It’s Not Always About the Money

heart-moneyNegotiating book deals can be rather tricky. Many authors go into it with the mindset of “How big of an advance can I get?” But that is not always the most important question.

In the last few months I’ve closed quite a few book deals and one in particular had a lot of publisher interest, and multiple offers. The publisher we went with wasn’t the one with the highest advance. But it was the best deal for a few reasons:

→ The quality, reputation, distribution and marketing track record of the publisher

→ The editor’s personal enthusiasm for the book, and the expressed enthusiasm of the entire publishing committee

→ The fact that the author will most likely earn back the advance and much more in the first year, setting them up as a success story with that publisher

One of the jobs of an agent is to get the author the advance they’re worth. Some would say the agent’s job is to get the author the biggest advance possible but as we’ve discussed before, that’s not always in the author’s long-term best interest if it’s going to make it impossible for them to earn out in the first year. In this particular case, I think we’re setting up this author for multiple future books and a good reputation with the publisher. Plus, the author is going to have one of the best editors I know, not only working to make the book shine, but being a champion for the book within the publishing house.

Book publishing can be a great experience for an author, or it can unfortunately sometimes be fraught with frustrations and disappointments. And a book can be considered a wild success or a dismal failure, even with the exact same number of units sold, depending on what the publisher paid for it.

So sometimes the agent’s job is to place the author into a situation with the biggest possibility for it to be a good experience, and for them to be considered a success so that we can get more book contracts in the future. Sometimes starting small is the best strategy. Baby steps can be the way to go.

I always negotiate in good faith and try to get authors all the best terms possible, including financially. And I did that in this case, and was very pleased with the results. But just in case you were thinking the agent is always after the biggest possible advance, that’s not always the way it goes.

If you’re seeking traditional publication, how important is the size of your advance?

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  4. Autumn Rosen on February 5, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    I’m in it for the audience, not the money. I am going for traditional publishing because I want more people to read my books and it’s my ultimate dream.
    I’ve written a ton of books. Although I have yet to get an agent, I keep plugging away. I love writing and as long as I can evoke something in my readers, I will keep doing what I do.

  5. Rashad Pharaon on February 3, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    I think the advance matters to me in the sense of symbolism; not so much the actual money, but the perceived worth of talent. That means something to me.

  6. Jack LaBloom on February 2, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    I admire you for the fact you are willing to spend your time representing debut authors who may only generate $750 for you. 15% of 5000.00

    As for me personally, I’d accept whatever amount of advance royalty my literary agent recommended. To me that’s the reason an author has an agent. If we knew how to make the best deal, we’d all be doing it ourselves.

    I would like to add one more comment about editing.

    Even best-seller book have far too many typos these days. Publishers need to either pay more to get better editors or reduce the work loads of the good ones they have.

    Thank you for the information you share with us.

  7. Donna Earnhardt on February 2, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    I signed a contract with a small indie publisher in May of last year for a picture book. I am glad I did. Even though the advance is not as “big” compared to the large publishers, I know that my book will get individualized attention, my editor is brilliant (and this publisher is excellent), and this particular publishers books are well loved across the country.

    ALSO – I know all the books they’ve published have gone on to win some type of award and many are now on state reading lists.

    I am praying and hoping that my book will end up on similar lists! That is worth every penny to me!

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  10. Lori on January 31, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Not important. Money is not everything to me. It’s nice but again it is not important.

    I know as a experienced technical writer that I will most likely make more money over the years based on my technical writings than I would from any traditional writings.

    Having the right deal or job means more to me.

  11. nuku on January 30, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    I read the post and some of the comments and I realised, I don’t care how much money I get. I’m not that kind of person. If my book gets published all I care about is that people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
    Whether I get a toonie or two thousand dollars doesn’t matter. If I’ve reached somebody with my message, or made someone happy that they picked up my book, I’m happy enough.

  12. Bryn on January 30, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    I heard at a writers conference once that if a publisher is committed to a larger advance, that particular project will receive more attention and marketing dollars, as well. So receiving the larger advance would be the better choice. Is there any truth to that?

  13. Janey Goude on January 30, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    Great perspectives to consider. Thanks for giving the big picture view.

  14. Peter DeHaan on January 30, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    I have a long-term perspective on my writing career. The advance is not important to me, but how a book deal positions me for the next book — and the one after that — is.

