Author Tip: Author Advances vs. Marketing Funds
I never really thought to compare these two items until I saw a note about it on the “Mad Max Perkins” BookAngst 101 blog. He cautions, “Beware publishers who boast of their marketing capabilities, and use it as a justification of their meager advances.” Amen.
I’ve worked at three different publishing houses and I’ve never seen a case where author advances and marketing funds were being pulled from the same financial bucket. Adding more to one shouldn’t really affect the other.
As I’ve noted many times before, my experience is with computer book publishing. If you’re faced with this dilemma on a different type of book, you could at least ask your editor/publisher some follow-up questions. For example, if they’re really going to offer you a lower advance to help fund marketing, what specific marketing initiatives are they planning?
"I’ve worked at three different publishing houses and I’ve never seen a case where author advances and marketing funds were being pulled from the same financial bucket. Adding more to one shouldn’t really affect the other."
I think in some cases the advance *could* have an effect on marketing funds in the other direction--the more the publisher pays in an advance, the more *invested* they are in that book, and the more likely they might be to market the book. It's one thing to write off, say, a $7,000 advance. But a $50,000 advance could be more of a commitment.
Obviously that's not always the case, and I don't know this for certain, but it makes *logical* sense, and in my limited experience, it seems to be holding true. This doesn't mean that a low advance in any way means *less* marketing, but I do think a larger advance could be a better indication of a larger marketing budget than the other way 'round.
And thanks again, Joe, for writing about all this! Your blog is such a help for authors (and potential authors), and you have so many interesting new ideas about moving us all forward.
Posted by: Kathy Sierra | June 07, 2005 at 12:00 PM
So late on this, bu wanted to say thank you SO much! I just came upon your site and am so thankful for all of your information.
As a first-time author who just completed my first conference call with the agent and potential buyer yesterday, I can def say that I shared many of the thoughts you've expressed on the board. Particularly, your thoughts regarding the advance and royalties. I have a house offering a low advance, which I refuse to take unless they provide additional monies for me to handle promotion. I used to work in public relations and highly understand the importance of getting a title out there and would never depend on an internal house that has to publicize tens of titles to do a good job.
Posted by: Rachel | January 31, 2006 at 11:19 AM