PDA

View Full Version : THIS MAY SOUND LIKE A DUMB QUESTION



thestoryangel
11-28-2005, 10:14 PM
I was wondering for a first time writer getting published how much is usually a standard that the writer between what and what?

dragonjax
11-28-2005, 10:15 PM
Are you asking about whether there is a standard amount of an advance? Or am I not understanding the question?

SpookyWriter
11-28-2005, 10:16 PM
I'm not an agent, so please feel free to disregard my reply. Okay, here it is: ?

I honestly didn't understand the question. Good luck!

Jon

Jamesaritchie
11-30-2005, 07:59 PM
I was wondering for a first time writer getting published how much is usually a standard that the writer between what and what?

I'm afraid I don't understand the question, either.

WriteStuff
11-30-2005, 11:04 PM
I get the feeling the question is in regards to how much money is involved as a standard advance. Or at least along those lines. Unfortunately it's a pretty near impossible question to answer.

DaveKuzminski
11-30-2005, 11:39 PM
I was wondering for a first time writer getting published how much is usually a standard that the writer between what and what?

Your question is muddy. Perhaps you meant to ask, "I was wondering, for a first-time writer getting published, how much is usually a standard that the writer receives? Between what and what?" Even what I've suggested is still awkward.

blackbird
01-13-2006, 09:18 PM
I've heard of advances that range anywhere from a pathetic $5000 to whopping mega-deals of $500,000 or more. It really depends on so many variables-the likelihood of sales, the author's reputation (or lack thereof), the marketability of the book, and so on. There's really no way to gauge advance amounts, other than that it probably won't be less than $5000. Generally, I'd go so far as to say anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000 might be a reasonable amount to expect, but it just depends on your publisher and how good your agent is at negotiating deals.

Andrew Zack
01-16-2006, 07:17 PM
You think $5,000 is pathetic? It's probably the industry average!

SpookyWriter
01-16-2006, 10:38 PM
You think $5,000 is pathetic? It's probably the industry average!
How depressing. That's barely a months work in my profession. Now I know why getting published was never a priority in life. I enjoy writing, but writing a novel and all the work involved for $5,000 isn't very motivating.

Jon

sirensix
01-17-2006, 03:35 AM
I enjoy writing, but writing a novel and all the work involved for $5,000 isn't very motivating.

Don't write it for $5,000. I agree, that is depressing. Write it because it's going to eat you up inside if you don't. Because just finishing it will give you a rush so intense that it's worth the months or years you spent crafting it. Then that $5,000 starts to look a lot better.

Not got a novel idea eating you up inside demanding to be written? Be glad! Writing isn't a career. It's a compulsion, an addiction. It's like being a junkie, except not so expensive, and occasionally someone gives you a few bucks. $5,000? Wow, I call that pretty awesome just for getting a fix.

Elisabetta
01-17-2006, 04:41 AM
I believe Mr. Zack is referring to an advance. This is exactly what it sounds like... a sum of money advanced to the writer against future royalties. Once your book has earned back the $5,000, you begin to receive actual royalties on sales. If your book sells well, your total earnings can be substantially more than the advance.

On the other hand, some books never sell enough to earn out the advance, and thus the advance remains the author's only income from the book. Fortunately, you don't have to give it back. Unfortunately, you probably won't get another contract from that publisher. Huge advances might sound good, but if the book never earns out, the writer's career can be toast.

I agree with Sirensix. Write for the love of it. You'll probably write a better book that way, anyway.

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 05:59 AM
Don't write it for $5,000. I agree, that is depressing. Write it because it's going to eat you up inside if you don't. Because just finishing it will give you a rush so intense that it's worth the months or years you spent crafting it. Then that $5,000 starts to look a lot better.

Not got a novel idea eating you up inside demanding to be written? Be glad! Writing isn't a career. It's a compulsion, an addiction. It's like being a junkie, except not so expensive, and occasionally someone gives you a few bucks. $5,000? Wow, I call that pretty awesome just for getting a fix.
I like writing, so don't take this the wrong way, but I've sat down at poker tables in Amsterdam with $5,000 sitting in front of me. Gee, I once spent $12,000 in one month and couldn't remember what I bought. I am a college graduate with a career that typically pays 8-20K a month (based on experience and education).

Writing is a great way to relax and blow off steam, but thrill? Not really, I find the whole effort of finding an agent less than enjoyable. I'd rather find a contract that will pay me 100k a year. (I'm a database programmer).

I've (mistakenly thought) to try giving a bigger percentage of the manuscript for representation on the next two or three. But AAR rules says "Nyet" on that idea. I can't offer an agent a bigger percentage because of the rules. I can't offer an agent a reading fee because it's not acceptable. But what everyone fails to realize is that this is a victimless crime. The only real crime is letting work sit around which might be enjoyable reading because I -- the writer isn't prepared to sacrafice his sanity and precious time for $5,000.

Bottom line, no ROI on investment. Gratification? Nah, I get that when I'm sitting at a cafe in Paris, stolling independence square in Kiev, or swimming the med in Spain.

Tot zein!

Jon

sirensix
01-17-2006, 06:24 AM
Well, to each his own - it's why there are so many professions and other types of human endeavor. And why there are plenty of happily "starving" artists and plenty of miserable rich folks, in addition to miserable poor folk and happy billionaires. The secret to happiness: find what you want to do most, do it, and if you can't find a way to make it pay enough to support you in your chosen lifestyle, get a second job to pay the bills, one that still allows you to do that first thing in your off time. Sounds like you've got money covered, and plenty of pastimes you enjoy, so you're all set! I don't really see the problem.

