Monday, May 10, 2010

There Are No Small Deals

Hey, so I heard the wise Laura Rennert say this at the conference I just attended. (Side note: I'm presenting again -- this time at the League of Utah Writers -- this Saturday! Come see me if you can!)

She said, "There are no small deals."

My heart took courage at that. I've sort of been wrestling with something, and I hope it'll make sense.

I know my book isn't going to sell for a lot of money. I could go on and on about why I think that, but I'll spare you.

Let's just say I have a feeling. So here's my question for you:

Does that make my book not as good as one that does sell for a lot of money?

Does the amount of money paid make a book better?

And before you guys get all "That's ridiculous, E," or whatever whatever, really stop and think about it. When you read the deal on Publisher's Marketplace that says the trilogy sold in a major deal, don't you automatically think that book is better than one that didn't?

Just the same way we think some agents are better than others...? Bigger names = better agent, right?

So it stands to reason that bigger money = better book.

I have a firm opinion on this, but I'm wondering what you all think. So tell me! Does bigger money mean a better book? Why or why not? Or is Laura Rennert right and there are no small deals?

96 comments:

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I agree. No small deals. Every deal is a writer's dream coming true. That is a HUGE deal. :)

Matthew Rush said...

Okay, this might sound crazy, but I believe that bigger money = bigger book, as far as how commercially successful it will be. That absolutely 100% does not mean bigger book = better book. In fact I believe that in most cases the biggest books, like the biggest films or biggest alubms, are not the best. Generally the things that I like the very best are somewhat more obscure.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I don't think Laura means "all deals are created equal." some (with more money) are obviously better than others. But ANY deal is a big deal.

I can especially relate to this b/c I signed with a small press. It's a "small deal." and yet to me, its a big deal. It's huge.

Of course I have bigger aspirations.I'll keep trying, but in the meantime, I'm very happy with my 'huge small deal.'

salarsenッ said...

ABSO-STINKING-LOOTLY!

In my first writers group, I had this instructor--grand older lady, talented and also wise in the world of publishing. She was what I've come to know as a 'grunt' writer. She'd written hundreds of mag articles, newspaper posts, and 5 non-fiction hardcovers. She had to fight for every publication credited to her.

As she said, "I was queried up the butt."

I won't name to book--it was a huge bestseller--but during her class we ripped apart one chapter of said book. She pointed out all the literary ailments, poor grammar, and even some structure issues.

This thing sold big, though.

She explained her take on said book's success. Her explanation: today's literary greatness is not so much in the product and skill of the craft but in how the product is marketed and the dang bottom line. I could feel the pain in her words. She was serious. (Of course there are exceptions to her words, but that was her take after 50 years of writing in this industry.)

One high point: readers also choose to read a book because the 'like' the author. You have that, my dear friend. ";-)
Sheri~

Lydia Kang said...

Hmm, I think I agree with Matthew. The pubs may see something that's going to make money, otherwise they wouldn't sink a lot of dough fighting for it. But it DEFINITELY doesn't mean it's a better book. These days agents and editors are so picky they aren't picking crappy books. I really don't think so. So it's a matter of taste these days, whether it's highbrow or lowbrow, a "good" read and or "bad" one.
At this point, getting a deal just means you finally broke the last barrier--getting a pub editor to love your work. And that's something worth celebrating!

Culture Served Raw said...

I'm not quite sure, though all these insights into the big bad publishing world freaks me out a little

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I cannot believe that there are 'small deals' because every book published adds to the world's great collection of literature, and no part of that is small. I do, however, believe that there are 'big' deals, in the sense that people make 'too big a deal' of certain books. And then, of course, there are well-written books that sell for tons of money. That isn't necessarily becaue they're better written, it has a lot to do with the luck of the draw and circumstances.
Just my two cents. :)

Cheree said...

I agree with Matthew and Lydia. Bigger money does usually mean that the pubs have seen something (like a trend) developing, but that doesn't mean it's better than the smaller deals. It just means that the pub will put more effort into selling it since they put more money into it.

