Sunday, December 14, 2003

Mean, Mode, Median and More on Bramleys.

I am currently doing a project at school on a job and I picked to write about authors. The problem is, I cannot find alot of information and I was hoping you could (if you have the time of course) to answer these questions:

1. What is the average advance an author gets for a book
2. What is the average percentage of royalties an author gets
3. Were there any courses you took in high school/university that prepared you for writing?
4. Other than university/college/high school, what others things help you prepare for the writing world?

Thank you very much for you time, I do hope you get around to this questions, though I suppose the likelyhood of you answering is not in my favour

Thanks Again,


1) By average are we talking mean, mode or median? I'm not sure that it matters, but they'll probably be pretty different -- the occasional million dollar advance skews an awful lot of $2,000 advances. The advance on a book, except for a few hundred authors internationally, tends to be not very much. My advances for my first two books, twenty years ago, were about $3000 a book. I understand that the typical advance for a first time writer is still in that area now. A solid midlist fiction author is probably getting $30,000 - $50,000 a book, for a book it may have taken a few years to write. An established author in one area moving into another may find advances shrinking rapidly (the advance on Coraline was tiny).

2) The traditional figure is 10% of cover price for a hardback and about 8% for a paperback. They're negotiable.

3) I don't know. At the time I was impatient with all of them, except possibly English sometimes. I knew what I wanted to do, why couldn't they just let me get on with it? These days I wish I'd paid more attention in everything, as it's amazing how often you need things, as a writer, that seemed utterly pointless when people were trying to teach them to you. Like Geography. Or averages.

4) Reading. Reading a lot. And chutzpah. Chutzpah's good too.


concerning the apple-discussion:



You know the world is odd when your favorite cooking apple has a website. And a very interesting one, at that. I was fascinated by it -- I'd assumed that Bramleys had fallen out of fashion in America. I hadn't realised they were only a hundred and fifty years old as a breed, and had probably never properly caught on.

Checked around a bit and learned that they are a zone 5+ apple. Where I live in the US is Zone 4 -- the winters would be too cold for the tree, which means that growing them locally is out. Pity.

Haven't posted because I've been writing. Although yesterday wasn't really much of a writing day, it was more of a figuring-bits-of-stuff-that-happens-out day. You can know what's going to happen in something you're writing, without knowing how it happens, and I wound up sitting in an ancient leather chair in an otherwise entirely empty room, listening to the wind howl in the chimney, writing in the large moleskine I was given in France. One way up I'd write Anansi Boys stuff, then I'd turn it over and write 1602 stuff. The Anansi Boys stuff was still mostly Big Picture (what happens) (X will arrive and make Y's life a misery) while the remainder of 1602 #8 was micro stuff (how it happens) (these three characters are going to meet and this will happen on this page). (Am not sure that I'm going to be able to squeeze Reed's Theory of Natural Philosophy Based on the Arthurian Round Table in anywhere.)

I'm now most of the way through Chapter Two of Anansi Boys, and it's starting to make me happy. It seems to be a real book, and the characters don't seem to be people I've written before. And it's funny -- although funny in the way that "Chivalry" was funny, rather than in the way that, say, "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" was funny.


Was fascinated by the test and theory at