Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Will a lofty advance sink your writing career?

I'm still in the revision process for my novel, The Shadow People, and before I get hard at work editing everyday, I like to read blogs from literary agents, publishers, and other more notable authors to see what's happeing in the writing/publishing world. Basically, I'm looking for knowledge to get me over the hurdle of finding an agent to get my book published. I mean, what writer doesn't daydream about making it big by landing that glorious book deal and large advance so they can tell their boss to kiss off, right? Well, my daydream is becoming more and more tarnished the more I read about the publishing process. First, there are stats that say only so many books submitted are published (can't remember the exact figure, but it's pretty intimidating) and then there's some conflicting information I recently read about advances, which really got me to thinking.

One of the literary agents I follow is Rachelle Gardner. She is an agent with WordServer Literary and she recently posted blogs about advances paid to authors, most importantly, debut authors. I read both of these posts, which can be found here (part 1) and here (the followup). I urge you to read these blogs, they are a little daunting, especially the first one's title. After you read these, there is another blog you simply must read, here by an author saying not to accept any advance a publisher offers you because to do so would undoubtably wreck your writing career before it even gets off the ground.

Now, I'll admit, I read the first two blogs by Rachelle and felt slightly disappointed. I mean, I highly doubt my first book will be something that knocks the socks off literary agents, publishers, or the reading public, but I try to keep telling myself that it might get a warm reception and do fairly well on the bookshelves. What writer tells him or herself otherwise? To do so means that you've already thrown in the towel and declared defeat. What motivation would you have to continue if you thought that way? After I read the third blog, by Joe Quirk, I was dumbfounded. Whose advice or information is right? I mean, I'd listen to Rachelle because she is in the publishing world and I would trust what she has to say. On the other hand, if Joe isn't blowing smoke, then that would logically mean that since Rachelle is working for the publishing world, she would encourage authors to stick with traditional publishing so she could make her cut of the money. Is what Joe says a strategy of the pulishing industry to keep the competition fierce? Do they really share financial information about an author's sales with their competitors? If so, then this is some scary news!

I've got to say that, in his blog, Joe sounds quite bitter toward the large publishing houses. Maybe he got burned early on. Maybe he's like a lot of "writers" out there who think they are stellar literary types who only manage to produce swill when they put pen to paper. Who's to say? I'm simply offering these few links to you so that you can read and compare as I have. I intend to do more research into this to better determine how I might react when I get to this point in my writing career, and I urge you to do the same. It's better to be forewarned when approached with a publisher's offer.

No comments:

Post a Comment