Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Heat of the Moment
Author Name/Publisher: Jessica Hall, Onyx
Mass Market Paperback, U.S., $6.99 cover price
Distribution: National
Publication Date: 10/01/04
Advance: $15,000.00
Royalties: 6-8%
Current Released to date: 24,162
Reserved against returns: 0
Current returns: 6,431
Sell-through: 73%

This is the first royalty statement on this novel, and HotM did modestly well. I prefer to see my sell-through a little higher, but considering the state of the market, the genre, and romance's short shelf life, I won't complain. In romance I'm definitely midlist, and these days a midlist writer is lucky to sell 5,000 copies. The book is still selling, however, so I hope to earn out my advance. A good if not stellar performance (to see a scan .jpg of the actual statement, click here.)

If you look at it from the promote-or-die angle, this book should not have sold this well. There was no publicity for it, and like most of my books, the small first print run kept it out of the front of the store. At the time I was tied up with hurricanes, cancer surgery and launching Darkyn, so like most of my other books, I did zero promotion for this one.

Given the circumstances, I'd say that the novel sold as well as it did due to three factors: the Jessica Hall name, the story, and word of mouth by my readers. Our pal Tam always talks about stories needing to resonate with readers; judging by the fan mail, this one did.

HotM was a good story for me personally for a couple of reasons. It was the first book I wrote after I unplugged from the internet: no distractions. I fell in love with Terri and Cort in my previous JH novel, where they were secondary characters. I had just hooked up with an editor who got me, so I relaxed and finally wrote a romance the way I wanted to. It was a rush, too; one of those novels that just pours out of you. My editor in turn did a brilliant job on her end and drew even more out of me with a light but dead-on revision. I felt as if I came into my own with this book.

After seeing the statement, I don't know what Jessica Hall's future is. I have two more JH novels outlined: Some Like it Hot, Caine and Moriah's story, and Dark Side, a standalone with Jo Edgeway, who has been mentioned but has yet to make an appearance in the JH novels. My editor and I have talked casually about doing another book in the near future. I'm a romance writer at heart, so I don't want to walk away from the genre, especially now that the Sisters of the Immaculate Love Scene are trying to censor it.

I also have to be realistic. Romantic suspense is a hard sell and extremely competitive, and I'm doing a lot better in other areas. Publishers buy what works. HotM worked, but not as effectively as my SF and vamp novels. I'm at the mercy of chains ordering to the net, an over-crowded genre, and a writing schedule that makes psychosis look fun. There are other things I want to do.

On that slightly depressing note, any questions, comments, thoughts?


  1. Anonymous8:27 AM

    Please keep writing the Jessica Hall series. Your stories are all so great. I know multiple people have also written on your S. L. Viehl message board looking for the next book in the Hall series.


  2. Thanks for showing the numbers side of publishing and talking about the writing/editing process. It helps put expectations into the practical realm.

    I'm half way through If Angels Burn and really enjoying it. Is this a romance novel? I found it in that section, but it appears to be a very good vampire novel.

  3. Anonymous9:17 AM

    No problem, Nancy.

    Marie, if I don't sell Caine and Moriah's story to a publisher, I may publish it myself for the readers. So Jessica Hall isn't out of the running yet.

    I heard you got the book for Father's Day, JJ. :) I didn't write IAB as a romance, but the publisher decided to market it as that.

  4. Anonymous10:04 AM

    Just wanted to toss out one more "thank you" for putting the hard numbers up for us to see.

    -- F. O'Brien Andrew

  5. Anonymous10:35 AM

    I'll echo the others who said thank you for putting these numbers up. It's nice to see real numbers from the other side of the publishing divide (that is, writers rather than readers).

  6. Anonymous10:50 AM

    Your put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is ethic is refreshing and astonishing. There are plenty of writers willing to talk about their process--some as successfully as you do, many not--but to place such discussions in the context of market outcomes, including actual numbers, makes them that much more useful. And it takes guts.

  7. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Echoing congrats on the sales, & thanks for posting the numbers. Everybody keeps this so hush-hush!

    And you're doing this well without doing a lot of promos and publicity stuff? Yeaahhhh...

  8. Anonymous1:45 PM

    I appreciate the praise. I don't think it takes guts to tell the truth, though. It takes nerves of pure steel! Ha.

    Alison wrote: Feel free to make a whole new entry on the subject. :):):):)

    That might miff a few souls. Okay, I'll write one up for tomorrow. :)

  9. Let me add another 'thanks for posting this' to the pile.

    I can't tell you (I probably don't need to, really) how much of a help this is to people like me who are aiming at publication.

  10. Thanks for sharing - this is pretty much the only chance I get to see the business side of things since I'm unpublished. I honestly have no idea what kinds of numbers are involved, but this gives me some good ideas of how things work out for some writers.

    I second Alison's request - please do speak to what you meant by becoming unplugged. I find the internet as a whole to be a huge time sink and distraction, but I also see that it is an invaluable tool - for research, networking, etc. I'd love to hear your experience.

  11. My readers may or may not appreciate your forthright honesty and disclosure -- but I'm going to give it to them anyway with a link to this post. You go girl!

  12. Anonymous11:56 AM

    IAB wound up in the science fiction section here. Not horror. Not romance. Sci fi. next to the big spot where some Stardoc novels had also sold out.

    (I have noticed they seem to consistently sell out here and the store just keeps ordering em, which is cool.)

  13. Anonymous10:13 PM

    I know that this entry was done months ago, but is there any updated info on Jessica Hall? I just read Private Demons, which I absolutely loved, now I am waiting for a new Jessica Hall. :)

  14. I printed it out to wave it in from of my wife, who's asking "what kind of money can you make from this?"


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