My fellow writers will be interested in a report in today’s Huffington Post that a new imprint at Harper-Collins plans to try an experiment in which authors would receive lower advances (or no advances at all) in exchange for a higher back-end share of book sales. Given the way Hollywood’s creative accounting usually reduces the back-end share to nil, I’d be afraid of the publisher adopting similar techniques. Also given the fact that most authors — and especially new authors — don’t get big advances in the first place, and the further fact that many authors rely on what advances they get to pay for niceties such as food while they write the books in the first place, this doesn’t sound like a winning situation for authors.
The article is “New HarperCollins Unit To Try To Cut Author Advances.” In this experiment,
At least two planned features break from traditional practices that have been aggravated by the increasing reliance on blockbuster hits for profits: The imprint will pay lower advances, or none at all, but divide profits equally (instead of 15 percent of the retail price or lower for the author); releases will be sent to stores on a nonreturnable basis.
At the moment it’s one imprint of one publishing house; it’ll be interesting to see whether this idea works — especially in terms of the rule that “money flows toward the author” — and if it spreads.by