“So if a writer gets an advance and the book does not sell well do they have to repay part of the advance? Or does it affect future contracts – no contract / no advance etc.? Or it varies per the contract in place?”
Short answer is no, advance doesn’t need to be paid back. Unless weirdness happens.
Let’s say Writer A sells a two-book series to the publisher. Let’s give them a generous advance of $20,000 per book, $40,000 total. That advance will be broken into chunks. At this level, typically into 3 and the payment schedule will look something like this:
- $14,000 on signing the contract: 1/3 from Book 1 + 1/3 from Book 2, rounding off.
- $6,500 on acceptance of Book 1: when the manuscript is written, turned in to the editor, and the writer has made the requested changes.
- $6,500 on publication of Book 1.
- $6,500 on acceptance of Book 2: when the manuscript is written, turned in to the editor, and the writer has made the requested changes.
- $6,500 on publication of Book 2.
So you can see that 40K is spread roughly over a 2 year period. Doesn’t seem like a big advance now. 🙂 That money stays with the author no matter how the book sells.
The publisher now prices that book at $6.99. Let’s say for the sake of convenience that it’s an ebook only release, because I don’t want to calculate royalty rates for all of the different editions. We are going to round up numbers as well. From a $6.99 book, the publisher receives $4.89, and the author gets 25% of that, so $1.22. The publisher keeps $3.67.
Let’s say the book sells well. The thing to remember is that publisher also has production costs when it comes to the book: they have to the editorial team, they pay for the art, etc. But for this case, we are just going to look at advance.
At the core, advance acts as a grant against future royalties. You don’t have to ever pay it back, but the royalties the book earns count against it.
From the accounting standpoint, both the publisher and the author start with a deficit. In the publisher’s case it’s investment into the book and in author’s case, it’s the advance. As the book sells, the publisher share and the author share accumulates. The publisher starts making money around 5.454 copies sold. At this point, the author is still in the hole. Once the book sells 16,360 units, the author “earns out” and his next royalty statement will reflect a credit and a payment.
As you can see, the publisher starts making money way sooner, because their royalty share is three times the size of the author’s. In some cases, even if the author doesn’t earn out, the publisher is still in the black. And in our digital age, books rarely go out of print, which means taken out of circulation due to low sales, and the publisher will be collecting that money for decades to come.
And now we come to the publishing’s not so ethical dirty secret. Sometimes there is joint accounting. Meaning, Writer A sells a two-book series to the publisher at $20,000 per book, $40,000 total, but the accounting is done against the entire advance in the contract, not a per book advance. The two books are treated as one, meaning, the author doesn’t start receiving royalties until the whole $40,000 is earned out.
Remember how we broke the advance up above over the course of about 2 years? This method means that unless the book is a runaway success, the author isn’t going to see a cent in royalties until after Book 2 is out.
You can see the numbers not exactly twice of the previous table, because remember, we are rounding off a bit since you can’t sell .25 of a book. 🙂
Fun thing, accounting.
How this affects future contracts depends on each individual case. Most of the time, the advance is meant to be earned out within the first year, but at the higher level of contracts, at around a $1,000,00,000 or so, it’s more like 3-5 years. Some people never earn out and still make the publisher a ton of money.
Is there a time when advance is paid back? Yes. This happens when the writer gives up on the project and wants to purchase the rights back. Most publishers really don’t like giving the book back. We’ve tried.
Oh. Well that sucks, but with the finance course I am taking right now, I can’t think up a better way either. This is a head scratcher.
Oooh first to comment! Yay!
Facinating. I’m not in the writing/publishing field at all but as a book lover I appreciate understanding the practicalities of creating the work.
Now I am curious which book you tried to buy back. . .
I really hope more self-publishing works out for you. You are the only authors I have on auto-buy.
Ruby Fever. I am very sick of it and I need a long break from the HL world. It is currently delayed indefinitely until I feel I can look at it again without wanting to vomit.
Patricia Schlorke says
Good to know it won’t be coming out soon. Hopefully people won’t be on your case about when Ruby Fever is coming out. When it comes out, it come out. ????
No need to vomit.
That’s my philosophy as well. Vomit should generally be avoided. 🙂
Take care of you and your family, it’s the only things that matter. We can wait for sure for what ever you will want to give us 😉 . Wish you the best ! We love you guys !!
Tasha A. says
Take care of your self and your family, that is the most important thing! We can wait! I just stared my innkeeper re read so i’m set!
I’m really sorry to hear that, because I adore HL. Was it a problem with the book itself (the plot turned on you, for some reason it wasn’t going the way you hoped), the circumstances under which you had to write it (pandemic and/or how pandemic is affecting publishing), or another reason?
I’m not trying to push — I agree, when it comes out, it comes out — but I’m curious about what turned you off to your own world.
It’s burnout. Because of that, Ruby Fever is not fun. Since it’s not fun to write, it reads a bit dull and tortured, and that’s the opposite of HL. Normally that world is so fun and easy. We could still release it – it’s serviceable, but it doesn’t have that signature snap.
