Tuesday, September 13, 2005

First-Time Authors and What They Have Learned

Dan Wickett, who works really hard at pulling together amazing interviews and articles for the Emerging Writers Network, has done it again. He has an interview with a group of first-time authors, and they discuss their publishing journeys. It’s full of insight, advice and caution.

Richard Nash of Soft Skull Press introduces the interview and stresses that writing is a career, not just the sale of the first book. Therefore, it’s important to sell it well:

"So I’ll confine my comments to two, the first of which is to echo a topic in this roundtable, the big advance. As a number of the writers recognize, the big advance can and probably will be a curse. The media and the publishing industry don’t discuss debut bombs—the $250,000 advamce for a story collection that sold about 3,500 copies—but there are ten of them for each Foer or Kostova you read about. Leaving you as a writer with the Scarlet U (for “unearned advance”).

So can one turn down a $500,000 advance? Actually, yes, you can, because even a half million bucks is not “fuck-you” money, the kind of money where do won’t need to work for the rest of your life. Your career is more than your first book. And the deals open to you aren’t necessarily going to be all or nothing, there will probably be a multiplicity of deals open to you, ways of structuring accepting higher royalties for lower advances, that will put you in a situation where you are likelier to earn out your advance, fulfill the expectations of your business partners (publisher, agent) and start getting royalties."

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