I was at Author 101 University in Las Vegas this weekend and had the privilege of catching Scott Hoffman, an agent at Folio Literary Management, speak. Out of all the things that he said, one thing struck me as particularly interesting: how to get a six figure advance from a traditional publisher.

Most royalty rates are based upon hardcover book prices and range from 10%, 12%, and up to 15% of the cover price as the quantities sold increase. Therefore, if the cover price of the hardcover book is $25, the author makes $2.50.

Scott said if you wanted a one hundred thousand dollar advance you, the author, have to submit a business plan to justify that expenditure to the traditional publisher. What does that mean? That means that if you want $100,000 up front, at an average $3 per book royalty, you would need to convince that traditional publisher that you can sell 30,000 copies of your book in the first year! My first thought was, holy shit – no wonder advances are typically so small!

So aspiring authors, keep in mind that signing with a traditional publisher doesn’t mean you’ll be riding in private jets the rest of your life.

Keep checking back here for new tips and advice on how to survive in the literary world.

About Joshua G. Silverman

As a child, Joshua has always been an amateur historian, focusing on ancient Egypt, Greece, and Roman civilizations.