Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No-Advance Book Deals

There’s a new debate in the publishing world. Last week Vanguard Press announced the launch of a publishing studio that may be a new model for book publishing, moving away from advances to royalty-only deals.

This new model means that Vanguard Press won’t offer authors an advance. It will, instead, pay royalties that it says are twice as high as the current standard, pay those royalties more frequently than is standard, and commit to certain marketing efforts. It also will only buy hardcover and paperback rights in the US and Canada.

This model is indeed new and strange. It’s also controversial.

Most of Vanguard’s authors are well-established authors. They seem to be big supporters of this new venture. They have a sales track record. They have loyal readers. They like the idea of higher royalties and don’t need the advance as much as newer or midlist authors.

But midlist and beginning authors are not so welcoming to this idea. They’re struggling to make their name, to gain their readership. No advance makes it more difficult for them to have the financial resources to live while they write.

Will this new model of no-advance book deals spread to other publishers? Will it lead to other publishers taking risks on new authors since they don’t have to pay money upfront? Will it lead to fewer new authors and the canceling of more struggling midlist authors? We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

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