Friday, July 23, 2010

I'm heading into forbidden waters - advances

Tip of the day: I think this article, featuring author Janet Fitch's 10 rules for writers is really worth reading.

Okay, let's talk about advances.

I'm going to admit a deep, dark secret. Whenever I read a deal from Publisher's Marketplace with those beautiful words "significant deal" my brain screams at me, WHY CAN'T THAT BE YOU???

For those of you who aren't familiar with Publisher's Marketplace "deals" here is how they are defined:

A "nice" deal = $0 - $49,000
A "very nice" deal = $50,000 - $99,000
A "good" deal = $100,000 - $250,000
A "significant" deal = $251,000 - $499,000
A "major" deal = $500,000 and up

I didn't start out writing for the money. But once this writing thing becomes the only way you're bringing in the green stuff, suddenly it becomes a lot more important. And I find myself paying more attention to other people's deals, even though that's putting myself on the fast path to Crazyland.

In theory, I guess it doesn't matter what your advance is, because every author wants his/her books to sell well, and if it sells well, you'll see the money in royalties later. (Years later, however).

And yet, to me, the size of the advance says something. If it's a good one, it says:

~ we LOVE this book and believe in it big time.
~ we value you as an author.
~ we want you and this book to succeed.
~ we plan to put some marketing dollars behind this book.

Among other things.

I understand that with a big advance, there comes pressure and expectations. But there also comes heavy marketing, author tours, a big push to sell to foreign markets, etc. And what author doesn't want those things?

Those of you who haven't sold yet are probably thinking - I don't care what the size of the deal is, I just want a deal.

But here I am, with six books sold over the course of three years, and I find myself thinking about it more and more, and feeling like a failure more and more, which is not a fun place to be.

People will say to me - but how can you feel like a failure? You have multiple books on the shelves. Your first novel is still in print and still selling well two years after it came out! Your publisher continues to buy books from you. How can you see yourself as anything other than a success?

Because at this point, I would make more money as a secretary than I do as an author. So there is the ugly truth.

And yet, I'm not giving up. I'm not going to let my occasional green feelings stop me. I'm not going to let the size of my deals define me. With every new book, there is the potential for big things to happen. Just because I'm in the nice deals now, doesn't mean I have to be there forever. (Dear God, please don't let me be there forever).

Yes, some authors hit the big time the first time out. What we have to remember is that they are the EXCEPTION. If we did a survey of all the young adult novels sold in the past year, my guess is that most deals would be in that "nice deal" range.

How many musical artists look at U2 and think, I wish that were me? I'm guessing a lot. And yet, there is only one Bono. Only one U2. And while I like U2, I'm so very glad there are other groups hanging in there, doing their thing, making pennies compared to U2. Their music brings me and others joy.

Ah, let's think about that word.


I don't want to be about deals.

I want to be about JOY!!

So I'm going to do what I've always done. I'm going to keep writing, because my books do bring some people joy. Maybe not a "significant" number of people, but some people nonetheless. And writing, most of the time, brings me joy. And I will remind myself daily that there are more important things in this world than money.

Like pantyhose. If I went to work as a secretary, I'd have to wear pantyhose. Ew! No thank you!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career


Rose Cooper said...

I love this post. Thank you for being so honest! It's nice to see what other authors are like when it comes to advances since most are usually so secretive about it. I honestly didn't realize all the numbers from PM so i'm just amazed. Advances get THAT high? Wow! I say never give up, it can happen!

storyqueen said...

I hear you! I, too, am in the nice deal range....and I am so grateful to be published at all....BUT when the advance is larger, it does imply that the publisher is more willing to get behind the book and push it.

Whether or not that really happens, I am not certain....


Kristina Springer said...

Lol on the pantyhose! Yeah, it seems the less you get the harder you have to work to promote etc. I often wonder if the major deal authors ever had to book a signing or design a bookmark etc.

DeenaML said...

I cancelled my sub to PM bc it started driving me crazy, see all the $ amounts. It's kind of weird that it is even advertised like that!

Emily Marshall said...

Excellent post Lisa. With most jobs, it sometimes is hard to see the people ahead of you that succeed so quickly, with what seems like little work. It is frustrating. But we all just have to keep plugging away, because if it has to be someone, why can't it be us next :)