Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Agenting 101: Part Five Cont.: Payout Explained

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STATUS: There’s only enough time to do Payout comments on the blog today because I’m off to a wedding in Vail, Colorado. You know you are getting old when you stop going to weddings of your friends and start attending weddings of your friends’ children. Yikes.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? DRIVER 8 by R.E.M

I normally don’t answer questions on this blog (as you well know) and I’m not actually answering questions today but a couple of commenters raised some good points in the comment section and I wanted to add some thoughts.

A Payout schedule (of either 1/2 or 1/3) should not change—even with a multi-book deal. So fight for a fair split.

For example, let’s say we have a two book deal and we are doing payments in thirds at 15,000 per book.

Payout would look like this:

10k on signing (allocated 5k to book 1 and 5k to book 2)
5k on delivery of book 1
5k on acceptance of book 1

5k on delivery of book 2
5k on acceptance of book 2

That’s 30k total and only 5 payments. So, fight if the publisher is trying to space out the money in tiny increments.

And if a publisher insists on a payment upon publication, I always minimize the amount of money for that final payment.

For example, in this above scenario, I would weight the money forward so only 1k would be on publication (if I can swing it).

It would look like this:

14k on signing (allocated 7k to book 1 and 7k to book 2)
7k on d&a of book 1
1k on publication of book 1

7k on d&a of book 2
1k on publication of book 2

And here’s another thing I forgot yesterday. When you have an “upon pub” payment, you need to specify a “no later than” clause.

In the contract, it will read something like this:
$1000.00 on Publisher’s initial publication of the work

And you need to add these very important words, “but no later than 12 months following the acceptance of the manuscript.”

That way there is no excessive waiting for your payment if publication is delayed (not to mention there should be a concrete specified time frame in the contract for the Publisher to publish your work (as in within 12, 18, or 24 months from signing) and if they don’t, it’s breach of contract.

Off to the wedding. Have a great weekend.


8 Responses

  1. EA Monroe said:

    Hi Kristin,
    You know you are getting old when you walk into the Taco Bell, order a large Baja Blast for your son, and the kid behind the counter says, “Senior drink?” I said, “Huh?!?”

  2. r louis scott said:

    Although I will likely never send you a manuscript, I feel I have lurked here long enough to owe you the courtesy of my thanks for your efforts to educate authors. Perhaps the continued accolades of your readership will help keep you motivated to bring us these gems.

    Thankyouthankyouthankyou

  3. Nadia said:

    You know, all this stuff has just convinced me more that an agent is essential. Even with your very clear and simple explanation, I’m lost.

  4. Anonymous said:

    Wow. 30k for two books. I guess that’s why so many people say, “Well, my real passion is writing, but I am a (teacher, lawyer, etc.).” -JTC

  5. Southern Writer said:

    Vail! You went to Vail? I lived there for twenty years and used to write for the local paper. The owner, Bob Brown, is a very nice man who gave me my start. I was bummed when my column was cancelled. Trying to console me, he said, “Yes, but now you’re published.” I had no idea of the value of that at the time. I put bits of Vail into my novel, which I began writing after I moved away.

    Where was the wedding? Vail Chapel? Beaver Creek Chapel? On the mountain? It rained, didn’t it? I hope you had a good time anyway, and congratulations to the happy couple. I wonder if I know them (more likely their parents)?

    While I’m here, I owe you an apology. You read my query (a rejection)and added a note, and I didn’t thank you. I didn’t realize I should until months afterwards when Miss Snark mentioned it in her column. So although it’s very tardy, it’s heartfelt. Thank you!

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