About That Deal
Posted on May 25, 2015 Posted by John Scalzi 260 Comments
I know a lot of you have questions about the book deal I just agreed to, so let me just do that “fake interview” thing I do to answer some of the big ones. Let’s begin, shall we?
Wait, what happened? Sorry, I was really high last night.
Fair enough. Here’s the story in the New York Times, and for those of you who don’t want to click through, here’s the headline:
Yes, that was my reaction, too.
Dude, that’s like… a lot of money.
It is. Mind you, it’s spread out over a decade and thirteen books. And I only get the money if I actually, you know, write the books. But, yeah.
Is the deal some sort of record?
Don’t know, don’t care. Certainly people in genre (and out of it, obviously) make more per book. And it’s entirely possible that people have deals encompassing more books. In aggregate, yes, it’s unusually big. That said, the deal here isn’t about counting coup on other writers; I don’t care how much anyone else makes and if they make more than me, then good for them. It’s about something else.
What is that something else?
Stability, basically. Tor and I have decided to be long-term significant partners with each other. One of the very good things having a long-term relationship affords is the ability to plan, strategize and build on previous works and strengths. Or to put it another way, we know we’re stuck with each other until 2026 at least. Better find a way to make it work for both of us.
Also, I’m not going to lie: For the next decade I know where my money’s coming from. For a writer, that’s some nifty job security. Especially with a daughter coming up on college. Not having to search for a new book deal every book or two means I can spend more time writing, which I think is the thing we would all like me doing.
Thirteen books is a lot.
It is, but again, it’s over a decade. Between 2005 and 2015, I published seventeen books: eleven novels, five non-fiction books, and an anthology, which I edited and co-wrote (if you include The God Engines and Unlocked, novellas published as standalone books, the number goes up to nineteen). So based on previous history, this is a doable thing.
So, do you have thirteen books in your head?
As it happens, when I went in to talk to Tor about this, I presented the folks there with a proposed release schedule for the next decade, with synopses of every book. So, yes, I do. Will every single book I’ve proposed hit the shelves? Probably not; there’s flexibility for us to read the market and take advantage of what’s going on as it happens. But it’s always nice to have a plan.
What’s the plan, then?
* A sequel to Lock In, the title of which I shall now reveal exclusively here — Yes! I am giving myself an exclusive! — as: Head On;
* A new epic space opera series (two books planned at the moment, let’s see where it goes from there) in an entirely new universe;
* Another book in the Old Man’s War series (this one might be a few years, though, so be patient);
* Several standalones (or least, intended as standalones, but then OMW was intended as a standalone, too);
* Three Young Adult books.
Yes! YA! Because I love YA, many of my favorite writers are in that field, and I have ideas that are best suited there. I’m really excited about this part of the deal.
Note well that I have no illusions that I am just going to waltz into the YA field and be successful — it’s a different writing field with different conventions, and one great way to screw up is to think “eh, it’s for kids, how hard can it be?” (Hint: really hard.) But I’m looking forward to the challenge.
So now we know what you make as a writer.
Well, you know what I’ll make from this particular deal, before royalties. There are other revenue streams: Audio isn’t covered in this deal, for example. Neither are foreign language sales, or film/TV. Plus there are royalties from my previous books. And so on. I do all right.
Is it awkward to have people know about your finances?
Not exactly but it has interesting social echoes. I used to talk about how much I made as a writer because I think it’s important that writers do talk about money — silence about money only works to the advantage of those who are paying writers (or not paying them, or paying them insultingly little, as the case may be). But after a certain point I stopped talking about my earnings publicly because Krissy wasn’t comfortable with it, and because after a certain point it stops being useful to other writers and starts looking like bragging. I don’t want to be that asshole.
At this point, there’s no reason to be overly coy about it, so I’ll note that I’ve been making mid-six figures a year for a while now, much (indeed most) from book sales. The deal is a reflection of that track record; please don’t be under the impression I would have gotten the deal if Tor didn’t think it could make that money back and then some. It also means I’m an outlier when it comes to book sales/income and I know it.
I’m comfortable with people having some idea what I make, but outside very specific circumstances (like, uh, this one), you probably won’t see me talk about it other than very generally.