There are many factors. The pandemic year was taxing. Blood Heir’s release and edits were draining. Fan expectations – why is Catalina not a clone of Nevada and why is she young, and so on. I swear, women’s hate for female characters is the worst thing about romance writing. Part of it was Avon’s decision making. Burnout management requires complete release from pressure. We needed carte blanche, and Avon just kept moving the deadline by a couple of months at a time.
We switched gears to something different and we’ll likely come back to finish the book sometime this year or the next. Whenever it stops being soul grinding. Or maybe we will convince them to take the money back.
As a friend once said to me, the answer is always “all of the above.” I would much rather wait for you to have fun with it again, so that I can have fun with it again.
I do not understand people who want authors to write the same book with the same characters. If you love Nevada, reread the Burn for Me trilogy until your husband has to forcibly take your Kindle and load up a different book*. I thought it was really interesting that Catalina is young, for a number of reasons, not least of which is that she was your first virgin (not sure about Julie, but the KD world may have couple pairing up but hasn’t historically been a Romance).
I ALSO don’t get why people write authors to complain. I have done that exactly once, to you guys, over a Najavo word that spelling it with your diacriticals vs. my diacriticals makes the same word look like two very different and completely opposed words. But just to say “hey, I don’t like your book”? Something super specific, like Conlan’s age being 18 months instead of 3 years, can be fixed in future editions. But how are you going to “fix” an entire character? What do they hope to accomplish?
*it’s possible I am speaking from experience.
I must admit I have written to complain 3 times and all for essentially the same reason But never to the Andrews. I hate spending $25 + dollars or as much as $50+ For a hard cover book only to find the author took book he wrote and rewrote it from another characters viewpoint. Now that would be ok if the other characters viewer brought something different to the story or showed us different events. But often that is not the case. It’s like the author had to make a deadline and just through something down on the page. The other thing that burns me is taking famous public domain novels and with no warning or indication that you are paying for an extremely well known story by author sell it as if it is a new story from your world. Yes some of these can be brilliant. Jack of Shadows by Zelazney is an excellent example of a well done homage. But some authors do little more than change names and possibly clean up some archaic language. It’s not illegal but with out warning the reader it’s just a rip off. At least all the Jane Austin rewrites admit to owing some to Jane Austin even if 98% of the book is her novel word for word
D B says
Nevada and Catalina being different also allows them to have completely different relationships with other characters *cough* evil grandma *cough*. And then characters get to grow and change! I go from thinking he’s kind of a jerk in one book to oh, he’s grown through experience and become a better person, now that works and what a great ride to be able to see that!
Also +1 on the why are you trying to fight the author?
Especially about characters, and especially these authors? Everyone who reads these books should be aware that if something is off, there are REASONS that may take a book or two to resolve. And seriously, the volume (in both the lots of and loud senses) of critical comments that are clearly being sent to the authors boggles my mind. I don’t understand the entitlement that leads to someone using (and misusing) the contact links so they can complain! I am constantly charmed by how much access House Andrews allows us, and anytime they mention feeling down about some criticism, I want to shake the internet and yell “Don’t ruin it for the rest of us, ya trollz!”
Thanks to all the folks that jump on here with a positive attitude, I’m one of the folks that entirely agree with the supportive comments but I don’t post often.
This. All. Of. This.
I’ll say it again and again and again:
Love you guys and what you write. It’s so great that you share so much of yourselves through your blog and the Zoom stuff (you always crack me up). My current favorite authors are you (and I go way way back, for a long time it was Heinlein for example)! I also have you on auto buy and have never been disappointed in your craft and your writings. Thanks for being you!
Good god, why would anyone want Catalina to be a clone of Nevada. How boring! It’s been fascinating to watch the continued growth of the characters. And the stories have been sooooo good.
I’m truly sorry to hear about the burnout on Ruby Fever, though. I am so looking forward to the end story there. But I must admit I’d prefer to have the “snap” over just passable. So hang in there and get ‘er done in your own good time. We’ll wait!
The info on advances is actually pretty appalling. I can understand why authors so often have day jobs even when they’re books are well received. And also why so many are now trying out self publishing.
Best wishes for a happier upcoming writing year!
“Their” books. Spell check again. Phooey
I am sorry Ruby Fever if not currently fun to write. HL is so fun to read. The dialogue is snappy and I often laugh out loud. I am also sorry some fans critiques were negative. Fans should realize it is your world and your work. Good luck with all you projects. You should remember that for every negative comment, there are probably thousands of fans who would be happy to leave positive comments!
Elizabeth Hamm says
For what it’s worth, I’m also glad you are taking your time. I’d rather have a book you enjoyed writing, personally. And, as many of us have said, we love everything that you write. It’s all a gift.
That’s exactly true. It’s like walking outside in February and finding the daffodils in full bloom. It’s lovely and uplifting and you want to dance around and say thank you to whoever’s responsible. In this case, that’s House Andrews. So thank you! I’ll spare you the dancing.
Angel Mercury says
FWIW, I love that Catalina is so different from Nevada.
