Konrath gives the numbers

Konrath breaks out his sales, in detail. It's really interesting, and I'll say again that I really, really appreciate that he does this.

And he says some things that I think are really important when it comes to signing deals with publishers, especially e-book only deals, so I'll quote them here. Emphasis is added:

On a $6.99 legacy ebook, the author makes $1.04 after agent commission. The publisher makes $3.67. So let's play the advance game.

A publisher pays an author $20,000 advance. Author keeps $17,000 after the agent is paid. There is no paper version. The ebook, priced at $6.99, sells 12,000 ebooks in five years, which is what my legacy ebook Dirty Martini has sold.

The author would still owe $7520 on the advance before earning another nickel. In the meantime, the publisher has made $44,000. Minus the $20k advance, the publisher has pocketed $24,000, and still will make money for a few more years without paying the author any more.

If the author self-pubbed his own book at $6.99, and sold 12,000 copies, he would have made $58,880.

If publishers keep signing authors for ebook-only deals, at the current royalty rates, they'll get richer than they ever have, at the expense of authors. Authors will still be living advance to advance, never earning out, and publishers will be printing money by doing nothing more than providing cover art, proofreading, and editing services--all jobs that can be freelanced for fixed costs.

If you are thinking about signing an ebook-only deal with a publisher, crunch the numbers first....

Tread lightly. There's a big difference between taking $1,000,000 because a publisher thinks you're the next James or Hocking, and taking $20,000 that you'll never earn out.