Book Matters

I know that I promised to “[track] the process of how a book goes from sale to publication” over at my sister journal Everything Is an Afterthought, but that journal quickly established itself as a resource center for all things Paul Nelson. Posting the mechanics of book publication over there would be as incongruous as Sam Peckinpah at an est meeting.

Instead I’ll allow that site to continue to become what it’s become and pledge to write more about book matters over here (including the process of putting together a book proposal, working with an agent to query publishers, what it feels like when you receive an e-mail from your agent with the subject line “We Have an Offer,” and how I got an agent in the first place). Deal?

Towards that end, yesterday I received the first installment of my advance. The way it works is this: the publisher pays one-third upon signature of the book contract, one-third upon “satisfactory completion” of the book, and one-third upon publication. These monies are paid by the publisher to the agent, who then cuts a check to the writer less the agent’s commission.

Holding the check in my hand yesterday, I was thrown back over 20 years (21, to be precise) to when I sold my first piece of writing: a short story to Erotic Fiction Quarterly. If I remember correctly, that first check was for 50 dollars — but it felt like a million. Yesterday’s felt like many million more.

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