NYT on Book Advances: A Mildly Bilious Response

Dear New York Times,

I was interested to note that Michael Meyer’s essay “About That Book Advance…” managed to talk about the problems associated with publishers giving large advances, and quote a couple of authors whose large advances didn’t turn out to be as large as one would expect after taxes fees etc.–but somehow didn’t manage to find any of those thousands of writers (myself included) who have been working from advances much closer to (usually less than) the “average” of $30,000 mentioned. As the article notes, one can only pity Walter Kirn so much. What about all of the writers who don’t get to take two or three years to write a book? Would it have been too much trouble to find one of them and get a perspective that has never included a six-figure check? Or maybe it’s assumed that any such writer is one of the “no-talents” so cavalierly dismissed by Henry Bech.


Alex Irvine

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