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popmuze
07-04-2007, 02:38 AM
Some of the ideas about advances posted recently have gotten me confused.
I'm of the opinion that if your book sells 5,000 copies, your publisher isn't going to be too interested in your next one, whether they gave you a $50,000 advance or a $2,000 advance. So why wouldn't anyone prefer the $50,000?

In fact, I'm pretty sure the amount of the advance has something to do with how much of a priority your book will be. Thus, I would expect 25 times the effort from the company if they gave you a bigger advance.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

jhtatroe
07-04-2007, 03:02 AM
For easy math, let's say your book has a cover price of $10 and your royalty agreement is 10% of cover.

If you sell 5000 copies, you earn out your $2000 advance and the publisher sends you $3000 more over the lifetime of your book. Since they probably only expected you to sell 2000 copies, they planned to make a profit on that amount, you performed better than expected, and everyone's happy. They're ready to take on your next project.

Same scenario except you earned a $50,000 advance. You sell 5000 copies and, because your advance was so high, the publisher is in the hole $45,000 in royalties you didn't earn out. Sorry bubs, no new contract for you.

It's all about managing budget and expectations.

popmuze
07-04-2007, 03:15 AM
It's gotta be a pretty small publisher who signs on a book only expecting it to sell 2000 copies. Although, probably more than half the books published anywhere only sell about 2,000 copies.

I'd still prefer to take the money. I've had ten books published and only once made more than the advance.

Will Lavender
07-04-2007, 04:53 AM
I think your logic is sound, popmuze.

If an author doesn't sell books, they're done anyway -- large advance or not.

IMO, the thing about a large advance is...it's money. And that's as far as I've analyzed it.

maestrowork
07-04-2007, 05:10 AM
It's money, so the more the merrier. However, the bigger your advance, the more risk you have with "earning out." If your advance is $5000 and you sell 10,000 copies and earn out, you're a "success." If your advance is $20,000 and you sell 10,000 copies, you're a failure. In both cases, you sell 10,000 copies (nothing to sneeze at), but it's going to be more difficult for you to sell the next book in the latter.

If your advance is $100,000 and you sell only 10,000 copies -- good luck. No one will want to touch you.

Toothpaste
07-04-2007, 05:23 AM
I think you are also right in that if the publisher is giving you a big advance then they will probably give your book an extra push in order to make back the money.

popmuze
07-04-2007, 05:42 AM
If your advance is $100,000 and you sell only 10,000 copies -- good luck. No one will want to touch you.

I wonder about that. I think it's like the big executives who keep getting fired from one top job after another and landing with golden parachutes.

My feeling is if one publisher paid an author $100,000 for a book, then that author winds up being pretty well respected by the entire publishing community who read about the deal in the press. The fact that the book sold 10,000 copies might be written off to a poor publicity campaign, bad timing, or some other failure by the publisher rather than the writer. I bet someone else will pay this guy another 100,000 for some book down the road.

Meanwhile, the $10,000 advance guy also gets a reputation as a minimum wage slave buried near the bottom of the barrel who will never have the clout of the big advance guy, even though he occasionally gets a royalty check.

Not that I think most of us have a choice in the matter. But I just wouldn't go around turning down big advances out of any strategic purpose.

maestrowork
07-04-2007, 06:23 AM
My feeling is if one publisher paid an author $100,000 for a book, then that author winds up being pretty well respected by the entire publishing community...Meanwhile, the $10,000 advance guy also gets a reputation as a minimum wage slave buried near the bottom of the barrel...

I think it depends on if it's a first-time author or if it's an established writer. It's common knowledge that first-time author usually don't get six-figure deals, or if that happens, people do take notice. And I do think that if the first-time author cannot earn out a six-figure advance, he's going to have a problem convincing the next editor to (at least) make the same offer.

rugcat
07-04-2007, 06:27 AM
Ray, I agree completely with everything you've posted. But I still wouldn't ever turn down a six figure advance--would you?

