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View Full Version : Published Novelists - Your Checks - Kaching!


Star
07-13-2007, 07:05 PM
I've heard that agents can either receive your checks and split it first, then send you the rest, OR, the writer can split his/her own check and send the remainder to the agent. How do you handle this?

Also, how do you handle it when family members/friends ask how much you got for the advance? Aside from my Momma, I feel it's none of folks bizness. Is there a tactful way to sidestep the nosiness?

Ol' Fashioned Girl
07-13-2007, 07:12 PM
Not knowing the difference between PA and real publishing at the time, none of my friends asked... not but one of the family. And since I knew the lousy li'l money grubber was jealous, I told him 'five figures' and left it at that.

If I'm ever fortunate enough to have a legitimate pub to my credit, I won't worry about being tactful. I'll ask the rudeski to show me his/her last W2 and then I'll show 'im mine. :)

Star
07-13-2007, 07:20 PM
Hahaha, you guys are funny.

Sad to say, but I already have certain family members swearing I have money just because I'm single. Makes me queasy to think what they'll assume when I'm actually published. Sigh.

Jack Nog
07-13-2007, 07:24 PM
Go buy a fur coat and a Ferrari. Let 'em wonder after that.

Toothpaste
07-13-2007, 07:32 PM
Agent takes her bit first, then sends me the money.

Star
07-13-2007, 07:35 PM
Jack, with the advance I'm getting, methinks I'll settle for a used Honda and rabbit fur.

MidnightMuse
07-13-2007, 07:42 PM
My mother and stepfather believe Author = Millionaire. I've tried to explain reality to them, but I doubt it'll ever take.

Meanwhile, when it happens to me, I'll just wink and smile and walk away in response to the "how rich are you now?" question :)

jhtatroe
07-13-2007, 07:57 PM
The tactful response would be something like, "I got an appropriate amount for the type of book it is" or "I'm very happy with the advance my agent negotiated for me." If they continue to press after that, just say you're not comfortable divulging the exact number.

Star
07-13-2007, 08:01 PM
Yeah, I thought auhtor = Millionaire...until now. heheh

Thanks JHTaroe. I'll try to be cool in my response.

ClaudiaGray
07-13-2007, 08:11 PM
Agent gets the payment, keeps her 15% and sends the rest to you. I'm pretty sure this is industry standard. As long as you have a reputable agent, it's a good system, not least because your agent then prepares records you can use at tax time instead of struggling through yourself.

Star
07-13-2007, 08:13 PM
Thanks Claudia, my fellow New Yorker. ;-)

jchines
07-13-2007, 08:38 PM
My publisher pays my agent. Agent takes his chunk and sends me a check.

And personally, when someone asks me about an advance, I tell them. That's my choice, and I'm not saying everyone should do the same. But I've never seen a reason for hiding that information, either. And I think it helps bust a few writing myths when people find out what a typical first-novel advance looks like :)

grommet
07-13-2007, 09:14 PM
Ditto everyone else's scenario: my publisher pays my agent, who then pays me, less their 15%.

Like Jim, I choose to tell people when they ask. Not many have asked and I'm all about shattering illusions that I'm about to quit my day job;)

grommet (http://www.kathrynmillerhaines.com)

Star
07-13-2007, 09:17 PM
Okay Jim and Grommet,

Spill it! How much did you get. *giggling mischievously*

grommet
07-13-2007, 09:26 PM
I forgot to mention the rule that I don't tell unless you've seen me in a compromising position before;)

One thing I do want to mention (and this experience may be my own) is the timeline for getting money. I got my deal at the end of October, but I didn't have a finalized contract until late February, so I didn't get the first part of my advance until March. I have no idea if that's the norm, but that's how slow things went for me. On the other hand, each subsequent part of my advance was paid out very quickly after I met the terms, but my agent is really good about following up on that.

grommet (http://www.kathrynmillerhaines.com)

Star
07-13-2007, 09:30 PM
Gee whiz, that's a stretch!
Was this deal from a larger house?

p.s. I'm putting you in a compromising postition as I type. Please be advised, you are now cornered by ten drooling authors wanting to know all your business. Now spill it or else! :)

maestrowork
07-13-2007, 09:59 PM
Yup, an agent takes his cut and then sends the rest to you. PROMPTLY, I may add.

Star
07-13-2007, 10:02 PM
Ohhh snap, Maestro, I just realized you're avatar mixes Star Wars with Hello Kitty, two of my all-time favorite memories. Thanks :)

CheshireCat
07-13-2007, 10:08 PM
I've heard that agents can either receive your checks and split it first, then send you the rest, OR, the writer can split his/her own check and send the remainder to the agent. How do you handle this?


Those details are spelled out in the contract with the publisher. It is far better, in my experience, to have publishers "split" checks, sending your agent her 15% and you your 85%. You get your money faster, and you don't have to wait for an agent to handle the paperwork at her end. Some publishers resist splitting checks, but from what I hear more and more are doing it. I know mine agreed without a murmur of protest when I asked.

Also, how do you handle it when family members/friends ask how much you got for the advance? Aside from my Momma, I feel it's none of folks bizness. Is there a tactful way to sidestep the nosiness?