Can I borrow some money?
But dude, $3.4 million!
Yes, but, I don’t get it all up front; that would be irresponsible of Tor. I get some of it up front, but probably not as much as you might think. Most of it I get like any other writer does — when I turn in the novel, and then when the novel gets published. This is a decade-long deal. The money comes in over all that time. I’m not going to be doing a Scrooge McDuck-like dive into a pool of coins, sorry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a ton of money. Just broken up into manageable chunks over ten years.
So yeah, sorry, random Internet dudes. If you want my money, you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way: Kickstart something I want to back.
Why are you sticking with traditional publishing! Think of how much money you could have made self-publishing!
Yeah, thanks, no. One, for various reasons, I find it doubtful that I would be making more self-publishing. I’m not going to go into those reasons at the moment because it’s a long slog, but, you know. Trust me on this for now. Assume I know my business pretty well after all this time.
Two, look, I like to write, and I don’t mind marketing myself. But there is a whole lot more that goes into producing a book than just showing up with a manuscript and then telling people about it. I don’t want to do any of the rest of that stuff. That’s why publishers exist. That’s what publishers do. As it happens, when it comes to science fiction, Tor is as good as it gets, in every department. They are better at these things I don’t want to do than I am. I am delighted to partner with them and let them handle all that. I am clearly making enough money.
Three, if I want to self-publish something, I can, and have in the past. So, false dichotomy in any event.
You should probably thank people now.
You’re right! I should! At Tor, obviously, Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Tom Doherty, for being willing to work long-term with me on these books. My agent, Ethan Ellenberg, did some amazing work and earned his percentage and then some. At home Krissy and Athena have had to deal with me freaking out rather a bit over the last couple of weeks, and did so without hitting over the head with a shovel.
And also, clearly, I need to thank anyone who has ever bought a book of mine. They added up! You rock.
I have now run out of questions to ask.
That’s fine. The comment thread is open for other people to ask questions they might have.
I assume it’s taken seconds after you received news of that fantastic book deal!
[Deleted because anyone who thinks it’s an insult for me to say I listen to my wife is too stupid for words — JS]
How do you decide on the 10-year time frame, rather than just a deal for “x” number of books?
Yay! Sequel to Locked In!
Anything you can tell us now about the new Space Opera universe?
What plans are you musing over right now for anything you might write *outside* of this contract? (The fact that you have ideas for all 13 of these books suggests to me that you have even more somewhere in the job file)
Congratulations on the deal. I hope you have a great time writing the novels, and that they sell well.
(Plus 1 for “End of All Things”, which of course was a previous deal.)
Congratulations! I enjoy your work and look forward to more.
Several times I’ve seen you say you haven’t written a YA novel… but I’ve read Zoe’s Tale and that’s more YA than most YAs are, almost hyper-YA. Do you not consider Zoe’s Tale to be YA, and if not, why not?
Congrats! My favorite part of this entire announcement thing on Twitter last night was the number of people (including myself) whose sentiment was “Holy Shit!” and then you led with the same above. Sheer awesomeness.
Your vitriolic detractors are going to have fucking conniptions. Tor must be making the most awful decision ever, since you sell so few books. *falls to floor laughing*
Also, I assume this deal doesn’t include The End of All Things, right?
Has Webb sent you a donation request yet?
Sounds pretty damn cool to me. Congrats, John! Go for it!
I congratulated you last night but let me repeat: Congratulations! This is huge.
I do have a question, though: Does this contract require basket accounting? If you don’t feel comfortable answering, no worries.
For people who aren’t writers, with “basket accounting” the advance on one book in a contract isn’t considered paid off until the advance on all of them are, even if one is a giant breakout hit.
Well, it’s good to know that Tor thinks you’re worth the money. As for entering YA, why not? Isn’t that where Heinlein made his start? “Starship Troopers”, “Podkayne of Mars”, etc.? If you’re good at it, and you’ll know by at least the second book, then what’s the problem? As for your earnings – you never ask how much WE make, so why should we ask how much you make? Kind of a personal issue in my opinion, but hey, not everyone gets to be a millionaire, no matter how many lottery tickets they buy. Congratulations.
