Thursday, August 06, 2009

Don’t Be Late to the Party

Apparently, for authors, being late can get you kicked out. The New York Observer reports that it’s becoming more common than in the past for publishers to drop an author who doesn’t get their manuscript in by the deadline set in the contract. And we’re not just talking getting terminated or having to renegotiate the contract. We’re talking having to pay back your advance.

Remember, that advance an author is given is dependent on the author fulfilling his/her part of the contract, or as Eric Simonoff, an agent at WME Entertainment, called the advance: “a loan.”

If you’re a big name author, like Dan Brown, whose book is highly anticipated, your contract is not likely to be terminated. But if you’re midlist or your popularity has waned in the time it’s taken you to complete the book, you might want to look out.
“What has happened is that in the cold light of morning, publishers are looking at all these expensive deals they made based on the inflated marketplace, and now the bill is coming due and they don’t want the contracts anymore,” said one top agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Agents are urging their authors to get their work in on time.
As Mr. Simonoff said, “The reality is, you don’t have to worry about lateness if they want your book. You only have to worry about lateness if they don’t.”
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22 comments:

  1. Scary thought, since I have a Sept 1 deadline! Better polish that sucker up and send him out the door...

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  2. It does kinda put a burr under your saddle, doesn't it?

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  3. If I ever get lucky enough to have an agent and a publisher, this is good to know. Luckily, I'm a compulsively early person.
    Karen

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  4. What is an advance? Just kidding. But, I’ll never have to worry about one in my lifetime, that’s for certain. I’m just hopeful my publisher can get the darn book out the door when she said. Say, this doesn’t work in reverse does it…Well, I guess it probably could, but then, I’d be homeless. Not so good. As always, authors are at the mercy of publishers and agents. Unless you self-publish.

    Best Regards, Galen
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

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  5. You mean I might have had to pay back my whole $100 advance for Owen Fiddler? Gawd, what is this world coming to? LOL. Seriously, even thought writers are "arteeests" - c'mon ... it's just good business to be on the ball and on time. Write every day, have some discipline, and as long as a deadline is established with some sort of reasonable time to it, shouldn't be a problem except for the lazy or overly full of themselves arteeests.

    The Old Silly

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  6. I don't plan on ever being late, but that still scares me. What if a writer is in an auto accident or undergoes cancer treatment... I hope they'll be human about the decision at least.

    Lynnette Labelle
    http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

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  7. I'm surprised they didn't do this earlier. The bottom line is, if you're Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling, your publisher will wait for you. Otherwise, it's a publisher's market and there are about 400,000 other authors who would LOVE the chance to try to make a deadline. I would think this sort of thing would be a given.

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  8. My guess is if it's some medical thing that delays your manuscript, they'll cut some slack -- unless they feel your "hot" book will be cool by the time you can finish it.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  9. Seems like a smart move on the part of the publishers. I'm not sure published authors realize how stiff the competition is. Writers (good writers, I might add) are nipping at our heels.

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  10. Thats one advantage to self publishing for newbies to the biz. No deadlines. I would have failed the first time around. Now, I'm better positioned to meet a deadline, but might still struggle somewhat.

    Stephen Tremp

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  11. I'm fortunate to have a news reporting background, so lateness is never a problem. If you write the first draft without going back to endlessly edit previous chapters first, you can submit the manuscript on time with the understanding that you're in the process of polishing. Most editors simply want to know that you're able to complete the book.

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  12. I would love to have a publisher and a deadline, but yeah, that sounds scary.

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  13. I don't understand why a writer would miss a deadline. It's unprofessional.

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  14. It's called a deadline for a reason. It's not called a 'subtle reminder if you don't mind line'. Contracts were signed. I would think that actual following of the contract would be a given.

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  15. My guess is that it surely is a problem with big names, like Dan Brown, that do a lot of research. I think new writers and midlist would be more prone to hustle and get it in on time. Surely.

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  16. I guess there are advantages to not receiving an advance after all!

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  17. I saw that article and thought it was pretty interesting. Here I had always assumed that you were expected to meet your due dates. How silly of me. I can see missing a date by a week to a couple of months, but they were talking about books that were a year or more past their due date. Jeeze. You deserve to have your advance yanked back.

    I've always been uncomfortable with the whole idea of advances anyway. The very term worries me. I like the idea of no advances and a bigger percentage of the gross, personally.
    ~jon

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  18. Good note here! IF I ever get into that situation, you can be sure I will meet my deadline!

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  19. If I had that kind of deadline, I'd never think of being late. I'd be so paranoid, I'd send it in early. You'd think self-publishing would make a person more laid back, but actually, it makes more more gun ho about getting stuff done.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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  20. On the three TechCareers books I've written, I've turned in each one early. They definitely didn't make me laid back, Morgan.

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