Since we have a couple of "writerly" questions, I thought I'd add mine to the mix:

Do you prefer working under a multiple-book or single-book contract?

I have my own preference, but wanted to get feedback from crimespacers first before I show my cards.

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I currently work under a rolling 1-book contract and I would prefer a multiple contract. Mainly because I know my next book and I don't want the worry of not knowing if I have to start looking elsewhere.
My preference would be for a multi-book contract since I am quite paranoid. However, the drawback, if I understand correctly is that all of the books under the contract have to earn out in order to see anything in the way of royalites. I suppose an agent could avoid that though. Another drawback is if your first book breaks out, you can't shop around for fair market value on the others in the contract. Still, the almost certain knowledge that my career is on the ebb trumps those pitfalls...
Steven, unlike the music industry, the books in a multiple deal are accounted individually so as soon as one earns out you start getting the royalties. I think the danger (I had a two book deal in the UK) is that you can be locked in to a deal after the publisher has lost heart in it.

In the US I'm on rolling 1 book deals with Simon & Schuster and it suits me perfectly - mainly because there's no delivery pressure on me (useful when I routinely take a couple of years off between books!)
I have a one-book contract, and I like it that way. Naturally my publisher has first right of refusal on the next work, and my agent has explained the pros of staying with my publisher for book two, and I'm very grateful to my publisher for taking a chance on me and I have no plans at all to jump ship.

But I also like the freedom that comes from working on the next book without a contract, of not feeling boxed in. Book two is going to be a stunner if it lives up to my and my agent's expectations, and since it's not yet contracted for, I feel like I can write it the way I want, and not according to my publisher's expectations. Naturally, I hope they love it, but if they don't, that'll be okay, because I know someone else will.

If book two is contracted for, and your publisher doesn't like it, then what?

I'm probably coming at this from a different perspective, but I'm just happy to get published. I will know that I hit a certian level of success when I actually have an agent and get the first multi-book contract.
a multi-book deal is a sign of publisher commitment, but i've always felt my best writing happens when I'm not under contract. with a multi, the publisher knows where and what to slot long before your next book is turned in -- and some spaces are reserved two years in advance. I've had covers and cover copy finished before my manuscript deadline. On the downside they might want to be deeply involved in the plotting of upcoming books.
My agent built in bonus incentives into my second series sold and it allowed me to propose a multiple book deal with continuing characters so I'm not spinning my wheels waiting for those first sales figures. (What I don't get in the tiered & generous advance dollars (if the books take off), I will get in royalties.) I was extremely pleased with the way the deal was structured and it allowed me to see the faith my publisher has in me. Blind faith. I love working with them too. I had already quit my day job to write full time, but the advance dollars made the transition even smoother and it fit my situation beautifully. The financial security and the clear message from my publisher on their support was wonderful. My $.02
Don't misunderstand that my book deals were lucrative enough for me to quit my day job, John.

I worked 25+ years in the energy industry to build up the capability to retire early. Even with my two deals, it would NOT have been enough for me to quit. I had set us up so that we could float for a couple of years before our real retirement kicked in.

I'd been working with a financial planner since the mid 90s and a great CPA friend of ours. My husband and I never wanted to have kids and didn't have that financial consideration either. Plus, I have health benefits thru his day job, which is a HUGE expense to consider on a fixed writer's income.

I was also on a cash basis for many years and saved up to 2 years income to support my husband and I both, maintaining a liquid money market acct and taking care of my mortgage. And I would recommend doing a thorough analysis of your monthly expenses, a conservative and realistic look at current and future needs.

Taking a leap off the cliff of self-employment was still a scary proposition. But it was getting to the point that I could not find the time to write and conduct the business end of writing at the same time anymore--especially with the multiple book contracts.

In the end, I feel blessed to have this opportunity. I feel like the golfer who takes credit for the hole in one, but luck and opportunity definitely played a part in all this.
And I didn't mean to sound like it offended me. If you knew me, you'd know that's pretty hard to do. LOL I take my work seriously but never myself.

I just don't want to mislead anyone on my move to quit the bread and butter of my day job. Writing is a tough business.

Thanks for your clarification, John. You're a good man. :)
Wow! Thanks for all your replies. I've learned a lot from this exchange.

I'm of the same mind as Jon Loomis--I don't think that I would want to get tied down to any more than a two-book contract, unless I was committed to going in a certain direction for the next few years like Jordan Dane. (Also, Jordan, you are producing many books in a single year, so you're still talking about a few years, not several, right?)

I've had a single book contract for my past two books (one that's due at the end of the month), and I have to admit that it's quite liberating. Sure, it's nice to have the security of a multi-book contract and a portion of that advance money upfront, but I suppose that you can feel like a hamster on a wheel, constantly revolving. I think it also depends on your station of life. You may be going through personal life changes (small children, etc.) that may make it difficult to make long-term commitments.

All I know is that for the type of books I produce, I have to schedule a season of personal appearances, which can get quite exhausting. I'm so glad to have this brief respite this year, although I still do some book events, especially to promote short-story anthologies. I think if you write more commercial thriller-type mass market mysteries, which will be marketed widely in big-box stores and grocery stores, you may not have to be as involved in touring. Correct me if I'm wrong!
The first series I sold was back to back and I had 2 books written with the third partially done--so they got my inventory. A very good thing for me, but I had time to kill after I finished the last book. I finished it 6-7 months early and was twiddling my thumbs with almost a year before my first books released.

My editor and I talked about a series idea and I put a proposal together that they bought in May 2007. When you are waiting for the first books to see how they will do, believe me, you would want to know you have a contract so you don't waste your time writing a series that might be hard to sell to another house if your first publisher doesn't want it. For me, it all worked out. I'm the type of writer that wants work in front of me. It helps with the cash flow but also with the creative side too. My decision to sell the 2nd series was more of a timing issue.

As far as the traditional book tours, I've heard they don't have the same effectiveness anymore. We talked about it on this blog before and at the MWA annual conf in Dallas this weekend. You have to have an online presence to best promote your work effectively and this also takes time, but the cost can be minimal. Something to keep in mind.
Because of the nature of my books, I speak to a lot of book clubs, AAUW groups, history and cultural organizations, etc. Those events are very effective; many people who attend buy books. When I enter the world of juvenile lit next year, it will be a whole different ballgame. Lots of school visits--and you are often paid, with the top writers garnering four figures a single visit.


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