  15. Letty Trevino Lozano on January 30, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    I think for me, it’s not so much about the advance. My goal is to get my book published so that it can reach a very wide audience. Each person that reads my book and is inspired by my story is what will make me a very rich person.

  16. Brianna on January 30, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    I want my advance to be enough that people will take me seriously, but not so much that I bottom out immediately and have to keep working two jobs to make ends meet. I want my agent to base it on what I am worth – having the most amount of money is not the be all, end all.

  17. Leanne on January 30, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    Not very important. What is most important to me is longevity in the business. I want to create myself as an author that publishers want to work with, trust and respect. A part of that is being paid, like you said in the post, what I am worth. Currently. And hope it increases over the yearr.

  18. Carol Benedict on January 30, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    There’s one publisher whose books I respect so much that I would be thrilled to accept a contract from them even without an advance. It would be the fulfillment of a personal goal–one more thing to mark off my “bucket list.” Other than that, I would look to my agent for guidance.

  19. Vicki Orians on January 30, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    I want you as my agent! 🙂 I think a large advance is nice, but longevity is much more important to me. I think whoever this author was has a great agent in you, Rachelle!

  20. Liberty Speidel on January 30, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    I am *so* glad to hear this come out of an agent’s mouth (especially one whom I respect a lot!) I’ve been thinking about this more and more as I get my novel ready to go out, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the advance isn’t the most critical thing to me–I want to set myself up for success, and I want to be able to earn out my advance and eventually get the residual income of royalties. So, even if someone offered me a mere $5,000 advance, if everything else sounded great–great editor, marketing help, etc.–I’d be more apt to go with that offer than someone offering 5 or 6 figures who had a mediocre editor and wouldn’t be assisting me with marketing my book.

  21. Stephanie on January 30, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    I’ve thought about this before and I’ve come to realize something. While a sizeable advance is my pie-in-the-sky dream of getting rid of my school debt, I really don’t care so much about the size of the advance as I do about the team I’d be working with. Sure, it’d be nice to have an advance to match that quality but I’d rather have people standing behind my work a thousand percent for pennies over someone not so enthusiastic for dollars.

  22. Anna Labno on January 30, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    That’s why I don’t quit my job.
    But when I will get the advance, I hope it will cover expenses that I spent on attending conferences and books.
    It’s not easy to work full time, write, and then market yourself.
    And it’s impossible to live out of $5000.00 per year. For some, quitting jobs isn’t an option. That’s why marketing is even more hard when time is limited.

  23. Michelle DeRusha on January 30, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    I’d be happy with baby steps. Truthfully I haven’t given a single thought to what kind of advance I might get, should my book ever sell. Maybe because I have a day job, so I’m not as concerned about the money. I just want to hold my book in my hand (and have it sell well enough so I can sell another one – that’s not too much to ask, right?!). I’m with Bret up there…getting paid *anything* for my writing would be icing on the cake!

  24. Charles Specht on January 30, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    As an aspiring author hoping to be published in the future, an advance almost seems like icing on the cake to me. Sure, who wouldn’t love a few extra thousand dollars in advance, but I would be more interested in going with the right agent, the right publisher, and with the right editor.

    I would be most unsatisfied to receive a $10,000 advance but then have my book cover design be unappealing, the editing to be almost absent, and the marketing process next to nil.

  25. Anna Labno on January 30, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    Thank you for responding. 🙂

  26. Rachelle Gardner on January 30, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    In response to a writer who emailed me “What’s considered small? Where does it start? $10,000 or $2,000?”

    I purposely didn’t talk numbers here. It’s always relative, isn’t it? In the example I used for this post, the advance we accepted wasn’t “small” but it also wasn’t the biggest of the advances we were offered.

    There is no typical advance. Everything is dependent on so many variables (as is always the case in publishing). Many debut authors are getting $5,000 advances these days. Others may get six figures.

  27. Amy Leigh Simpson on January 30, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Great thoughts here. I haven’t really considered my worth as a writer. If I could earn money to do something I love I would be ecstatic. But that was not my motivation. I think your approach for this author was right on. Part of the reason you were agent of the year, no doubt.

