Consider Your Deadline Merely a Suggestion? Consider This...

According to the Leon Newfakn's New York Observer article yesterday, publishers are more frequently demanding the return of advances on late books. In some cases, it's because the book is really late. (We're talkin' years, folks, in some cases.) In other cases, maybe the publisher's overextended and simply trying to cut its losses on a book they suspect won't be a money-maker. (Boo! Hiss! Let 'em do a P&L - profit and loss statement - up front and take their chances, just as we are.)

To keep in the clear, be prompt whenever possible. If you see you're not going to be able to deliver on time, for heaven's sake, chat with your editor about this. Generally, there's a bit of wiggle room to play with. But two years (surprise!) doesn't cut it.

Any thoughts on this development?


Joni Rodgers said…
I take it back. I am a factory.
Or maybe just a heavily-fertilized, pruned, insecticide-sprayed orchard -- the kind where the trees know they'll be chopped down and turned to mulch if they don't produce!
Joni Rodgers said…
That's really an excellent article. I came to Harper Collins shortly after that infamous "purge" he mentions, and after hearing how lacksadaisical some of the authors were about delivery, my sympathy for them evaporated.

I'm serious as a heart attack about every deadline. This is a business. We're expected to conduct ourselves like professionals.

(Even if we do work in jammy pants.)
I agree. It's hard to feel sorry for authors who routinely blow off deadlines without a second thought.

And I have even less sympathy for those publishers who routinely blow off their contractual obligations with the thought that it will be too expensive (not to mention dangerous to their careers) for authors to come after them in court.
Joni Rodgers said…
I think a really good agent works both sides of the aisle: she cracks the whip on a slow writer and rattles the cage of publishers who drag their feet when it's time to cut the check. In a perfect world -- and I've experienced this more often than not -- everyone does their thing with due diligence and we can all be one happy (albeit slightly dysfunctional) family.

Back to the salt mine...
Suzan Harden said…
I've had deadlines (with consequences) in every other industry I've worked. I was surprised how blase' some writers were about meeting deadlines.

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