Monday, July 28, 2008

How Are You Using Your Advance?

I’ve written before about my experience as an “author” (more like a packager) for the Gift Card Book series, but I didn’t tell you how close I came to blowing the deal. I really wanted my publisher, John, to see what an expert negotiator I was and I knit-picked every detail of the contract. To John's credit, he didn't dump me during the negotiations, though I'm sure it crossed his mind.

John and I had a few discussions about reasonable royalty rates and the advance, and I agreed to supply the finished, designed files, which meant I had to pay for art and design out of the advance. After John made his official offer I asked for a higher advance than we previously discussed. Nearly all of the advance money was going to pay for art, permissions, and design, and I wanted a little something for me. John reminded me that historically advances were paid to cover a writer’s living expenses while they finished a book. An advance is not intended to pay for a new sofa (Had John bugged my house?). It is not a pay in return for work or a reward, as it is often seen today. And today, most authors do not (and could not) make their living as an author. It is an advance against future earnings to cover an author’s expenses while putting the book together.

If your advance is not going toward paying for permissions, illustrations, photography, design, research, or other aspects of the book itself, what are some ways you could use your advance to increase sales of your book?

Here are a few ideas, but please share comments with some of things you have done with your advance money that helped promote and sell your book.
- Hire a designer to create a professional Web site for you.
- Give away books to people with large spheres of influence with an interest in your subject.
- Plan a tour to speak, promote, and sell your book
- Send your book in a care package with other goodies or a special carton that really gets attention to media and other influencers.
- Print business cards or bookmarks with your book cover and contact information to include with free books, press releases, etc.

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