Crinklish
07-04-2007, 06:41 AM
My feeling is if one publisher paid an author $100,000 for a book, then that author winds up being pretty well respected by the entire publishing community who read about the deal in the press. The fact that the book sold 10,000 copies might be written off to a poor publicity campaign, bad timing, or some other failure by the publisher rather than the writer. I bet someone else will pay this guy another 100,000 for some book down the road.

Meanwhile, the $10,000 advance guy also gets a reputation as a minimum wage slave buried near the bottom of the barrel who will never have the clout of the big advance guy, even though he occasionally gets a royalty check.

The publishing community reads about the deal in the press, true, but the author gets a reputation as "that six-figure author who never came close to earning out." Sure, it's possible that another house will take a flyer at that price, but it's more likely that if anyone offers for the next book, they'll come in at a significantly lower level. We're all looking at the same Bookscan numbers.

And believe me, the $10K guy who builds his readership with every book (if he has a decent agent) soon becomes the $25K guy and the $50K guy and then the "consistent deliverer of sales" guy that every editor longs to have on her list. I'm not saying never take the big advance, but I've seen more careers ruined by a mid-six-figure advance that never earned out, then by a $10,000 advance that did.

Novelhistorian
07-04-2007, 07:09 AM
I'd have a hard time turning down a large advance, having twice signed for much smaller figures than even my agent (a born pessimist) expected. Yet I understand the desire not to overplay your hand and take too much, just on the chance that the book flops and you've torpedoed your career.

On the other hand, I've concluded that unless the advance is minuscule, few authors will see more money than the advance from that one publisher (which is why it pays to sell foreign and subsidiary rights). I also suspect, if my own experience is at all common, that publishers have interesting ways of hiding sales behind steep discounts, so that you may think you've earned your advance back and should start getting more money, but somehow, you don't.

Jamesaritchie
07-04-2007, 08:49 PM
I'd have a hard time turning down a large advance, having twice signed for much smaller figures than even my agent (a born pessimist) expected. Yet I understand the desire not to overplay your hand and take too much, just on the chance that the book flops and you've torpedoed your career.

On the other hand, I've concluded that unless the advance is minuscule, few authors will see more money than the advance from that one publisher (which is why it pays to sell foreign and subsidiary rights). I also suspect, if my own experience is at all common, that publishers have interesting ways of hiding sales behind steep discounts, so that you may think you've earned your advance back and should start getting more money, but somehow, you don't.


Discounts of any size shouldn't mask sales. I don't know how it's even possible to hide sales behind discounts. A sale is still a sale, and is still reported, despite the discount. And discounts shouldn't make the writer earn less. A legitimate deal with a legitimate publisher means I receive royalties based on retail, and even if the publisher puts the book on sale at ten percent of retail, I still receive my full royalty until and unless the book is actually remaindered. And at this point it isn't a matter of hiding sales. Sales are dead, and the publisher is just trying to avoid inventory taxes on a bunch of books that aren't selling.

Before remainder time rolls around, discounts are nearly always given by the bookstores, not the publishers, and these discounts come out of bookstore profits, not the publisher's or writer's profit.

But either way, discounts can't hide sales numbers.

Earning out is a bit of a myth, anyway. Publishers and writers have a fairly even split on profits, but the publisher's end is slightly higher for a number of reasons, so if a book comes anywhere near earning out it's advance, the publisher still makes a profit. It's usually only when a novel with a million dollar advance truly flops that the publisher loses any real money.

While advance and sell through are linked in a way, sell through is a heck of a lot more important than earning out.

Novelhistorian
07-05-2007, 06:23 AM
I didn't mean that the sales were hidden. I meant that the discount was so steep, the publisher said that those sales didn't count toward my royalties, or counted for so little that I still "owed" them money, meaning there was still unearned advance outstanding. By contract, discounts above a certain figure--and I do NOT mean remainders--earn a reduced royalty rate, often so reduced that it's meaningless.

Knowing the purchase price of the book, and even allowing for a steep discount rate, I couldn't figure out how my advance wasn't covered, and a modest sum due me. But the publisher disagreed.

I've heard of this happening to others as well.

maestrowork
07-05-2007, 06:41 AM
Ray, I agree completely with everything you've posted. But I still wouldn't ever turn down a six figure advance--would you?