  28. Bret Draven on January 30, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Hey, I haven’t been paid for writing yet… so, if I’m able to go from a 6-pack to an 18-pack, I’m game!

  29. Dave Clark on January 30, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    This is a detail that gets mentioned only to insiders, so it’s not something that shows up in every interview by any stretch. When I correspond with others who may appreciate it and understand it, however, I bring it up. I happily state that my first book earned out in a few months. Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?

  30. beryl singleton bissell on January 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Having gotten a “very nice” advance on my first book and a publisher/editor who felt she’d been “born to edit this book,” I rejoiced. When my publisher/editor died the week the book was released (and I lost my champion) and the press was soon after sold, my book drifted into that cloud of disappointing returns. Six years later, I still have not earned back that advance.

    My second book got a much smaller advance from a much smaller publisher but within a few months I was receiving royalty checks.

    • Anonymous on January 31, 2012 at 12:33 AM

      I had the same thing happen to my book–my editor died while it was in production and the publisher went out of business shortly after the novel pubbed. I did earn back my advance and more, once a larger publisher took over distribution. However, I haven’t been able to sell anything since. You’re fortunate that the end of your publisher wasn’t the end of your career, because it seems that more often than not, that’s the case.

  31. Ann Bracken on January 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Considering the fact that I know nothing about marketing (but am learning!), and will probably need someone far more talented than me to design a website, I’d much prefer having a small advance with a company that has great marketing. I’ll probably be putting any advance money into marketing the book anyway, so the trade-off is a good one.

    I’m with Janet, I’m going to be so thrilled about being published that the amount really isn’t important.

  32. Heather Marsten on January 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    If you have a good agent, I would follow their advice. I like your approach of picking a publishing company that is a good fit for the author. A long-term relationship is far better than a huge advance, and ultimately will be more profitable. Have a blessed day.

  33. Janet on January 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    I think I would jump up and down, squirm, squea, and do the happy dance even if the advance was only $1. However, it would be nice for the amount to be enough to cover my initial costs for the professional polish of and early promotion of the book.

    That said, I have one manuscript that I would love to have published even if I never made a dime on it, because I think it is a book that will help a lot of people. When I think about my writing future, I see myself writing fiction books for fun and if profit comes alont with it, I won’t complain. I think it would be easier (and more realistic) to try ot make a living from writing magazine features and reporting part-time for a local newspaper that has expressed interest in hiring me.

    I’m in this for the long run. Early rewards, while they might be nice on the pocketbook, are not as valuable as a deal that provides more assurance for the future.

  34. Michelle D Keyes on January 30, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Thanks for posting this! I’m just starting to look for an agent to represent my middle grade children’s novel and was very nervous about the possibility of getting in over my head with a big advance (not likely but still a scary thought). I’d rather see a small advance to take the pressure off having to make a ton of quick sales in a short time frame and risk ruining my writing reputation. As to importance, I’d say advances are minimally important to me. I work full-time as a Director of Marketing so I’m not relying on book sales as my source of income. I would much rather know I have a passionate editor, and a solid team supporting the book. The sales will take care of the advance in time. Another important aspect that isn’t covered here is copyright and royalties. Those I think are all more important than an advance.

  35. Thomas Wilson on January 30, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I have been chastised for self-publishing my work littered with errors.
    But to Start with I didn’t even know if I had any talent for writing. I’m sure all writers feel they are talented and their stories are great, alas we are not all created equal in this respect. I self-published to see if I could and get feed back about my writing.
    I get one of two types of reviews, five out of five stars, “I’ve never read any thing like this before!” or one to three stars ripping my lack of editing skills.
    I am not in this for the money, or to spend years and money getting rejected by agents and publishers, I love to write. I will get better at it over time, the mechanics anyway.
    I would only consider an agent and publishing if approached from them about doing my books, which won’t happen because that’s not the way they work.
    If I was I wouldn’t be interested in a large advance as much as I would professional editing help to make my great stories flawless in grammar and mechanics, really the only area I am laking in as of now.
    Even being considered unedited, which by the way they were edited, not by me and obviously not as well as they could have been, but my books are selling, and I am building a following of those who want more! I write for myself and those who obviously love my stories!
    I have a great day job so if it takes me a few years to learn how to write a proper sentence then so be it.
    Success if the journey, In my mind I am running up the path successfully, I am happy doing what I love, what could be better than that?
    I love your blog by the way!!