But, as writers it should matter how big or small the deal is. Making that final leap into being published is what we are aiming for after all.

Theresa Milstein said...

There are NO SMALL DEALS. Much of this business is subjective. How do some agents and publishers turns down projects that wind up being wildly successful? And it has to be the same for publishers who decide to invest more in a specific book or series of books. It's a betting game. Publishers are gamblers.

I think the $ given in a deal has to do with marketability. If they think a book will appeal to a wider audience, so be it. They'll pay more. If they don't think it has mass market appeal, they'll pay less.

We can all think of examples of books that were huge bestsellers that weren't written all that well.

So, if your first one doesn't get a big advance, so what? Promote the heck out of it, establish yourself, and hope the next one will garner a bigger deal.

Lana said...

Who would you rather be? The big franchise burger place with 17.3 McJillion served? Or the taco truck with the most amazing burrito in town, creating your own unique recipes and serving loyal repeat customers? Personally, I'm aiming for that taco truck, but the point is that there is a place for each.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Absolutely not! I've seen many so-called best sellers fail. Often they aren't very good, either.

Palindrome said...

I agree with that. Probably because I worked in a book store for a dozen years and I have found so many "small" books that have become my favorites. I seek out the unpopular and they become popular to me.

I don't always want to read what every one else is buying and I seek out the "midlist" novel.

I know my book is not going to make a ton of money either but as long as my book is someone's favorite, I will have done my job.

laurapauling said...

Small is a very subjective word. I've read it's better to get a smaller advance because then you earn out faster and that always looks good when you go to publish your second book. Where if you get a major deal but your book doesn't earn out...not as good.

There are room for all sorts of books. And some totally pick up speed on the way. Publishers can't predict everything. You just never know!

But let's face it. We all hope for that bigger deal b/c we believe it means better sales.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

I have to go on the side of anything that Laura Rennert says is right--of course I'm extremely biased now where she's concerned:) But it doesn't matter how big or small, your work is your work and its out there! Thats all that counts!

Karen Lange said...

I agree that there are no small deals. A well written book (or article, etc.) is a well written book. I think much has to do with how it's perceived and marketed, and the kind of genre/market it fits in. It's a shame that so many good works out there don't do as well as the 'big ones'.

I dislike it when I see that a celebrity has written a book that's poorly written and it flies off the shelves. But I guess it is similar to an election campaign where the wealthy or well financed candidate often makes better progress than the grass roots down to earth candidate.

I'm not sure what the solution is except to keep plugging away doing what we are called to do. It's not the fame and fortune that I seek with my writing, although not opposed to some aspects of it (!) but to know that I wrote well, helped others, and made some kind of difference.

the cautionary tale said...

A deal is a deal. It's an accomplishment! There are no small victories only victories.

Slamdunk said...

I think a deal is a victory and should be celebrated. I don't associate great authors with sales--otherwise I would have to conclude that the National Enquirer must have some fantastic writers.

Tara said...

Hmm. Not sure. I agree that big $ = big book. But only in the sense that if the publisher sinks that kind of $ into it, they will likely market better and it will sell well.

Then, if it's the author's 1st deal and it flops...

I'd rather get a small or mediocre deal and have my book do well on its own merit so that my next will be wanted (then maybe I will get a better deal, too). I want a career in writing, not a one-time gig.

Christine Fonseca said...

I agree with Laura - no small deals!

Corinne O'Flynn said...

I am with Matthew - For the most part, I feel that a big money book deal is a measure of how well the powers-that-be think it will do commercially. Sure, it must be a good book to have attracted such a deal, but does that mean smaller deals are aimed at lesser books? That can't be true. Having come from the advertising world, I feel it is all about a calculated risk. You don't pay unless you expect to get the audience. In this case that means commercial success.

Annette Lyon said...

I know what she meant, but the sentiment isn't entirely true. (Smacks a bit of, "No small parts, just small actors.")

