what is and isn't a book promotion plan

INTERN just finished reading a proposal for a non-fiction book about a young woman's experience volunteering at an orphanage in China while on a church mission trip and her subsequent realization that philanthropy had to begin at home. After a ho-hum summary and chapter outline, she got to the punch:

"I will use the advance money and royalties to open an orphanage for abandoned babies in downtown San Francisco. The grand opening for the orphanage will provide all necessary publicity for the book."

*Bang head on desk*

INTERN cannot count how many times she had read this kind of thing. "I will use my advance to build an aquarium for endangered whales." "I will use my advance to find a cure for colon cancer." "I will use my advance to open a ballet academy for children with rabies." Every time, the writer tacks on something to the tune of "and the aquarium/cancerarium/orphanage will obviously generate more than enough publicity for the book. Like, DUH!"

So many wonderful plans, goodhearted plans, pure and earnest plans for that coveted advance $$$. INTERN's heart warms up like a microwaved burrito. But these plans are not promotional plans, and not realistic ideas of what actually happens to advance money.

In the real world, most writers' advance money gets spent on bus tickets, liquor, and those family-sized boxes of cheerios. Maybe a dinner out to celebrate, if the writer is feeling really hubristic. Maybe rent, if the advance is even big enough to cover a month or two's rent. Maybe a patch kit to fix a burst bicycle tube, or if we're talking a big advance, a new bike tube. Not orphanages, or aquariums, or elevators to the moon (INTERN plans to use her book royalties to open an ant farm. In a really big jar, though. And only for orphaned ants).

It will soon be the weekend, and that is a GOOD THING because today the Big Fancy Publishing Office is moving very slowly. Coffee time!

Comments

  1. Not to mention she clearly knows nothing about how foster care works in this country. The US doesn't really do orphanages anymore, and if they do, they not only don't call themselves an orphanage, but they're more than an orphanage: much, much, much more.

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  2. If only people would stop offering to sell their own children to land a book deal, maybe orphanages would disappear from the list.

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  3. LOL, but I was going to use my ridiculously large advance to open a half-way house for writers who quit their day-jobs too soon.

    You can't tell me the press from something like that wouldn't help sell my next six books, can you? ;)

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  4. As someone who has worked in nonprofits for years, I find it amusing on a whole other level. Do you know how hard enormous nonprofits like the Red Cross or the Sierra Club must work for publicity? They hire entire PR firms to try to get a story here or there. But, sure, honey, your no-name orphanage in San Fran is going to hit the front page of the NY Times. No problem.

    Ahhhh...youth.

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  5. One of the things that shocked me about publishing was how little the advances were. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. You always here about Bigname Author and how much they earned. The news about Midlist Author gets buried.

    If people realized how little money was involved unless you do make the big time poor INTERN would probably be reading fewer query letters.

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  6. One wonders what INTERN bought with her advance...

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  7. Just wanted to say thanks for dishing out such practical advise and many words, some of them words of wisdom. I enjoy your posts.
    Have you noticed at all a decrease in numbers of unrealistic submissions since you started blogging?

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  8. INTERN,
    I will use my advance for... WINE, WOMEN and SONG! Wanna party? (and a duck hunt or two)


    Haste yee back ;-)

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  9. Great post as usual. Happy Friday, Intern!

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  10. Man. Is the cra., I mean, stuff you get, over the transom? Or via an agent? Makes one wonder...

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  11. hehehe This is too good. I can't believe I just found your blog. I just finished my internship a week ago. Good luck with your publishing career!

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  12. even worse, i've been involved in startup nonprofits and that sort of cluelessness makes my wee little head explode. does she understand that there are already 7000 nonprofits in san francisco? and an advance probably wouldn't even cover the filing fees for the IRS documents?

    grrrr.

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  13. With my advance I had planned to start a soup kitchen for starving interns, but you're right, bus tickets and liquor sounds like a better plan.

    I've just discovered your blog and I'm so glad. It's always nice to know there's someone worse off than yourself.

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  14. It's a given that they're first timers. Cruel reality will bite their ankles for you, never fear.

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  15. celi.a: INTERN is blowing it all on subway tickets and groceries. Liquor is not in the budget :P

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  17. My advance will probably be called a behind. Because it was already spent long ago.

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  18. I have spent a fair bit of my advance on curry pies. I was thinking of having the launch for my book in the local bakery.

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  19. Hey INTERN, did you know they make cushy softy-wofty pillow strips to set right in front of your keyboard? That way, when you feel the urge to bang-head-on-desk, you'll be able to cushion your concussion.

    Wouldn't want you to hurt yourself. The blogosphere needs you.

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  20. Coincidentally, I plan to use my advance (the one that may actually be on its way), to buy some microwaved burritos. I just LOVE microwaved burritos and I may actually be able to buy a few...but only a few.

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  21. . . . And with the advance on my book I will finance a motion picture about the publishing industry and YOU will be the star.

    giggle-snort*
    G.

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  22. How big *is* a typical advance? Did you answer that in a previous post somewhere? I just found your blog today, and it's been making me giggle.

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