Over on his blog, Jim C. Hines analyzes his royalty statement. The charts and his discussion are plenty interesting all by themselves, but he just casually says a couple of things in his blog that really resonate with my experience.
First of all, I have to say that I'm impressed that Hines has so many books that have earned out. It apparently takes me a lot longer to do that (perhaps I'm slightly better paid). However, I'm only JUST NOW getting royalties for my second book, Dead Sexy, which was originally published in 2007 (and had a Romance and Science Fiction Bookclub h/c edition.) So, of five books, two of them now earn royalties.
But, on the flip side (and knocking liberally on wood) at least all of my books are still IN print, which by five years into Lyda Morehouse's career all her books were out of print.
Which is why I agree that having in-print back list is really important. It's tough to encourage readers to pick up book #4 in a series (even if you wrote each to stand alone) when #2 is already out of print, which happened to me as Lyda.
Secondly, Hines says, "Some authors who get that bajillion-dollar advance for their first book. I’m not one of them. The slower but steady approach seems to be working for me though, at least so far."
This is something I think about a lot. I have had fits of absolute jealousy over other authors' advances, but one thing I try to keep in mind is that it's much harder to earn out a "bajillion" dollars than it is ten thousand. And, while a bajillion dollars would be nice to have in pocket, I have to imagine that unless you happen to actually be the one-in-a-million that actually earns out the bajillion, your editor/publisher will have to be disappointed in your sales figures. Whereas, if you at least break even for them, they might be more likely to keep hiring you for those midlist jobs that someone's got to fill, right?
Though I still dream of a bajillion dollar advance, I think I'd continue to trade it in for a long and glorious career.
* X-posted from Wyrdsmiths blog.