Congratulations John! Looking forward to the sequel to Lock In and the prospect of space opera from you.
Question: How hard are you now laughing at pathetic meatsacks trying to troll your life? The same as before? Even more? Even less?
Excited to hear you will be testing your YA chops (especially for my young adult you met in Gainesville, FL)! Are you willing to share any plot or themes that are bubbling away in preparation for those?
Congratulations again! This is great news for all of us – fans, fellow writers, and anyone who cares about books and all that good stuff.
And as you said, at heart it’s about stability, and being able to focus on writing and the worlds unfolding in your mind, without worrying about the more mundane stuff. Awesome. Made me think about Virginia Woolf and how, on some very basic level, each writer needs a room of their own. It’s not a luxury – it’s a necessity. There is hard work going on in that room before any book – no, any page! – can be written.
As a fan of both speculative YA, I also especially look forward to your future YA titles!
Excellent news! Congrats.
And the “new epic space opera series” sounds intriguing. Though is pointing out two books isn’t really a “series” a nitpick?
BTW have you considered writing Doctor Who? Give the BBC habit of engaging with “real” SF authors to write original novels this might be another possibility.
How much of this deal will be spent on a solid gold ukulele?
Congratulations! Are you going to buy a volcano island to use as an evil genius writing lair now? Last time I checked there were no volcanos in Ohio. Or that many islands.
“A new epic space opera series (two books planned at the moment, let’s see where it goes from there) in an entirely new universe”
_Wormhole Extreme_ confirmed. *wink*
I’m in Israel and I buy your books in Hebrew. I’ve heard rumors about how bad the division of book profits is here between store, publisher and author. I hope it’s not too forward but what percentage do you get from books translated to other languages?
I ask because I care that my money goes to the person that created the thing that I enjoy.
John: Congratulations!. Way to go!!!
Krissy and Athena: Your patience and support to John is greatly appreciated. When would you like your shovels back?.
Me: SQUEEEEEEEEE!! More Scalzi books to read!!!!!!
Congrats man! Well done and well earned! The comment about how people tend to go buy all your books after reading one or two is so true! I read OMW and worked my way through the rest of your library (Though I can’t seem to get into The Android’s Dream. But hey, you got a sale, and I don’t begrudge it supports an author whose work I like and who I think is a pretty awesome bloke!)
I’m excited about YA, my son will be getting to the age he can read YA shortly. So I can pick them up for…him. Yeah…totally him and not me…
All joking aside congrats!
Have you thought about some additional home security?
I’m psyched we’ve got a pipeline of new works contractually obligated for the next decade!
The thing that gives me pause, if you’ll forgive the creepy and morbid turn, is that Orson Scott Card had a stroke in the middle of a similar multi-book deal. You could tell that that his output afterwards was rushed by him desperately trying to meet his existing commitments so that his wife and youngest daughter would not be burdened unfulfilled obligations if an even worse health crisis should befall him.
How does this affect 101 Uses for a Spare Goat?
So when does this start?
Does the OMW include the Human Division sequel or is that already in the works pre-dating this announcement?
Oh and congrats! Trebles all round! ;-)
I know you know this John, but it should be repeated. This is athlete/movie star money… How so – simple you cannot count on it forever. We pay these people a lot but usually their productive years are limited – they may end up living on this one payday forever. You might continue to be a popular writer for another 30 years – or the bottom could drop out suddenly. I have nice steady government job with a lifetime pension. Odds are I won’t get fired tomorrow but I also won’t get a 3million check.
I was cheering and fist-bumping the air when I heard of this. After that, I was digging through old entries here and elsewhere regarding your successes. After THAT, this particular piece came up in my [INSERT ASININE SOCIAL MEDIA FEED HERE] ticker and, upon finishing it, I spent quite a bit of time staring at the image of celebration trying to determine the make and model of the doubleneck you were wielding. I’m one of those guitar nerds that really likes seeing out of the ordinary instruments and I also have developed proficiency with both guitar and bass. I’ve often thought about pulling the trigger on something of that sort (or more likely, pulling the trigger on all the parts to make something of that sort… cuz I’m one of -those-guitar nerds…). Kinda neat. And stuff. Kudos on lots and lots of things including your choice of footwear.
