Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 30, 2010

Negotiate a Higher Book Advance

A few years ago Alan Rinzler talked about how publishers come up with the amount of money to offer a writer for their book on his blog The Book Deal  – a very interesting read about the formula publishers use and the things they consider before coming up with an amount of money for advance.  It’s good to know what publishers want to know about their authors before the contract.  What they look for to help figure out whether the author can sell the book on their own.  Here are some things Alan says you can do to negotiate a higher advance.

1. Be a celebrity ~ Tina Fey just got upwards of $6 million for an unspecified humor book. Incredible, yes? That’s an exceptional figure by any stretch, but if you can claim a measure of celebrity status in your particular field, it can help boost your own advance.

2. Be honest and smart about your platform ~ Be sure to have that web site up and working, and a blog posting going out at least two or three times a week, before your book goes out for sale.

3. Tell the publisher how many names you’ve captured for own your email list ~ We know that a certain percentage of any blast to a personal email list will buy the book, and they’ll add in those numbers to their total units sold first year.

4. Tell us how many email lists you’re going to purchase yourself ~ These are not very expensive, and they’re key for ongoing email blasts. Publishers know that these lists work and are delighted to keep adding in more units. I know an author who sent out two million emails for his first book and it worked so well he’s committed to sending seven million the next time around. If you get the right lists for your book’s market, it can definitely pump up those numbers.

5. Commit to hiring your own publicity professional or web site marketing specialist ~ Every successful author I know these days has their own publicity and marketing people to fill in all the gaps left by conventional publishing efforts. Publishers will increase their projections when they hear you’re planning on this, so do this for at least a few months before and after pub date, and further, if all goes well.

6. Sell a chapter from your book to a respected periodical ~ That proves your work is already recognized and that it has a real market. For fiction there are many excellent literary journals. They may not have a huge circulation but publishers respect their taste and judgment. For non-fiction it depends on your topic, but there are good magazines and journals in every field.

7. Include a DVD in your proposal ~ Whether it’s you on a big network show or at the local Kiwanis, we want to see who you are and how you present. In one case, a first-time author sent me a home video her husband took of her full-face, just talking into the camera. She was so telegenic and persuasive that we doubled our numbers and paid her a larger advance.

8. Get endorsements from recognizable names ~ Go for published authors, respectable experts, folks with good affiliations and credentials. Sure there’s a lot of mutual back-scratching in the blurbs business, but it really does work to have an outside quotation, publishers do want them, and it affects their estimated numbers.

9. Meet the editors, sales and publicity people ~ Offer to come into our offices, especially when your dollar expectations are high. Making the human connection can greatly strengthen your case. As an editor, I sometimes bring an author in to meet with key decision-makers on my team.

Remember: It’s all about the numbers, but by being an active self-marketer, you can influence what are really seat-of-the-pants projections based on subjective impressions and relationships.

Click this link to read the formula. 

Do you have anything else that you found helped increase your book sales?


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