For my part, I've lived happily on everything from $15,000 to $500,000 a year at different phases of my life, and personally I've found myself at my most serene when I wasn't encumbered by a lot of "stuff" and bills and whatnot. Part of it is that I'm easily overwhelmed, and I just like to keep things simple. So if I never get rich, I'm okay with that. So long as I have enough time to get the stories that are inside me out onto the page, and share them with others who enjoy them, I guess I'm okay with whatever it ends up paying me.

triceretops
01-17-2006, 06:53 AM
Me, I'll settle for 5,000 any time, and work my way up. I can write four books a year, and on graduated advance rates, it might work out. I'm single, happy, and can afford to live a little (or a lot) spartan. I've recieved less than that amount for my first two books.

What I'm really distressed about is all these damn Poddy publishers out there now, who are offering no advances at all, and above average royalties, but offer limited or no distribution. Most of them cannot get you into any book stores, and they admit it up front. These outfits typically have message boards and are seen in the Horror, Fantasy, and SF genres, although I'm sure there are others. The interent is glutted with these mom and pop so-called publishers. It's getting entirely too difficult to get serious reviews and attention for POD books. The editing of these types of books seems to be marginal, since there are no real employees on the payrolls. Let me make this clear--I'm talking about these fan-based type operations.

So if you want to talk about distressing conditions, check out the the recent flood of Poddy pubs masquerading as real commercial publishing houses.

I'd love to name names, but that would get my azz hung with links back to here.

$ 5000 with guaranteed placed in libraries and book stores? You bet I'll take that over the rest.

Tri

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 06:56 AM
Writing is so enjoyable, granted. But strarving artist doesn't appeal to me. I sacraficed six years of my life to obtain a college education just so I could ensure my future. I couldn't imagine getting all giddy over $5,000 or $40,000 for the amount of work required to write a novel, find an agent, and get published. I treat the art as a hobby which I enjoy -- but not so much that I get frantic when an agent rejects my work or when a short story isn't selected for publication.

I guess starving artist means people who have no other means of a future unless they can sell their work. Sad, just plain sad indeed.

Jon

Perks
01-17-2006, 07:08 AM
Me, I'll settle for 5,000 any time, and work my way up.
<snip>
$ 5000 with guaranteed placed in libraries and book stores? You bet I'll take that over the rest.

Tri

You betcha! Good money for it would be thrilling, but secondary to getting the 'yes' and then eventually a box of books with your name on the covers delivered to your front door. For people like us, I doubt there's much that could compare to that.

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 07:10 AM
Me, I'll settle for 5,000 any time, and work my way up. I can write four books a year, and on graduated advance rates, it might work out. I'm single, happy, and can afford to live a little (or a lot) spartan. I've recieved less than that amount for my first two books.

Not to spoil the soup, but (actually) people such as yourself are the reason (or part of the problem) why advances on royalties are so meager. I take it you sold two novels and received less than $5,000 on advances (not including royalties) and this makes you happy?

Well gee, a hundred thousand programmers from India appear and say they will do my job for 1/2 the market rate. After a while, American companies realize that Indian programmers are cheaper by the dozen (like slop softcopy books) and we can make a few extra bucks.

A few years later, the same American companies begin to complain that the quality of offshore work is subpar. Well slap me silly. Now book publishers are going to say readership is down because the quality of writing is subpar. Well doh!

Whenever someone accepts a stipend for their work it only benefits the owner. I am not about to lower my expectations so my work will fitter away in some secondhand bookstore a year from now.


P.S. What's the word I'm looking for, oh yeah -- Pride. I'd rather never get published than humilate myself for beggar funds.

Jon

triceretops
01-17-2006, 07:13 AM
All depends on the "manner to which you are accustomed to living." Jon, if you desire a 90210 address, or are likely to feel destressed if you don't pull down 75 gs a year, then obviously, writing is not for you. But I happen to enjoy the thrill of writing and see the money aspect as an added bonus. I'm not in this to play the starving artist, just in it because I happen to be good at it. So the only thing I can think of to do is improve that standing. Writing also serves as a part-time outlet for people who do have jobs. The odds are better than the lottery at least that you'll pull a J.K. Rowling with a breakout novel or non-fic book, and it's not costing me anything more than some part time, electricity, and once in a great while, postage stamps.

You sound like writing is a hobby to you, even though you admit to enjoying it.

Tri

triceretops
01-17-2006, 07:21 AM
No, they were non--fiction books in the eighties, and earned out three times the advances, with no agent.

It doesn't sound like you want publication anywhere for any amount, because this industry is an embarassment to you and your conception of success.

Tri

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 07:26 AM
You sound like writing is a hobby to you, even though you admit to enjoying it.Tri
Bingo! All non-income producing activities that give us pleasure are hobbies. I do enjoy writing (have two completed novels) and have participated in this venue for nearly twenty years. It's the money which has always put me off. Nothing much changes with how much you can make for working so hard -- terribly hours, lots of criticism, and minimal support from family doesn't make writing a profession of choice. I think you need to become a Poe with the mindset that it's an obsession -- like heroin or cocaine -- and as with any addition treat the compulsion as an illusionary thrill for the brief moment you succeed.



But I do understand where you're coming from....

Jon

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 07:32 AM
It doesn't sound like you want publication anywhere for any amount, because this industry is an embarassment to you and your conception of success.
How interesting. Did you glean that from my resume or a few messages I posted tonight? Well thanks for the burp of psychobabble -- btw -- I don't have sexual fantasies about my dear mum either...just in case you are wondering.

Cheers, and best of luck on your writing career.

P.S. So let me understand this correctly. After almost twenty years you earned roughly $5,000 from two nonfiction works? So what have you done lately?

