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pisqualie
07-15-2007, 09:35 AM
What do you think? My agent emailed and said an editor at a smaller publisher is interested but before they can discuss the proposal further, wanted to let me know I would have to fund the writing of the book. What does this mean, do you think? I assume that means no advance? I am willing to cover my own expenses but I am not sure what types of questions I should be asking. The agent doesn't have any info beyond that, but just wanted to see if that was a deal breaker for me...

Proposal has already seen two editors at medium publishers - both said they liked it and it filled a niche, but that it just didn't warrant the number of copies they would like to put out, and one of them actually took it to an idea meeting and then the marketing/sales folks said it wasn't a big enough market despite the niche filling. I have been signed by the agent for only a few weeks and already have had these responses, so that is reassuring. Now this third one...

Insight? Thanks!

Tish Davidson
07-15-2007, 10:46 AM
It sounds like no advance to me. Given the responses you have had so far, I'd ask your agent to shop it around some more before settling for a no advance deal.

Talia
07-15-2007, 04:02 PM
fund the writing? or the publishing of the book?

i'd be shopping around for other options

johnrobison
07-15-2007, 04:29 PM
Advance may be one thing, expenses another.

What are you planning to write about?

If, for example, you proposed a non-fiction story that involved you doing research at WWI battle sites in the South Pacific, and then research in the archives in Washington, and then interviews with elderly Japanese in their homes . . . expenses for such a project could be substantial.

I could envision a situation where such research could both take years and cost many tens of thousands of dollars. And while plenty of publishers might want to print the result (depending upon your writing) the sales volume may never bring enough royalty to cover the expense.

So they may mean exactly what they say, in the context in which I presented the above. They might be thinking $5,000 advance and you pay your expenses.

Stijn Hommes
07-15-2007, 06:26 PM
If you have research costs, it's not all that bad if they don't want to pay for those. If they want you to actually fund the publication, run a mile. Have you put their name through preditors and editors and Writer Beware searches?

If they do want to pay an advance, see if you like the number, otherwise, show it around some more.

pisqualie
07-15-2007, 06:31 PM
No, definitely not a cost to publish - not sure if it is advanced or not, so far, just funding my own writing. It definitely could alter how I get my information but really, it is completely doable from home. I can definitely do some local/regional interviewing and use the phone - so those expenses are minimal. The only thing that might be crunchy is actually getting to two sites to get some first-hand info... that just involves flying to the east coast (I live in Cali)... soooo, all in all, expense-wise, not too bad. This will be a quick easy write - maybe a couple of weeks for actual interviews, and a couple of weeks to write.

I guess when the agent goes back to the editor and tells them I am still willing to go forward, they will discuss and come back with what they would be able to offer beyond that? Does this sound like a publisher that wants to take it on, or is all this moot with a potential rejection looming?

Thanks

veinglory
07-15-2007, 08:13 PM
Find out which publisher it is and research them. Not necessarily a red flag.

larocca
07-15-2007, 08:30 PM
Never pay an agent and never pay a publisher. And, as noted above, do your research. My site has a page about "writing scams" that'll go a long way to helping you with your research. The URL's in my SIG.

Meanwhile, congratulations! #1, for writing a book, which most people on Earth will never do. And #2, for getting this far in the submission process! That really puts you in a small minority!

Chumplet
07-15-2007, 08:39 PM
I'm under the impression that authors who foot the bill for their projects can write off the expenses. Mine are small-scale peanut expenses, like stamps, ink and envelopes. If, later in my career, I want to travel to locales in order to write about them, I suppose I could write off some of it against any royalties.

Tish Davidson
07-16-2007, 04:18 AM
I'm under the impression that authors who foot the bill for their projects can write off the expenses. Mine are small-scale peanut expenses, like stamps, ink and envelopes. If, later in my career, I want to travel to locales in order to write about them, I suppose I could write off some of it against any royalties.

This is not tax advice, just my story based on advice from my accountant.

