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Why Authors and Trad Pub Don't Reveal Authors' Earnings

By Lexi Revellian @LexiRevellian
Why authors and trad pub don't reveal authors' earningsThree days ago, a traditionally-published author blogged under the title: HONE$TY PO$T: An Average Traditionally Published Author's Pay. It's a full and frank disclosure of what she has earned over the past three years from her book deals with Harper Collins. You can read a cached copy of it here - cached because within four hours, the post was taken down.

Why was it removed? It's unusual for authors to tell anyone what their advance is, because advances these days are pretty unimpressive. You'll probably hear about it if it's what's referred to as a six figure sum. But mostly, so modest is the average advance, the author prefers to focus on her achievement of having a book deal with a major publisher; people have heard of Penguin or Simon & Schuster, and will be respectful.

And publishers don't want to disclose that they pay authors such beggarly amounts. It would certainly raise eyebrows - and maybe more authors would consider going indie. After all, where would publishers be without writers? Nowhere. Yet from the way they behave, you'd think writers are a minor and non-essential part of the business, who use up a lot of agents' and editors' time that could be more profitably spent elsewhere. Those agents and editors earn a living wage, while writers are advised not to give up the day job. Writers are right down the bottom of the publishing heap. Let me quote from that post:

"My books are paperback originals - no hardbacks - and I make 6% of the paperback sales, 25% of the ebook sales.  Publishers take a big chunk because they have a lot of employees to pay, and print costs are not cheap.  Of my percentages earned I share 15% with my agent and put away approximately 15% for taxes.  That means for every $10 paperback of mine that is sold I get $.60, and $.09 of that goes to my agent."

This writer is not complaining. In her own words, she is happy and grateful.

Roll on the revolution.

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