Nevada was the ‘free to do it how I want’ story. Catalina’s is ‘society has expectations and I need to make things work out for us as best I can while chasing happiness’ story. I look forward to Arrabella’s ‘this girl has options and is living it’ story 😉
But of course all in due time. Hopefully your other projects help you refresh.
haha I love your assessment of the sisters. XD
Just one more voice adding on to please take your time. I love your books and will be happy with whatever comes out whenever. I had to wait 5 years for the new Dresden book because of whatever went on in Mr. Butcher’s life, I can definitely wait for Ruby Fever, and will happily read whatever, if anything, you put out in the meantime. I prefer happy, healthy authors, both because I generally want all folks to be happy and healthy, and because happy, healthy authors end up being more productive authors, generally speaking.
FWIW, I agree with the others – I’d rather read the book when you and it are ready. The BDH will still be here.
I’m sorry you are going through burnout and wish you the best in getting past it and onto whatever brings you joy.
Thank you for the education on the publishing – as always, it’s so interesting to learn about a different industry.
Barbara Kay Swanson says
I just want to say, I love that Catalina is Catalina. I am continually impressed at your ability to create new, real, protagonists who are not clones or poorly adapted pseudo-clones pretending to be unique. I love, love, love that you switch it up and make me think. Thank you for staying in integrity. I’ll read (and believe me, I have–over and over again) whomever you create, in whatever world, on whatever timeline. Just thanks.
I cannot believe that anyone would have an actual problem with your writing! I’m an avid reader who reads hundreds of books a year and your books are my favorites. Have I liked some more than other? Of course! But I want you to know that I have loved each and every one and will always buy your books. You do what you need to do so that you can keep writing the books all of us look forward to reading.
I was so impressed with HL by how different Catalina was from Nevada, and it absolutely made sense given her magic and dealing with Nevada.
You guys know what you are doing and you are awesome at it!
Ruby Fever deserves to be published .But not until you are ready to do justice to HL.
Ilona Andrews has a great reputation. Because you make sure the quality of your writing is top notch.
You don’t churn out books. You can’t do a meh book.
Last year just hurt everything.
The ramifications are still unfolding.
Please take care of yourself and your family.
Walk the doggies.Have a barbecue Be kind to yourself.
Work on other projects.
Thank you for your continuing explanation of the publishing world.
I want Catalina and the Baylor family to have a closure. I want to see Arabella get a boyfriend and go to a ball. She deserves a big Bridgerton ball.I am very greedy about the Baylor family.
Ruby Fever will be published. Everyone will be excited and there will be lots of preorders.
It will be wonderful.
It’s a Ilona Andrews book.
Thank you for explaining the thought processes and hard decisions you make.
Thank you for your books.
Sorry to hear about the burnout on Ruby Fever. This has been a hard year, and I think it really drained people, especially creatively so. Sometimes you just have to take a break.
I have been pre-ordering your books for years and will continue to do so. Have read and re-read every one of them many times. I hope you can convince Avon to take the money back so that it will take that pressure off.
Your books have meant so much to me for years. Right now I am reading Julie’s book slowly. When I read it, I feel like I am looking over Julie’s shoulder and seeing that destroyed city and feeling the danger. Your books take me out of my own life and give me an understanding of things I’ve never (hopefully) experience.
As for Catalina, I’ve always loved her and all of your female characters, and admit to not understanding ‘fan expectations’ – hopes, yes. However, it is your book and your characters. I am blessed with four sisters, and absolutely none of us are alike.
I hope life gets better for you soon. I am so relieved that we now have vaccines. I’ve just re-read Iron and Magic (again) and am now reading Julie’s book and savoring every word. :sigh of happiness:
Maria Schneider says
My friend (and author) Frank Tuttle advised me long ago that when in trouble with a plot or having burnout, drop a cow in the plot. He said it solves everything. It didn’t work for me, but who knows? Perhaps all you need is a cow!
Best of luck with it and everything else. I’m with the others above–take care of you and avoid vomit!!! We love your books.
Patricia Schlorke says
That brought to my mind in Blood Heir Hugh and Julie talking on the phone when Hugh bellows “Put down that cow!”????????????
So, a cow worked in that book. The others, I don’t know. ????????
Maria Schneider says
Good point! I remember that line now. I think I better give the whole cow thing another chance.
Thank you for sharing the math. And its bizarre the amount of misogyny people have and how it shows up in romances. I adore Nevada and Catalina for very different reasons! And think the way the series have been tackled is a beautiful way to highlight their different experiences!
I hope Avon gets it and gives you the break you need! I’ve really enjoyed your books and would be happy to jump in many of the different worlds you all have built! Heck, last release I think I ended up buying like 5 different copies in different mediums so I could share with my family at the same time.
Taking your time is absolutely worth it, and BDH will be here.
I’ve really loved how you’ve handled making Catalina very different from Navada, who has a lot in common with Kate Daniels.
