I Love It When Someone Else Says What I Couldn’t Figure Out How To Say

Disclaimer: I am a freelance editor with Carina Press, a publisher who works on a no advance profit sharing model, but this post represents my thoughts as a writer and should not be interpreted as me speaking on behalf of Carina Press.

With all the hoopla over the Random House e-book scandal, I’ve been annoyed at a how many people have taken to assuming a no advance contract automatically equals a bad contract. As a writer who has so far been lukewarm to self-publishing and the upfront costs involved, a contract with a reputable publisher that provides a nice profit sharing and covers the cost of editing and production as well as some marketing support is far superior to me shelling out thousands of my own dollars with sketchier results. But every time I tried to articulate that into a broader essay on the benefits of a no advance model I choked. Now agent Evan Gregory of the Ethan Ellenberg Agency has come out with a great piece that says everything I was trying to say.

You can check it out here.

I’d also enjoy hearing your thoughts on the no advance model.

5 thoughts on “I Love It When Someone Else Says What I Couldn’t Figure Out How To Say

  1. I don’t have a problem with no-advance/profit-sharing per se, myself. (It’s how, amongst others, Image Comics works, to use a long-standing example. Though Image never had the financial muscle of even a small publisher so it was the only way to operate when they launched, while RH are comparatively loaded.) So long as everyone understands that’s the deal and all’s fair and open, cool.

    Where Random House crossed the line IMO was minimalising their risks down to zero by making everything about publishing a book a cost to be borne by the writer by coming out of their profit share (when, even if you were going to justify that side of things, and I’m not sure you can, the same 50/50 split would be the only equitable way) and demanding all rights on a no-reversion clause for the entire life of copyright. It looked very much like they were going to apply a hit-it-and-hope approach to the books they’d take, flinging a lot of stuff at the wall for minimal cost/risk to themselves, hoping that the next 50 SHADES-alike would stick and make them a ton of money in perpetuity. That’s the thing that really stunk to me.

  2. Oh, and the things that incurred costs not being an author-agreed call, so the writer bears almost all risks with none of the control. “Hi! We decided to run an ad campaign for your book! It cost $10000 but good news! Sales are up! The book did well and it’s made $10000 in profit. That’s five grand for each party, so that’s five grand for us and, ooh, five grand minus ten grand… you owe us five grand! SWEET! We’ll let you know the next time we do something!”

    Self-publishing might be a crap-shoot and you might have to bear costs yourself up front, but at least you get to make the call as to where you’re going to piss money and time up the wall.

  3. Not that the same decision might happen in any kind of publishing, but when it’s the publisher bearing the costs as part of their “how well will this book sell?” max-profit guessing game, at least if they gamble wrongly it’s not the author that takes an immediate, direct hit to the wallet.

    Also, triple post, mothertruckers.

  4. Oh, I agree that the Random House contract was awful and predatory and appalling. What I didn’t like was the mass of people who took to lumping every other no advance publishing model in with the RH model, which isn’t the case.

Comments are closed.