Is it still the standard practice for an author to receive an advance from her publisher? If so, what is the average advance for a first time author in the fantasy genre?
First Novel Advances:
The range is from $0-$40,000 for an advance on a first novel.
The median advance is $5000.
The median figure is a better indicator of what most people consider ‘typical.’ Mathematical average for first time advances was $6424.
Adjusted for inflation, as the figures range in year from advances given in 1970 to this year, the median advance is ~$6000.
First Novel Advances, Fantasy vs. Science Fiction
The range in Fantasy first novel advances is from $0 to $40,000.
The median first novel advance is $5000 for Fantasy (average is $6494)
The range in Science Fiction first novel advances is from $0 to $20,000.
The median first novel advance is $5000 for SF (average is $7000)
In version 1.0 of this article, with 74 respondents, I had enough of a difference in the data that I hazarded a guess that Fantasy first novel advances were larger than SF advances. I was wrong.
First Novels: Agented vs. Unagented:
58% of our first time novelists had an agent, the other 42% sold the book without an agent, and a high number indicate they got agents right after or during the sale of the book.
The range in agented advances is from $1500 to $40,000
The median agented advance is $6000 (the average is $7500)
The range in unagented advances is from $0 to $15000
The median unagented advance is $3500 (the average is $4051)
These figures have noticeable differences any way you look at them. Not having an agent looks to cost one well more than the agent’s percentage on average, and certainly most of the higher ranging figures come from people with agents.
note: Geoff Landis points out that the reverse may be true, agents may not choose to represent clients with lower advances.
so are you a fool to sign without an advance?
In short, yes. All traditional publishes BUY THE BOOK for a certain lump sum.
This news is probably a bit old, but: Author Advance Survey (version 2.0) at Tobias Buckell Online
Also remember that most legitimate publishers do not ask for life of copyright on your work. The standard book contract is for three to five years, after that the contract is renegotiated or rights revert to the author. Longer terms should come with a much higher advance or royalty payment and even the biggest named authors rarely get longer contracts. Publishers looking for longer contracts are often scammers looking to profit on the "long tail" of your work (playing a numbers game by publishing a large amount of ... questionable work ... in addition to your opus).
Jealousy is an understatement, that's quite a bit of coin! She must be fired up. Is she already published or is this a first time? I would imagine in the latter case that the sum you mentioned would be rare indeed.