Kelly M says
As a reader, it’s always tough to move on to a new character in a world (Nevada to Catalina, for instance, or the frequently changing protagonists in the different Edge books – or, most especially, Kate to Hugh!), but with you guys I ALWAYS end up just as invested in the “new” lead, whether male or female. I know regardless of the character I’m going to get a supremely engaging, well-written, well-researched, utterly enjoyable read that I’m going to return to again and again (thank goodness Kindle books aren’t susceptible to cover wear and pages falling out from over-use and abuse). I hope you and Gordon and the kiddos and furries are able to find rest, relaxation, and a way to recharge and renew bodies, minds, and spirits after the stress and burnout of the past year. Don’t mind us, we’ll just be over here cheering from the sidelines and rereading the backlist. ????
Would absolutely rather have you wait until you can make the book the best it can be. You guys really haven’t created any series that I haven’t loved so I’m sure whatever you release next I’ll devour.
Also, I really enjoyed the differences between the characters! Ignore these crazy people.
C Dunn says
For writers as well established as you two, with the following that you have, it is hard to believe that a publisher would not be bending like a pretzel to accomodate your needs. Do they not understand the golden goose parable?
These comments pretty much sum up my thanks and appreciation for your work. I too would rather wait until you felt the joy to write again. You guys are always so open to us, explaining things. Take all the time you need, enjoy your lives and just live.
Jéssica Freitas says
Same, just want to add my voice to the chorus. We all want you guys happy and healthy. I know very well how soul sucking [Edit- Mod R] burn out can be. Hope you feel better soon.
I’m sorry, but now I’m wondering what Mod R had to edit. Perhaps the word rhymed with sucking? ????????Sorry, can’t help it, I’m actually laughing here. ????????????
I would love to read a Ruby Fever that you’re happy with, even if it means getting to read it later rather than sooner!
Linda Trainor says
Oh well ???????? we still love you. I will wait and I pay for your books. Ohoo do some knitting I love possum merino wool to knitt very warm
Cristal D Lee says
Man, I just re-read the whole series to keep the craving for Ruby Fever at bay. You post tells me its going to be really good, but don’t wear yourself out. I still don’t know how a Song of Ice and Fire ends and thats been YEARS. We can wait for it! You take care of you and the writing will happen as it will. Hope you and your family are doing well, this has been a stressful time for so many. So do what you need to do. True IA fans will still be there and with your writing more are always around the corner
Thank you for explaining this to us! I love learning about the book industry.
Have a nice weekend! ????
Super interesting and fascinating look into the author world. I’d hate for a newer author to get blindsided by this.
Richard Cartwright says
That is one of the things I like about Baen Books. They don’t pay very high advances but its a lot easier t0 earn out. I have talked to several authors who have said that they earn out on earc sales alone.
Thank you for the education about trad pub bookkeeping. I am looking forward to your future as a hybrid writing team.
If I remember correctly, Baen was started by writers. They know what it is like. There was a time that the only books I read were published by them
Patricia B. says
Absolutely fascinating. You could produce work that makes money for other people and not for yourself. I am not in the industry, just a lifelong reader but looking at this I its hard to find an upside for the author. The deck is so stacked against you from the get-go it seems almost pointless to try. The motivation involved is staggering. Kudos to all authors, you truly are heroes!
I sold books for nearly twenty-five years. From experience, I can say that the only people lower than booksellers on the publishing food chain are authors.
A glimpse into your job is fascinating. Plus you dumb it down so a lay person can get your point. Thanks
Please don’t rush a book on our account. I’d rather read your best and not vomit covered.
baarbie doll says
I can see why self publishing might be the way to go. It hurts to see a writers talent used against them. I have read other authors complaints about publishers but you make it understandable. It is so frustrating when everyone seems so underhanded and greedy. Burnout is no joke. I hope you are able to step away and get your enjoyment back. Take care and as my kids said don’t let the turkeys get you down
Thanks for this insight!!
So I had to look at it for a few moments to understand it. Hehe. Considering the bottom line the publisher doesn’t really earn more with the joint accounting system (16k sales per book are for both eqully profitable). So why would they do the joint accounting when it takes a lot longer for the author to earn any roylalties? The two books are not at the same time on the market, they just get to keep the first cash that comes in. I have no knowledge of the industry so I don’t know why the publisher needs cash asap. At the end they have to give the same amount to the author as with the “single system”.
Also, take your time with the books!!! I don’t really get why readers are expressing their hate on some female chatacters. I find it really fun to explore the different characters with you! it makes your awesome worlds so much more! I love the worlds you’re creating not just the main character.
Moderator R says
The money that is recouped faster can go and earn interest for the publishing house for longer, or be reinvested for yet more profit straight away. ????
Also, I would assume it’s insurance against a poor performing sequel. Say book 1 does really well and would have earned out in less than a year, but then book 2 comes out and the interest just isn’t there for some reason. Poor reviews, whatever. Book 2 is never gonna earn out. Now the publisher can keep more of the royalties of book 1 to pay off the advance for book 2. I assume. Not an expert, but from how it’s described that seems like how it would work.
Thanks for the glimpse behind the curtain! Now I have an even better understanding of why so many writers have day jobs.
