J.S. Wright's picture
J.S. Wright from Milwaukee is reading Black Spring September 3, 2012 - 5:48am

Alrighty people... I need a ruling.

A good friend of mine just started dating someone who refers to himself as a writer.
I know: "Big whoop.  We all do."  That's not what made one of my eyebrows go up.

Apparently, the guy turned down a $200,000 advance on a (first) novel he's yet to finish.

The needle on my Bullshit 'O' Meter pegged when I heard that.  First, turning down an advance in the first place is weird, but getting offered 200k for a debut novel??  I just couldn't fathom that. Is there something I'm missing here?  I generally know how advances work... but could there some sort of downside to that deal that I'm not aware of?

Or is this guy just plain full of shit?

Robert.B's picture
Robert.B from Northern Ireland is reading The Last of the Savages By Jay McInerney September 3, 2012 - 7:12am

I'm far from an expert but $200k seems like a ridiculous amount for a first novel. I think Palahniuk only got about a $6k advance for Fight Club.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore September 3, 2012 - 7:34am

Yeah, I think if you get any advance at all these days, it's more likely to be in the $5K range. Those kinds of figures for a first-timer I'd think would be reserved for celebrity books or someone with a huge built-in platform.

GaryP's picture
GaryP from Denver is reading a bit of this and that September 3, 2012 - 7:42am

I can believe the $200K, it happens, though it seems unlikely he would turn it down--unless a lot of big dogs have been sniffing his ass about this book. Or he turned it down because it scared the shit out of him. 

Have you Googled him, does he have any kind of track record (short stories/essays/blog/famous for something non-writerly)?

J.S. Wright's picture
J.S. Wright from Milwaukee is reading Black Spring September 3, 2012 - 7:46am

I'm glad to hear this, it makes me less worried about jumping the gun and telling her he was just throwing her a line of crap.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books September 3, 2012 - 10:51am

My bullshit meter is all over the place on that one. But I agree with googling the guy and seeing if he has anything that might call for a large advance--let alone an astronomical one.

OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz September 3, 2012 - 11:03am

I dunno, it happens. Happened with me. But I was all like "I'm not working for the man" and "you don't own my art" and I slapped the guy in the suit with a white glove, hopped on my unicorn and rode off into the rainbow. To each his own.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books September 3, 2012 - 11:04am

^^Hehe.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break September 3, 2012 - 12:07pm

Completely full of shit. I can't think of anyone (outside of the celebrity bio genre) that is getting offered six figures for their first book, let alone one that isn't even finished yet.

Sounds like this guy is trying to flex in order to get all up in your friend's cookie.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. September 3, 2012 - 12:22pm

Do you have a picture of this friend?  Because if she'll fall for that line, I've got some good lies laying around to tell her.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break September 3, 2012 - 12:32pm

Yeah, you tell her I'm getting $201,000 for a book that I'm writing in text messages.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs September 3, 2012 - 3:27pm

It's easier to lie about being offered a $200,000 advance if you say you turn it down. It's possible to get an advance for an unfinished non-fiction book (so it can be used for expenses as far as traveling or whatever), but getting an advance at for an unfinished novel is highly unlikely unless there's special circumstances like he's a celebrity. But he sounds more like a compulsive liar. 

Big advances for first (finished novels) do happen sometimes, but rarely. I think Nick Harkaway got about half a million for his first novel, The Gone-Away World. But why in the world would someone pass up a $200,000? Only if they can make more money by self-publishing. And the only authors who can do that are people who already have books out and huge readerships.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. September 3, 2012 - 4:19pm

Find out who offered him this money.  I've got some half finished books for them, too.

Stacy Kear's picture
Stacy Kear from Bucyrus, Ohio lives in New Jersey is reading The Art of War September 3, 2012 - 4:21pm

Maybe they will give me $100,000 for the thoughts in my head about a story I might write.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs September 3, 2012 - 4:33pm

His imaginary friend, Stevie, is prepared to offer you 200 k for an unfinished book, Bryan.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. September 3, 2012 - 5:58pm

How about 400k for a finished book?  I've got one waiting.  Just need a rewrite - and I think 400k will motivate me to do that.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books September 3, 2012 - 6:11pm

I tell ya what. Get the info on this publishing house. I'd happily finish my novel for an advance of 5k.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs September 3, 2012 - 6:27pm

Stevie is only interested in unfinished books.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books September 3, 2012 - 6:28pm

Yeah, I've got two of those!

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. September 3, 2012 - 6:37pm

I've got one really unfinished.  In fact, it only has a title at this point - and only half of that.

ReneeAPickup's picture
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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books September 3, 2012 - 6:39pm

Lemme guess, it's a two word title and what you've got so far is "The"?

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like September 3, 2012 - 6:56pm

Don't you have to pay back the advance? At least that's how it works in some contracts, right? They take royalties until it's paid off? (I might be totally off, but I think I read that somewhere.) Maybe he didn't want to be in debt to his publisher for the next five or six books / the rest of his life.

