Getting Published Step 5: Selling your Novel


Once your agent sells your book to a publisher two very exciting things will eventually happen. Your book will release in bookstores and you’ll get paid!

Getting Paid

Authors typically get paid in two ways:

  • Advances
  • Royalties

An advance is a sum of money paid up front for your book. Officially it is an “advance on future earnings,” meaning it’s the amount of money the publisher thinks your book will earn in royalties. This also means that technically you owe the amount of your advance to the publisher. And they will recoup this amount by keeping your royalties until the advance is paid back. However if your book does not earn enough in royalties to recoup your full advance, you do not need to pay the publisher out of your own pocket. The difference becomes their loss.

A royalty is a percentage of the book’s price that is owed to the author. So for every book that is sold to the public, you receive a percentage of the sale.

Authors often want to know how much their advance will be for their first book deal. Unfortunately there is no way of estimating this. Debut books can sell from anywhere between $5,000 and $500,000 depending on the book, the agent, and the number of publishers interested in purchasing the manuscript. But many reliable sources cite the average book advance for a new author getting published in the United States is around $10,000 for a single book.

Releasing your book in stores

Once you’ve sold your book to a publisher, it will usually take between 1 and 2 years for your book to be released to the public. Here’s an overview of what’s going on behind the scenes at your publishing house during that time:

12 – 24 months out

  • Work on revisions with your editor

9 to 12 months out

  • Your manuscript is sent to be “copy edited”
  • You receive your First Pass Pages (also called “Proof Pages”) which is your last and final chance to review your book and make changes
  • Your book cover designed
  • Marketing and Publicity departments begin to plan your marketing campaign

6 months out

  • You are assigned an in-house publicist who will be your “point person” for all publicity matters
  • Advanced Reader’s Copies (also called “ARCs”) of your book are published and sent to reviewers
  • Your book starts appearing on websites for pre-orders o Your book appears in your publisher’s catalog

3 months out

  • Reviews start coming in

Pub date!

  • Your book is available for purchase online and in stores!

Note: This is a sample book production timeline. Exact time frames will vary based on each individual publishing house and their respective release schedules.

Your dream of selling your novel to a major U.S. publisher is within reach! Check out this video to see how The Complete Guide to Getting Published can help you prepare for your first book release!

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