I’m so happy that you’re established enough to live solely off royalties! And be able to self-publish a hit like BLOOD HEIR. You are one of my few auto-buys.
PS I really hope Avon takes their money back. Life is already stressful enough without any added pressure 🙁
Ilona Andrews and Courtney Milan are my only auto buys. I can’t think of anyone else I trust enough to buy blind.
When I reviewed SF and EB, I noted how much I appreciated Catalina as an introverted and brainy heroine. I love how strategic and smart she is. I actually like her better than Nevada in some ways, but the fun of HL is that the Baylors are a family. Comparisons are no way to go.
I also think that she rescues/will rescue Alessandro from the life he doesn’t want and I love that role switch as well. Now why I am reminded of certain recent upheavals in the House of Windsor?????
This has been a tough year on everyone but especially creatives. I hope you are able to rest and rejuvenate however you can.
I hate to read that you are suffering from anything to do with writing your wonderful books. The stories and characters have brought so much fun and interest to my life it is not fair that you would find writing them to be awful in any way. Self publish, raise the price a few dollars to reward yourselves for your efforts. I will always buy your books!!!
Thank you so much!!! Sharing with my writer friends
This is really interesting. Thanks for taking the time to explain!
Stress may also be a big part of the problem. Creativity needs time, room, a certain state of being and freedom along with the work, effort and discipline. I really hope the situation with your daughter needing a place is resolved, with a solution that is without taking on a heavy financial burden, where you would not need to buy another house… that places stress and demands on you that could cause a lot of problems. Even the fun things can become a chore and struggle which can affect creativity and cause burnout under those conditions. Hoping and praying everything will work out for all of you in this and anything else that is going on!
Wishing my favorite authors lots of good juju and love! Thanks for the interesting post.
I loved Nevada and Conner. I also love Catalina and Alessandro. I like that they are different. That makes the story fresh. I like their reaction to each other. Thank you.
May you and yours be happy and well.
You’re so good at explaining the realities of authorship and publishing. You are kind but honest. I’ve dreamed of being an author one day (what reader hasn’t???) but I’ve learned that I don’t have the drive to write like you do. And the industry seems very confusing.
I wish you could gain back what you need to for RF. I would love for you to be able to wait until you’re ready to be in the HL world. We can live in the HL world with rereads until then 🙂
Donna A says
The advent of ebooks has been a game changer. It’s slow progress but at some point the critical momentum of having successful authors self publishing will hopefully cause a paradigm shift in the industry. It has to.
Meanwhile I personally love everything you’ve written and will most likely continue to do so; but even if I don’t I can guarantee that I won’t write and complain since that’s incredibly conceited to do so. I also would still autobuy your work since experience has shown me I’m a fan and once I’m a fan I’m a loyal one. And I will reread past books because that’s fun. And I’ll wait (mostly) patiently because I have done so (and am doing) for other authors I’m a fan of. (I’m looking at you J.V. Jones, Tamora Pierce, Wen Spencer and others. If any of you happen to read this please keep writing. . . but maybe a teensy bit faster pleeeease? But no pressure, I’ll still be here to buy books whenever ????)
So yeah, whatever it takes, advance, no advance, self pubbed, big house, whatever helps, us loyal fans will always support you unquestioningly. . . except for excerpts. And spoilers. And updates. And begging. Maybe sobbing. But mostly unquestioningly. Because ♥️
I will add to the chorus – Take the time you need to get back to Catalina’s last book. I enjoy her differences from Nevada, as I will enjoy Arabella’s story if you decide to write it. (I do realize this is not a sure thing, especially if Catalina’s book is stressing you out.)
Thank you for the parts of “Hidden Legacy” that are finished. Someday, “Ruby Fever” may join them on my book shelf and my iPad.
I have never figured out why people write in to complain about not liking a character. If you don’t like the character, don’t buy the book. What to they think to accomplish by complaining? It is not as if you will rewrite the book to their specifications.
Perhaps they are bullies – making themselves feel powerful by trying to make others feel small?
Lauri N says
If you had the publishing knowledge that you have now, and were just publishing your first book right now, do you think you would still have chosen to go the publishing house option or would you have tried the self publishing route first?
Moderator R says
This was previously covered here https://ilona-andrews.com/2019/should-you-have-a-webpage/ and somewhat here https://ilona-andrews.com/2019/hybrid-authors/ and here https://ilona-andrews.com/2021/flowers-and-questions/. To summarise, House Andrews don’t believe in giving prescriptive advice because everyone’s career is different, but they would try traditional publishing at first, especially as an author who doesn’t have an established base.
I hope this helps 🙂
Susan Watson says
I agree with everyone else. I like the individuality of each of the characters in the books. Take your time with it. We want healthy mentally and physically authors.
Facinating! I work in a creative field so I totally get how hard and dispiriting it is to pump out a product that doesn’t live up to my creative standards just because of an arbitrary deadline.
I hope you find joy and reward in your work and know how much we appreciate you sharing that joy with us. Hang in there! I’ll snap up whatever you publish when you do, on your own time.
