Thursday, 21 January 2010

Royalties and Advances

Today I got my royalty statements through from Gullane - always exciting, as they publish the majority of my titles, and also most of the ones that have sold beyond the advance.

For those who don't know how it works: authors and illustrators get paid an 'advance' before the book is published, so that we don't starve to death, waiting all the years it takes for the books to get out there and gradually earn money, a few pence at a time (we get a tiny percentage of what you pay for each book).

Illustrators receive this advance in stages, usually 4 bits: a little on signing the contract, a big chunk on finishing the roughs, an even bigger chunk on delivery of artwork, and then a small amount on publication day.

From then on, you get royalty statements every 6 months, to tell you how sales are going and how much of your advance the publisher has earned back. Unfortunately lots of books never earn enough to quite match the advance, but that's OK - you don't have to pay anything back (phew)!

Once you have sold enough books for your pennies to mount up to the value of your advance, you start to earn royalties: which means that every 6 months, when the royalty statements arrive, the publishers pays you whatever your percentage has amounted to.

Which might sound straight forward, but the big snag is that royalty statements are generally written in publisher's code and often virtually unintelligible (grrrrr...). So, well done and a huge thank you to Gullane, for re-designing their statements recently, so they are totally clear and author friendly!!


Lisa Graves said...

this is making me feel like a dope. lol. just signed a contract with a vanity press to illustrate a book. I've been illustrating for 15 years- but never did a book, so didn't feel I had the right to demand anything. I think I may be getting... er... for a lack of a better term... boned! lol. Thanks for sharing this info. I love your blog and learn so much from it.

Serena Lewis said...

What an interesting process...I hate getting paperwork that, though written in english, feels like it may as well be written in another language altogether.

Cute illustration!

Coralie Colorie said...

I understand you are excited! That's great these books have been sold beyond the advance! Congratulations!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thanks Guys.

Lisa - I would very strongly recommend that you join whatever the US equivalent of our Association of Illustrators is. They should be able to give you detailed advice on what you can charge for different kinds of work and guide you on how to go about it.

It's so important that you don't undervalue yourself and our work. I don't know what products you have been illustrating for, but I worked for over 4 years as a freelance giftware illustrator and then a further 7 in editorial (so all one-off small jobs and no books involved) but each one still paid a fee and it was possible to make a living.

There are also plenty of on-line groups who will help you with free advice: join some illustrator's groups on Facebook - there's nothing like swapping experience with fellow illustrators for getting clued up!

Good luck x

Anonymous said...

Hi, Wow!This is very interesting site of inforamtion and your covers are simply marvelous!!

I have written 30 children's books and I have only 2 illustrated to date within the past year by my illustator in completion. What is an accurate time frame for an illustrator to pump out pictures for a book??? It is a tough dynamic going into business with your best friend. I am torn on whether or not to exit the business completely, as I am working quadriple-time in the business and we are now business partners, and I am finding an exceedingly mass amount of typos and deadlines missed at this time. I am also co-writing with Mensa, have 4 script specs int he works, and two novels. I have a publisher that I have signed with, however never was paid in advance. How does this truly work? LOL! Am I as one other person stated, a dope too? How does one also go about a stipend chart as I have 10 pro bono gigs and now and sending out letters asking for stipends. This did work to my advantage however, because I interviewed a 25 award emmy winner on my radio show last month, so I must be doing something right, right? :)