You got the ‘prosper’ thing down, apparently, sooo… live long.
BTW, thanks for every goddamn word you’ve written, regardless of whether I’ve had the delight/opportunity/duty to read it.
Seriously, congratulations. Obviously great news for you, and well-earned. It’s nice to see what comes of diligently paying one’s dues, as you have!
So essentially you’re the Marvel universe of sci-fi book publishing. Brilliant!
I am beyond excited! I am supposed to be working but I am busy bouncing around the house. Congratulations to you all.
Congratulations. Excellent deal in the current market place. And long term security which is rare in this business. And congrats to Ethan too.
It is for the number of books, not the timeframe. That’s the timeframe we’re aiming for, however.
No details yet on the epic space opera thingie. Still formulating it. As for books outside the contract: I might write some non-fiction but obviously books under contract will be the priority.
Honestly, who gives a shit what those dudes think. My actual puppy knows more about publishing than some of them, particularly the ones pretending to speak with authority on the subject. And no, TEoAT is from a separate contract.
I won’t have to earn out every book before I get royalties, no.
I am aware that the deal will cause conniptions and attempts to show how it’s not actually a good deal for me. But as noted above, I don’t have much respect for their skills at analysis. They’ve been so dramatically wrong before that I don’t imagine they’ll do any better this time. And of course, if it annoys them, that’s their karma, and I wish them joy with it.
None. I did buy myself that gincy guitar you see in the photo, however, after I finished TEoAT.
You may assume that if I sold the rights in a foreign language, that I was happy with the deal. Otherwise I would not have sold them!
You can be assured that I am taking the money seriously, in terms of how it’s being saved (and spent).
I’m hoping that ‘Head On’ will be sooner rather than later; I really enjoyed ‘Lock In’. I read a variety of genres, and there’s so much scope for cross-genre novels which appeal to a much wider audience.
And I’m glad that the contract will give you the time to write, and to work on your writing, which is a slightly different thing; I sense that you want to get better as a writer, as opposed to people who are convinced that they are already perfect and therefore see no reason to change.
Obviously Tor is going to make a lot of money as well, and that’s another benefit; new writers coming up will be able to get a start with them. It isn’t a zero sum game…
I realize it’s not “In your face, Stephen King and Nora Roberts” money but it’s certainly nice. Congratulations. Having read probably nine-tenths of your books, I look forward to the rest including these 13.
Sound’s like you should be able to feed Krissy’s lawnmower habit for some time. I mean, if you need suggestions for an anniversary present…
So very happy for you guys.
Dude, so happy for you.
(And man, as someone who does well in a field that’s hard to do well in, I wish I could talk more openly about money, because some of my colleagues are getting screwed)
Congratulations John. I love your books and am looking forward to more. I started with Old Man’s War and have followed you ever since.
I read the headline to my lovely wife. She thought for a minute, looked at me, and said “When are you going to start writing science fiction?”
Now I have to sweep the patio for this afternoon.
John..Congratulations appreciate your work, glad there will be more.. And yea its a lot of money, about what Clayton Kershaw makes per 9 innings right? I particularly like standalone books, its like taking a trip to a new place every time I read a book. Hoping several is greater then 4 at least! Keep up the good work!
But what about the 10-book-long trilogy of “Shadow War of the Night Dragons”?
As an overseas reader who has bought almost everything you’ve written so far: thanks for the good news. Looking forward to the next ten years.
I hope that you keep on writing here, too; because I’m enjoying my daily reads here even more than I enjoy your books. Books = great, Whatever = greater still.
congratulations and thanks for sharing. Watching along with your success is fun!! (“yeah, well I read Whatever BEFORE he was a Hugo winner/President of SFWA/etc.)
“Head On“? Must you remind us of those horrible advertisements from a dozen years ago, e.g.?
Congratulations, John, this is great news. I can’t wait to see where your writing takes you (and us).