I love HL and look forward to the next book, but in your time when you are able to enjoy writing it. It’s a fun world with different interspersing characters.
Lorrine Thompson says
Burnout is a very real thing, weightier than it sounds, and I truly hope you can find every way possible to care for yourselves. We are all big fans of your story-telling — you really do create the most wonderful worlds and characters — but I would have you put it all on a shelf to destress, recharge, whatever you need. I know reality can interupt this way too much, infortunately.
Thank you for this post, it was an interesting window into the publishing world. My main windows into it outside of your pay are friends who are/ were editors in publishing.
I hope that Avon do start listening and give back the book so that you both can do it when and how you want to.
I hope that all of negative stuff associated with RF eases soon.
I love that you explain things to the fans. I’m also sad that said fans seem to think they have a right to tell you what to do or critique your characters or plot.Its fine to have an opinion but not ok to foist that opinion on others,I believe. I read to be entertained and boy have you done that and more. Thank you for all you hard work
I love your books…also remember a few you didn’t like, but I still loved to read. Regardless, thank you for your ability to make characters and worlds their own, not copies. Even if some traits or worlds are the same… Knight isn’t Kate, Nevada isn’t Catalina or any member of the family, or Innkeepers each is different but unique. Also keeping us informed on what is going on, thank you for that too. So best wishes and hope for lots of new books, but on your schedule. Thanks again for all the work
Sakshi Kaura says
And this when you are such successful writers. I can’t think what happens with beginners.
On another note, burnout is brutal. With a lot of us working from home these days along with childcare and housework and uncertainty on everything, it sucks up the snap from any work. Writing is the heart and soul art of the writer. How can publishers think to force the heart to feel things it’s not?
You are awesome to have written a draft of Ruby in the first place. Take your time please. We love your characters, laugh and cry with them. I have been rereading your books for pick me ups (that and chinese and korean dramas) this last year.
Wait and give it time for the heart to come into Ruby too. Then it would be perfect as the others. Good wishes for you and your family….
Please take all the time and do whatever you and your family needs to be happy and healthy. We’re all addicted to your work, but this in no way obligates you to us; entirely the opposite in fact. The BDH offers up eternal thanks for the respite you provide us with your wonderful stories, and having those stories available to re-read is a blessing in these stressful times.
Debra K Hoffmaster says
This is interesting and explains why someone would self-publish. Whenever Ruby Fever comes out, if it comes out, I will survive. To entertain myself, I have been borrowing random books from the library. One mystery series, selling at 14+/ebook repeats entire sections of previous books’ “explanatory” discussions. For example, how the protagonist does research, the backstories of his associates, etc.
Thank you, thank you for not doing this. It is boring for the reader and seems like sloppy writing. And yet the series in into 22 books now. Go figure!
Maria Schneider says
Thanks for the breakout. I’ve seen similar before and it played into me deciding to self-publish over ten years ago. I had an agent, but when it looked like she wouldn’t be able to place the novel, I decided to self-pub one of my other series to see how it would go. The thing with self-publishing cold (no previous books published and no name recognition) is that you don’t have an advance to help you get to the next book. You also have to pay for covers and editors. Beta readers are generally kind enough to offer input without charging. Bloggers will also pitch in to help with reviews and marketing.
While there is some money upfront with trad publishing, it is not enough to live on for a long time. There is not enough money upfront with self-publishing for a long time either. But the rights are mine and the long tail is mine. I have no regrets. There are benefits to both avenues for the writer. There’s really no “wrong” way, but it’s important to understand the process. Posts like yours are great. They help everyone understand how things work. I’m excited to see you venturing more into self-publishing and enjoying the journey and the books!
Johanna J says
If you need time out on a certain series, take it! Working on projects that get the creative juices flowing will be best for everyone – you all and we, the fans.
Wow, publishers get a disproportionate piece of the stake (I realize that they have business expenses but especially with established authors the split should be more even or kick in sooner on multi-book projects. That’s just wrong).
Every time you respond to one of these questions the appeal for self publishing grows. I think the establishment has gotten away with keeping almost all of the money because they say they are taking on all of the risk. It’s sad to me that the authors work so very hard to generate quality material and get so little in return. That’s why I don’t use Kindle Unlimited. The authors in that process get so very little for their time and effort.
Take care of yourself and brush off the weird people that want clone jobs. I understand loving a series but let’s add new characters to that collection. One of the reasons I love the work you two put out is because the characters are unique and they become individuals. I drop the cookie cutter approach to writing. I love Catalina too!
This was great information, thanks!!!!!!!!
I’ll add to the chorus that I’ll be patient and when you publish you publish. I was listening in the car with my kids to Sweep of the Blade (it is one of our favorite books). Me (pressing pause) “Let’s take a moment to contemplate how awesome Maude is compared to me. Imagine you are sitting on the balcony thinking the hard things I come out. How long am I going to last until butting in?” Kids – “only long enough for you to draw a breath to rush over and haul us away from the ledge.” I’m afraid of heights – for me and for all those around me. Visiting to the Grand Canyon went somewhat poorly. But the conversations on what it’s like to be perceived as different: awesome for my family. So thank you for all the books. I’m rooting for Catalina. I will buy the book when you are ready. I’ll also buy whatever you are working on now. I have confidence in you.
