Friday, July 14, 2006

Agenting 101 (Bonus Clarification)

STATUS: I have to say that the next two weeks are going to be silly hectic—with my trip to New York and then RWA in Atlanta back to back, blogging might be sporadic or really late at night.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? LEVON by Elton John

I just realized (after reading the comments section a couple posts back) that I actually never defined what a bonus was. I just listed the types that are common in publishing contracts and explained the two points of view about them.

Yep, a good example of knowing my topic so well that I’ve forgotten that others probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

And yes, sad but true, I was a college teacher back in the mid-90s and should know better.

My excuse is that I’ve been out of the classroom (except for the workshops I give at conferences etc.) for a good ten-plus years.

So let me define what a bonus clause is for an author.

A bonus is an outlined stipulation for the Publisher to pay the author an advance sum beyond the original advance negotiated when certain parameters have been triggered.

A general world example: you’ve heard of athletes getting a “signing bonus” when the contract is signed and if Colorado is like other states, the nursing shortage often means that nurses get a “signing bonus” when coming aboard. Also, athletes can get a “performance bonus” if they throw X number of touchdowns in a year or reach a certain RBI level (and folks, I have no clue what the bonuses are in the sports world so I’m just making this up but you get the picture).

Well, authors don’t really get a signing bonus but a performance bonus is definitely a similar idea.

An author might have a $15,000 advance for one book, original trade paperback. Then there can be a clause in the contract that if the work ships more than 25,000 copies in a 12-month period, the publisher will pay the author an extra advance of $5000.00 (or whatever).

This is 5k above and beyond the original 15k that was negotiated (and before the account has “earned out” in royalties the $15,000 that the publisher has already paid).

It’s an extra advance that the author will now earn out but is likely to because if the bonus clause was triggered, the book is doing well.

Clear?

Probably not but I’ll keep muddling along. Have a great weekend.