I enjoy reading JA Konrath's blog and I think I've even contributed a comment or two on it over the past year or so. When I read today's post about negotiating contracts I felt a simple comment wouldn't suffice. He does a nice job giving newbie authors a frame of reference, but a number of his items require further clarification. I've italicized a few excerpts from his post below and added my own thoughts below each point:
We're afraid that if we don't take the offer, we won't get published. Publishers know this. And they use this to their advantage.
Not really. In fact, if you (as an author) start to feel you're getting treated this way by a publisher/editor I recommend you run for the nearest exit! There are far too many other publishers (and self-publishing options) out there to let yourself get bullied around like this.
It is in their best interest to offer low advances and try to acquire as many sub rights as possible.
Also not true, at least the advances part... Publishers realize that author advances are just like any other part of a transaction: You get what you pay for. No publisher wants an author to walk away from the negotiating table feeling like they're not getting what they deserve on an advance. Why? The publisher wants, no, needs the author to be properly motivated throughout the project. Anything short of that will compromise the results.
A healthy advance also shows that your publisher is confident in your books, and will spend a sizable amount on marketing them.
This is one of the biggest myths in author contract negotiations. Honestly, there's zero correlation between the level of the author advance and the amount of money spent on marketing. In fact, some publishing houses will tell you that the bigger the author advance, the less they have left to spend on marketing. So many other factors come into play on this as well, not the least of which is author platform; we publishers are looking for authors with great platforms, mostly because we find those are a much better promotional vehicle for the book than advertising or premium placement in a store.