I know enough writers and their works to get that the dollar figure next to a deal doesn't equate quality--there are plenty of books I think stink that got huge deals and vice versa. But if a publisher puts a lot of money behind a book, they want to be sure it'll sell well--and because of that money, it usually will, quality or no.

That said, word of mouth is HUGE. Even Harry Potter didn't really take off until book three or four, and that was thanks to word of mouth.

And now I'm totally rambling. :)

Portia said...

I agree, no small deals! I knew a writer who published mystery for a regional publisher. Her solid performance garnered her a three-book deal from a major publisher, and her books even became National Bestsellers. I think it's about building a career and sharing your story with others.

Jess of All Trades said...

When I was going through a Personal Finance Research period, I read a lot of the 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' books and one of the things he said which has stuck with me is this:

"I'm not a best Writing author. I'm a best Selling author." Salesmanship is the key.

Knowing how to sell something doesn't mean it's the best product. McDonald's is not the best burger in the world. But it is the best selling burger in the world. I like to think my opinion wouldn't be swayed toward a book just because a publisher spent a lot of money on it, but you just never know.

So of course, if you can write an awesome book AND sell it, then...well, then you're the Sauce.

LR said...

I agree with what some other people are saying here that the books I tend to love are "quieter" books that are not "high concept" but have beautiful language. And these kinds of books "don't sell" supposedly.
Makes me wonder how the books I love ever got through the hoops.

Kristi Faith said...

I try to always remind myself that it's all about perception. There are several books that won awards/sold a bajillion copies, made into a movie and I hate them. Seriously.

Twilight? Not my thing.

But, in your own perception...what is your ultimate goal? To see your name in print? Or to sell a bajillion copies? I think if you meet your own expectations...it's a big deal. :0)

Lisa said...

I agree with Laura as well. My first book is being published through a smaller e-pub and it's a huge deal to me. Being published "period" is a dream come true and a huge goal realized.

VR Barkowski said...

I agree with Ms. Rennert. There are no small deals.
Bigger money ≠ better book.
Bigger money = more marketable book.

Some big money books are awsomesauce, others really suck (I'm reading one of those right now). Same for small money books. The difference is that big money suckage is likely to sell more because of big marketing dollars. This is one of the conflicts we have as writers. We're told not to write to the market, but all evidence suggests we *should* be writing to the market.

A bigger named agent doesn't mean better either. It means tested. And that's why writers target the bigger names. A new untried agent may work far more tirelessly to get a book sold, but because he or she is unproven, that agent is a bigger risk for the writer. And most writers feel they are risking enough just by being writers. :)

Wow, I'm wordy for a Monday!

paulgreci said...

I agree. No deal is a small deal. You want your book to find the best home and that is a big deal.

Ian said...

If it gets the book into the hands of your readers, then I suppose that's what really matters. They won't care if you got paid $1 or a mill when they start reading it. That's my view (of course, a big wad of notes is always great, but not the be all).

Danyelle Ferguson said...

OK - So, I'm a romance fan. Do you know how much $$$ Nora Roberts gets for each of her books? Some of her books are awesome - some totally suck. Boring characters that I've read out of her previous early years' books. I think it's the same way with every author who has made it "big". They have good books, awesome books, and crappy books.

I'm actually more leary about reading books from well known authors than I am with new authors. The well known authors can get more past their editors because they have a huge fan base and the book will sell well regardless if it's excellent or not.

But new authors have to work so hard to get an agent, get recognized and published - that they're first book or two is usually very good or excellent. And hopefully when they get big, they'll continue being awesome.

So, I go with there is no small deal. And Elana - I think you'll have an awesome run with your book!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Fact - 9 our of 10 best sellers fail. So all that big money up front means nothing. Agents and publishers don't know any more than you or I what will be successful.

Deni Krueger said...

I think the size of the deal is more about the commercial viability of the book than it's literary value. The money the company invests is the gamble they take on your book's profitability, as well as your bankability on future writing endeavors.