One year I wrote off $20,000 of travel and expenses on a book that never sold to a publisher. The IRS never blinked. Granted, I had established a track record of making money as a writer. My accountant told me that if I did a book proposal and tried to find an agent or sell the book to a publisher before I incurred the expenses, I could write them all off. If I didn't try to sell the book to agent or publisher before I incurred the expenses, I could only write the expenses off against royalties. I'm no accountant, but I documented everything I did to write a proposal and find an agent before I had the expenses, and I kept every scarp of documentation on the expenses because I expected to be audited, although I wasn't. I filed a schedule C (small business) with a loss and took it against my husband's and my other income. I did find an agent after the expenses, but she never sold the book. I've got a collection of lovely rejection letters saying that the writing was great but the audience for the book just wasn't large enough.

My advice is to invest in an hour with an accountant that specializes in either writers or self-employed people before you spend much money on research. There are a lot of expenses you can take if you are a legitimate, full time writer or a part time writer with a contract or agent.

pisqualie
07-16-2007, 06:55 PM
Thanks for the encouragement - I feel SO skeptical that I suspect everything. But of course, that is just my humble paranoia talking. Research, research I will. Mostly I am curious what they come back with offer wise. Wish me luck. I really have no idea what I am doing and am not exactly sure where to gain this knowledge... I am grateful for this board. My agent is really great about answering questions, etc, but I feel like I'd like to acquire my own base knowledge just for my own self...

To the folks mentioning the tax info, hadn't even thought of that aspect. Good to keep in mind. Blegh! I hate this businessy side of it all!

Thanks again - I'll probably be back. :)

pisqualie
07-17-2007, 10:01 AM
For what it is worth, we heard back from the editor at that publisher and she (I think she may be the owner?) is submitting it to her submissions team to determine what kind of advance they can offer upon completion of the manuscript. So that must be a good thing, right? I am so clueless on the process. I researched the publisher a bit and there have been very positive things to say about this on this board, and I really like the website/blog... so I think I am allowing myself to feel that enthusiasum. But... I am always too far on the edge of skepticism until something is actually real in front of you. The editor said it will be a couple of weeks before they make an offer, so in the meantime, my agent thought he'd keep swinging at big publishers, just in case. :)

aka eraser
07-17-2007, 06:52 PM
Good luck and keep us in the loop. :)

Btw, advances are usually staggered in some way, usually with half paid upon signing the contract and the rest upon completion.

Tish Davidson
07-17-2007, 07:49 PM
For what it is worth, we heard back from the editor at that publisher and she (I think she may be the owner?) is submitting it to her submissions team to determine what kind of advance they can offer upon completion of the manuscript. So that must be a good thing, right? I am so clueless on the process. I researched the publisher a bit and there have been very positive things to say about this on this board, and I really like the website/blog... so I think I am allowing myself to feel that enthusiasum. But... I am always too far on the edge of skepticism until something is actually real in front of you. The editor said it will be a couple of weeks before they make an offer, so in the meantime, my agent thought he'd keep swinging at big publishers, just in case. :)


Normally advances are offered IN ADVANCE OF COMPLETION OF THE MANUSCRIPT for non fiction. The norm is some slight variation on 1/3 when signing the contract, 1/3 when completing the manuscript and 1/3 after all revisions when the manuscript is ready for publication.

pisqualie
07-17-2007, 11:14 PM
I think we took a step backward.. now they want to see sample chapters. :) Polishing up and submitting today... in the meantime, my agent is still submitting to more places. I will update if anything interesting comes back.

Sunnyside
07-25-2007, 09:57 PM
An answer may also lie in asking what expenses they're asking you to incur. For example, if you're writing non-fiction, you might have to cover the costs of purchasing and acquiring rights to photographs and images, or you may be responsibile for paying for the indexing, if your publisher farms out that sort of thing.

pisqualie
07-25-2007, 10:29 PM
An answer may also lie in asking what expenses they're asking you to incur. For example, if you're writing non-fiction, you might have to cover the costs of purchasing and acquiring rights to photographs and images, or you may be responsibile for paying for the indexing, if your publisher farms out that sort of thing.

Thanks - good questions to ask. I'll be sure to update as I learn more. Currently revising a few chapters to submit to the editor next week - she seems enthusiastic about the project and said to take the time I need to make them good, not fast... so that is reassuring. I feel optimistic.