Cash Advances Aren’t Found Money

Too many times I hear unpublished authors comment on the huge cash advance they’re expecting when a publisher buys their manuscript.

The reason we hear about huge cash advances is the same reason we hear about most news–it’s not the norm! If every book sold received a huge cash advance in the deal, no one would be talking about the money.

So, what is a cash advance all about anyway? It’s an advance against sales. I repeat, it’s an advance against sales.

You, as author, are expected to market your book (see my post about this). People buy authors, not publishers. If you’re royalty published and your first book bombs, chances are you won’t get many publishers interested in your next book.

Cash advances are meant to help you get the buzz started about your book and get the marketing campaign mapped out and implemented. They’re not meant for you to take a vacation, to party hardy with your buddies to celebrate your manuscript sale, or even to pay off old bills.

No one knows your book better than you do, so you’re the perfect person to lay out some ideas on marketing it. Of course you’ll have to start with a website or two (one for you as author and one for your book).

You’ll want to create marketing materials with the book cover prominently shown–bookmarks, postcards, signage for book signings, etc.

You’ll want to set up your email and social networking marketing strategy and implement it.

You’ll want to connect with libraries, book clubs, other groups about your book and perhaps about you making an appearance to sign and give a little talk.

You may even map out all the cities your relatives and friends live in and create your own book tour–you can stay free with people you know and set up book events and media coverage in each city you stay in.

If you’ve got a good literary agent, you may get a nice cash advance (minus 15 percent for your agent). It’s not found money. It’s money to jumpstart your book sales. Since it’s an advance, it’s the only money you’ll see until you pay it all back to the publisher through book sales.

What happens if you don’t sell enough books to pay the advance back? Typically you don’t have to reimburse the publisher the difference, which means the publisher absorbs the loss.

What does it mean when you cause the publisher to lose money? Publishing is business and chances are you will have completed your career as a published author unless you choose a publishing option other than royalty.

If your agent sells your manuscript and  gets you a cash advance of any size, use it wisely.

Happy Writing!

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27 Responses to “Cash Advances Aren’t Found Money”


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