More money doesn't measure your ability as an writer, but it does measure your ability to develop a commercially successful story.

I WISH I was one of those:), but I fall more on the literary side.

Lisa K. said...

It's an interesting question, Elana. I definitely don't think a bigger deal means a better book, although that's usually my initial reaction, too. I think those big deals involve, among other things, a great deal of luck. And there's also choice involved, that of the author. IMHO, there is absolutely nothing wrong with smaller deals. Whatever is going to make your dream come true!

Abby Annis said...

I know I'm repeating others here, but I think bigger money just means the publisher believes that book has more commercial appeal and not necessarily that the book is better. And smaller money just means less pressure on the author to earn out an advance. There are advantages to both, but I can see (being a numbers girl, which I know you are too) how that big money deal can appear to be better--on the surface at least.

Of course, there are several books out there that sold for A TON of money that did well commercially, but just weren't very good books overall. (Not that I'm saying they're all bad, but I've been disappointed a lot lately.) And there are books out there that sold for A TON of money and totally bombed. I think timing plays a huge role too.

Your story will find its place and it will be loved by MANY, I'm sure. I know I'll be buying it when it comes out. :)

Jonathon Arntson said...

I think Patterson throws your concept right out the window: more money does NOT = a better book.

lynnrush said...

No small deals. Laura's right.

Piedmont Writer said...

There are no small deals -- a deal's a deal. Money is money. We should all be grateful when we get one. I know I will.

Em-Musing said...

I agree with salarsen. And here's my two cents worth: Imagine all the movie stars who can't act their way out a B movie, but with the right PR bring in huge box office bucks. Writers are creative, but we're not necessarily good at everything. HIRE a pro in marketing & publicity.

Patti said...

I think she's right. A small deal is at least a step in the right direction. It might take some of us longer to get the major deal, but maybe that means we'll appreciate it more.

Jen said...

There are no small deals, only small writers. If you can't handle that your book won't be the next Harry Potter or Twilight Series then chances of you truly appreciating what it means to be published is a wash.

My dream is for others to love reading and writing as much as I do. To see my book in a Barnes & Noble and tell myself "You wrote that", of course I'll promote the hell out of my book but I don't know a billion people, I do know that those who love me will buy my book and eventually share with others as it makes its way down the grapevine. The love of a story is what sells, if it's good it's worth being on the shelves!

Michelle McLean said...

I agree with others in that I think the bigger deal books will have more marketing money thrown at them = better possibility of high sales. But as others have also said, word of mouth is huge and I don't think the money in any way determines if a book is "better" or not...this business is sooo subjective. The publishers might think a book will be huge only to end up with a flop. And a book that was at the bottom of their list might be the next NYT Bestseller.

Either way, for me at least, any sale is an awesome sale, bottom line. It's the realization of some hard working writer's dream. You can't put a price tag on that ;-)

Shari said...

I'm going to have to go with Laura Rennert on this one.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Oh boy I think this is a subject that we can over analyze to DEATH! In the big picture of things I would say no. More money does not equal better book in most cases.

lisanowak said...

If you ask me, bigger money = bigger luck. Or bigger money = trendier idea.

Jennie Englund said...

A deal's a deal, right?!

Jane Harmony said...

I tend to think that the bigger deal, the more marketable the book. The more it's going to fly off the shelves. Whether or not it's a better book - that just depends on whether good books are selling that time of year. :)

Cole Gibsen said...

To quote my agent, he's always said that it's better to have a small deal, earn out your advance, and prove yourself, then a huge deal, flop, and never be able to sell another book again.

lotusgirl said...

I think it depends. More money to me usually means more commercial not better written.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I've never acutally thought this way. Really! I figure the books that go for more are more trendy/easier to market.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Oh, and I'm talking at another conference this weekend, too!

Smaller scale this time (...but there are no small conferences, right? ;)

Janet Johnson said...

I agree with Caroline. It's about marketing, not necessarily quality of the book.

