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?
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.
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.
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)?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yeah, you tell her I'm getting $201,000 for a book that I'm writing in text messages.
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.
Find out who offered him this money. I've got some half finished books for them, too.
Maybe they will give me $100,000 for the thoughts in my head about a story I might write.
His imaginary friend, Stevie, is prepared to offer you 200 k for an unfinished book, Bryan.
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.
I tell ya what. Get the info on this publishing house. I'd happily finish my novel for an advance of 5k.
Stevie is only interested in unfinished books.
Yeah, I've got two of those!
I've got one really unfinished. In fact, it only has a title at this point - and only half of that.
Lemme guess, it's a two word title and what you've got so far is "The"?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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??
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.
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.
"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."
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.
..... 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.
Hahaha, Jonny, there is NO WAY your book could be compared to Fucker Max!
Unless he was talking about getting a offer from a over seas publisher in something beside USD, it is very unlikely.
Total bullshit. That kind of advance would make the news. And few people would turn it down.
Or is this guy just plain full of shit?
Or is this guy just plain full of shit?
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.
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.
I'll be damned, this also marks my one year anneversary with LitReactor.
How 'bout dat.