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What an advance (against royalties) really means

Seems to me that securing a publishing advance is the holy grail for many authors. I’d be more concerned about the outcome of the deal, but each to their own I guess.

An advance is in reality an ‘advance against royalties’. Which means what exactly?

If you’re an author, when you enter into a traditional publishing deal you are assigning the investment risk to the publisher, the result of which is diminished financial returns. You are swapping 90%* of your potential revenue for the removal of risk.

I don’t have a problem with that per se – risk takers deserve the rewards – but it’s not the only way an author can get their work to market and it is in my view the least likely way an author will make a full-time living from writing.

  • This figure is obviously deal dependent.


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What an advance (against royalties) really means
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