Posted by: oneyearbook | April 14, 2009

Advance warning

The New York Times Sunday Book Review had an article about the size of advances for writers in today’s economic climate. (I found the article via the link on Ayelet Waldman’s website/blog). According to author Michael Meyer, “7 out of 10 titles do not earn back their advance,” which seems like ridiculously bad economics for everybody involved, but, he goes on to note, the idea of the advance doesn’t seem set to disappear anytime soon. And while the industry is claiming that they’re locking down on the ginormous advances, soon after that announcement came the announcement of the $5-million advance for Audrey Niffennegger’s second book, which I can only hope will be as good as the first one. (Obviously her publishers are hoping that, too.)

Anyway the story attempts to see the future for the publishing industry, at least in terms of advances, pointing to McSweeney’s and Harper Studio as publishers trying out a new system with lower-than-usual advances and, in return, a 50-50 split of profits with the author.

The best part of the story is this quote, from writer Elissa Schappell: “Yep, a coming-of-age first novel involving drug addiction and same-sex experimentation is worth $25,000.”


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