Of course not. But there's no free lunch in this world. If I get a six-figure advance, I will probably have many sleepless nights. Sometimes I don't handle pressure that way. Just sayin'.

But you know what? I used to have a job that paid me six figures, so it really isn't that important to me. My "career" is more important, in the grand scheme of things.

CheshireCat
07-05-2007, 06:45 AM
By contract, discounts above a certain figure--and I do NOT mean remainders--earn a reduced royalty rate, often so reduced that it's meaningless


I'd get rid of that clause in the next contract if I were you. A good agent should be able to. Other than remainders or promotional giveaways (and numbers on that should not be high), your royalty should be on cover price -- not net received by the publisher.

How much they discount is their own business, and part of the business, and not something the author should have to pay for. (When they start paying for my health care benefits and pension plan, then we can talk. Maybe.)

Jamesaritchie
07-05-2007, 07:48 AM
I didn't mean that the sales were hidden. I meant that the discount was so steep, the publisher said that those sales didn't count toward my royalties, or counted for so little that I still "owed" them money, meaning there was still unearned advance outstanding. By contract, discounts above a certain figure--and I do NOT mean remainders--earn a reduced royalty rate, often so reduced that it's meaningless.

Knowing the purchase price of the book, and even allowing for a steep discount rate, I couldn't figure out how my advance wasn't covered, and a modest sum due me. But the publisher disagreed.

I've heard of this happening to others as well.

Get rid of that clause. No writer should ever agree to this. It isn't legitimate, and no agent who's any good would ever let it go through. Writer's should be paid royalties on the cover price of the book, no matter what the book actually sells for.

All sales before remainder should count toward royalties, and the amount the writer is paid should remain the same, no matter how much the book is discounted, or who discounts it.

popmuze
07-05-2007, 08:05 AM
If I get a six-figure advance, I will probably have many sleepless nights.

I seem to react the opposite way. On the book that I got my biggest advance, I was the most excited.

popmuze
07-05-2007, 08:07 AM
I've heard of this happening to others as well.

I once sold 250,000 copies of a book through Scholastic and I thought I was on my way to riches. Turns out all the sales were through their book club and the royalty for book club sales was about one-tenth of the regular royalty.

CheshireCat
07-05-2007, 11:00 PM
I once sold 250,000 copies of a book through Scholastic and I thought I was on my way to riches. Turns out all the sales were through their book club and the royalty for book club sales was about one-tenth of the regular royalty.

Yeah, bookclub sales -- the publisher's own bookclub, as opposed to, say, the Doubleday Book Club or the Literary Guild -- might as well be giveaways for the paltry earnings they pay the author.

Pay close, close attention to all the royalty clauses in any contract (there can be two or three pages of those clauses alone), and make sure you understand them.

Your royalties should be determined by cover price.

popmuze
07-05-2007, 11:18 PM
Yeah, bookclub sales -- the publisher's own bookclub, as opposed to, say, the Doubleday Book Club or the Literary Guild -- might as well be giveaways for the paltry earnings they pay the author.Your royalties should be determined by cover price.


Anyway, I think the cover price was something like $1.25

Novelhistorian
07-06-2007, 07:46 AM
The Authors Guild Model Trade Book Contract and Guide says that deep-discount royalty rates are very hard to get rid of or even modify, and that the best you can do, often, is to reduce the royalty only in proportion to the deep discount granted. With the bookstore chains demanding a high discount of 55% or 60% for some books, this can be a serious problem. But if the Authors Guild is correct--and I see no reason to doubt their warning--deep-discount clauses aren't simply the sort of thing that a good agent can delete on a client's behalf with a stroke of a pen.

I wasn't surprised by the clause, because I'd read the Authors Guild publication before the contract in question and had a dim idea, at least, of the risks. I don't fault my agent for being unable to change this clause. For reasons I don't want to go into on a public forum, I had (and still have) excellent grounds to believe that the vast majority of sales weren't at the chains, and that the deep discount didn't apply. My agent didn't pursue this very vigorously, and that's what I fault him for--one reason he's my ex-agent.

popmuze
07-06-2007, 07:53 PM
I've seen more careers ruined by a mid-six-figure advance that never earned out, then by a $10,000 advance that did.


