Whoo-hoo! That's me celebrating after diving back into my WIP. Per my stated goals, I logged in 1k words yesterday, and intend to do so every day (barring weekends or emergencies) until it's completed. The thing about writing fiction - at least for me - is that I dread doing it, but once I'm actually doing it, I find that I love it. So it's just a matter of forcing myself to sit down and write the damn thing. Sort of like going to the gym. Once you get in the habit of it, it merely becomes part of your routine.
Anyone else want to set some goals here? We can hold a weekly tally (on, say, Mondays) and fill each other in on how we did.
Question of the day: You've convinced me on the necessity of an agent. So let me ask a totally newbie question -- forgive me if you've addressed it. How does the $$ relationship work out? They get paid if your book sells? Or what?
First of all, there are no newbie questions here! That's the whole point of this blog!! No question is too dumb. (Well, that's not true. I'm sure that there are plenty of questions that are too dumb, but if you're reading this blog, you're already smart enough that I'm sure you've passed the point of being capable of asking truly moronic questions.)
Yes, the agent ONLY gets paid if she sells your book. Thus, it's in her best interest to work her tail off for you. It goes without saying that you should NEVER pay an "agent" an upfront fee - that's a blaring sign of a scam.
Here's how the whole money thing breaks down: most agents (in fact, I think nearly all of them), reap 15% of whatever you make from your book. So, for easy math, if you get a 10k advance, your agent pockets $1,500 from the advance, leaving you with $8,500. Whatever you get on top of your advance - if anything - she'll also get 15% of. But don't count on that money. Publishers calculate advances based on approximately what they expect your book to earn. Thus, if they think that you'll sell about 10k worth of books (this calculation includes all of the book-seller discounts and various things that I can't claim to understand), you'll get an offer for a 10k advance. And it's not until you've earned that money back that royalties kick in and you start seeing another dime.
Your agent can also earn you money by selling other rights, if she's held on to them. (In many cases, the publishing house might have bought them, but this is something that your agent can and will negotiate.) Rights such as foreign, audio, film, etc.
Keep in mind that your advance is paid out in increments: mine came (or is coming) in thirds, which is pretty standard, though if you have some leverage, I think you can get it paid in halves. I got the first third upon signing my contract, the next third upon handing in the revised and accepted manuscript, and I'll get the last third when the book comes out...next year. If the average advance for a debut author is in the 10k ballpark, you can easily see how authors aren't exactly having Indecent Proposal moments, rolling around in the bed with gazillions of dollars. Divide 10k into three, take out 15% and taxes, and well...very few debut authors quit their day jobs.
So if you're toiling away at your ms because you think it's a path lined with gold, this post is a wake-up call. If you're toiling away at your ms because you're possessed like the devil to tell a f-ing great story, then keep at it.
And with that, I'm headed to the gym. That's been part of my routine since college...I'm hoping my writing habits become as ingrained as my exercise habits. Experts say that you need 4-6 weeks of repeatedly doing a new task before it becomes inate, so I'm counting on you guys to hold me accountable: in 4-6 weeks, I should be nearing the end of my WIP. We'll see how I do.