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Really Long & Fascinating Post by John Green

I'm leaping in and out to link to a recent blog post by award-winning, esteemed and all-around marvelous YA author John Green, "Really Long & Boring Post about Book Advances and Publishing". Boring if you're a teen maybe, but pretty interesting (and controversial!) if you're a writer.

See, John's arguing that large book advances are usually detrimental not only to the publisher, but also to the author/agent team. If an author doesn't earn out a massive advance, it doesn't bode well for their career. Smaller advances are much easier to earn out, and that way, your publisher (or subsequent publisher) is more likely to stand behind your next book -- or even buy it in the first place. John claims a smaller advance plus a higher royalty is the winningest situation of all.

Basically, it's a case of immediate gratification versus career longevity. So what do you think? Make sure to check out the comments on John's post -- they're fascinating.

Also felt the need to quote this: "imagine a company that publishes Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dessen, M. T. Anderson, Walter Dean Myers, E. Lockhart, Maureen Johnson, Coe Booth, anyone else you can think of other than J.K. Rowling, and me. The combined 2009 sales of that publishing company would be a fraction of the sales of a company that publishes just the Twilight series."
Kirsten Hubbard

Kirsten is the author of Like Mandarin, Wanderlove, and the middle grade novel Watch the Sky.

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  1. This is definitely an area I'm still learning about. Green's article made a lot of sense. I like the way he broke it down. Nice post!

  2. Interesting article, though I'm not sure I agree with everything. I like the comments that challenged the post, and John's replies, as well. Good discussion.

    Since, at this point in the ballgame, royalty percentages are quite standard and have not met with JG's hypothetical 20%, I would stand by my position that the best thing to get is the largest advance possible, followed by some serious marketing/selling/a$$ kicking work by the author. The biggest mistake authors make is thinking the book will sell itself.

    And The Unicornians sounds like a hoot!

  3. Interesting. Advances make me nervous, so it's a cool perspective to see the idea that bigger may not always be better (hehe). If I were to by some miracle get an agent and then an enormous advance, I think I'd be in sheer terror of not earning it out, because he's right--much more desirable to have a long career than a short lived one. Although then The Fear might propel me to market harder.

    So who knows.

    I'm not at this place yet, but it's definitely something to think about.


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Item Reviewed: Really Long & Fascinating Post by John Green Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kirsten Hubbard