My first advance was $10K from a major NY publisher. (This was also, BTW, an unsolicited, unagented submission.) I earned back that first advance, landed myself an agent, and received a contract for a second book for $35K. In subsequent years, deals for my third and fourth novels followed, and each time my advances increased. Each time I earned out. For my fifth and sixth novels, I received my first 2-book deal and six figure advance. I am currently under a three-book contract for which I received a mid-six figures advance.
Perhaps most people would look at my early miniscule advances and sneer, and it could be said that a larger advance might have earned me more attention from the marketing department. However, I always made a profit for my publisher, and they stuck with me as I gradually built an audience. I've still never been on the Today show or had my publisher run a national ad, but my last two books both spent several weeks on the NYT extended bestseller list.
I give all the credit to my wonderful editor, agent, and in-house publicist who had faith in me and allowed my career to gradually build momentum. Would it have been great to receive a huge advance and publicity campaign for my first book? Well, maybe. I'm not so sure. I ended up at the same place; it just took a little longer.
No advance of any size could buy me what I have today: a great relationship with my publisher, an editor whom I adore, and the ability to continue to do the work I love.
"Writing is considered a profession, and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy."
PRACTICAL MARKETING [Courtesy Zornhau, 2005]
"They should put the 1st couple of pages up in subway adverts. Having read them several times, you'd feel compelled to try the book - if it was any good."
PLATE OF SHRIMP [Courtesy Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, circa 1984]
"A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. I'll give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."
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