  36. Annie on January 30, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Excellent point. It’s easy to think the advance is everything, but (as you mentioned) earning out is huge. And you also want to build a relationship with a publisher, not just get a lot of money up front. Congrats to your client for a great deal!!

  37. Sundi Jo on January 30, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Though we all want to make money, the most important thing is the words on the page. If we fix our eyes on the size of advance we get, we could be missing the gift of what we’ve actually been given.

  38. Howard S. on January 30, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    How big of an advance do I want? Big enough for the publisher to be motivated to push it but not so big that they get ulcers worrying that one-million copies will still not be enough to turn a profit.

    In a perfect world, I would take NO advance and earn straight royalties. But I suspect that it would be the rare publisher that would spend much money trying to make a book a success when they had little to lose if it bombed.

    In a world where the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the size of the advance is a measure of how squeaky a book is and how much grease it gets to ensure it rolls smoothly into profitability.

    Of course, if they give it a bunch of grease and it still desperately squeaks for more, then they will likely give up and just get a new wheel.

  39. Karen on January 30, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    Hand on heart, the size of my advance is the least important aspect (to me) of getting my novel published!

  40. Lindsay Harrel on January 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Really great thoughts, Rachelle. To be honest, I don’t expect great fortune to come from being an author. It would be nice, of course, but like you said, I think it is better to make less money but go with a publisher who would help me make a career of this thing I love to do.

  41. Colin Smith on January 30, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    I remember the article you posted on this topic a while back. Before then, I’d never given much thought to the *disadvantages* of a large advance in terms of ability to earn out. Since reading that article, I’ve decided I’d much rather have a smaller advance that will easily earn out. I’m much more interested in the long-term aspects of publishing (good reputation with the publisher, being able to publish more books, etc.).

  42. Anna Sweat on January 30, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    I would rather have a reasonable or small advance and outsell the advance in my first year than take a massive advance and the pressure of trying to live up to that. I want each book to build on the one before. Even the up front successes of Rowlings and Meyers is unappealing to me. What do you follow that with?

  43. Cherry Odelberg on January 30, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Thank you, for your (week) daily posts and information. They are a God-send and an encouragement.

  44. Jack Vincent on January 30, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    If “it’s all about the money,” then it’s not all about the business. Thanks!

  45. Harriet Parke on January 30, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    The number of dollars is less important to me than the number of readers who truly appreciate my writing. Maybe if I actually made money someday, I’d be less of a Polly Anna.

  46. Cheyanne on January 30, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    I’d honestly rather have a smaller advance and more marketing for my first book. The goal of getting published for me isn’t so much for the money as it is to have people READ my book. And if you’re successful, it’ll pay of in the end with royalties, so smaller advances don’t scare me 🙂

  47. Connie Almony on January 30, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    I think I’d much prefer to establish a good working relationship with a publishing house and editor, ensuring continued success in the future. I like the idea of working as a team with your editors who bring skills I don’t have to the table, rounding out the finished product. Somehow, being all about an advance doesn’t seem to promote that. Thanks for this post!

  48. Jeanne T on January 30, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    I’m still learning the ins and outs of the publishing business. You bring up some good points about looking beyond the advance to the long term livelihood of your clients.

    Should I ever get to the point where I’m considering advances, I think a smaller advance sounds like a good plan. Not having to worry about it being “earned out” sounds beneficial for the publisher and much less stressful for me. 🙂

  49. John G. Hartness on January 30, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    I went small press with my series, and took a very small advance. I wanted to work with someone who did pay an advance, because that showed a real, concrete investment in the work and in me as a writer. But I didn’t really care about it being a huge advance, because I want to earn out. I’m not in this for three years’ worth of advance money. I want royalty checks for ten years or more. I took a small advance with escalator clauses for subsequent books if the first one earns out quickly, because I want to earn out.

    I liken it to signing a rookie contract in the NFL. If you’re not a Top Ten draft pick (getting a six-figure advance), then you’re better signing a reasonable first contract, proving your worth, then signing a big second contract.