Jon

brokenfingers
01-17-2006, 07:57 AM
Not to spoil the soup, but (actually) people such as yourself are the reason (or part of the problem) why advances on royalties are so meager. I take it you sold two novels and received less than $5,000 on advances (not including royalties) and this makes you happy?

Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but the amount of advance has very little to do with "what an author is willing to accept." It's a matter of market forces.

It's a common staple that only 1 in 5 books make make the publisher money and 2 in 5 will break even.

This has nothing to do with the publisher and everything to do with the buying public.

The publisher/editor tries to gauge the marketability of your story and the probablitlity of its success against the costs of printing. marketing and distributing the book and then offers an advance accordingly.

It is exactly what it says: An ADVANCE.

An advance against future sales. If people like your book and it sells, it doesn't matter if you received 1 dollar or $5,000 in advance - you will make money. It doesn't mean that's what you're paid for the book. Only the buying public decides that.

And remember, $5000 is the industry average advance for a first time genre novel and only 1 in 5 generate enough sales to make a profit and 2 out of 5 earn their advance!! That isn't the publishers taking advantage of needy authors but the buying public deciding who makes the money and who doesn't.

That's why there's all kinds of finagling to influence the public (Frey, scandal, controversy etc.) because they are the ones who say how much an author makes on their book - not the publisher.

You want to make money on your writing investment Spookywriter?

Write a damn good book that people will want to read.

There's no begging involved.

maestrowork
01-17-2006, 08:06 AM
You're better off getting a $5000 and earn out, then getting $50,000 and having a poor sell-through.

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 08:08 AM
You want to make money on your writing investment Spookywriter? Write a damn good book that people will want to read.

Such is the problem with a subjective marketplace. I finished two novels, after lots of editing and so forth, but decided to focus on my programming career and I am shelving them for now. I am going to start book III in April, but this will also remain dusted and unread for many years. I might reconsider searching for an agent and going through the tribulations of publishing in a few years, but for now I need to concentrate on saving for retirement.

I'm not in any rush to become a quasi-famous writer.

Cheers,

Jon

triceretops
01-17-2006, 08:09 AM
I couldn't imagine getting all giddy over $5,000 or $40,000 for the amount of work required to write a novel, find an agent, and get published. I treat the art as a hobby which I enjoy -- but not so much that I get frantic when an agent rejects my work or when a short story isn't selected for publication.

Just that passage right there, Jon, smacks of your displeasure. You're telling me that you would refuse $40,000 as an advance? How long does it take you to write a book? You were talking about slaving with a lot of toil, time and energy over such a project (not in those exact words), and that you found it not worth the effort for those amounts. That's your testimony, not mine.

I wrote part time from 1988 to 1990 and you can hit my profile and see those credits. Then I quit completely up until the begining of 2005. So I've only been back in the game for one year. During that year: Wrote and polished a non-fiction book on paleontology, wrote and polished two sci-fi novels, and I'm halfway through a urban fantasy. Landed an agent 22-days ago that's going to handle all of those. So, 3 1/2 books in one years time. Total novels written is around 10, with most of those in the past 1988--1990 time frame.

It takes me now two months to write 400-pages and two weeks to prep it. Sorry, that's is fast as I can go.

(I don't understand the "frantic" comment about rejections. I've never had that emotion about rejections)

And you?

Tri

dantem42
01-17-2006, 08:10 AM
Bingo! All non-income producing activities that give us pleasure are hobbies. I do enjoy writing (have two completed novels) and have participated in this venue for nearly twenty years. It's the money which has always put me off. Nothing much changes with how much you can make for working so hard -- terribly hours, lots of criticism, and minimal support from family doesn't make writing a profession of choice. I think you need to become a Poe with the mindset that it's an obsession -- like heroin or cocaine -- and as with any addition treat the compulsion as an illusionary thrill for the brief moment you succeed.

Jon

I'd have to agree with a lot of this. Jonathan Kellerman (successful thriller writer) once calculated that on his first book, his advance amounted to about thirty cents an hour for the time he put into it.

A publisher friend of mine told me that nowadays, advances in the fiction realm are getting larger, but there are less of them handed out. Unless you're really lucky and your work hits the bigtime through some mysterious cultic word of mouth osmosis, you pretty much have to get a sizable advance (maybe starting at $50,000) because it means the publisher will pay attention to it, get the shelf and table space at bookstores, have their reps pounding the pavements to set up book signings, etc. If a publisher only spends ten thousand on your advance, you may become a poor stepchild to the guys they are handing five hundred thousand, and have to work their tushes off for to recoup their investment.

For myself, I'm lucky enough to have saved a bunch of money over the years so I can take a year or two off and devote my full-time attention to writing and trying to get a good agent. I was working in an executive position about twelve hours a day, and what with having a family I found it impossible to spend any serious time on it. I've written with a view to publishing in the fiction mass market, so that there's a big payoff under the best circumstances. But it's still a bit scary having a crater in the middle of my resume if it doesn't work out.

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 08:16 AM
You're better off getting a $5000 and earn out, then getting $50,000 and having a poor sell-through.
Ray,

I was in a casino in Holland last May for holiday. I took a couple hundred Euro with me. I went through that money in a couple hours and left my seat to get another hundred Euros. Someone was sitting at the machine I was playing, so I went over two machines. I played my first fifty Euro note pretty quick and didn't hit much. So I said, what the heck. I put in another fifty Euros and within three spins won nearly 800 Euros.

Cool!

So I got my money and played out the change. The person playing the machine I got off earlier left. Okay. So, I popped over and put in twenty Euros. I played about five hands, was chatting to the girl behind me, when suddenly "DING DING DING". I asked myself "What the ****?" and looked up to see three gold coins lined up across the screen.

