Do you think an Author's Union would be a way to put some pressure on publishers? Isn't it about time that we had some say in how much advance money we deserve or are we in a position to always accept what the publisher offers? Or are we just at the mercy of the agents (opinionated as they may be) and the publishers and whatever the market will bear?

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I don't think you can standardize advances, other than set bottom rates, but what I would like to see is a policy on payment of advances in a reasonable amount of time. I know people with books coming out in less than two months who haven't been paid. That's a problem.
I agree, that is a problem. But why do authors put up with it? I think maybe it's because authors don't think there is an alternative if they want their book published. (Yes, self-publishing, but most don't really consider that an option,and given most examples of self-published books I've seen, I don't blame them.)
It wouldn't work because we have no power. The only reason the Writers Guild strike is so effective is because someone else performs the material. If those performers support the strike (or are fearful of the backlash if they don't), nothing gets done and the writers have power. With book authors, if we don't write, we get sued for breach of contract, and someone else in that huge queue of unpublished authors gets their chance in the spotlight.
So the union idea obviously isn't the way for authors to go. I really liked John Dishon's discourse on the subject and I wish I had a tutorial on marketing on the internet. My book 'Broken City' actually has a blurb on the back by Jim Cohn (an Amazon critic) yet I cannot figure out how to get it listed on Amazon.
I don't know much about them, but there is a "union." The National Writer's Union.

As I said, I don't know much about them, but several years ago, they put out a book about rights and contracts and such.

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