I really don't get this. In general, how would another publisher know how much of an advance the writer got on one of his previous books? Sales, yes, but the advance?

Plus, let's say it's non-fiction, in order to get a $100,000 advance, you'd have to have a pretty good platform and a great idea and really know how to present it. A couple of scratchy paragraphs isn't going to cut it. So the $100,000 guy already knows how to write a good proposal and how to come up with a very commercial idea. And, unless the problem was that he couldn't write the book, then he also knows how to write a publishable book.

The fact that it didn't sell, relative to what was paid for it, can be rationalized in any number of ways. But I still think the only one who probably won't want to pay big bucks for his next idea will be the publisher of the first book.

CheshireCat
07-06-2007, 09:33 PM
I really don't get this. In general, how would another publisher know how much of an advance the writer got on one of his previous books? Sales, yes, but the advance?

Plus, let's say it's non-fiction, in order to get a $100,000 advance, you'd have to have a pretty good platform and a great idea and really know how to present it. A couple of scratchy paragraphs isn't going to cut it. So the $100,000 guy already knows how to write a good proposal and how to come up with a very commercial idea. And, unless the problem was that he couldn't write the book, then he also knows how to write a publishable book.

The fact that it didn't sell, relative to what was paid for it, can be rationalized in any number of ways. But I still think the only one who probably won't want to pay big bucks for his next idea will be the publisher of the first book.

Editors and agents talk. I don't care how discreet you believe yours are, info on advances -- especially high ones -- can be obtained by most agents or editors with a single phone call. If a new pub is interested in you, they will find out what your sales record is.

That goes for other information as well. If you're a pain in the ass to work with, that rep gets known. If you're a dream to work with, that also gets known.

I don't know about non-fiction in terms of who gets the blame for something not selling up to expectations, but in fiction, no matter how many times the pub may have dropped the ball (bad package, poor marketing and advertising, whatever), there's still a black mark against the author for a poorly-selling book.

That doesn't mean he or she can't rebound, but you can bet the next publisher will try to use any negative info to negotiate less money up front and better terms for themselves -- even if they actually believe the next book will do well.

Toothpaste
07-06-2007, 09:52 PM
Also if it's a really big advance, chances are the figure will be published somewhere: Publisher's Marketplace, heck even the agent's website.

popmuze
07-06-2007, 10:26 PM
I still somehow feel that a guy who gets a big advance once is more likely to get another big advance, no matter what the sales figures. I just think they've moved to another level, especially with non-fiction (I think in fiction it's easier to blame the book). Especially if they also got some good reviews in high places, which is also much more likely if the publisher has invested so much money in them (the reviews that is, not necessarily that they'll be favorable).

I would like to say, however, that I myself have never been anywhere near that kind of advance).

How about we hear from some people who've been in that stratosphere?

Star
07-06-2007, 10:39 PM
Is there a such thing as privacy? Can you tell your agent/publisher not to reveal your advance to inquiring/nosy minds?

Jamesaritchie
07-06-2007, 10:44 PM
I still somehow feel that a guy who gets a big advance once is more likely to get another big advance, no matter what the sales figures. I just think they've moved to another level, especially with non-fiction (I think in fiction it's easier to blame the book). Especially if they also got some good reviews in high places, which is also much more likely if the publisher has invested so much money in them (the reviews that is, not necessarily that they'll be favorable).

I would like to say, however, that I myself have never been anywhere near that kind of advance).

How about we hear from some people who've been in that stratosphere?

No, when you get one big advance, and the book flops, your next advance, if you get one at all, will be based on how many copies of your last book sold. Reviews do not matter. Sales numbers matter, and publishers do not throw good money after bad.

Jamesaritchie
07-06-2007, 10:47 PM
Is there a such thing as privacy? Can you tell your agent/publisher not to reveal your advance to inquiring/nosy minds?

