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The Romance of Money

Karen Fox’s thorough survey of advances & standard royalty percentages on the part of romance publishers has been online for quite some time, but I just discovered it today (thanks to Southern Comfort: Diary of a Hype Hag). While young, debuting literary writers regularly take home outsized advances (as the Grumpy Old Bookman phrased it, “Sensible industries boast about how much income is generated by their product; publishers boast about how much they’ve paid for it.”), the romance genre, judging by Fox’s information, takes a very cautious approach to untested talent. Some examples from her list:

Dutton/Signet/NAL (single title)
Average advance (first book): $7,500
Average advance (subsequent books): $36,000
Advance range: $7,500 – $85,000
Standard royalty percentage: 8%
Average earn-out: n/a

Genesis
Average advance (first book): $650
Average advance (subsequent books): $2,000
Advance range: $500 – $2,500
Standard royalty percentage: 6% “of invoice”
Average earn-out: n/a

Harlequin Intrigue
Average advance (first book): $4,000
Average advance (subsequent books): $6,000
Advance range: $3,500 – $7,000
Standard royalty percentage: 6%
Average earn-out: $17,000
Range: $11,000 – $18,000

(Also noted: my escape-hatch plan of misusing my MFA to write a “genre” novel is the economic equivalent of flying into the sky with a parachute made of lead.).

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