On advances for adult fiction and nonfiction:
These days, advances are generally higher. Across all categories, the average is about $75,000 to $100,000.
General fiction tends to be the strongest. This average ranges from $50,000 to $120,000 for debut authors.
For genres, it’s a bit different. The sci-fi/fantasy, romance, and crime (mystery) segments see about $40,000 to $80,000 on average. Thrillers perform better and net about $75,000 to $175,000 to $250,000 for a first book.
Digital-only deals perform the worst, with most coming in below $50,000 and right around $20,000 to $25,000.
On advances for New Adult books, also called NA:
Generally you can consider the typical range to be between $20,000 and $100,000…as good as YA and standard adult novels across the industry (that is, not solely from the Big Five, which tend to pay more).
On advances for Young Adult, or YA:
The average advance for an author of a YA title in 2011 was $120,000. The averages were derived from information gathered on books released by the then Big Six, now the Big Five, the top publishers in the U.S. and the world.
This trend is very interesting considering the history of publishing in general. In 2003, the industry hit a strong downturn. In 2008, there was another downturn due to the general economic deterioration in the U.S. in general. The 2008 advances in this category were at $120,000 then and held steady through the worst of the economic troubles. In most other categories, advances dropped.
In 2013, advances had not seen much movement from this figure. However, when you add in advances for YA authors from a variety of publishers (not just the Big Five), the average is about $75,000. Still a healthy and respectable advance for most authors.
These figures are for single-book deals, where the work is not part of a series. Multi-book deals industry wide garner advances of about $64,000 per book…so if two books are bought, the average is about $126,000; for three books, it is $190,000.
On advances for juvenile books:
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.
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