    But that’s just my opinion, and I’ve signed all of one book deal in my life. But that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

  50. Lisa Buske on January 30, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    I dare to dream if God blesses me with an advance it would be enough to allow me the time needed to take a leave of absence to meet the publisher’s deadlines. I pray for an honest contract and one that allows me to continue to glorify God through my writing and speaking.

    An advance would be a blessing and testimony of Eph. 3:20-21, one I pray for yet I am a planner and appreciate your desire to meet your client’s needs into the future, not for just one book deal. Thank you.

    Lisa M Buske

  51. Katie Ganshert on January 30, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    I’m with Keli! A realistic advance. I’m actually freaked out by the whole “earn out” thing….so maybe smaller advances help decrease hyperventilation in authors.

  52. CG Blake on January 30, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Sorry for the typos. It was the iPhone’s fault.:)

  53. CG Blake on January 30, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    You have to go into the process knowing you may not be able to make a living through your writing alone. This is why Rachelle’s advice makes so much sense. You need to take the long view. It is analogous to taking a job that pays less than you can make for the opportunity to work with professionals in an environment that will abbance your career.

  54. Wendy Paine Miller on January 30, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    Another reason why I trust your judgment. You have your client’s long-term best interests in mind. That is exactly the kind of agent I wanted and I feel beyond blessed to be walking this road with you. You’re an excellent literary pathfinder.
    ~ Wendy

  55. Jane on January 30, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Isaac Asimov said he always asked for an advance of $1 because he didn’t want to be beholden to the publisher. He figured you get the money from royalties either way, but he didn’t want them pushing him around. 🙂

    (Later, his publisher apparently forced him to take an advance for the second Foundation novel because they wanted it delivered on their timeline. I find that funny: the subtext of advances.)

  56. Sue Harrison on January 30, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    I’m much more interested in a deal that advances my career than in any money I receive for an advance. I’m delighted to have an agent that considers career advancement first, because the larger the advance, the more money an agent makes. It takes a long-range view to direct a career and a wise agent to make the best deal!

  57. jeffo on January 30, 2012 at 7:52 AM

    “the agent’s job is to place the author into a situation with the biggest possibility for it to be a good experience, and for them to be considered a success ”

    Perfect. You’re hired.

    In all seriousness, I’m sure at times the temptation for you, the agent, is to push the writer toward that big advance, because that means more for you up front. Glad to see that you’ve got your eye on the Big Picture.

  58. Sharon A Lavy on January 30, 2012 at 7:45 AM

    It is refreshing to hear an agent who is in it for the long haul. And not for the quick buck. I’ve always been afraid to admit that a great cover means more to me than a large advance.

    • Megan B. on January 30, 2012 at 4:27 PM


      Me too. I daydream more about my book’s cover than about any money I might earn.

  59. carol brill on January 30, 2012 at 7:36 AM

    I agree that having a supportive editor and publisher with a good llist and marketing approach thrump the advance

  60. Mercey Valley on January 30, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    For me, it’s not all about the money and has never been. If I wrote for money I’d write vampire stories and whatever is hot for the day. I write for the love of it and about the things I like and enjoy. Creating is so much fun, and when people enjoy it and get something out it, that’s the biggest payoff.

    Money is a bonus when you’re exercising your gift… And my main gifts happen to work into my day job. It’s good whichever way it goes, so yeah, money is a (necessary) bonus. After all, you need money to live. Advances are something I’m not used to… So…? What does THAT mean??

    • Lisa Buske on January 30, 2012 at 10:25 AM


      I think the reason you aren’t concerned with the advance is because your mind creates and your heart writes out of joy for the process and those to read your words. I love to write and pray for an advance sometime in the future yet if God opens doors for others to read my writing and heal some of the hurts, then it has been a successful day. It sounds as if we have a similar goal when we write. Keep it up. I’m encouraged by your post.

      Lisa M. Buske

  61. kbr on January 30, 2012 at 6:03 AM

    My first thought, having run my own business for years, is what about the taxes? Is it better to take a smaller advance or can an advance be split, say, 1/2 in december, the 2nd half in January of the following year. If I’d end up paying more taxes by taking a larger advance, it would make sense to go for higher royalties. Maybe you could comment on that aspect?