If the agent and only one or two people at the publisher were the only ones who knew, this might work, but dozens of people know the size of your advance. All sorts of people in marketing and accounting must know, for instance, and the IRS also has to know. And really large advances are also used as a basis for promotion.

popmuze
07-07-2007, 12:45 AM
I don't see why the writer gets blamed if the book fails to outsell the advance. It's not like the writer can book himself on Oprah! If the book gets bad reviews, okay. But if it's widely reviewed and still doesn't sell, then I think the publisher has to get some of the blame.
Also, this sounds like, especially in non-fiction, the writer's name is the only thing that sells a book. If a writer comes up with a terrific idea, at the right time, I don't think too many people even look at the writer's name until after they're done reading the book.
So, if this 100K writer comes up with another great idea, I can't see his agent peddling it for less than 40 or 50k. I can't imagine anyone who's already gotten a big advance would do the next book for no advance.
Unless it's that guy, I forget his name, who supposedly made up parts of his book on Teddy Kennedy. Or James Frey--but he sold a lot of copies.

CheshireCat
07-07-2007, 01:09 AM
I still somehow feel that a guy who gets a big advance once is more likely to get another big advance, no matter what the sales figures. I just think they've moved to another level, especially with non-fiction (I think in fiction it's easier to blame the book). Especially if they also got some good reviews in high places, which is also much more likely if the publisher has invested so much money in them (the reviews that is, not necessarily that they'll be favorable).

I would like to say, however, that I myself have never been anywhere near that kind of advance).

How about we hear from some people who've been in that stratosphere?

You have.

CheshireCat
07-07-2007, 01:10 AM
Is there a such thing as privacy? Can you tell your agent/publisher not to reveal your advance to inquiring/nosy minds?


I suppose if you were valuable enough to the publisher, anything could be negotiated.

But as a rule, no.

popmuze
07-07-2007, 01:46 AM
You have.


Are you saying you are that person? Was it for fiction or non-fiction? Has your career been ruined in the process? What went into creating such a high profile project? Did you think you'd nailed it once you were finished? Did your publisher let you down? Editor left town? Publicist joined the nunnery?

I think I've got a book idea here. Maybe I'll get a big advance, if I do it under another name.

Jamesaritchie
07-07-2007, 02:07 AM
I don't see why the writer gets blamed if the book fails to outsell the advance. It's not like the writer can book himself on Oprah! If the book gets bad reviews, okay. But if it's widely reviewed and still doesn't sell, then I think the publisher has to get some of the blame.
Also, this sounds like, especially in non-fiction, the writer's name is the only thing that sells a book. If a writer comes up with a terrific idea, at the right time, I don't think too many people even look at the writer's name until after they're done reading the book.
So, if this 100K writer comes up with another great idea, I can't see his agent peddling it for less than 40 or 50k. I can't imagine anyone who's already gotten a big advance would do the next book for no advance.
Unless it's that guy, I forget his name, who supposedly made up parts of his book on Teddy Kennedy. Or James Frey--but he sold a lot of copies.

The publisher does take much of the blame, and more important, the publisher takes ALL the loss. It's the publisher's money at risk, not the writer's. The writer keeps his advance, even if the book sells only nine copies. And ideas don't sell books. There is no such thing as a great idea. There are only ideas executed in a great way that makes the reading public buy the book.

The definition of great is very, very simple to any publisher. Great is something that sells, lousy is something that doesn't.

The simple truth is that there's no way on earth that you can know an idea is any good, or comes at the right time, until you put the book on the market and see how many readers buy it.

It's not about Oprah, and it's not about good reviews. You don't need either to sell a bazillion books. A stinko novel can receive great reviews, and a mega-bestseller can receive horrendous reviews, and never appear on Oprah.

Publishing is a business, and writers are paid on commission, just like a used car salesman. Publisher give an advance on this commission out of good faith, and because they want the writer to be able to keep writing. But it's up to the writer to deliver a book the reading public will go wild over.

Put yourself in the position of a car lot owner. A new guy comes to you and wants hired. He swears he can sell a thousand new cars in a year, but he wants his money in advance. You believe him, but hedge your bets a little, and give him an advance against his future commissions that covers selling seven hundred cars.

