So often, I am asked what kind of an advance an author might expect.
Really, this is a question for which even your literary agent won’t dare to hazard a guess. The reason is because advances can vary so wildly depending on a host of factors outside their control…and even the control of the acquisitions editor.
However, there are some ranges that can be taken as averages. And the averages are different depending on the type of manuscript you’re offering.
The rates given here are for first books from authors who have not yet published with a traditional house.
A children’s picture book, which in final print form has 32 pages with an illustration on every page/for every two-page spread, will garner an advance of $8,000-$12,000. The author splits this with the illustrator, and the illustrator usually receives a larger portion of that advance. Royalty rates are also split, so the author will receive a 3.5%-6% royalty rate.
Easy readers, which are about the same length as the longest (atypical) picture book, generate an average advance of $5,000 to $8,000. Since neither the advance nor the royalty rate of 7-10% are split with the illustrator, they go fully to the author’s share.
Middle grade books, also called chapter books, will range higher on average. Any real range can’t be nailed down in part because the middle grade books parse down into so many categories, grade levels, and whether they are intended for academic or mainstream audiences.
Generally, however, a range for the advance might fall between $6,000 and $20,000 depending on whether the author has other publication credits for different age groups, whether the work is a series, and other factors.