Advance payments made to authors by publishers as offset against royalty earnings are non-returnable fees called advances. A publisher pays an author or agent an advance in exchange for exclusive rights to publish their works with their publication company.
The exact cost of publishing is determined by several factors, including an author’s track record, their book’s projected sales numbers, and industry trends. Payment is usually staggered; an initial installment may be paid upon signing the contract, while subsequent ones come due as milestones such as turning in a manuscript or reaching specific sales targets are met.
An advance can provide much-needed financial security for authors, but it must be remembered that it’s not free money. Royalties (a percentage of sales from books sold after earning back their advance through sales) will only come into play once their advance has been made before through book sales; therefore, an author who receives a large advance may need to sell numerous copies before seeing any additional income coming their way. Therefore, before entering into any contract that includes a passage for their book sales projections.
An author may use their advance in several different ways. One obvious strategy is using it to cover living expenses while writing their book – especially helpful for authors working full-time while holding onto regular employment. Alternately, authors could save or invest their advances for other projects – for instance, an author with a sizable advance may opt to hire a publicist to promote it further.