Trouble is, the year passes and he's only sold fifty cars. But again he comes to you and wants a large advance against his commissions for the next year. If you have any sense, you are not going to give him another large advance. You're going to say, "Look, I took a chance on you last year, and it cost me a fortune. I can see you need money, but so do I. I will give you an advance that covers fifty commissions, but that's it."

Now, if he happens to sell ten thousand cars during this second year, you'll gladly hand over ten thousand commissions, and the next year you'll be considerably more generous in giving him an advance. But if he again sells only fifty cars, you'll mostly likely tell him to hit the road and find a new job.

Jamesaritchie
07-07-2007, 02:10 AM
Are you saying you are that person? Was it for fiction or non-fiction? Has your career been ruined in the process? What went into creating such a high profile project? Did you think you'd nailed it once you were finished? Did your publisher let you down? Editor left town? Publicist joined the nunnery?

I think I've got a book idea here. Maybe I'll get a big advance, if I do it under another name.

There isn't an idea out there that's worth a dime. The only thing that matters is whether you have the talent and skill to turn an idea, any idea, into a book the reading public will love. The reading public doesn't buy ideas, and neither will a publisher. They buy good, well-written stories, filled with memorable characters.

maestrowork
07-07-2007, 02:24 AM
James is right.

Of course the publisher is to blame, and they pay the price by losing money on your book, including hedging that bet and paying you that hefty advance. If they pay you $100,000 and they only sell 10,000 copies, their loss might be $200,000 considering all the costs, etc.

Is it really the author's fault? Not necessarily, but from the publisher's point of view, it is. If the publisher believes they have done their job, and they promote your book as much as they do with other authors', and your book tanks, they can only conclude that your book wasn't marketable. What is the difference between Author X (who sold through with the same publisher) and you? Your book, and it "must be that your book sucks" or they "misjudged the marketability" of the book.

Either way, I don't see how it can be beneficial to the author. The author hasn't proven anything, rather than that the publisher thought it would sell great -- then it ended up selling poorly.

This publisher will think twice before signing you again.

Other publishers will think twice about signing you.

UNLESS they absolutely loved your book and thought it was the 1st publisher's fault that it didn't do well... but publishers belong to that club and they probably won't blame each other for failure...

Anyway, it is a business, and at the end of the day, there's no free money. One of the publisher's job is to assess risk, and if your previous book didn't sell through, you become a risk and liability. You can't take $100,000, sell poorly, and expect to do just fine like nothing happened. Words do go around, and when someone hears your name and associate it with "oh, that guy who took $100,000 but ended up selling $50,000 worth of books" -- that really can't be good.

popmuze
07-07-2007, 02:26 AM
In terms of non-fiction I think you also need a great title and a great cover, just to get someone to pick it up--assuming it's in all the bookstores.

Further on non-fiction, are you saying publishers strictly look at a writer's previous sales figures when deciding what to bid on a project, regardless of the concept and the writing conveyed by the proposal?

maestrowork
07-07-2007, 02:29 AM
In terms of non-fiction I think you also need a great title and a great cover, just to get someone to pick it up--assuming it's in all the bookstores.

Further on non-fiction, are you saying publishers strictly look at a writer's previous sales figures when deciding what to bid on a project, regardless of the concept and the writing conveyed by the proposal?

No, but previous sales is a factor. What we are saying is: You simply can't brush it off and think it's unimportant.

The current ms. itself is important. The concept, writing, content, proposal -- all are important. But part of this risk assessment is also the author's credit and track record: Was he published before? If so, how did the previous book(s) sell? Is this author a one-book wonder or did he fail in all his other endeavors?

Yes, they all matter.

p.s. for non-fic, you have to go beyond the concept/idea, title and cover. That's why publishers need to see a detailed proposal. I know a non-fic author who spent over a year with his agent polishing his proposal.

popmuze
07-07-2007, 02:34 AM
You can't take $100,000, sell poorly, and expect to do just fine like nothing happened. Words do go around, and when someone hears your name and associate it with "oh, that guy who took $100,000 but ended up selling $50,000 worth of books" -- that really can't be good.