See, I won another 3,000 Euro on a twenty Euro investment. In less than three hours I won almost $5,000 U.S.

Did I write a book in three hours for this money? No!

The moral of this story? Luck, chance and playing the right machine isn't an art.

Jon

Sage
01-17-2006, 08:30 AM
It sounds to me like you write because you enjoy it, Jon. Good. That's a great reason to write. It sounds to me like you will never be impressed w/ an advance or royalties on your book. But you enjoy writing for non-monetary reasons, so what does that matter? You make a bundle on your day job, so having a large advance or royalties isn't necessary for you to enjoy the quality of life your used to.

:Shrug: I don't understand the problem, everyone.

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 08:30 AM
I couldn't imagine getting all giddy over $5,000 or $40,000 for the amount of work required to write a novel, find an agent, and get published. I treat the art as a hobby which I enjoy -- but not so much that I get frantic when an agent rejects my work or when a short story isn't selected for publication.

Just that passage right there, Jon, smacks of your displeasure. You're telling me that you would refuse $40,000 as an advance? How long does it take you to write a book? You were talking about slaving with a lot of toil, time and energy over such a project (not in those exact words), and that you found it not worth the effort for those amounts. That's your testimony, not mine.

I wrote part time from 1988 to 1990 and you can hit my profile and see those credits. Then I quit completely up until the begining of 2005. So I've only been back in the game for one year. During that year: Wrote and polished a non-fiction book on paleontology, wrote and polished two sci-fi novels, and I'm halfway through a urban fantasy. Landed an agent 22-days ago that's going to handle all of those. So, 3 1/2 books in one years time. Total novels written is around 10, with most of those in the past 1988--1990 time frame.

It takes me now two months to write 400-pages and two weeks to prep it. Sorry, that's is fast as I can go.

(I don't understand the "frantic" comment about rejections. I've never had that emotion about rejections)

And you?

Tri
Okay, like I'm totally confused now. Earlier you said that two books sold in the early eighties. Now you have ten completed novels and none have sold?

Okay, color me stupid. But I made 1.5 million in the past twenty years and that doesn't include the down time. I worked five months last year and earned enough on a five week contract to live five months without worrying about money.

Please explain how the economics of writing for a meer $5,000 will excite me to obsess over this occupation?

When I divored, I lost nearly 750K in assets (property) and spent a couple hundred thousand on child support, attorneys, and alimony.

Yeah, $5,000 for a years work is like an insult. I just turned down a contract today with Verizon because of a eight hundred dollar a week difference in pay.

Money. Art. Living is an art when you learn to make money and provide for the future. Art is a sacrafice people make under the false impression it will provide a future if they are good enough.

Jon

Sage
01-17-2006, 08:35 AM
Please explain how the economics of writing for a meer $5,000 will excite me to obsess over this occupation?
Don't obsess over writing for money. That's the answer, no matter what your non-writing job is.

maestrowork
01-17-2006, 08:37 AM
You can also win the Powerball. A lot of things is luck. This past holiday, I won over $350 playing slot machine in just two hours. I won more at Black Jack before. My parents had won over $10,000 in casinos. Yeah, it's fun to play.

The reality is, you don't get rich by writing, even if you're really good. Not everyone is JK Rowling -- BUT! If you're really good and you keep at it, who knows? There are plenty of millionaire writers out there. It could be done. It's not easy, unlike getting a job at the bank. ;)

But there's that possibility.

Before I got myself into this writing business, I was making six figures income. I was very comfortable. Rich? No. But VERY comfortable. I saved quite a lot of money, too, then I started to write and gave myself FIVE years to make it. Five years, to get my book published.

It me over two years to see my book in print. Why did I do that? Am I nuts? In two years I would have made over $300,000 -- I probably would NEVER see that kind of money writing books (unless I am lucky and my books are flying off shelves for some peculiar reason...)

To me, not everything is measured by money. I could get back into the IT business now and start making some good money again -- but that's not what makes me tick anymore. I don't get satisfaction from that. I was BORED. I was flying all over the place and I was bored. My friends thought I was nut.

One thing I do know: I am happy. I'm doing what I really want to do, and I am happy.

And who knows? My now-published book may land a nice movie deal... ;)

Possibilities.

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 08:42 AM
It sounds to me like you write because you enjoy it, Jon. Good. That's a great reason to write. It sounds to me like you will never be impressed w/ an advance or royalties on your book. But you enjoy writing for non-monetary reasons, so what does that matter? You make a bundle on your day job, so having a large advance or royalties isn't necessary for you to enjoy the quality of life your used to.

:Shrug: I don't understand the problem, everyone.
Disillusion. Money. I just have a difficult time accepting the fact that people believe $5,000 is a great sum of money for the work put into a novel. I do it for pleasure, and now retiring my work, because if it were just the money then I would feel differently about publishing.

I'd give a publisher an equal amount of money to have people enjoy my work. But this isn't an acceptable practice. I can't give an agent extra's or increase their advance because it's not acceptable. I want, as a pleasure, that people enjoy my stories. But the efforts involved to find an agent, publisher, and subsequent follow through just isn't worth my (time and effort) trouble because if it was just money --- I make more as a programmer.

Iek! Does this make sense?

Jon

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 08:49 AM
Before I got myself into this writing business, I was making six figures income. I was very comfortable. Rich? No. But VERY comfortable. I saved quite a lot of money, too, then I started to write and gave myself FIVE years to make it. Five years, to get my book published.


