Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Publishing as a Second Language—What Does it Mean to Earn Out?

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

Reading a new writing magazine, I came across the words “earn out.” Would I have known what that meant just a few years ago? I’m not sure I would have.

You don’t usually hear the words “earn out” until you get serious about publishing your work. “Earn out” often accompanies words like advance, royalty, and payment.

As a new writer, the idea of an advance was exciting to me. The publisher would pay me money before my book was even in print. What could be better than that? But I soon learned an advance was not without strings attached.

Here’s the thing. Yes, the publisher paid me money before the book was published. However, that was not bonus money. This is where the words “earn out” come in. The advance is just that. It is an advance of the royalties (percentage of sales that I earn) of my book. Once my book is on the market and it begins earning royalties, all that will be applied to the advance. When the advance has been paid back to the publisher, then I will begin to receive royalty checks. In other words, the advance is loaned to you until your book earns the amount of the advance through royalties. Once that has happened, your royalty checks will come regularly. The publisher will keep you informed as to the number of books sold and the amount of royalty earned toward the advance.

Some writers are disappointed during the
earning out period.
Some writers are disappointed during the earning out period because they feel like they should be getting royalties. But you need to regard the advance period as royalties that have already been paid. You have been enjoying the benefit of that money before your book ever started earning.

Other writers are disappointed when they don’t receive an advance. But if you do not receive an advance, you will earn your first royalty check in the first pay period after your book is released or at whatever time your contract states. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Either way can work to your advantage. With the advance, you get some money sooner. Without an advance, you may get a slightly higher royalty percentage.

Earning out is good incentive for you to get out there and market your book. That will not only help the publisher but will also get your message launched to readers all over the world.


Linda Gilden is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She loves to take one subject and create multiple articles from that information. Linda finds great joy (and lots of writing material) in time spend with her family. Her favorite activity is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing children!

To find out more about Linda, her writing, and her ministry, visit You can also connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. Linda, Thank you for the information. I am almost done editing my first book. One day I pray to be good enough to "earn out" Thanks again.