At this point in my career--nearer to the end than the beginning--I think I can afford to be that guy that people talk about getting the big advance. Not that anyone is throwing that kind of money at me just yet.

I'm not certain publishers covet the word of mouth that produces, "Oh that guy who got a $9000 advance and sold $10,000 worth of books." On the other hand, that may be the kind of thinking that's sustained my low-selling career. "Yeah, why not take this book on. It won't cost very much and who knows, it could earn some money."

A lot of people keep their jobs with the reasoning that they're not making enough money to be worth firing.

maestrowork
07-07-2007, 02:43 AM
As in real life, you make choices. If you believe that you can and should take that big advance and not to worry a lick about what will happen in the future, then obvious, do it -- put that money in the bank and sail the world.

But I think it is poor advice to tell another writers: Don't worry, take the money and everything will be fine as far as your career is concerned, whether you sell through or not. That would have been irresponsible advice.

There are pros and cons and you can make your informed decisions when the $$$ is on the table.

As for me, if I were to be offered a huge advance, I would be ecstatic, of course, but I would also try to make sure I'm not biting more than I can chew. The higher you climb, the harder the fall. So there's always something I will have to weigh on. I don't think I'll just take the money and run. Not that I don't care about the money -- I do, but I have money in the bank... it's not my #1 concern. In fact, I have enough money I don't EVER need to write for a living.

That's just me, of course.

CheshireCat
07-07-2007, 03:12 AM
Are you saying you are that person? Was it for fiction or non-fiction?

I write novels. Always have, and probably always will, unless I get stupid enough to believe I can "teach" other writers how to write.

Has your career been ruined in the process? No.

What went into creating such a high profile project? A couple decades of solid sales, slowly building, to be honest. I got to that 6-figures with a body of work, not a single project.

Did you think you'd nailed it once you were finished? My publisher hasn't lost money on me yet. But I revise most of the manuscripts I turn in, since I'm still learning my craft.

Did your publisher let you down? I've written for different houses, but by and large each has published me well.

Editor left town? Publicist joined the nunnery? Worked with quite a few editors over the years, and even had a few leave in the middle of something I was working on. But no project was destroyed or tanked because of it.

I think I've got a book idea here. Maybe I'll get a big advance, if I do it under another name.

As JAR said, big ideas are nothing. I've had lots of big ideas that turned into nothing, and quite a few vague notions that turned into pretty successful books.

Even in non-fiction, maybe especially in non-fiction, I doubt an idea alone, however topical or trendy or cutting-edge it seems to be, is going to sell a book for a big advance unless you're a celebrity, have a substantial platform the pub can use to promote the project, or are very, very lucky.

And I wouldn't count on luck in this business, if I were you.

popmuze
07-07-2007, 04:01 AM
I was just going to say, if you analyze the big advance people in non fiction, they're usually celebrities or high government officials or people with access to them.
Being none of those things, I doubt I'll have to confront this particular problem. But it's an interesting thread.

popmuze
07-07-2007, 04:03 AM
Actually, I was once thinking of doing a book on artists who'd had massive unexpected financial success and what it did to them.

Anthony Ravenscroft
07-07-2007, 09:20 AM
Overeager writers tend to be sheep lining up for the shearing -- I'm glad that royalties are discussed at all!

A while back, I got a good query & said we'd like to take it on. We pay 9% of retail. The writer declined, saying she'd been offered 15% by another company.

I flipped open the Writer's Market & there it was -- 15% of wholesale. She didn't want to do the math: 15% of 60% (standard discount direct to bookstores for small orders) comes out to 9% of SRP. It goes downhill from there, because 35% of SRP to distributors is common, & it's 45% to Amazon.

How evil am I?

Well, I didn't bother to point this out....

MMcC
07-07-2007, 10:12 AM
My dad told me tonight that if I take anything less than half a mil I'm nuts, cus he reads about people like Hillary getting that all the time in the newspaper.

So you know... sounds good to me. :D