Should Self-Published Authors Get An Advance? – Day 299

There are a couple of self-publishing writers whose blogs I follow who provide some revealing numbers. One in particular, Derek Canyon, has broken down everything from the money he spent in promotions, book covers, etc. He has recently gone into the black on one of his novels, with his book sales having earned him back his expenses. Everything he makes now is pure profit.

Or is it?

I recently read a blog post at the Taleist about John Locke’s success (more to the point, the LA Times undermining that success… — you can read about it here: In the comments, I mentioned Derek Canyon to Steven Lewis, and talked about his passing the break-even point. Steven responded saying essentially that he feels the word “profit” is misleading because it doesn’t pay the writer anything for his or her time.

I’m not sure I totally agree. To me, anything above expenses is profit – that is what the writer makes. The profit is what goes to “pay” the writer.

But I do see Steven’s point. And as I was writing this back to him, talking about the real costs of publishers, I realized there was one cost I didn’t account for: the advance. Most writers get some sort of advance, and from what I could find in my quick Google search, the average is about $5,000. That does become a real cost for the publisher — and one that perhaps self-publishing authors should consider too.

On the one hand, it keeps the writer financially focused (never a bad thing for us artsy types…) On the other, it may take a depressingly long(er) time to pass that magical point where the book starts earning a profit.

What do you think? Should self-publishing writers “pay” themselves $5,000 and include this as a cost? Or is this one of the costs that authors can do away with as self-publishers, and simply enjoy all their “profits” as payment/royalties?

(Coincidentally, I noticed Derek just posted a June sales update today, which you can read here:

In my own writing: got some good time in today. I went back to the beginning yet again to add a few plot points I felt needed to be included. After my last post, I realized I was perhaps being too subtle. I needed to boost the stakes a bit for both the main character and the narrator. The changes were slight (though I did do some extracurricular editing along the way too…) but I think will make a big difference in heightening the suspense.

I’m still wallowing in Part 1, but the end of that is in sight. For Draft 2, anyway.

I plan to get in some more time on it tomorrow morning as well.

Until then,


Novel Writing Totals

Today: 1.5 hours
Total: 142.75

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