Ray,

We have much more in common than you might think. I am a university graduate with a BSCIS and am used to making the same money. Gee, 10k a month? Whoopie. I love writing, but I'm getting older and have to face reality. I can make more as a programmer, still love it btw, than I'll probably make as a writer. I have children, responsibilities, and age is creeping up on me.

I can write until death pokes me -- yeah, maybe even after I'm dead I'll still get published.

But now, reality, money from a horror novel, and the expectations of living my golden years in Spain made me decide to continue this venue as a hobby.

I have to respect people who rise above the toiled efforts of art and succeeed.

Cheers,

Jon

triceretops
01-17-2006, 08:54 AM
Sorry, that was late eighties. And nope--those were rotten books, and chalked up. When my friends were drinking and chasing tail, doin' drugs, I went a little geeky and stayed home to write. My dad and uncles were writers, so I thought I would give it shot.

Look, nobody ever said this business was lucrative. I'd rather pour glass slivers in my eyes sometimes than comtemplate putting another ink digit on a page. This industry cannot flat out sustain all of those who want to pursue it, and the internet has caused such a glut that the rejection rate is running about 99.98%on everything that passes an agent's or editor's desk.

I don't belong to the Billionair Boy's Club like you. I don't pull down such figures. So have at it. I'm happy for you. But don't look down your nose at me with disdain because I've settled into something I love to do, and that money is not the all powerful god to me at this point in time. I don't share your bitterness with this occupation. I'm in it for the long haul. That's all I can do. I don't do this because it's easy--I do it because it's hard, and it demands a competitive spirit that won't give up. I used to compete with myself, now I aggessively compete with every other writer out there and it's a fight to the finish. I've never liked to lose, and I don't have any intention of doing so.

Tri

Cheers.

Sage
01-17-2006, 09:02 AM
Disillusion. Money. I just have a difficult time accepting the fact that people believe $5,000 is a great sum of money for the work put into a novel. I do it for pleasure, and now retiring my work, because if it were just the money then I would feel differently about publishing.

I'd give a publisher an equal amount of money to have people enjoy my work. But this isn't an acceptable practice. I can't give an agent extra's or increase their advance because it's not acceptable. I want, as a pleasure, that people enjoy my stories. But the efforts involved to find an agent, publisher, and subsequent follow through just isn't worth my (time and effort) trouble because if it was just money --- I make more as a programmer.

Iek! Does this make sense?

Jon
It makes sense if you have a job that pays as well as yours does. I would venture to say that most people don't.

From what I've observed, most people would jump at the chance of having an extra $5000 lying around. I almost cried (happily) when my Christmas bonus came in at a fifth of that. Heck, the $400 I got for Christmas was a cause for celebration.

If I'm going to write no matter what (& I am), & I'm going to try to make it the best I can (which I would), what harm does it do to have a little pocket money (or a lot, depending on how well it sells, the contract you signed, & how you view $5K+). $5K would be like not paying my rent for an entire year. It'd be completely paying off what's left of my car loan, or a sizable chunk of my student loan. It'd be a whole heck of a lot of massages (mmm, massages), CDs, DVDs, & books, which are all the things I spent my Christmas money on.

Sorry, Jon. Just thinking about it for this thread, you've convinced me of the opposite. That getting a book published would be very profitable for me. :e2bouncey I better go get that thing finished!

maestrowork
01-17-2006, 09:12 AM
Jon, don't forget, the $5000 is an advance. You might earn out and make MILLIONS off your book -- Khali Husseini did, with his debut novel... A seasoned writer with great track records can make six figures easily (just in advance)... then millions in royalties.

(OK, stop dreaming)

What I am saying is that don't look at the $5000 as "that's it?" It's like a down payment. The smaller the publisher, and the greener you are as a writer, the smaller that amount. It doesn't mean it can't become lucrative.

I think your issue is that you think you are "TOO OLD" to start over again. That's what it is, starting over. It doesn't matter if it's art or writing or computer programming: starting over is tough. Imagine you're a steel-mill worker (making a nice $50,000 a year), then you decide to quit your job because you don't like your job anymore. You start over and get a computer science or technical degree, then you make $29,000 as a junior programmer -- and you ask, "Is that it? I quit my job for this?" The thing is, you are just starting out.

I bet it'd be different if you're 19 and you now decide you want to be a writer. There's nothing for you to lose. You're peniless anyway.

With age, there comes security and retirement and family, etc. That's why it's hard to change career when you're older.


I kind of doubt John Grisham would have done what he did in his early 30s (quitting his law practice and becoming a writer) now if he has been a lawyer for 20 years and is close to being 50 years old...

I know a lawyer guy a few years ago, in my writing class. He was in his late 40s, I believe. Very good writer, and I kept expecting to see his name in books out there... Nope. He hasn't made it, and I wonder if the "starting over" thing stopped him, too. But he was VERY GOOD as a writer. What a shame.


Writing as a career is just like any other careers. Writers might start out with $5000 advance -- but then the book sells, and you earn $20,000 in royalties (still, big deal, right?) and you write another one, and now your advance is $50,000, and the book is smash! You just got anothe royalty check for $250,000. Then you write another one... you see what I mean?

(OK, stop dreaming)

JK Rowling's first advance was 2500 pounds. Peanuts, right? Well, Scholastic bought it and the rest is history.

(OK, stop dreaming)

You didn't start making six-figures when you first started writing computer programs, did you? I didn't. My first job paid $28,000.

The problem is -- there's no guarantee in writing, that you will make those millions. But there is that possibility. But "starting over" is tough. You either want it, or you don't. That's why a lot of writers fail, because they can't afford to quit their job and devote to their writing full-time. They just can't afford it. I can. So I am lucky in that way.