Thanks for the information on advances. I never really thought about how that part worked. One thing I like about books from a publisher is the editing on it even if I don’t like the story. I have taken a lot of chances on self published stuff to be disappointed in the lack of editing that ruined a good story idea.
I don’t get the complaining to the author about why Catalina is so different from Nevada. Take your time, the past 12 months have been really rough on people, and unfortunately I think there are still rough times ahead. My suggestion to shake things up is take a road trip to somewhere new.
C. Anderson says
Sorry to hear about your burnout.
You know what your doing. You’re absolutely right not making the sisters clones.
Take your time, rest up, and write what you want, when you want. Ignore the BDH, and let us fade into background noise.
Also, I would like to suggest, that someday far into the future, a Leon pov would be nice.
(young alpha-hole finding his way, and greatly annoying his cousins)
For e-books, units sold: How does an author verify the numbers? What keeps Amazon or the publishers honest when it’s all electrons and no physical book?
And thank you for all the entertainment you’ve given me. I’ve nothing but green read now links on your Amazon author page
Kate S says
1. Thank you for your frank and honest insights into the publishing world. Always fascinating.
2. While I am of course sad for the RF delay, I want you to be happy (and able to continue writing!) and will wait for as long as it takes. I’m currently re-reading HL (again) and it’s still awesome.
3. You guys are the best.
Take a break for as long as you need. So much has happened to both of you this year. No wonder you feel burnt out. I’ve said before we will all be here waiting. Does ones soul good.
Jessica A says
Is there any real gain in traditional publishing for the author? It seems like the publisher has all the control, gets most of the money, and you’re locked into a creative process whether the muse shows up for work or not. While the up front lump sum would be a temporary high, is it really worth it?
Moderator R says
The general pros and cons of traditional publishing vs self or hybrid publishing were previously discussed here https://ilona-andrews.com/2019/hybrid-authors/ .
I hope this helps ????
Jessica A says
It does – thank you!
I am so sorry you are burnt out, if you can’t do RF justice I’ll live without it, though I would like to know if House Baylor buys that estate 😉
Have you sorted your yarn recently? I’m trying to knit a tension square for a bright orange cable jumper for my OH at the moment, it isn’t complicated, I’ve knitted more difficult stitches, but I just can’t seem to get it right. I think I’m going to have to put it aside until the knitting gremlin finds someone else to torment.
Sorry to hear you’re burnt out on HL. I’d rather read a good Ruby Fever rather than a passable one, so I’m glad you’re trying to take a break. For me, this past winter was somehow harder than the entire year before, so I get it.
I’m glad you can afford to pause instead of releasing a book you’re not happy with. Make that blessing count. I just read a book by another author that I suspect suffered from being written during the pandemic, and it was definitely disappointing. As much as I’m craving something new to read, I’d rather wait than be let down by you releasing something mediocre. I’m sure I’m not the only reader who expects anything you put out to be better than just good.
I’m not a professional writer, but I know burnout very well, unfortunately. Yes, a few months of prolonging the deadline is of no use, as you still feel the burden of “having to do it”. And having to do something kills all the joy and creativity. Your books sparkle with fun and joy, so although I love the world of HL, I wish you find your joy in whatever you do right now or in the future. Get well, mental health is so important.
Sorry about the burnout and the character critiques. Honestly, I love reading your stories because I never know what I will get, but it will be fun, smart, interesting, unique … a refreshing and enjoyable tang for sure. Thanks for the 411 into how advances work. You write very clearly, which is always appreciated. Hope you are enjoying your down time. BTW, my feeds still get occasional ads for Bombas socks 😀
It must be a happy coincidence that the only two authors I have on auto-buy are both writing duos. In fact, both are married, long-term writing teams; Ilona Andrews, and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Interesting!
Due to the vagaries of the publishing industry fans of Lee & Miller have occasionally had to wait several *years* for the next book in the series. The first book of their series was published in 1988. The most recent book was published in December of 2020. (It’s not a linear series, more like a branching tree. There’s very little back story; the author treats the reader like a grown up, able to perceive what is going on from the story itself. Still, I wouldn’t start with the most recent book.) Despite having to wait, fans eagerly buy their books as soon as they are published.
So, I am just pitching my two pennies in to say, no matter how long it takes, your fans will be waiting for the book *you* want to write!
Another fan of the Liaden Universe here.
I have to admit that I am looking forward to RF in part because I was wondering how the heck anyone could see/show the world from Arabella’s POV. I guess it’s not that easy! It might be fun to just write some scenes from Arabella’s POV without worrying about plot. I know this loyal legion will enjoy them. Also not everybody is going to like Arabella. She’s a brat. But I think she could also be hilarious. Can hardly wait to see what Ilona and Gordon finally do with it, but, yeah, if it’s not fun for them it won’t be fun for us.
