31 Comments
Apr 9Liked by Jason June

Such a great post! Thanks for sharing what is rarely shared. This writing business is not a get-rich quick scheme. Or a get rich slow scheme either. :) Just the title of your post got me thinking about how difficult it is. Mid-List AND NYT Best Seller? Those two should not belong in the same sentence. Rock star and NYT Best Seller, yes!

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Apr 19Liked by Jason June

I agree NYT Bestseller and Mid-List should not go togeher! I, too am a NYT Best seller (3 books on that list). I WOULD consider myself a Mid-lister but I make A LOT of money from my publishing - several millions across 20 titles.

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author

YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR!

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Apr 20Liked by Jason June

No not at all. Ask any fantasy reader if they've heard of me I'm guessing most will say no. But I my wife (and business manager) does focus my writing on "earnings" rather than "number of sales" and as such we make a great deal more per book. One thing that struck me about your post was how little per book you made (when royalty by # of sales). I don't know much about children's literature but for adult books I make much more than the numbers you've shown - which is quite an interesting revelation.

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author

Ooooh that is an interesting revelation! I’ve heard from many people on the business side of publishing that the kid lit world is vastly different from adult!

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author

Amy, you are the best! I'm happy to share, and wowza, this definitely isn't a get-rich quick scheme, you're right! Even still, I feel super lucky to be able to do this and publish steadily and hope someday in some small way to be able to make some positive change.

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Apr 10Liked by Jason June

I got to watch you make a difference in person--in front of rooms of kids. And that was before your YA launched and you became a voice for so many who don't feel heard!!Cheering you on and onboard for what comes next. (Hey, I worked in a ship pun, now I can rest easy.) ;)

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author

I will never forget our adventures together! That was so much fun! Thank you for all your support!

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This is so interesting! Thank you for your transparency.

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author

Thank you for reading!!

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Apr 19Liked by Jason June

Thanks for sharing - I think it is great when authors do because knowledge is power. I'm a novelist in the epic fantasy genre and all my books have earned out. I'm what's referred to as a hybrid author (some books published traditionally with the big-five and some that are self-published). These days I find my self-published work FAR outperforms my traditional work. yes, the total sales is lower, but the income per book is MUCH higher.

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author

Michael, thank you for this! That's amazing that all your books have earned out! And thank you for the insight on self-publishing too. I'm leaning more and more into incorporating self-publishing in the very near future!

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Apr 20Liked by Jason June

You are welcome. I should note, however, that for kids lit traditional may be better than self-publishing. The vast majority of my income comes from audiobooks. But one thing you should try as self is Kickstarters - my last project earned $635,000. It was for my latest book in an older series for me and also offered limited edition faux-leather copies of the prior books in the series.

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author

I hadn’t ever considered Kickstarter either! Thank you for this tip!

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Apr 18Liked by Jason June

Thank you for sharing! I am curious about advances. Are they a lump sum payment or spread out over time? And do you have to pay taxes on it or is the publisher already taking care of the taxes portion?

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Apr 20Liked by Jason June

Jason's answer is correct. From my personal experience the standard "schedule" for adavances is as follows:

- for audiobook contracts 50% upon signing 50% when you deliver the manuscript for recording.

- for contracts under half a million - 33% upon signing, 33% on manuscript acceptance (meaning you and your editor agree on the content but generally before copyediting), and the last 33% upon release of the title - this last point is important because the publisher CAN take up to 2 years after acceptance to publish the book and you are waiting for the money all the time. It generally doesn't take that long but 1 year after signing the contract is fairly common.

- for contracts greater than half a million - 25% upon signing 25% on manuscript acceptance, 25% on publication of the hardcover, 25% upon publishing of the paperback edition.

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author

Advances are typically done in payments spread out over time, and it usually varies by publisher. I've heard of advances split anywhere between two and five payments (although I'm sure there are cases where an author—probably a celebrity—got all the money upfront, or other cases with advances paid in more than five installments). Usually the first payment is upon signing of the contract, with the other payments coming in at milestones along the way to publication like the manuscript being accepted by your editor or the book's publication date. Taxes are always the responsibility of the author as writing books is categorized as freelance work, so the publisher will not do any of the tax filing/paying for you. Publishers do, however, tend to send agent commissions out for you so it's not usually the author's responsibility to take out 15% and then send that to their agency.

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Apr 16Liked by Jason June

Thank you so much for sharing! This was super insightful for me.

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author

Thanks, Marina! I'm glad this was helpful!

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Apr 12Liked by Jason June

Hi Jason - as a fairly newbie author, I just wanted to say thank you so much for this breakdown, it is honestly so helpful (and also inspiring!) to see other author's journeys and where the sales landed for different projects. It is a much-needed reminder that this career is a marathon and not a sprint! I would definitely love to read any more posts on this topic from you - also, I LOVED Riley Weaver and can't wait to dive into your back catalogue! :)

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author

Becky!!! Thank you so much for this, and it means the world to me that you liked RILEY!! You are so right, this is a total marathon, and sometimes it can even feel like you’re traveling backwards a bit along the way. But we’re all in this together!!

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This was so cool! Question: how do you know the exact numbers, especially for the books you don’t get royalty statements from? Are they coming from the publisher directly?

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author

I get a statement for each of my books from the publisher directly! You should get a royalty statement for any traditionally published book from the publisher that details every format your book is published in and what the sales are for that format.

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Okay cool, even if the book hasn’t earned out so there are no royalties? My partner (Taylor Tracy) has a book out with Harper this year so I am curious what it will look like for her!

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author

Yep! Regardless of whether the book has earned out, Taylor should get a royalty statement that shows how many copies have sold 💖💖

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Thank you for being so transparent! I think more authors need to be. (And I was just thinking how I haven't seen a post from you in a while!)

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author

I'm really happy I can shed a tiny bit of light on something!

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Thank you for your transparency! So helpful for all of us to talk and share more

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author

I love when we all share together!! I know for me it calms the very Virgo voice in my head that’s like, “but is any of this on par??”

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Thank you so much for sharing this! Gives us a real look! :)

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author

You are so welcome!! ❤️❤️

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