Money flows towards the writer

15 May

I found this at Neil Gaiman’s Tumblr, and it’s really good advice.

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 ...

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 Scream Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yog’s Law:

Money flows towards the writer. 

That’s all. All writers should remember it.

When a commercial publisher contracts a book, it will pay an advance against royalties to the writer. Money flows towards the writer.

Literary agents make their living by charging a commission of between 10 and 20% on the sales that they make on behalf of their clients, the writers. When advances and royalties are paid by a publisher the agent’s percentage is filtered off in the direction of the writer’s agent but the bulk of the money still flows towards the writer.

If a publisher ever asks for any sort of financial contribution from a writer, they’re trying to divert money away from the writer, in direct contravention of Yog’s Law.

If an agent ever asks for up-front fees, regardless of what they call them (reading fees, administration costs, processing fees, or retainers), then they are trying to divert money away from the writer, in direct contravention of Yog’s Law.

It’s a brilliantly simple rule. We should thank James D Macdonald for it in the best way there is. Buy his books

Money flows toward the writer.

No, that doesn’t mean that the author should get paper and ink for free, or that he won’t pay for postage. It does mean that when someone comes along and says, “Sure, kid, you can be a Published Author! It’ll only cost you $300!” the writer will know that something’s wrong. A fee is a fee is a fee, whether they call it a reading fee, a marketing fee, a promotion fee, or a cheese-and-crackers fee.

Is this perfect? No. Scammers have come up with some elaborate ways to avoid activating it. But it’s still a good and useful tool, and will save a lot of grief. Any time an agent or publisher asks for money, the answer should be “No!”


Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Life, randomness, Writing


Tags: , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Money flows towards the writer

  1. Jennifer Stuart

    May 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I think it is so interesting how being relatively introverted and contemplative at an early age can turn someone into a writer (at least, me) and then as we get older and try to become published or “make something of ourselves,” that same personality can make us more likely to agree to things such as paying fees, or other types of methods used to take advantage of our talent and effort in some way.
    Whenever there is an authentic way to provide a needed service and make money, there will be people who attempt to hijack it and get some of that monetary flow for less effort. In the case of writers, I am glad that there are folks like Gaiman out there speaking up and reminding us of our inherent power. After all, if we don’t write it, who will?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: