CHECK OUT THE  $$"ADVANCE"$$ for a first time writer

Today, I idly wondered what would get me in gear with finishing a novel.
I googled "ADVANCE today for an unknown writer"  An expert in the field SAID: (URL)

1962: $1,000
1965: $3,000
1970: $10,000
1976: $700
1982: $7,500
1984: $7,500
1985: $2,500, $8,000
1989: $3,000
1990: $15,000
1995: $4,000
1996: $4,000
1997: $7,500
1999: $2,500
2002: $6,500
2003: $13,500
2004:  $10,000

Average advance: $5,920

Now, if you have a little prestige, it's more. Another URL had this information
Knopf Pays a $4 Million Advance to a First-Time Novelist
My eyes bugged and I read on.

"Ocean Park,'' is the story of an African-American law professor who
finds himself investigating the death of his father, a conservative
judge, and retracing his father's life.

Publishers involved in the bidding said the novel had captivated them
because it combined the pace of a legal thriller with the thoughtfulness
of literary fiction and because it offered an unusual perspective into
the culture of professional-class African-Americans.

''It is milieu that has not been written about terribly much,'' said
Sonny Mehta, president of Knopf. ''But I am not sure I would
characterize it as an African-American novel. That is an aspect of its
appeal, but by no means its total appeal. It is a very American novel.''

Mr. Carter's agent, Lynn Nesbit, said she mailed the 900-page manuscript
to publishers more than a week ago. Four publishers responded with bids
before they had finished reading it.

By Thursday, the bidding had risen to $4 million for a two-book deal,
and only Knopf and the Random House Trade Group were still in the hunt.
Both are imprints of the media giant Bertelsmann's Random House
publishing division; the parent company allows its imprints to compete
with one another as long as at least one other publishing house remains
in the bidding as well.

When the last non-Random House bidder dropped out, Knopf and the Random
House Trade Group halted bidding and left Mr. Carter and Ms. Nesbit to

Mr. Carter said that in the end, he selected Knopf because, about three
years ago, Mr. Mehta ''was kind enough to read a couple of chapters and
tell me whether it was something that I should keep working on.''

Mr. Carter said he was surprised and gratified by the response but did
not plan to quit his job as a professor.

''I am still principally a legal scholar and law professor,'' he said.


I googled a third article:

 Advance to where?By Jane Sullivan April 29 2002

It's mad, funny money. An American author's second novel has just been
snapped up for a cool $US8 million,  plus $US3 million for film rights.
And all the publishers have seen is a single-page synopsis.

Mind you, the author, Charles Frazier, is an exceptionally hot property
for a literary writer. His first novel, the Civil War saga "Cold
Mountain", sold around three million copies in hardback and paperback.
Even so, the literary world is amazed - and apprehensive. How high are
these advances going to go?

Frazier was unknown when a small publishing company, Grove/Atlantic,
picked up his first novel for $US100,000. For his second book, he got a
new agent, Amanda Urban, who put his synopsis up for auction. At least
five publishers joined in the bidding, and the giant Random House Trade
Group won.

Carolyn Hays, his editor at Sceptre, the Hodder & Stoughton imprint that
fought off rivals to retain the British rights, told Britain's
Bookseller magazine that there was an enormous amount of competition for
Frazier's second novel, and he was receiving unsolicited offers as long
as a year ago. ``It didn't matter to me whether the deal was negotiated
on the basis of one page or a finished manuscript,'' she said. ``It's a
wonderful page.''

Now all Frazier has to do is expand his wonderful page into a book about
the true story of a white man raised by Cherokee Indians.

It's all part of a bookselling revolution, says the London Observer
literary editor, Robert McCrum. Books are like music and movies: an
industry dominated by agents and full of ``mad money''. Hot authors
abandon their old publishers without a qualm and go where the money is.
He quotes British literary agent Michael Sissons: to defend their
declining market share of the expanding information and entertainment
sector, publishers are relying on ``fewer and fewer, but bigger and
bigger-selling titles, with correspondingly larger advances''.

The trend is trickling down to Australia, in proportion to our much
smaller market, at least in non-fiction. ``Advances for non-fiction have
soared unbelievably - you can't pay what you think is sensible for a
book any more,'' says Picador publisher Nikki Christer. ``If it's got a
bit of hype attached to it, there's got to be a big advance.''

``Publishers are, in the main, putting out fewer titles and then really
going after the big ones as hard as they can,'' says Lisa Highton,
publishing director of Hodder Headline. ``You can't go into a bookshop
with 300 titles and say `Here is my list'. You have to tell them, `This
is the book that will get a massive marketing and advertising campaign'.
And you can only do it for the big books.''

Tom Gilliatt, Pan Macmillan's non-fiction publisher, says that some
books that would have fetched between $10,000 to $20,000 a year ago are
now getting advances three or four times as big. ``Publishers seem to
love auctions. Given a sniff of competition, they pull out the
chequebook . . . With a limited pool of potential authors and subjects,
the books that people consider the most commercial are hotly
contested.'' Or as HarperCollins' publishing director, Shona Martyn,
says: ``In an auction situation, publishers tend to get more and more

Celebrity autobiographies, particularly of popular sporting figures, are
where the big money is. They can go to auction on just a proposal or a
sample chapter.

A few years ago, a sporting hero's story might have fetched $50,000.
Then the figures began to soar. Dawn Fraser set a new record for
Australian non-fiction advances when her autobiography Dawn: One Hell of
a Life went for a rumoured $430,000. This year, Cathy Freeman topped
her: she has signed up with Penguin Books for a rumoured $520,000

An advance is an upfront royalty payment agreed in a contract, a
calculated guess by publishers as to how much a book might earn. If the
book does well, the author may earn more royalties down the track. If it
doesn't, the author is not expected to pay back the money.

So colossal advances are a colossal gamble. The books are expected to
earn their advances in sales, or the venture is seen as an expensive and
humiliating failure. Despite gloomy predictions from rival publishers,
Hodder Headline did well with Dawn Fraser's book. If Cathy Freeman's
book is to do well, it will need to sell about 60,000 to 100,000
hardback copies: huge sales for any Australian book.

Sometimes a big book crashes. British publishers paid 100,000
for Bo Fowler's Scepticism Inc, a novel narrated from the
point of view of a supermarket trolley, and even more for Richard
Mason's The Drowning People. Never heard of them? That's because they
sank without trace.

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