EDIT --- Note: I've never been offered a book deal, and I haven't read a working contract, but I think some writer's website (maybe even this one) had a bit about advances vs royalties. It might be you get the advance regardless, but you don't get royalties until it's paid in sales. I don't remember for sure.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers September 3, 2012 - 7:08pm

You could call his bluff with a lie of your own. Tell him you know some editors who might want to look at it, but you need to know who had the manuscript because you don't want to step on anyone's toes. 

If he calls you out on that one, you could always say you think he's full of shit, and without proof--who he sent it to, etc., then he will remain full of shit. Sometimes it is best to just call people out on their bullshit. It sets the boundaries, lets them know you smell their game. 

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs September 3, 2012 - 7:13pm

If an author gets an advance, they don't get any royalties until the advance has been paid off. But I'm pretty sure they don't have to pay back the advance if the book doesn't make it back in sales, so there's no debt involved. If the book doesn't pay off the advance, the author won't have to continue paying it off with another book. But if a book doesn't pay off its advance, it's unlikely the author will have another book published by a traditional NYC press. But if a book gets a large advance, the publisher is going to put a lot more effort than usual into making it back in sales.

Oh, and I just remembered something about The Gone-Away World. The author is John le Carré's son. He probably would have gotten less of an advance if it wasn't for that.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters September 3, 2012 - 7:10pm

Yeah, I'd go ahead and call him on it.  And you don't have to sound like a jerk about it - although I probably would.  You can just inquire as to who offered the advance and let on that you know a thing or two and that seems highly unlikely.  See what you get.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books September 3, 2012 - 7:30pm

You could send me a PM with his name and I'd look to see if he has anything else published. Because I am a curious bitch like that.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore September 3, 2012 - 9:11pm

No, he wouldn't have to pay back the advance, as said. People get this confused with the music biz, where it's usually the case, because that kind of advance is bascially just a loan from the record company. There have been many popular acts that were still indebted to their record label for millions even after a few successful albums.

JonnyGibbings's picture
JonnyGibbings September 3, 2012 - 11:07pm

In the UK you have to pay it back if you don't exceed. As an Indy, you'd want to say 'no' I'll take a little advance and you plumb that money into marketing! $20K - what is his book, how he got mouth fucked my Obama??

J.S. Wright's picture
J.S. Wright from Milwaukee is reading Black Spring September 4, 2012 - 12:39am

The more posts I read, the more ridiculous it feels that I even had to ask this question ing the first place.  Eh well.


@Sparrow, sadly I only know the guys's first name, Brad. He's a bartender out here in Milwaukee, (like everyone else).  The book itself, according to my friend, Anna, is something along the lines of a 1920's gangster/bootlegging story.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. September 4, 2012 - 9:06am

I think it's a Tucker Max-style book about how he fucked girls by telling them that he has a huge advance on his book.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters September 4, 2012 - 9:16am

"I think it's a Tucker Max-style book about how he fucked girls by telling them that he has a huge advance on his book."

That.

Mckay Williams's picture
Mckay Williams from Oakland, California is reading slowly... September 4, 2012 - 9:56am

The advance I got from MacAdam/Cage was... "Finish your book and I'll make sure it get's on Pat's desk."

 

I thought that was pretty neat.

JonnyGibbings's picture
JonnyGibbings September 4, 2012 - 11:48am

..... for the record, I fucking hate being compared to that Prick Tucker Max. It seems the default for those who have not read my book but think they... ah fuck it.

You should tell him you are getting your photographic book of your unicorn pictures published, the shit in your hands and throw it in his face.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books September 4, 2012 - 12:32pm

Hahaha, Jonny, there is NO WAY your book could be compared to Fucker Max! 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 5, 2012 - 12:53pm

Unless he was talking about getting a offer from a over seas publisher in something beside USD, it is very unlikely.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies September 26, 2012 - 9:00am

Total bullshit. That kind of advance would make the news. And few people would turn it down.

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade September 27, 2012 - 12:44pm

Or is this guy just plain full of shit?

Yes.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading September 27, 2012 - 3:10pm

Being a writer is about being a good enough bullshitter that people will keep listening even when they remind themselves you're full of shit.

Maybe this guy has become his own protagonist.

J.S. Wright's picture
J.S. Wright from Milwaukee is reading Black Spring October 9, 2012 - 2:03am

 I really should check back here more often.

After hearing more about him in the past few weeks, it seems to me he's not a writer at all.  Instead he's just a dimwitted bartender with a BA in English.  No offense against bartenders, though.  Basically he serves drinks at night, dicks around all day, vaguely claims to have an agent but never elaborates, claims to write at coffee shops all the time but never leaves the couch.  One of those types. 

I gave her my (thanks to youz guyz) educated opinion and she didn't seem surprised at all.  Relationship is on the decline even though they recently moved in together.  Hopefuly it'll end with a bang.

...and scene.

J.S. Wright's picture
J.S. Wright from Milwaukee is reading Black Spring October 9, 2012 - 2:02am

I'll be damned, this also marks my one year anneversary with LitReactor.

How 'bout dat.