And though having published won't guarantee you sell another book, I think it makes it that much easier next time around . . . proof your writing is publishable.

Hilary Wagner ~ Writer said...

There are no small deals--totally agree. Many books from small publishers and/or with little to no advances have become big hits. Many books with huge advances have flopped. Much of the publishing business is based on buying trends, so what classifies as the "huge deal" book now, a few years into the future might be the "teensy wheensy" deal book. I suppose timing is everything! It just something you can't worry about. Being published by any publisher at all is a HUGE DEAL!! :)

xoxo -- Hilary

B. Miller said...

No small deals. We're all working towards the same thing. Although I don't think the average reader has this attitude unless they're a writer also. It takes working in the industry to appreciate how hard it is. Getting the big deal is almost like winning the lottery. But the 200 million lotto winners aren't better than me just because they lucked up! :D

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

NO SMALL DEALS!

This is something that other professions may never understand. Any deal when it comes to a book is HUGE. Not because "hey my name is in print" but because each book is a HUGE DEAL to each writer.

Our stories are a part of us and no part of our soul is greater than the other - it is our soul.

Money is a bonus, getting paid to do what you love is a bonus in this life. Seeing our story loved by others is a bonus in this life. There are no small deals in this industry - Everything is HUGE here nothing should be taken for granted.

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Liza said...

This is old news, but all we have to do is read the Twilight series to know that bigger does not equal better. "Success" that equals "money" is about mass marketing...which may mean more readers and more income, but does not promise a better book.

C. Michael Fontes said...

Depends on what you mean by "better book." Do you mean that the book is actually of higher quality? Or do you mean the book sales will be higher? Two different things.

As to the former (higher quality), no. I think there are several books that are amazing that never made it huge.

As to the higher sales, I think so. If they pay more for it, they are willing to spend more on marketing it (they want their money back, plus!). That isn't to say a book that DOESN'T get a large advance CAN'T make it huge, but a book with a LARGE advance probably will do decently.

Mary McDonald said...

Maybe I don't know enough about publishing, but I don't think that money=quality as far as books go. (It does for things like cars and houses though!). When I buy a book, I have no idea what it sold for, and often, I have no idea if it's a popular book or not.

I think that something that sells for big bucks has a couple of things going for it that have nothing to do with the quality of the writing or storytelling. It's more about what is 'big' at that moment, what kind of connections the agent has, and if the author has a previously published book.

I'm sure sometimes, it's just a great book by a debut author with a less well connected agent, but I bet that's pretty rare.

Carol Kilgore said...

Laura Rennert is correct, imo. For the writer, every deal is a big deal. On the business side, no one knows for sure what book is going to hit it big or what book is going to bomb. If your book receives a small advance but breaks out, you make it up on the back end with royalties. If your book receives a huge advance but doesn't sell, the publisher loses money and you probably won't get another contract from them. And trust me on this ... lots of not-so-good books make a lot of money.

Crimey said...

I agree with the blogger who stated that publishers are gambling on books, so bigger advances are going to those books they think are going to earn back, but that theory has nothing to do with the quality writing, it has everything to do with what is thought to be the most marketable.

Taryn Tyler said...

I am one of those rebels who will love something until I find out everyone else loves it too and then start finding flaws in it . . . so I would probably be able to enjoy books from 'smaller' deals more.

JEM said...

I think it really depends on someone's definition of a good book. I usually equate a big deal with better commercial viability, which doesn't at all comment on the actual worth of the book. Sometimes mainstream titles are well written, but sometimes they're not and they just have a catchy enough story that it doesn't matter.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I think it's a matter of perception. Bigger money = the perception of a better book. That doesn't make it true. Sometimes it takes a while for them to float to the surface, but the great books WILL float to the top. Fablehaven had a pretty quiet start, but it's not quiet now! :-)

Caledonia Lass said...

