Saturday, 10 October 2015

Joyful Advancement

Explosions of Joy by Amy Giacomelli

Doing the wiggley-bummed dance of happiness this afternoon.

Things haven't been going great with Secret Order since getting back to the UK. They weren't going great before I left Kigali either, but I tried to convince myself it would take off again once in Blighty with creature comforts and cake. I've just really been struggling with the plot. Stuck at the 25k mark and using social media as an excuse not to think about it.

Just when things take a dip, something tends to happen to pull me out of it.

Today I signed my second contract with Ghostwoods Books for The Children of Lir. It's now officially official.

The cherry on top - they've offered me an advance!

I was just saying to Will the other week, as we ambled through a park in Hackney, that I had never had one of those.

An advance is where a publisher pays an amount up front to the author, ahead of sales. The idea is that you make back that money in sales before your royalty payments kick in.

So, what's the big deal about advances?

Well, there are certain points in a writer's life where they feel validated. It's not easy writing, it's really not. Most writers hold down more than one job, few make a full-time living out of writing. The article All Work and No Pay sums it up well. It's hard to hold your head up.

Those little moments of validation are important to a writer. The first is where someone who isn't an immediate member of your family, or someone obliged by friendship to be mindful of your feelings, tells you that your writing is 'good'. Another is the first time someone offers you a publishing contract you don't have to contribute to financially. The first time you win a writing prize for a poem or short story, even if the prize is just inclusion in an anthology or publication on a blog. The first time you win a cash prize. Your first royalty cheque is a big one.

Little milestones along the way.

My first advance is modest, but it means a lot. It's the first time a publisher has said: Yes, we believe in you. We believe that we can sell what you write. We believe this enough to give you part of your future earnings up-front.

In an industry where money is often tight and nothing is ever certain, that's a massive token of trust.

It also has another helpful effect. It makes me want to be a better writer. A publisher valuing what I write makes me value what I write more. Plus, it makes me want to pull my head out my arse and keep writing.

I'm really chuffed. Every book I've written has been slightly better and gone slightly further. Partnering with Ghostwoods has been an amazing experience, and I'm really looking forward to working with them again - they're tops.


  1. Well done - and I like what you say about validation - making it all worthwhile.