How common are advances in the LDS publishing world? And how is an advance calculated?
LDS advances are less common than in the national market. Some publishers never give them, others give them according to their own set of criteria. Some only give advances after the first book. I can’t give you exact numbers. We usually offer an advance in the three digits. Sneer away, but it’s all we can realistically offer.
Some publishers have a standard advance they offer based on the type of book—fiction might get $X while non-fiction gets $Y. Others offer an advance based on the number of books they expect to sell in the first few months. This is all guess-work on the part of the publisher because the advance goes into the contract before they get pre-orders and reviews back.
9 thoughts on “LDS Advances”
Which is just one of the many reasons I don’t write LDS fiction.
At the risk of revealing just how naive I really am, I love writing for the LDS market! There is little money in my genre, granted, but the rewards that come from incredibly faithful readers and a community of peers who are also dear friends is irreplaceable. (Or, like they say in that that MasterCard ad, priceless)
Have you ever read the quote by James Barrie where he says that to him the book itself was the reward? (Possibly easier to say when you’re rich and practically immortal.) He wrote that when his first book was published he carried it around in his breast pocket and kept sneaking peeks at it to see if the ink had disappeared.
That’s just how I felt when Covenant shipped my first carton of books! They could have sent me a bill for the amount of the royalty check and I would have been just as pleased. Almost a decade later, I still feel much the same.
That said, please don’t tell Covenant’s accountant I wrote this. I really do appreciate the regular checks, meager though they may be!
I really like Kerry’s comment because it reminded me of an agent interview I read by Anna Olswanger. She said, “I can’t do much for a writer who expects publishing to give her the happiness she hasn’t already given herself. I can’t validate anyone’s life with a book contract.”
I think that this goes right along with money. Of course, I think that all writers hope to make money from writing someday, but if that’s the only reason we’re writing, it won’t be enough. We need to write because we enjoy writing and if we get a royalty check, big or small, that will be an added bonus down the line. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have great dreams of writing a bestseller. It just means that I want to enjoy writing that future bestseller in the process.
I’m with Kerry. Though I certainly enjoy receiving those royalties checks, I would write my novels whether they were getting published or not. Having them make it into print is such a huge reward, especially when I’m not the only one who finds my novels worth reading. 🙂
As for writing LDS vs. mainstream, I think the two are growing closer and closer each year. I very much appreciate the fact that I publish with an LDS publisher because they understand my beliefs and support them. Maybe someday I’ll branch out where I have to fight for my beliefs again in my writing, but for now I’m very much enjoying the ride through LDS fiction.
I probably should clarify what I said above. I’m not against writing for the LDS market, but why not reach more than just LDS people, and earn money at the same time? I write novels targeted at YAs everywhere, a larger audience, if you will, not just LDS YAs, and I hope by so doing I can instill in them some sense of morality while not being preachy. I get so sick when I hear YA authors claiming they have to include vulgarity and sex into their novels or they won’t sell. I say baloney, and I intend to prove my point someday
I hope you do, Paul!
Believe it or not, I didn’t set out to write for the LDS market. My characters just wouldn’t work for me in my first book until I made them LDS. Ironically, I find a lot of people who read my books aren’t LDS, but it is harder to reach those mainstream readers because of the distribution constraints in the LDS market. Still, I write assuming that everyone might read my books and hope that they will. Paul has the added bonus that his books will hopefully touch a lot of lives since his are starting out in the mainstream.
Which brings up an interesting question- how easy is it to move from an LDS market to a national one? Covey began in the LDS market and rewrote his ideas for the business environment. J.K. Rowlins began with a local publisher and became well known before spreading out to a National American market. Leven Thumps is trying to become widespread, breaking out of Utah but I don’t know if it made it.
My mother wrote a book “Windows of Light” that Simon Schuster bought from deseret but it didn’t do tremendously well. Can you think of anyone who has made that leap successfully? Is publishing for a Mormon market going pad your resume in hopes of going national or will it pigeon-hole you and make your going national more difficult?
One misconception is that you’ll automatically make more in the national market–you most likely won’t. The majority of first-time authors nationally get print runs around 3-4K, which is smaller than the big LDS publishers do–and most national authors don’t sell out of that first run. Chances are pretty good that you’ll sell and earn LESS nationally, not more. Sure there are the exceptions, but this market has them too–the ones who can make a living off it. Those are the ones you hear about, but they aren’t the rule.
As for making the transition, some have done it quite successfully. Janette Rallison used to write YA for DB but now has a screamingly successful national YA career. Fablehaven (Shadow Mtns’ next big thing after Leven Thumps) hit the NYT best sellers list. And there are a lot of others.
Janette is speaking on this very topic (making the transition) at the LDStorymakers conference in March.
Comments are closed.