She's right. There are no small deals. What are you writing for? Do you want fame and fortune? Do you want to be able to quit your day job? (Okay well that is a no-brainer...) Seriously, what are you writing for? Yourself or the masses?
A deal's a deal. If you're writing for yourself, to share your story, to bring something into the lives of your readers, who cares what kind of deal you get?
We all want that "major deal", but will it be as worthwhile and fulfilling as actually getting your story out there, sharing your gift? WHY do you write?

foldingfields said...

Big money=High concept. It'll sell more copies. It's all about that subjectiveness of publishing AND there are no small deals.

Honest Eve said...

No small deals. But what about the huge deals that flop?

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I agree with Laura Rennert. I think a deal, for however much money is huge.

KarenG said...

Hi Elana,

Not sure I have anything new to add to the discussion, but I've sure enjoyed it and even read all the comments. I'll add my 2 cents to those who say a big deal for a debut author can be very bad, IF that book doesn't sell out. I've seen it happen and it can ruin a career. No it is NOT sour grapes when i say I'd rather start small and work my way up than start big and end up lower than where I was in the first place. That would totally suck.

KarenG

Kelly said...

Any deal is awesome, that someone believed in your book enough to sell it.
But I think the bigger deals can mean that someone thinks that it will appeal to a large audience. Does that make it better? Sometimes, but certainly not always. Star Magazine has a higher circulation of magazine than say Marie Claire or Popular Science magazines. Does that make it better writing?

Susan R. Mills said...

Personally, I'd take any deal. :) I don't think that a bigger deal makes a book any better than one with a smaller deal, but I do think that the one with the bigger deal will receive a lot more publicity generated by the publisher.

Valerie Geary said...

I'd rather start small and work up to the big money. That way the sophomore book (and all books after) won't have as much pressure to be amazing. Plus you'll build a reputation and people won't be disappointed.

Also... you never know, you could get a small advance, but then your book explodes off the shells and you start raking in royalties. That would feel just as good.

The goal is to build a career right? All careers have a starting salary, that doesn't mean you stay there for the rest of your life. Write more books. Make more money. :D

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Um, first let me say that while I'm smart enough to never disagree with my agent (hehe) that I DO agree with her. I don't think money should be the indicator of anything, and I don't think there are small deals.

To me, using the "bigness" of a deal to judge the quality of a book is like using the "popularity" of a person to judge their worth. Was the nerdy girl who spent her lunch break reading instead of surrounded by friends any less important of a person than the head cheerleader? I certainly hope not. *coughs*

And I can definitely say, not only am I not shooting for a big deal, but I'm not even hoping for one. I really, honestly, sincerely, genuinely (do I need to tack on another adverb or have I made my point?) couldn't care less if my book sells for $1000 or $100,000. All I want is for the editor who buys it to love it, and to want to make it better. That's really it. :)

(And no matter what your book ends up selling for Elana, I have no doubt it will be wonderful and I can guarantee you I'LL be buying it.) :)

JustineDell said...

I agree with Matthew. So, yeah...you get a lot of money and your book is sellable, but maybe it's not that great. Or, you don't get a lot of money and your book won't sell as well but it's freaking fanstatic! Have we seen this happen? Yes, yes we have. Don't make me start on the Twilight books again.

Great question! So, when you are going to share your firm opinion with us?

~JD

Jojomama said...

There are some books deemed as more marketable-- so they will bring more $. But remember the number one burger sold is the McDonalds hamburger...and I think we all know it is not necesarily the best burger out there.
So no. I don't think more is better.
However, Laura is right. Getting any deal is a big deal. It takes your baby--the one born in your head--and carries it out there to the world where it belongs, adding to the collective conscience and if it makes you monry too-- GREAT!
I'm stoked to read your book.

Liz Czukas said...

It's pop culture, nothing more, nothing less. Just like Pop music, blockbuster movies and top-rated TV shows. A big $$$ deal doesn't improve the quality of your book.

But IMHO it doesn't necessarily mean that you've written a bad book either.

Yes, we could all point fingers at some of the biggest sellers today--grammar mistakes, adverb abuse, maid-and-butler dialogue that gives me the cringes just to remember it--but there are also some fine works out there getting big numbers.

