In Which We Advocate Heavy Drinking

April 29th, 2005 · 7 Comments
by Booksquare

First, let us congratulate Mad Max on his pending promotion. Assistant Manager, Mailroom Operations is a huge leap, and we hope his new responsibilities (including alphabetizing packages) won’t cut into his blogging time. Wait, it already has — he’s padding his blog with the work of others. He’s using some fancy-schmancy title, but it all boils down to true stories from the author trenches.

In the latest installment, “Keith” shares the highs and lows of a large advance. We follow Keith from book one to book five, and it’s painful. Very painful. Do not read this without a stiff vodka close by. If you don’t drink, now might be a good time to start.

The book came out to stellar reviews, and many—from a starred PW to a glowing NYTBR, and pretty much everything in between. Yet the cover was so hideous that the major chains refused to feature it. In the end, despite the glowing reviews, my sales were disappointing. The mass market team (the publisher’s sister house) took its cues from the hardcover performance, didn’t position it aggressively etc., and the results were exactly what you’d expect.

File Under: Tools and Craft

7 responses so far ↓

  • Susan Gable // Apr 29, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    Wow. Does this go under the cautionary heading of, “Be careful what you wish for?”

  • Booksquare // Apr 29, 2005 at 2:39 pm

    Yes, but that would have required the creation of a new category, and laziness is clearly more of a virtue than a big advance. Hmm, I may need to check my reference materials to make sure that quote’s right.

  • Lauren Baratz-Logsted // Apr 30, 2005 at 5:54 am

    I remember reading an interview with T.C. Boyle once where what he basically said was: When you’re offered your first book contract, don’t run out and buy the big house! I took this advice to heart. Far too often I hear stories of writers who, having sold a book, assume each contract will match or increase on the first contract, as if being a novelist were the same as being a chiropracter; writers who receive 250K, 500K, even $1 mil advances and wind up broke in no time, because they assume they’ll be riding this train forever. Yes, several months after my first book pubbed, I bought a new car – not a house! – but it was a fairly modest car and I only bought it because my drunken mechanic said there was no longer enough glue and rubber bands in the world to hold together my 20-year-old Peugeot. I’m sure the way I live wouldn’t be for everybody – I can hear some saying, “But I want that big house!” – but I have only two goals: 1) I want to keep writing for a living, 2) I want to be able to pay for it when it comes time for my five-year-old to go to college. If I’m just a little bit careful, and very lucky, maybe I’ll get to do both.

  • Booksquare // Apr 30, 2005 at 9:35 am

    I like that line — being a novelist isn’t the same as being a chiropracter. It’s so hard to imagine that the first novel isn’t the beginning of bigger and better things. Writing is like any other job in some ways, including the lack of lifetime security.

  • Lauren Baratz-Logsted // Apr 30, 2005 at 1:55 pm

    OK, so this means I spelled ‘chiropracter’ right? Because you have no idea what a duh-me day I’m having. I kept sitting here going, “Chiropracter?” “Chiropractor?” “Chiro-?” Then I just decided, oh, hell, the damn dictionary’s two floors down in the basement, so just post and hope.

  • Booksquare // Apr 30, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    Oops, sorry, no. I misspelled it, too. But that’s okay. I won’t tell anyone. I knew that shunning spellcheck would be a problem one day. Life’s sometimes too short to worry about putting all the letters in the right place.

  • Lauren Baratz-Logsted // Apr 30, 2005 at 2:55 pm

    Oh crap. Of course it had to be chiropractor.