I don't expect to earn a lot of money with my first book, but goshdarnit, I'm in. I got a foot in the door, and if this one sells with decent numbers, I might be able to sell my second book to a bigger house for much more money... that's how careers are built.

An analogy... I just went to a job interview (just for yucks, I had no intention of taking the job) for financial advisers. The guy told me, it's like an internship. The first 3 years, average income would be about $30-40,000 a year. Is that all, I thought. But he said, once you build your career, a financial adviser could make mid- to high- 6 figures depending on how good he is and how hard he works.

Again, it's starting over... building a career... that stops most people in their tracks. $30K a year is NOTHING. But there's that possibility of making $750,000 a year... and if finance is your thing, why not? Right?

If you look at the writing career that way, perhaps you can see that it's not the $5000 that is the problem -- it's the "starting over" that is the problem for you.

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 09:29 AM
I don't belong to the Billionair Boy's Club like you. I don't pull down such figures. So have at it. I'm happy for you. But don't look down your nose at me with disdain because I've settled into something I love to do, and that money is not the all powerful god to me at this point in time. I don't share your bitterness with this occupation. I'm in it for the long haul. That's all I can do. I don't do this because it's easy--I do it because it's hard, and it demands a competitive spirit that won't give up. I used to compete with myself, now I aggessively compete with every other writer out there and it's a fight to the finish. I've never liked to lose, and I don't have any intention of doing so.

Tri

Cheers.
Tri,

I hope first of all, I don't look down at you. No, if anything it's respect for making a living at this occupation. But for me, it's not an occupation. I went through six years of college for an occupation which gives me a good standard of living. I sacraficed a lot to get where I am today. I had to pay my dues, like wannabe writers, to achieve the level of success I enjoy. Nobody gave me a thing.

Okay, here's one for you. I was broke in 2003 because of the economy and came to Texas from living in Holland with $15.00 in my pocket. I had a job, finally after ten months of unemployment, and an education with years of experience as a programmer. But I had nothing when I arrived in Texas. I had one suitcase and a carryall bag.

I busted my arse, work 40 hours a week overtime with no pay, and made a difference in my life. I had two of my three children come live with me and helped them adjust to home cooking and stability. Now I have two of my three kids in college, and my son lives with me.

Rich? Envy? Please, I am a poor boy who grew up on government surplus in the sixties. I went to college on the G.I. bill in the eighties, and I am a disabled American Veteran. I served my four years, for God and apple pie, so my dues to society are paid in full.

Life sucks! Writers suffer. Shoot, try living in London with no money and eatting sour fish before you understand suffering. How's about a couple months in a homeless shelter? What about the beans you've eatten for weeks because you can't afford meat?

Suffer, geez, you haven't a clue what the word means.

Jon

Sage
01-17-2006, 09:32 AM
And wouldn't $5000 have been really nice back then? Just sayin'

I didn't perceive you looking down on anyone (well, maybe in the last post), but you did seem to disregard anybody else's situation on this subject. And that includes your own previous situation. Not everyone is pulling six figures. $5000 looks like a lot of money to a lot of people. Like who, you ask? Well, ask the guy who has $15.00 in his pocket & that's all his money. Or the person who works over 40 hours a week w/ no overtime (which I assume means that you weren't being paid for that time, so how is it better than working on a novel & getting paid anything for it?). Maybe ask those people working two jobs at minimum wage just to make ends meet (like my roommate) how nice an extra $5000+ looks.

As Maestrowork said, the difference between now & then is that you had no money, so you were willing to work extra hard & extra long to get to the point you're at now, not knowing if you would really get there. Writing is no different, except that you're used to living as you currently do, so you won't risk the work you've already invested in your regular job. So keep writing as a hobby. Nothing is wrong with that.

Btw, I think it's a little silly to throw around how much money you have throughout a thread & how little several thousand dollars means to you, & then follow it up w/ a post about how you use to be poor & so you know what it means to be poor, followed by more posting about how much you're willing to spend on publishing. Also, you're willing to spend money (that you spent time & effort making) to get published, but not time & effort to get published, which would get you money? Maybe, on second thought, this doesn't make sense to me.

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 09:38 AM
An analogy... I just went to a job interview (just for yucks, I had no intention of taking the job) for financial advisers. The guy told me, it's like an internship. The first 3 years, average income would be about $30-40,000 a year. Is that all, I thought. But he said, once you build your career, a financial adviser could make mid- to high- 6 figures depending on how good he is and how hard he works.

Again, it's starting over... building a career... that stops most people in their tracks. $30K a year is NOTHING. But there's that possibility of making $750,000 a year... and if finance is your thing, why not? Right?


Ray,

You're a money slut just like me. Educated people with high-income potential don't think or rationalize money the same as someone who’s potential is $7.50 an hour.

Come'on, I've dropped 30k on a deposit for a house. I had four houses before my divorce. Sheee...I spent forty thousand on my divorce, not to include what my ex-wife spent.

I write as joy. Hobby? But when I read how much you spent to become published I almost choked.

Ray....pay me $2000 a week and I'll be your writing slut.

I can finance my publishing credentials if I so desire, but not so much as what you've sacrificed.

P.S. I do have writers credentials. I just choose not to publish them.

I just love the new u!

Cheers,

Jon

triceretops
01-17-2006, 09:44 AM
Edited by tri

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 09:53 AM
Damn Tri,

I'm going to cry. **** man, I am not even close to where you're at now. Well, I did the street thing too and I know what you're going through. If you ever need help, let me know. I have contacts in Vegas (police and such) who can give you some guidance or short-term support.

I'm moved that you want to write, as an opportunity, and hope you'll sell many stories so your life will be better.

