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!