Well, you can just say you'd rather not discuss money (in which case they're either convinced you made a mint or else paid the publisher to publish your work). I've found the best way is to look them straight in the eye, smile, and ask, "How much did you make last year?" Most blink and look disconcerted, but usually get the point.

Some will tell you how much they made -- and to those I usually say something like, "I get X% of the cover price of every book sold, which is usually .25 (or whatever), against an advance of X-dollars, which means the book has to sell X-number of copies before I see another dime. Oh, and my agent gets 15% of every dollar the book earns. And that's before-tax income."

At the very least, it usually disillusions them. ;) Because, of course, everybody's convinced you sell one book and are able to retire on the proceeds.

Yeah. Right.

Star
07-13-2007, 10:13 PM
Love your answers. Thanks

CheshireCat
07-13-2007, 10:17 PM
Agent gets the payment, keeps her 15% and sends the rest to you. I'm pretty sure this is industry standard. As long as you have a reputable agent, it's a good system, not least because your agent then prepares records you can use at tax time instead of struggling through yourself.

Just to note (in case nobody else has) if the publisher splits checks, you will get the necessary paperwork from the publisher to file your taxes. That has never been an issue in my career. If earnings go through your agent first, she has to issue you the necessary forms -- and for many agents, that yearly chore is a major headache and one they tend to be behind on, depending on the number of clients they have.

And before (or in case) somebody asks, your agent pays taxes on her earnings and you pay taxes on yours. Whether you declare the 15% a deduction -- and a straight write-off -- or never see her commission, that's the way it will be handled.

To me, it always made more sense tax-wise to split the checks and report only my income -- not hers. For some people, that difference may keep you in a lower tax bracket.

BUT consult a professional. Get advice from an accountant or literary attorney who specializes in tax matters. I can promise you that you won't be sorry.

grommet
07-14-2007, 12:26 AM
Star,

This was a big pub (Harper). This may have been an anomaly, though I suspect there is usually a delay before that first payment.

And to reiterate what Maestro said, all of my dealings with money being sent by my agent have been very prompt.

grommet (http://www.kathrynmillerhaines.com)

Star
07-14-2007, 12:38 AM
Harper Collins - wohooo, the big dogs! Okay, my publisher is fairly large too - I hope I get my check in time.

This feels a bit funny though, thinking about checks when I'm only up to the "offer" point. However, I'm thinking positive. Perhaps I can still dream of an auction. :)

CheshireCat
07-14-2007, 01:08 AM
My experience has also been that the signing check takes the longest to work its way to the author. It also depends on how complicated the contract is, whether your agent accepts the boilerplate or wants changes, who at the house has to approve those changes, and the standard timeline at your particular publisher.

Some publishers simply take longer to put through money than others do, depending on their internal systems.

My point being, until you have some experience with a particular pub under your belt, don't even try to "plan" on when the money will come in.

Count on it when it's in your hand, and not before.

Will Lavender
07-14-2007, 01:12 AM
It took me forever to get my money. I've still not seen any money from most of the foreign markets the book sold to.

I sold the novel in February, didn't see a contract until April, and didn't get the first check until nearly May.

I think that's pretty standard at big publishers.

grommet
07-14-2007, 01:16 AM
Thanks for confirming things, WL and CC. I kind of expected my experience was normal, but there's always going to be someone who comes along and had money the next day;) If this business is anything, it's slow.

grommet (http://www.kathrynmillerhaines.com)

CheshireCat
07-14-2007, 01:19 AM
Random House is one of the fastest, as a rule.

Some of the romance publishers are well-known to be extremely slow in paying as are, I hear, at least a few fantasy and SF pubs.

But it can really depend on your agent, who she (or he) knows at the house, and how aggressive she is in following up on the money.

Will Lavender
07-14-2007, 01:20 AM
Related to this thread:

Your agent can negotiate how the payments are made. If the advance is substantial, the agent can get them to pay you most of the money up front. A normal deal is 33/33/33: a third of the money at the signing of the contract, a third when the revisions are accepted by the house, and a third when the book comes out in hardcover. (My British contract is actually a third at signing, a third at hardcover publication, and a third at paperback publication.)

My tremendous agent, however, worked it out so that 75% of my US money was given at the signing of the contract, which was great.

CheshireCat
07-14-2007, 01:27 AM
Yeah, there's a lot more flexibility in contract terms than most new writers realize. I have friends who only want two payments per book: D&A of the manuscript, and on-publication. Others want the money spread out more, while they work on the project, and have it set so that they're paid for partials or rough drafts as well.

Just depends on the author, what he or she needs, and what the agent can negotiate.

Also depends on the author's track record. An author with a solid history can, obviously, expect more flexibility with a longtime pub.

Your mileage will vary.

Saundra Mitchell
07-14-2007, 02:33 AM
Sold my book in January, got the first half of my advance in May. The agent got the check first, took her cut, then cut me a check for mine.

And what I tell nosy people is, "When it's all said and done, I made about 12 cents an hour." Which is both true, and vague.

Tish Davidson
07-14-2007, 03:30 AM
I guess I'm lucky, but I've always gotten the first installment of my advance promptly (within 30 days of signing the contract) from Scholastic.