Writing lingo…what’s an advance, anyway?

moneyEvery career has its own language. Teachers can discuss intervention plans and higher level thinking all day. Firefighters introduce probies to all manner of technical jargon from scbas to tiller trucks. So how about a writer’s lingo? Here is a very important word for every aspiring writer…the advance!

An advance is money paid to the author in anticipation of royalty earnings. It’s an act of faith, your publisher saying, “Hey, I think you’re going to sell x many copies, so I’m going to here’s x amount of dollars to get started writing that book.” Obviously, newbies get paid much less than established authors. The amount is subtracted from any royalties earned. Best case scenario? Your book sells lots of copies which pays back the advance and then some. Royalties, here we come! Worst case? Your book doesn’t sell enough copies to pay back the advance. While you aren’t going to have to repay it, you’re also not going to earn any royalties and the publisher is likely not going to be excited about offering you another contract. Not pleasant. I’ve been on both ends, trust me.

So did you ever have a job where they paid you in advance? Would love to hear your comments. Giving away an Amazon card this month.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kaylene on February 5, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Nope. I’ve never had a job where they paid me in advance. It would to be strange for me to get paid in advance. I think there would be more pressure for sure.

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  2. Thanks for posting this. The hardest thing I’ve come across (so far) in this industry is learning the lingo. And finding information about it isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. I applaud you for taking the time out to educate those out there who might not know these things 🙂

    Also, in answer to your question, the only other job that I know of that gives you an advance is trucking. My dad was a truck driver, and he got an advance every time. But they knew how many miles he would be driving. Publishers are taking a greater risk.

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  3. No – never! I’ve in fact had more than one job where the promised money never arrived – period. Publishing is an odd industry, for sure.

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