Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Journey to Publication - Part VI

Money, money, money, money...Money!
Rhonda McKnight

I’m back with more on the journey. If you’ve missed any installment of my story, please click here for the link to the other five parts.

I left off with the contract. You know the part where the $$$ comes into this scenario. Depending on your attitude and goals this is can be the good part or the part of publishing that sucks. I have a good attitude, nothing sucks about attaining a lifelong goal.

My contract was delayed, but I finally got it. I’m a pretty thorough reader, so I sat down and read it, made notes about questions and set a telephone meeting with my agent. She explained all the confusing stuff. What’s the confusing stuff you ask? For me it was book club royalties payments (to clubs like Black Expressions or Crossings), direct sales details(I’m still foggy on that), reserves (that’s where the publisher holds back royalty payments because of anticipated returns from the distributor) and the option clause. The option clause can vary, but it’s basically language around whether or not the publishing house has a legal right to see your next work of fiction before anyone else can. It gives them the right to buy it and in some cases can have you stuck with them. Most publishers require an option, it protects their investment, but the author does have some rights to refuse, all be them limited. So once I understood the contact, I signed, put it in the mail and about a month later the advance check came.

Advances come in all shapes and sizes. Let me say for a new author with a small press the size of my advance was not sizable, but it was nice to pull it out of the ole mailbox and take it to the bank. I had my son take pics of me smiling as I held it, and I took great delight in going to the bank to open a new account for my writing business. So exciting. Someone had paid me to write. Let me say here that no matter what the advance, be it $1000 or $5 million dollars, you don’t get it all at once. Most contracts split the payment and it’s done in various ways. I have a two book contract, so I got 1/4 of the total contract value at contract. I’ll receive another 1/4 thirty days after Secrets and Lies is released, another 1/4 when the final edits are completed for my 2nd novel and the final 1/4 when the second novel is released. I know you’re thinking, wow, talk about splitting it up. Yep, that’s what they do, but that’s actually a good split. I talked to an author the other day whose publisher split her advance into eight payments. Can you imagine the manpower it takes to manage that stuff at the publishing house? I mean I’m sure it’s all automated and such, but still, the oversight and postage. Give me a break.

So I gots the big bucks now and I’m wondering is it time to quit my job? Hee, hee, hee…I am so kidding. What it was really time for was to sit in front of the computer and start book two.

To be continued…

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to ask me questions.


Rhonda McKnight


PatriciaW said...

Hey Rhonda. Still loving the story.

Does a multi-book deal get you a multi-advance? By that I mean, if the publisher's advance is, let's say, $10k (because that's a nice round number, not because it has any basis in reality), then for a 2-book deal, do you get $20k? Or, do you get a discounted advance of say, $16k?

Not sure how you as a first-time author would know, but I'd hope an agent would and would negotiate appropriately.

Rhonda McKnight said...

Good question, Patricia. I don't know that there's a multi-book cut. In my contract each book is worth the same thing. I've always kind of heard people talk about contracts in parts. For example, I know an author who has a $150,000 contract. She talkes $75K a book and they pay her that way. So I think whatever the contract is, you divide the total value by the number of books and that's what you get per book.

An author's value is ideally supposed to increase with each book, so getting less for a 2nd book wouldn't work and the publisher wouldn't assume you'd have sales that were strong enough to give you a higher advance on the 2nd book. So for example, if you had a deal where you were paid $5000 for book one and $7000 for book two - publsihers not even sure you'll earn out on book one, so they're not going to do more on book two.

This is why "true" bestselling authors don't do lengthy contracts. Unless there's big, big money and other perks involved to do so. It's common to do a one book contract, because you don't want to lock in at a certain amount and the first book of the contract is a huge seller, because then you're not getting paid what you're really worth on the second book. I mean there are royalities, but my understanding is most authors want their $$$ up front.

Sharon Ball said...

Rhonda, I'm so glad you're sharing your journey to publication on your blog. I have one question for you. Did your agent negotiate a certain number of books that you will receive from the publisher? If so, are those books for you to sell or will you be given other books for you to sell through book signings etc.?

Okay, I lied. I have one more question. Was it difficult to secure an agent? How did you find your agent?

Rhonda McKnight said...


I had already sold the book and accepted the publisher's terms (money and #of books in the contract)when I found an agent, so her role was really to negogiate the legal specifics of the contract.

It was very difficult to find an agent, even after I had sold the book. If you go back to installment III of this series I discuss how I "bagged an agent".

As for books, most publisher give you some free books. It varies quite a bit. I've heard people say as few as 10 and as high as 80. My publisher gives us a case, which will be about 35 for me, since S&L is a good size book. Those are mine to do what I want, but trust they'll be used as giveways to bookclubs I'm courting or for a blog tour, or late reviews. You can also buy books at discount and that too varies with the publisher, but most will let you purchase books for between 30-60% off the retail price.

Thanks for reading. Keep asking questions. I love to share.

La Monica R. Smith said...

Great info as always Rhonda. Your transparency is greatly appreciated!

Tangie said...

Rhonda, I stumbled upon your blog and I have thoroughly enjoyed your Journey. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to reading more!