There are also plenty of really crappy books going to press for small money every day. Books that make me mistrust the future.

There are big deals, there are small deals. There is luck and there is diligence. But if someone, somewhere offers you a contract and you can say to yourself without a doubt, "This is what I want. I've written the best possible book I can write and this is the pinnacle of my ambitions," you've succeeded.

On the other hand, millions of dollars probably makes it a hell of a lot easier to tolerate the naysayers, don't you think?

- Liz

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

No small deals. But I think, as writers, we have to remind ourselves of that because it is SO hard not to be jealous of the big, major money deals and the bestseller lists.

I've come to the opinion that the big $$ deals go to whatever genre is currently *hot* - and that doesn't necessarily translate into GOOD.

Remember, um, our little convo at Storymakers about a certain, um, *big* book . . .

But GOOD is also SUBJECTIVE. Some people love a book and some books leave folks scratching their heads.

Jill Kemerer said...

I think getting a big deal as a newer author can hurt you. Sure, your book will probably make a lot of money (big deals = big publicity) but it also puts a ton of pressure on you to produce another big deal. How many authors are one-hit wonders? Many.

Small or middle-ish deals allow us to grow into bigger deals.

Christina Lee said...

I'm going to say it doesn't matter because of three words: dreams.coming.true. *HUGS to you*

Lisa_Gibson said...

I agree bigger selling book, does not equal better book. I do think there's something to have $ to pour into marketing a book though, absolutely.

Jemi Fraser said...

I honestly don't follow money much - I'm really not a numbers person at all. I would agree with there being no small deals. It's all about the next step, doing the next thing. I just keep moving forward and believing that what should be will be. (If that makes any sense at all!)

Jenna Wallace said...

If I get a deal, it won't feel small regardless of what the money is. Since the industry is SO competitive, any book deal is a vote of confidence. A book deal of any size shows that you worked hard enough and had talent enough to get a deal when millions of others didn't. Heck, getting an AGENT proves that too!

Sara B. Larson said...

I definitely think that Laura is right. And being a BIG agent, she should know. ;-) I don't think the major deals necessarily mean better books--I think it means perfect timing. And there are plenty of best sellers that didn't get major deals. And there are major deals that don't end up selling through their advances because they weren't as well received. In the end, getting on the shelf is the goal; and word of mouth/promotion can be just as powerful as a big deal in making a best seller. Considering how many followers you have and what a strong presence you have in the writing community and with how awesome your book sounds... I think you are bound to be a best-seller. :-)

Mary Aalgaard said...

No. And, I mean that. I see it so much clearer now. It's in other forms of art out there. I've seen Indy films, low budget, that were amazing. I've heard musicians that perform from the heart and get paid NOTHING, or next to it. I've read words from people given freely on this or that blog and felt moved to tears or laughter. The money might start out small, the readership slow in growing, but what is done well and needed at the time it is released will grow to something you never even dreamed it could become.

MissV said...

(I didn't read the comments so I may be repeating someone else)

I think of this in terms of name brand and generic/store brand. They can be the exact same quality - but some will willingly pay more for one because of the perceived value. Maybe it's the name, or the fancy packaging. Maybe it was shelf placement. There are so many factors at play, you can't really substantiate the 'more is better'.

Carolyn V. said...

There are so many things that contribute to this. It's hard to say for sure. But I know I've read books that have sold for tons, and they weren't that good. I've also read many books that didn't sell for much, but were excellent. Hum...

Jennifer Jenkins said...

Geez, I had to scroll for two miles to get to the bottom of your comment page. Still, I'm going to assume you're dying for my opinion on the subject...

In my mind, a good book doesn't usually need a BIG deal. A good book whose author pulls their marketing/networking weight will eventually equal big bucks. Screw the contract and big deal advances. If the book is golden, and you work your trash off, big royalties follow.

In a nut shell. Good books and motivated authors will win the big deal. Even if it's on the back end.