    • Rachelle Gardner on January 30, 2012 at 10:32 AM

      kbr, advances are always paid out in halves, thirds, or quarters. So depending on who the publisher is, and what month the contract is signed, it’s possible that your payments will be spread over two tax years, which as you mentioned is a good thing. If you sign a contract early in the year, however, that may not be the case, so if it’s important to you, you’d have to talk with you agent about arranging it.

  62. marion on January 30, 2012 at 5:39 AM

    I hope my agent has the same approach!
    Money isn’t everything.
    A savvy agent, an enthusiastic editor and a publisher that knows what they’re doing=a dream come true!

  63. Celia on January 30, 2012 at 5:06 AM

    I agree with a longterm view. I’d much rather go with a smaller advance and get help with building a longterm career, than being a big but quick flash in the pan.

  64. Andy Adams on January 30, 2012 at 3:51 AM

    I haven’t been thinking about the advance. I’ve been thinking about multi-book deals. I’ve got a lot of books I want to write, so that’s where my focus is. Well, aside from getting the first one out there.

  65. Neil Ansell on January 30, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    I was lucky in that my current book went to auction. My agent was very good about not nudging me in any particular direction, and I ended up not choosing the biggest offer, but going for the publisher whose list I most admired. But I guess I was rather spoilt for choice as they were all offering me enough that I wouldn’t need to do any other work for a couple of years. Not a typical experience I think, but I have paid my dues to reach this point.

  66. P. J. Casselman on January 30, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    Any agent that represents my first book can have 100 percent of the profits due me, providing they promise to tithe on it. I’d sign a contract to that effect (save the tithe which would be a matter of his/her integrity) and proclaim it here to witnesses. Money for my writing means nothing to me. I have a good 24/7 job. Writing is a secondary ministry to my primary calling. If traditional publishing will touch more lives, then I would gladly make zilch. No, I am not crazed nor idealistic. Instead, I am just blessed by an awesome God.

  67. Jo Eberhardt on January 30, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    The size of the advance is one of the least important aspects to me. I’d be more interested in a publisher who can offer a good royalty rate, a solid marketing plan, and passion for my book. In the long run, I’d rather get a $1000 advance on a book that ends up selling two million copies than a $100,000 advance on a book that sells two hundred copies.

  68. Alan Kurland on January 30, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    To get any advance will be fantastic!!

  69. Nancy S. Thompson on January 30, 2012 at 1:31 AM

    I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it as a career, for the long haul, to build not only my reputation, but relationships, as well. So I totally get your logic. Your client is fortunate to have an agent & editor with foresight. I’d much prefer a smaller advance to improve my prospects for earning out & securing future book deals.

  70. Olivia Newport on January 30, 2012 at 1:24 AM

    “Big” is a relative term–relative to expectations, relative to immediate financial need, relative to ability to earn back, relative to a publisher’s resources. But it seems to me “big” brings a thrilling moment and then a terrifying one. Is the pressure good or bad for the writer? I can see both sides of that question.

  71. Julie Nilson on January 30, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    For a first book at least, I think a huge advance would be a little scary. I would worry that I might end up as a cautionary tale in the publishing media if I didn’t make the advance back!

    An advance that allows you to pay your bills while you get your novel into a publishable state should be enough–then if you earn way more than that, it can be a pleasant surprise for everyone. And a long-term relationship with a publisher that’s based on mutual admiration is more valuable than a few more bucks on your advance, I would think.

  72. Beth K. Vogt on January 30, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    I learned a long time ago that for most of us the writing life doesn’t equal wealth. So, while I hope for decent advances, I’m not all about BIG advances. I’m thinking more long-term: hoping to develop a relationship with my editor that is longstanding and mutually satisfying.

  73. Keli Gwyn on January 30, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    My goal is to have a realistic advance, one I have a good chance of earning out in the first year. I want to make a publisher happy, and earning out an advance is a good way to do that. I’d much rather go with a lower advance and get royalty checks down the road than to have the stress of being responsible for earning out a hefty advance.

  74. Heidi Leanne on January 30, 2012 at 12:56 AM

    I haven’t given much thought to advances and book deals because it seems like a bad idea to dream about those things when I’m still in the book writing process. However, I love what you wrote about it not being about nabbing the biggest advance. To me, that wouldn’t be my most important consideration when dealing with signing with a publisher either. I want what is best for me in the long run, and would trust an agent to know exactly what all that entails.