There's an interesting discussion over at JA Konrath's blog about contract negotiations. Since it's a problem I hope to be facing soon, I'd like to get as many opinions as possible.

Any Crimespacers care to join in?

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Olen, I've just started badgering people till they answer. Usually, the third email that says "I'm going to keep emailing you until you give me an answer" will be met with a response! Usually, it's simply that your contact point doesn't have the answer and can't be bothered or is too busy to find out. Sympathize, but keep pressing - "I know I'm being a pain, and I know it's not you, but you're my contact point and I NEED this information".

Unfortunately, there's no scientific way of knowing if this is effective. The early buzz on "Who is Conrad Hirst?" is really promising, so if the book does well, it might just be that it was the book that was always likely to do well anyway. Maybe I should have tried my hardnosed approach three or four years ago...
"I'm going to keep emailing you until you give me an answer"

Nice. This sounds like a good technique to get girls to talk to me.

But you're right, persistence is the answer. Or a bulldog of an agent.
Hi Olen. Thanks! Yep, being able to quit the "day" job would be a huge consideration for me. It's hard to juggle two careers along with everything else life throws at you. I think I could write two or three books a year if I were able to do it fulltime.
Jude, if you can pull off 2-3 books a year of decent quality, then more power to you! When I first got a deal, I started taking notes. "If one book earns me Y, then two books earn me 2xY," and the 5-year plan of 10-15 books followed. Sadly, it turns out I'm not the kind of writer who can pull off that kind of volume. Wish I was....

My answer to the problem has been to live cheaply. I don't own much more than my laptop, have no insurance, and dream of the day when I'll own a car.
But can you afford to keep the fridge stocked with beer? That would be my primary concern.

Seriously, though, there's an enormous amount to be said for doing what you love and making a living (no matter how meager) at it. I have a new house, new truck, 401(K), good insurance...but I abhor the job that pays for all that. Life's just too short to spend half of it doing something that sucks.
Well, I've been publishing non-fiction, fiction, comedy, you name it for 25 years now (in the UK, US, germany, Japan and several other European territories) and only in the past 12 months have I really understood what it's like to be on the right side of a deal, with publishers who are taking one seriously as a money-making proposition, instead of the put-it-out-and-hope-for-the-best attitude I've had to deal with all the rest of my career. Here's what I've learned ...

1. Advances are a two-edged sword. Yes, a big advance pays the bills, makes you feel good and - above all - commits the puiblisher to a certain level of promotional effort. BUT, as Kevin W says, a big advance that doesn't earn out is the worst kind of all, because it kills a publisher's interest. It's like movies - Evan Almighty cost an insane $175m and its opening weekend was $31.2. That makes it a disaster. If the producers had got this low-grade comedy in at $17.5m and taken $31.2m, they'd be the hottest people in Hollywood. Same with advances ...

2. The best publisher is not necessarily the one who offers you the most money. It's the one that will do the best job on your book. This is where a good agent really earns their money. This is a judgement call that requires experience and expertise. But it can make a helluva difference.

3. In the end, you're helpless. I don't care how good your negotiating skills are, or your agent's, it comes down to desirability. If only one publisher wants your book, you're not going to get a great deal. If two come in, you've got a market. Three, and you might get a bidding war. But in the end ...

4. Nirvana is no advance at all. Miles Copeland, manager of the Police, once told me his band NEVER took an advance from A&M, their record company. So they had total freedom. They weren't in debt to their label ... and both they and A&M were in profit from Record 1. The company's accountants loved them, because none of their capital wa tied up in an advance. Everyone was happy. My ambition (impossible, I'm sure) is to get to a point where I can afford to tell publishers, 'I don't want your money. I want my freedom to write what I want, when I want, at the highest possible royalty-rate.' That, to me, would be paradise.
Hi Tom. I have wet dreams about bidding wars, LOL!

I saw The Police in concert back in their heyday. It's one of the best shows I've ever seen, and Stuart Copeland is one of my all-time favorite drummers (I play drums, too). Is Miles related to Stuart?

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