(I've just summarized why you, E, will sell a TON of books--big deal or not. My fingers are still a little achey from that scroll :)

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, this is the best thing I've read all day. So many of you are right. I've opened my mind to different things today regarding this topic -- all because of your comments.

Justine -- I totally don't think you can put a price on the worth of words. I'm thrilled for my friends who get the big deals. Do I wish it was me? Yes. Do I think that makes their book "better"? No.

Gail said...

I guess big deal vs small deal being good/bad/better/worse all depends on your goal. Is it to be a published author so you can share your words with others? Is it to become famous and make lots of money? Is it to spread joy/humor/understanding of others to kids? Look in your heart to see what feels like the right goal (deal) for you.

As for bigger=better, just think about small indie films; no big budget, possibly no A list actors, yet, some of those movies are the ones that stay with us forever and become our favorites. I'd watch "Local Hero" a gazillion times before many of the big blockbusters because i can relate to the story.

Never give in to the hype!

Nichole Giles said...

Not all books will be put on the front shelves of the bookstores. If they did, the front shelves would lose their value.

But does the placement of a book (aka sales) make it better than the books at the back of the store?

I have to be honest, I've found some of my very favorite books hidden behind other titles at the back of the store.

The most talked about books don't necessarily mean the bestselling books, or vice versa. Look at the NYT list. Are all your favorites on there? Probably not. Does that make the ones that aren't lesser quality books? Heavens no.

And what about the books published with small publishers? Most of those authors don't get an advance at all. But some of the books turn out to sell really well and reach a wide audience.

I have to agree with Laura. There is no such thing as a small deal.

For me, it's more about touching lives than the size or dollar amount of a deal. If my book, and my writing can touch one person in a big way, that's better than any deal out there. And if that person helps spread the word about my book, and it touches someone else, bonus!

Whatever happens, E, your book will remind people about the importance of choice. In my mind, that's a really big deal.

Tina Lynn said...

I agree. No small deals. Usually the "big" deals are because a publisher/editor is going with their own gut that something is going to be big. But it's still a guess. So, it may flop and they will never deal with that author again. Whereas another that keeps consistently bringing in sales and gathers a slow following might just be better off.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I think she's right. Personally, I would rather not get a super big advance because I think it's more important to make your advance back. If you don't, I'd think the publisher would be less likely to publish your next book. Also, I'd rather them spend a little extra money helping to market the book so it's successful rather than paying me an advance. We all have our strengths as writers and one of the benefits of being an author with another career/job is that you don't need as big of an advance. And I don't think your book is any less important if you take a smaller advance. Just my thoughts.

Heather said...

This is a great question and one I've been thinking about a lot lately. I've been on editor submission now for five months and at this point I'm fairly confident when (yes when, not if ;) My book sells the advance won't be a big one, not at this late point in the game. I believe a book is as good as the number of copies it sells, not how much it sold for to a publishing house. Did you know Vampire Diaries was originally published by a small regional publisher? Now look at it…

vdemetros said...

I have to agree with Matthew, bigger deal=bigger book, but not necessarily better book. Bigger deal means more exposure, which is certainly going to help. I like to look at at as movie stars that make millions vs. actors not making millions. That doesn't mean those million-dollar actors are better, and sometimes I just don't get it. Lesser-paid actors are much better in many cases, but get much less publicity.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I actually think for your first book, it's better to have a "small" deal. You want to be able to show your publisher that your book will sell through and go into reprints and that's easier to do (with less pressure on you!) with a small deal. If your first book does well, they'll be willing to offer a bigger deal the next time around.

And really, with a first book, any deal is a big deal :D

PJ Hoover said...

it's so true that our initial impressions may be big deal = better book, but the more I read some of these big deal books, the less I believe this is true. There are so many factors that go into the deal.
And I know your book will rock no matter the price tag!

kanishk said...

I agree. No small deals
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amisha said...

I have to agree with Laura. There is no such thing as a small deal.
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