I guess you're worth it

I'm curious to know how you and other agents decide how much a manuscript might be worth in dollars. Do you have a figure in mind before you send out a submission? If so, how do you make that determination?

I read Publishers Weekly and get the Lunch Weekly from Publishers Lunch, and there are some published writers in my circle who give me a rough idea of how much their books have sold for. But it's hard for me to grasp how you know when to tell an editor they're not offering enough on a book.

Why do some debut literary novels go for six figures and others of a similar ilk go for $10,000 and it's the same publishing house?

Is it all a guessing game for agents?
(short answer: yes)

Thank you for the real education through your blog. One day I bet you'll sell a best-of collection of your postings as a book. And I hope you get the six figures you deserve!

The six figures Miss Snark wants are an action figure of Mr Clooney and his right hand in marriage.

I have a ballpark idea of what I want for things. It's easy to figure cause it's based on how many copies you think the thing will sell. Advances are functions of royalties, and royalties are based on sales.

I make them offer first. Then I run some math for them and show they are lowballing us.
Then we negotiate.
Then we mudwrestle.
Then we ok a deal memo.


exit said...


Rick said...

Fascinating, Miss Snark, how some things make complete sense!

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark,

When you say "run some math" exactly what are you calculating and how?

Remodeling Repartee said...

"It's easy to figure cause it's based on how many copies you think the thing will sell."

How do you arrive at this? Past sales? Marketing opportunities? Famous former friends?

Rhonda Stapleton said...

LOL - I never knew being a literary agent was so damn sexy...mudwrestling and everything!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but if you don't *have* past sales, how does one as brilliant as Miss Snark decide how many books an author can sell?

Miss Snark said...

Because Miss Snark is brilliant and omniscient. Not infallible, sadly.