God bless you!

P.S. I'll share a cup of coffee with you anytime!

P.S.S. May I share your story with others?

Jon

maestrowork
01-17-2006, 10:36 AM
But Jon, you just said you were poor... and you spent 6 years in college (I assume you weren't making any money or you were just getting by just to get through school...) to get your degree to become a programmer... etc. etc. but there was no guarantee that you would find a job either (many programmers are currently unemployed, BTW). That you paid your dues. How is that different than a writer starting out?

The difference is you HAVE paid your dues (as a programmer) and are now getting paid great money. There's no way you're going to give it up and start over again.

That's the difference between you and me. I am not a cash whore, Jon. I worked hard for the last 6 years and I built my nest eggs, but I didn't indulge in stuff like multiple houses (I do have a house) or luxury cars or fancy boats, etc. I saved my money so I can write. I decided that I wanted to START OVER as a writer.

I worked hard so I could give myself 5 years to fulfill a dream. Perhaps you just don't understand. It's NOT about money. I can make my money at least 500 different ways. That's not a problem for me.

It's okay if you want to think I'm an idiot and that I "spent so much money" (actually I didn't -- but if you want to count "opportunity cost" that's by me) to be published, so be it. You have your values, and I have mine.

I will let you know when I make my first million selling my books. Better yet, I will let you know when the 1 millionth person read my books. That's a better measure of success for me.

Until then, I am a dreamer with my feet firmly on the ground. I have a nest egg that will carry me through for at least 5-10 years (depending on my spending habit). My house is paid off. I am all set.

I have seen cash. And I have been poor. Right now, I want to be a published author.

And I am.

maestrowork
01-17-2006, 10:44 AM
I write as joy. Hobby? But when I read how much you spent to become published I almost choked.

I can finance my publishing credentials if I so desire, but not so much as what you've sacrificed.


There lies the difference between you and me. I was ready and willing to "sacrifice" for a dream come true.

Writing is just a hobby (something enjoyable) for you.

My parents had the same argument with me, about money, about career choice, about "Why are you doing this?" And you know what? I know what I want. And you know what else?

My dad cried when he had my book in his hand the other day.

That was so worth it.

SpookyWriter
01-17-2006, 10:49 AM
It's okay if you want to think I'm an idiot and that I "spent so much money" (actually I didn't -- but if you want to count "opportunity cost" that's by me) to be published, so be it. You have your values, and I have mine.
OMG! Ray, I'd never thought that about you. Oh, shoot, I didn't even try to imply such -- so I am sorry if it came out that way. No, I'm jealous if anything. I didn't have the same opportunity as you. I made money, supported my family, and gave up writing when it became too difficult to do both.

Best of luck -- no, big book sale is better!

P.S. I bow to no wong.

Jon

maestrowork
01-17-2006, 11:06 AM
;) Like I said, I was lucky and I did have my advantage -- I didn't have a big family to support (except my parents) and I am still relatively young. I can afford to "fail." And I have skills and experiences to fall back on. Computer jobs will always be there. Getting my novel out is a dream. I just really can't put a price tag on that. :D

The thing is, I had a goal and I went for it. Call me driven or lucky or whatever. A friend of mine used to say, "If Ray puts his mind to something, he makes it happen." That's just my thing. Now, obviously, I didn't say "I'm going to be published by Random House and become an international best seller..." ;) I always leave myself some wiggle room so no one can call me a failure. :D Baby steps, buddy. Baby steps.

maestrowork
01-17-2006, 11:11 AM
P.S. It did get too difficult for me. Jon, I think you're right that you and I have more in common than we realized. It did get really difficult for me to do both. And I made a decision. It took me five years to "save up the money" and finally said good bye and "start over." It wasn't easy, but I wanted it. So I did it. Again, I was lucky that I don't have a big family to support or a big mortgage to pay off, etc. And you know, it ain't bad. I am still comfortable, and between writing, sometimes I take a quickie contract job that pays $200 an hour. Like I said, if I want to make money, there are probably 500 different ways for me to do so. But there's only one way I can write my novels.

Cheers!

maestrowork
01-17-2006, 11:33 AM
Gee... we're so off topic. Anyway, one way to find out about advance is to subscribe to PublishersLunch by Publishers Marketplace -- it lists what deals are being made and, while not in actual dollars, for how much. A "nice deal" is anything less than $100K and a "major deal" is $500,000. So you can check and see how many "major deals" are there and how many are for "debut novels." That should give you an idea how many first-time authors are getting deals and how much they're getting for their advances.

aruna
01-17-2006, 12:46 PM
You're better off getting a $5000 and earn out, then getting $50,000 and having a poor sell-through.

That's true.
And it all depends on the publisher/country of publication. I would not
accept $5000 from a big publisher in Britain. Because it means they don't think too highly of your book and aren't going to promote it or stand behind it.

Five figures in Britian is the minimum for me - and that's in pounds, and a well known publisher. With a small publisher, I'd take less, if I knew they really loved the book and are going to put all their energy into it.

European countries pay far less*. I got a measly advance from France but ended up earning mid-five-figures in royalties, because they pushed it with all their might. That was great!
*The exception is Germany. They pay huge advances and promote like crazy as well.

aruna
01-17-2006, 05:49 PM
Writing is for me more than a hobby. Yes, I love it and it's all I want to do - but for that very reason I need to earn money from it as well - so that I don't have to do things I hate just to survive. The more I earn, the more I have time to write.
Money is time.

victoriastrauss
01-17-2006, 09:09 PM
I don't write for money--and this would be true even if I made a living wage from my writing, which I freely admit I don't. I write to be read. There's no price you can put on that.

