A Bit on Author Earnings & How YOU Can Help

I love Brenda Hiatt‘s Show Me the Money page on her web site. For the past several years she has taken it upon herself to collect *anonymous* information volunteered by authors on what percentage of each sale they earn and how much they are earning. NOTE: Yes, she does have a page for indie authors too.
I highlighted the part about percentages earned because, as much as the amount earned out per book, this is a very important element in any earnings discussion. Don’t believe me? Go read the recent post on Joe Konraths’ blog by Ann Voss Peterson on the proportionally low percentage Harelquin pays and why she choose the leave them. Because if you don’t look at that part and look at the pay out per book, they are one of the top companies in terms of author earnings. (oh, and if you want to see an ineffectual response to her post, go here)
Now, a very big caveat. This information is all volunteered so it’s not in any means a broad sample/statistically signficant. Basically I look at it as a very general example of the range of what one *could* be earned, not what one will earn with a certain publisher.
Here is the basic outline of what she does, from her site:

Show Me the Money!

Please help me make this survey more accurate by sharing your information! See details at the end.

What do the various romance (and YA) publishers pay? Here’s the best info I’ve gleaned from a dozen years of surveying authors who were generous enough to volunteer their figures. Royalty percentages are based on cover price unless otherwise noted and are for U.S. retail sales. Earnout figures include all earnings for a book, including the advance, royalties, and any subsidiary sales. Publishers are only included if I had at least three responses for that publisher. Similarly, n/a means that specific information wasn’t available. Ranges for advances and earnouts are provided to control for the skewing that one or two outliers might cause, as are median figures. Only titles released in the year 2000 or later are included. I make no claim to statistical significance–I simply present what I’ve received, operating on the assumption that some information is far better than none at all.

Now, how can YOU help?
VOLUNTEER and SEND HER YOUR INFORMATION – if you have a romance or YA book that is. 🙂 Given the plethora of publishers out there, I totally get why she’s narrowed it down to genres she writes in.
Here, I’ll copy the information you need to send in so you don’t even have to go to her page (but of course, you’ll want to go check out the numbers she has!).
For authors with a publishing house:

I  very much want to keep this information current for future reference.  Anyone willing to share their info (anonymously–I never save names!) please e-mail me at brendahb@aol.com. Indie-pubbed authors, please click the pull-down tab above for a separate survey. Huge thanks to all of the authors who have been willing to share their own, private financial data for the benefit of all writers!!

What I specifically need for each book:

Year (or projected year) of release
Which book it is of yours/for that publisher (1st, 5th, etc.)
Advance (if any)
Standard royalty percentage (for regular print sales AND for ebook sales)
Total earnout to date (INCLUDING advance)
Title acronym with month/year of release (if known)

As always, everything will be kept TOTALLY confidential. I strip author
names and even delete the original email after pasting the data into my

For Indie Authors:

The more info people send, the more accurate this will be, of course, so spread the word to all of your indie published friends!

Here’s what I need for each title (email me at brendahb@aol.com. If you send an attachment, please make it .doc or .xls –my Word & Excel are older versions.) NOTE: I’m getting quite a few responses where people claim they can’t possibly separate out their earnings by title. Amazon Kindle allows you to download nifty spreadsheets for each month that do this for you. Without that, my results won’t be nearly as accurate, I’m afraid.

For EACH TITLE, I need:

Whether it’s a backlist (reprint) or new/ original title

E-book release date:


Price (non-discounted):

Lowest discounted price/for how long:

Earnings to date: Kindle: B&N: total:

(feel free to break down further by vendor)

Total number of titles CURRENTLY available under this name (traditional & indie):

Previously print published under this name?

Number of months available:

Title acronym: (first letter of each word in title)

(I’m open to suggestions for more parameters, but I want to keep it simple for now, so more people will be willing to respond.)

As with my other survey, no names will be saved. Only averages will be reported, with NO identifying information. Thanks to all who participate!

Knowledge is power and I can’t help but think this little bit of information, as small a sample as it is, can help new authors make important decisions.