Thursday, March 9, 2017

Being Contracted Doesn't Mean Automatic Contracts Will Follow

Being a published author is a performance based career. Your job depends on not only producing, but being successful with those sales. It means making sure your writing is always equal to or better than your last book. For many authors, however, there seems to be an expectation that if you have a contract, there will always be another one coming. Not always.

Now, I will tell you that there was a time, essentially before the housing crash of 2008 where authors, if they had a contract pretty much were certain that more contracts would follow. These authors also seemed to believe that with every new contract, there would be a guaranteed raise in the advance. Unfortunately, there were many publishers that really "took it in the shorts" on that one, and, needless to say, those publishers went the way of the dodo.

As a writer, you have to produce. You need to show that you are continually getting those projects turned in (and on time), and making sure that the products that you are producing are showing improvement. This might not be in the quality of the writing (although we would hope so), but also we want to see an improvement as you adjust to the times in the publishing world. As we know, this is a business in constant flux and the publishers want to see those changes.

I would also add that agents want to see the same thing. Do not expect to still be "on their list" if you have disappeared off of the face of the Earth for the last year. If you want the resource of having that agent there to help you out, it is up to you to keep that person informed of where you are at and what you are doing.

I stated this above, but this is not just about the contracts, but it is also about those advances. If you want to see those raises, then you not only have to produce, but show that improvement. Show that you are truly working. The time you have spent at the company is not how this works. It is the production.

I hear so many authors complain that their critique partner just got a raise, but they didn't. "That is so unfair." In these cases, the author needs to ask, what have they done to deserve that raise. I think a good example of this would be the authors who write for Harlequin. These are shorter books and the marketing model they have works really well. Name recognition and get those books out in back-to-back months. BUT... if you only produce one or maybe too books each year, you cannot complain that royalties are down and you aren't getting the respect you deserve.

LaBron James wrote in an article for Sports Illustrated a comment that I think really sums this up. "...nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have." While he was talking about a specific city, I do believe this applies to everything out there.

Just something to reflect on.

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