James D. Macdonald Paid $50,000 – $75,000 in Advances? Sorry, We’re Not Biting: Prove it!

In Absolute Write, Accountability, Advances, Amazon, Amazon Rankings, Amazon Sales Rankings, Author, Author Contracts, Authors, Credibility, James D. MacDonald, Money should flow toward the author, Professionalism, Propaganda, Publishers, Publishing, Reputation, Reputation Management, Self-Publishing, Travis Tea, Writer Beware, Yog's Law on June 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm

“I’ve got about 30 books out (they’re all listed on my web page). My advances are around $50-$75K/book. I haven’t yet cracked the magic six-figure mark, but hey, I’m just a mid-list writer.”

–      James D. Macdonald

On June 21, 2011, James D. Macdonald posted this statement (above) on the AbsoluteWrite site. We’re sorry but we are very skeptical about this claim. $50,000 – $75,000 advances on James D. Macdonald titles? If this is true it would suggest that $1,500,000 – $2,250,000 has been paid out in advances to James D. Macdonald. These James D. Macdonald titles have current Amazon Sales Rankings from 53,496 – 7,710,072.  For example, one of the James D. Macdonald titles, published in 1990, has a current Amazon Sales Ranking of 4,006,340. An Amazon Sales Ranking of 2,000,000 equates to 1 copy sold every 1000 days (see chart below). This particular book has been out for approximately 7300 days (1990). Tor, one of James D. Macdonald’s publishers, reportedly has an advance range between $7500 – $20,000; over 50% less than the lowest claimed advance by James D. Macdonald. Any advance above $20,000 for a mid-list writer is high and uncommon. Moreover, during the time that James D. Macdonald began writing, the average advances were substantially less and in the range of $2500 – $15,000. The implication that James D. Macdonald leaves the reader is that advances were paid on each of the 30 books. Also, notice the self-promotional hook to drive the reader to his website. Keep in mind this is on a site typically utilized by other authors not the average book buyer. (Remember: “Money flows toward the author.” However, not in the circumstances listed on the Yog’s Law Pop Quiz; click here.)

Given James D. Macdonald’s historical Amazon Sales Rankings, we think this is quite an exaggeration. Also, no publisher would make this kind of an investment based on this type of sales performance from an author. We could be wrong in this analysis. However, James D. Macdonald could clear up our skepticism by posting proof of these advances rather than just making the statement. Until that happens, we’re going to deem this statement C.R.A.P. (click here).


“First Time Writer’s Advance How Much.” THE MASTER JULES Was a Beautiful Man, Slender, Tall, Green Eyes Almost a Snake Skin Color, an Intensity of Gaze That Few People. Web. 21 June 2011. <;.

Meyer, Michael. “Essay – About That Book Advance … –” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 21 June 2011. Web. 21 June 2011. <;.

“Self-Publishing Mistakes – Page 10 – Absolute Write Water Cooler.” Absolute Write. Web. 21 June 2011. <;.

“Show Me the Money!” Brenda Hiatt. Web. 21 June 2011. <;.

“The Business Rusch: Midlist Writers & Big Publishing (Changing Times Part 14).” Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Web. 21 June 2011. <;.

Amazon Sales Rankings

Rank Copies Sold/day
1 3000
10 650
100 100
1000 13
10,000 2.2 (11 copies every 5 days)
100,000 0.2 (1 copy every 5 days)
1,000,000 0.006 (3 copies every 500 days)
2,000,000 0.0001 (1 copy every 1000 days)

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