never heard of you spot the title, pull it open, read a few pages and smile on their way to the cash register. Compare that to zero spontaneous buys from POD.

    The New York Times probably won't print a review of your traditionally published books. Lots of other magazines, newspapers and online venues will because they know it's been vetted by professionals and gone through an editing process. Because the opposite is true of POD--nobody wants to review it.

    Somebody's only giving you half the story. Read old threads here. The facts never change.

    Best,
    Janice

  3. #3
    Frank Baron
    Guest

    Re: % deals you can expect to find as a rule of thumb?

    Janice has given a fine overview. I'd just add that the agent gets (usually) 15% of what the author gets. So, if the author is getting 10% royalties, the agent gets 15% of the 10%. In most instances, if you're dealing with a legit agent who's been around the block a time or three, s/he will make you more than enough to justify the arrangement. Agents know how to fine-tune a contract to an author's (and hence the agent's) advantage.

  4. #4
    Andrew Smith
    Guest

    Re: % deals you can expect to find as a rule of thumb?

    What Janice said is accurate in my experience. I get lost in all the "gross" and "net" stuff.

    But don't worry about this stuff yet. Write your book. I don't know hundreds of authors, but the ones I do know never thought anything about percents, commissions, grosses, or anything having to do with cashing checks before they sat down and wrote something that caught someone's attention.

  5. #5
    Andrew Smith
    Guest

    Re: % deals you can expect to find as a rule of thumb?

    Oh... and the origin of the idiom "rule of thumb" has something to do with English Common Law and the width of a stick that could legally be used to beat your wife.

  6. #6
    Cathy C
    Guest

    Re: % deals you can expect to find as a rule of thumb?

    From what I have gleaned over the last 6 months or so, if you go to a trad pub you can expect to be offered around 4-6%, as a general rule of thumb, as much as a thumb can rule!?!?

    Now, I have also seen that an agent can expect a deal where they get around 15% as their commision. I was actually SHOCKED when I found these type of numbers seemingly as industry standards.
    SO, does the agent get a 15% commission of the gross? Surely not?
    Or is it as I suspect that they get 15% of your 4-6% of the gross?


    The basics:

    An "advance" is the publisher's estimate of the TOTAL royalties the book in question will earn during its shelf life. Both publisher and author are hoping the number is wrong, but the publisher is BETTING the number is right.

    The agent takes 15% (+/-) of the amount the author receives, which is from 4-15% of the list price (hopefully--some small publishers pay on "net" price, which is far less than list price).

    I'm not sure why you're shocked. The author is only ONE of the expenses in the production of the book. The cover image, if done by a well-known freelance artist (versus an in-house artist), will probably cost at LEAST as much as the author makes---then there's the ink and paper to pay for, the promotion, sales, marketing to the bookstore/distributor buyers, equipment, salaries, etc.

    The margin on a book's list price really isn't that much. Books are sort on the McDonald's theory---sell lots and lots for not much money and hope the sheer quantity will mean a profit. Readers won't generally pay more than $7.99 for a paperback or $24.95 for a hardback and yet the publisher still has to produce the book for that amount, no matter how much the cost of materials increases.

    Fortunately, the McDonald's theory does apply. The typical midlist print run for a mass market paperback is 10,000 to 60,000. Hardbacks are much smaller runs, because of the expense. If the entire of the first print run sells, the royalties equal the advance and it's a zero sum game. If it sells more, the author earns more. If it sells less, only the PUBLISHER loses. The author keeps the money and life goes on.

    I don't really mind the royalty percentages--or even the occasional low advance (although our agent does try really hard to get higher advances.) If the book sells with a low advance, the back-end royalties will catch up. So everybody wins. If it doesn't sell, the advance guarantees that at least the author wins a little. But too many times of low sales means the next book probably won't be picked up.

    "Promotional activity" is one of those loaded terms. The READER has never been the customer of the publisher. They will seldom spend a dime to reach them. The BOOKSTORE is their customer, and the publisher quite often does spend promotional money that the author never sees--from endcap displays to "face-out" of the cover and placement on tables. The publisher leaves it up to the bookstore to sell to the public, which is really where the responsibility lies. I mean, really . . . who advertises to the public about a new variety of Simpson brand wall anchors? Simpson? Or Ace Hardware? Yep. Same thing.

    It's just that authors started to "help" get word out to the readers and suddenly the bookstores slowed down the amount of promo they do. If the readers come in because the author sent them, why offer coupons or splash ads in newspapers? It's just common sense. Then all of a sudden, it started to get "known" that authors would do it. But not all do. There are thousands of bestselling and midlist authors out there who sell just fine without a single dollar out of pocket. I just LIKE to do promo. It's not, in any way, required or even requested by my publisher. Appreciated, but never, ever requested.

    Does that help explain things?

  7. #7
    Herman Munster
    Guest

    % deals you can expect

    Several things came up here which means this is one of my best threads so far.
    I am totally in awe of the English, that rule of thumb, hell, that is just inspired!!!! Is it stil compulsory to use it?

    Now, the trad pub often deals with advances, I had seen this but had forgotten about it. I get the whole deal with why I was irrationally arguing with this successful auther that I really wanted to go thru trad pub with at least the first book. After he explained the POD system and started on margins, which I do understand, he simply skipped past the advances since he is not committed to POD, as he told me and why, that he thinks I might be advantaged in the same way he is. AGain, I was still stuck on trad pub route for an unknown reason. I think it was the advance I had absorbed but forgotten about.

    For those names above I don't recognise, I do have 3 books in the bag. 4 is an eBook that needs a 50% rewrite I am afraid of and dodging. 5 is delayed, 6 is awesome and started, I know where that is going but 7, that is what I am working on right now and it is going to be the best so far. I have some other stuff, an 8k semi short story I may send out as an eBook, but I intend to develop that into a full book at a later time, call it any double figured number you like!

    Janice, you are right, someone was not giving me the full info and facts but then I don't blame them since I consider they had my success in their minds and vast experience. He was not being dishonest, just more enthusiastic about his chosen method which is working fr him.
    Also, that is why we have these forums, to put out questions and with enuff answers you can spot the scammers and BS merchants and ignore them. The info in here is excellent and actually reinforced my original feelings of wanting to go the trad pub way with BK 1, I just didn't know why I felt that way. You have taught me about myself!

  8. #8
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: % deals you can expect

    POD (print on demand) isn't a type of publisher; it's a type of printing. All types of publishers use POD printing as it suits their needs (small anticipated sales--something less than 500; back listing).

    There is traditional publishing (the publisher pays for everything and markets), subsidy publishing (the publisher and author share the costs of production and marketing) and vanity/self-publishing (the author pays for everything and markets). These are the types of publishers.

  9. #9
    jayce
    Guest

    Re: % deals you can expect

    POD (print on demand) isn't a type of publisher; it's a type of printing.

    I agree, but I have the feeling that frequent misuse is expanding the definition to include self-publishing through companies that use POD equipment. Being a nut about precise use of of words, I hate it when that happens, (e.g., "honing in" instead of "homing in") but that's one way the language grows.

  10. #10
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: % deals you can expect

    I hate to see that happen. The POD process is a great one. Trade and academic publishers are putting it to good use--but sort of keeping their activity in that under the table because of the connection to self-publishing (which they abhor in any event for self-preservation purposes). It's unnecessarily giving the pring-on-demand process a bad name.

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