Moderator R says
Ruby Fever would not be an Arabella POV book, it is intended as the third in Catalina’s trilogy ????.
One of the things I love best about your writing, the thing that makes each of your books such a pleasure to read, is that each and every character is complex and fully formed. Dina’s helper in Costco is an actual person, not just an extra.
I’ve never understood “hating” a character, either. If they bug you that much, skip the book. It’s the height of arrogance to assume the author will take your opinion into account.
Blood Heir brought me so much joy last year. I’ll gladly wait until you’re ready to write whatever’s next to your personal standards, because I know how high they are.
Valentina Brudasca says
Take your time and heal – burn out is serious no matter what it is in. Also – Coming from a family that produced very different children (my sister and I) I love that you took the time to emphasize the difference between the sisters and show the growth in both and other characters. We can wait for the third book – I waited for the rerelease of burn for me and it’s companion books. My fav authors – pointing at both of you- are worth the wait.
Elke Yarbrough says
Thank you so much for this information. No wonder Authors are self publishing! Although that can’t be much fun at times either.
Not going to rehash all the comments but wanted to add my support too. You guys are awesome, your books are the best out there BECAUSE your characters are different. We waited for Nevada’s 2nd book, we waited for Julie, we can and will wait for Catalina’s conclusion. People need to stop ruining it for the rest of us.
That said, please give it to us sometime because I love HL and really need to hear the rest of the Baylors’ story ;).
Heather Robinson Teran says
I hope you get a nice loooong break so when you go back to Ruby Fever (if you do) you will feel rejuvenated and into it. I think Arabella is the most fun and hilarious and awesome of the three sisters and I will be so happy if we get books about her. Or Leon!!!! You guys always have the most awesome and hilarious dialog and it makes sense that you would have to be in a good place to produce that. Not from the perspective of approaching drudgery!
Is the a way to negotiate book contacts with an author’s health and well being in mind? Like can people specify they want two years between books or something like that?
Take as long of a break you need❤️
Seems like the publishers get the best bite, especially for a new author but I’m not a math whiz so could be completely wrong. Just please don’t stop writing!!!!!
Jennifer Atkinson says
I have three daughters ages 27, 25, and 21. Who would EVER expect the Baylor sisters to be clones??? Geez louise. Two of my daughters are super organized; one is a creative loving wonder but is unfamiliar with the concept of a deadline. Two love frogs, snakes, and all sorts of crawly things, and one refuses to get near them. Two love to cook and one bakes. One is cisgender, one is pan sexual, and one is queer. In each of these scenarios, the two represents daughters 1 and 3 or daughters 2 and 3 or daughters 1 and 2.
please take your time in writing Ruby Fever. From experience, I get burn out when I am focused on one thing without a break for a long time. I work on other projects and the next time I pick the previous one, I am amazed at how everything seems fresh again and I have better ideas.
Personally, i dont think you could really write a bad book. I remember when you opened your book ideas chest and said those stories didnt pass muster and you consider them bad. I read them all and I didnt find anything sloppy or bad at all.
I will always read your books and will always pre order.
Ive never read an author who made me love a character that I hated all this time. The way you guys show us a different perspective is amazing. Such empathy which is what this world needs a lot. I wish everyone read you.
Marie S says
I had no idea how little an author receives per copies sold. Writing must truly be a vocation and that’s so clear with IA. It’s a challenge to make a living doing it full time.
I echo others comments about RF and am happy to wait until you are feeling it and the juices are flowing again. Such a great series.
Sorry to hear about the burnout and it must be even more difficult dealing with publishing houses in these times.
One of the reasons I love your writing is that you write such diverse characters. It’s in no way formulaic such as other authors telling the same story with different character names.
Big virtual hug winging it’s way.
Thank you for being amazing.
Lynn Thompson says
Thank you, Ilona Andrews for the interesting post.
My two cents is I would rather a good story/ book rather than publishing dictated palp. I enjoyed David Weber’s Honor H. Series and then they became blah/ same old same old./ excessively wordy…. Then I stopped recommending to library and buying. But I still go back a reread first few books. And I have bought first book 3 times because I read so many times in barn the pages fell out.
So put Ruby Fever aside for awhile and work on something else for awhile. I do agree with my fellowBDH that In HL series Nevada is unique individual as are her sisters and cousins. That means given same situation they are going to react differently because they are different people not identical robotic clones. Maybe pandemic stress or something in the water or air or…..
Wow–the math to this is brutal! I acknowledge there could have been some justification for the large non-author’s share ‘once upon a time’, at least for the providers of capital, but the electronic age has changed many things, and ought to alter this, as well.
Meanwhile, I will always read anything y’all write, in any format, and honestly, at any price. I only feel that way about three authors. And in between new books, I will happily reread earlier books, so I will be thrilled when a new book comes out, but never upset about the interval–it’s a creative process, not subject to a schedule. As so many others have said, I’m just grateful you share your worlds with us!
Ugh what a headache. You just got to love what you’re doing I guess. Thank you.