Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Forgotten Book Advance

Alice Dines

Did your publisher somehow miss a scheduled advance payment on your latest book? It happens more often than you might imagine, thanks to poor bookkeeping or selected memory. Writers must keep track of their contracts and payment schedules, and remind their publishers of their obligations, as shown today by an insightful article by Angela Hoy.

Dear Angela:

I think you have a great service, and now, as a fellow writer, I am asking your help.

I have a book contract. However, while I received the first part of my advance, I did not receive the second half. Nevertheless, the book is already for sale. Now, I have another manuscript that I submitted to the publisher, and he said it was too long, but, that he liked the writing and the work, so he broke it up into two works. He has indicated the second will be coming out on his next list. I am gratified to have such a reception, but, the second work has no written contract, I have not been paid the second part of my advance on the first, and there has been no discussion about money on the second. I do not know what to do. I know I need an agent, but, I am in a bind. My work is already sold! However, I need money to live as well! I have no "new" work to present to an agent.

Sincerely, D.

You need to immediately remind the publisher that you're still waiting for the second half of your advance. But, check your contract first to ensure there's not some clause in there you're not aware of.

From your note, it appears you haven't bugged him about the second half yet. Don't be afraid to. He may be unaware it hasn't gone out or he may simply have forgotten.

The fact that he hasn't even given you a contract on the new book, however, is quite troubling. Even if you have a relationship with a publisher, you should never, ever work without a contract. This, coupled with the missing second half of your advance, could either spell ignorance or laziness on behalf of the publisher, or it could mean he's purposely trying to rip you off.

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