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The very word is music to an author's ears.
What is an advance?
advance against royalties is an amount of money
received before the work is done in anticipation
of the completion of the work.
advance is usually paid to an author by a publisher
as a practical matter, as "seed money," as "venture
capital," because the writing of the book
will involve expense, and the author may not
be able to meet that expense without some money
From an author's point of view, advances
are sweet not because they are unearned
(the work comes later), but because they are
in your bank account rather than the publisher's.
Anyone who writes for a living knows that sometimes
it's difficult to get money from a publisher
on time and in the correct amount. If you have
an advance, time (and money) are on your side.
Normally, an advance is an advance on royalties,
that is, it is money which the publisher anticipates
you will earn on royalties of the book. When
you do earn those royalties, they
are not paid to you until they exceed the amount
that was advanced to you.
But advances also figure in the world of writing
for a flat fee. You may agree to do a
book for a publisher for a certain predetermined
sum of money (fee), which is not dependent upon
how well or badly the book sells. You may receive
part of this fee as an advance, and the rest
in partial amounts as the project progresses.
The best thing for an author is a big advance
all paid at once upon signing of the contract.
These days, this is rare, however. It is more
usual for a publisher and author to agree upon
the amount of an advance, then have it paid,
say, half upon signing of the contract and half
upon submission of the work.
It is not unusual for advances to be paid
in parts at certain milestones in the progress
of the work: upon signing of the contract, upon
submission of the first (second, third, etc.)
??% of the manuscript; upon submission of the
final portion of the manuscript; upon judgement
by the publisher that the manuscript is "acceptable;" upon
completion of editing (with the author's cooperation);
upon publication of the book.
If you get your last money upon publication of
the book, that's not much of an advance, as
you should be getting royalties soon in any
There is status in receiving a big advance
for a book. It means the publisher has confidence
in you and confidence in the project. But it
is not as important as having a good, mutually
respectful working relationship with your publisher.
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