- Victoria

aruna
01-17-2006, 11:39 PM
I don't write for money--and this would be true even if I made a living wage from my writing, which I freely admit I don't. I write to be read. There's no price you can put on that.

- Victoria


At the moment I have a huge mortgage, no income, no savings, two kids in education to support, a husband with Parkinson's Disease who can't take care of himself, no adequate living space, a very frail mother on the other side of the world who is 86, lives by herself, has no other kids or even relatives but me, and could have an emergency at any time (luckily her health is good)...

...and no skills to get a job doing anything else but writing fiction. I can't even flip hamburgers as the smell and sight of raw meat makes me retch!

Not that I'm complaining but in that situation it's VERY hard to say that I write only for my readers, and I don't care about money.

sirensix
01-18-2006, 12:04 AM
Spooky,

You can't at all compare a writer "settling" for a $5,000 advance to a foreigner agreeing to do a U.S. based job for half the salary. Let's just completely sidestep the whole political minefield there, and go right to the part where it's apples and oranges.

You seem to be coming from the point of view of someone who thinks in terms of salaries. Advances aren't a salary. What do you think happens if every writer suddenly starts demanding a $50,000 advance?

Normally, a publisher does the calculations and says, "This book will likely make about $X for us, so we will advance the author Y% of $X and still come out with a healthy profit in the end. If said writer says no, I don't want Y% of $X, I want TWICE $X as my advance, then they just have to pass on the project. If writers refuse to accept $5,000 as an advance, ever, that just means that the smaller, more special-interest type books just never get published. The only people who ever see print are the ones guaranteed to make back that ridiculously high advance they asked for.

There isn't that much money in books, I'm afraid. The bestsellers pull in enough that publishers can take a chance on that $5,000 book, even though there's a possibility it won't make a cent and will put them $5,000 in the hole (plus advertising expenses and whatever else they dump into the project). Their bestselling clients help cushion this a bit, but in no way do they give them unlimited funds to throw a way on a gamble. This isn't Hollywood.

People only buy so many books, and for so high a price. Books are not a NEEDED commodity, unfortunately. If all over the world suddenly every loaf of bread was priced $500, wouldn't you just stop making sandwiches and eat pasta instead?

I'm personally glad that publishers are willing to pay someone $5,000 for a book that likely won't sell spectacularly, rather than just rejecting them outright. $0 is a lot bigger waste of time than $5,000.

But bottom line - it's not the publishers you should be trying to arm-twist into forking out more money - it's the readers. It all starts with them. The publishers get paid by the readers, and from that, they pay you.

SpookyWriter
01-18-2006, 12:11 AM
Spooky,You can't at all compare a writer "settling" for a $5,000 advance to a foreigner agreeing to do a U.S. based job for half the salary.
Did I do that? My bad. Sorry.

Jon

sirensix
01-18-2006, 10:16 AM
Yup.




Not to spoil the soup, but (actually) people such as yourself are the reason (or part of the problem) why advances on royalties are so meager. I take it you sold two novels and received less than $5,000 on advances (not including royalties) and this makes you happy?

Well gee, a hundred thousand programmers from India appear and say they will do my job for 1/2 the market rate. After a while, American companies realize that Indian programmers are cheaper by the dozen (like slop softcopy books) and we can make a few extra bucks.

No worries. :)

zeprosnepsid
01-18-2006, 11:37 AM
I think satisfaction with your life is something you can't put a price on. I made $8000 last year all together which is as much as I made per week when I was working as a computer programmer. But I would never go back to programming ever ever ever. I hated it so bad. I had one job at an MIT think tank which was so mentally taxing that I was physically exhausted (I was 17 at the time) and the other was a regular job creating stock exchange software (in Java! Who programs in Java!) which was so mind numbing that it took every thing I had to try to do some work each day.

This year I'm doing a lot better than last year money-wise. But there is no price for my happiness. Being a programmer I was wasting my life away. Now, $5000 would be half a year's salary for me. But I don't entirely mind being poor. I worry about money a lot (like how I'm going to pay my taxes this year) but I enjoy what I do.

You say you enjoy programming so it's cool that you do that. Most of the people I worked with enjoyed it thoroughly. But most writers wouldn't do anything else no matter how much money you offered them.

sirensix
01-18-2006, 07:15 PM
Yeah, there are writers, and then there are people who like to write. Sort of like, I enjoy playing computer games, but I'm not a gamer. I don't really get their whole obsessive mindset over it and how they can take it so farking seriously. Or gardening. It's a pastime I deeply enjoy even when it's a bit taxing... but if someone offered me a job as a landscaper and said they were going to pay me $5-$10,000 a year? I'd tell them they were smoking crack. :)

blackbird
01-20-2006, 08:55 PM
You think $5,000 is pathetic? It's probably the industry average!

I was going by the well-publicized amount that authors Danny Sugerman and Jerry Hopkins received for the Jim Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, published in 1980, which went on to become one of the biggest selling rock star biographies of all time (and is still in print, in fact). In an interview, they said they received a "piddling advance" of $5000, and used the sum as an example of one of those "rags-to-riches" type success stories.

A friend of one of my writing mentors when I was a grad student at MSU claimed, on the other hand, to have received $300,000 for her first novel.

Sherman Alexie claims in his introduction to the anniversary edition of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven that he was offered an advance sum that "boggled" his mind and that he ran and jumped in the snow, yelling "I'm rich, rich rich..." then modified it to, "well, middle-class. middle-class, middle-class." Now, granted, he didn't give away the exact amount, but it sounds like it had to have been a heck of a lot more than any $5000, unless
his family really was THAT poor growing up on the rez.