Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Book Advance

Michael Meyer in The New York Times tackles the thorny topic of author advances and points out that though they may sound huge, may not provide authors with much more than the minimum wage.

Meyer reminds us of how much the business of publishing has changed for new authors. He quotes Morgan Entrekin, the publisher of Grove/Atlantic :
It used to be that the first book earned a modest advance, then you would build an audience over time and break even on the third or fourth book. ... Now the first book is expected to land a huge advance and huge sales. The media only reports those, not the long path of writers like John Irving, Richard Ford, Anne Tyler and Toni Morrison. The notion of the ‘first book with flaws’ is gone; now we see a novelist selling 9,000 hardcovers and 15,000 paperbacks, and they see themselves as a failure.
Rather nice :
The question of what to pay which authors has confounded publishers at least since a stationer agreed to give Milton £5 for the right to sell “Paradise Lost.” Joseph Conrad often begged his agent for more money and once asked to be advanced “a fountain pen of good repute.”

1 comment:

dreamer idiot said...

The idea of a great first book is totally unnecessary pressure on the writer