I’m interested in why audiobooks aren’t included in the deal, are audiobooks a different can of worms? Or does this give you more freedoms as a writer to control the selling rights?
My thoughts were audiobooks are gaining in popularity again, growing strong in a digital world. Aren’t they?
Congratulations! It’s wonderful to know we have years and years of new material to look forward to. I just finished Lock In, so I’m thrilled to hear there will be a sequel.
Is the subtitle of Head On “Apply Directly to the Forehead”?
I am more than pleased for your good fortune. My retired lawyeriness compels me to recommend revised estate planning and life insurance. And, since I’m retired, I won’t talk about it any more. Blessings to you and your family.
Any plans for the sequel to THE ANDROID’S DREAM? Or did that one go to the Land Where Ideas That Were Good At The Time are eternally blessed?
Also, congratulations again both for being the kind of writer that merits such a deal and the kind of person whose success makes other such people happy..
10 more years of Scalzi books? Awesome! I introduced my father to “Old Man’s War” in 2010, right about the same time he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He loved your writing style and storytelling, so when a new book would come out we’d begin reading it at the same time. While we lived in separate states, our conversations over the phone or during visits would turn quickly from how his treatments were going to where we were at in your latest book, providing a fun way to connect during a difficult time. Sadly he passed away a year ago, but one of the highlights of the last few years was seeing you in Milwaukee during your “Redshirts” tour, and you had personalized a copy for him which he treasured. Thanks for bringing wonder and adventure into our lives, I can’t wait for my two kids to be old enough that I can introduce them to the worlds that their grandpa and I enjoy so much!
(Oh, and how about an “Android’s Dream sequel? That universe was always our favorite!)
* Another book in the Old Man’s War series (this one might be a few years, though, so be patient); I hope Iam repeating alot of people when I say…can you do this first? Thx…Just to let you know I will read everything else also..no matter time frame..Thx for the entertainment. ..
It amuses me that most people just see the number, “$3.4 million” and forget the “write the book” part.
Like Tor’s just gonna cut you a nice cheque and say, “So, John, try to get those books in on time, wot?” (Cuz THAT would be awesome.)
Oh my! This makes my day in so many ways.
****makes room for at least 13 new books****
I have thought this so many times….Your wife is a real keeper. Never let her go….
Re: University…….Has Athena made any preferences yet?
John, I’m unbelievably happy for you, and don’t take this the wrong way, but all I can think now is: “Head On: Apply directly to the forehead! Head On: Apply directly to the forehead! Head On: Apply directly to the forehead!”
Congratulations, John. This is lovely news, and I may I say I agree wholeheartedly about publishers. Yes, I want their talented art department to place covers on my books, and allow their publicity department to get out review copies and schedule signings. When they do all those things for me I have more time to write which I not only love to do — it’s my job.
Congratulations, sir! I’m a complete stranger (not to your work, though) and you seem like a genuinely decent guy so good for you! It’s nice when nice things happen to nice folks.
Congrats. Awesome news all around.
Thanks for the detail :). I remain just really pleased for you; having read Whatever for many years (and played random link as soon as it became available …) I know that you’ve worked damned hard for what you are getting now.
Im still trying to scrape my jaw off the ground! WOW! Congratulations!
Zoe’s Tale is YA? Hmmm.. I think the term has morphed into a more complex genre since RAH. Lets face it – Rocket Ship Galileo is not heavy reading. Rather juvenile, actually :^) Although, I was surprised the Star Ship Trouper is/was considered a juvenile.
Modern YA has more complex characters and more complex plot lines than Heinlein and peers. I started on Mike Mars, X15 Pilot series by Donald Waldheim – I collected a few as an adult, but they are more at the 7..8 yo level than teenager.
I think it is a fantastic side effect you have made the puppies even sadder and more rabid, just by being good at what you do. (Snicker)
Looking forward to the “new universe” books. $3.4 mill – not bad. Does that mean we are going to see you more at cons? and you will buy a fan a beer?
A tangible affirmation of your creativity, imagination and skill. Good for both you and TOR. Seems you’ve spent a lot of years writing and honing your ability to put your mind on paper, hard work pays off. Good guys are rewarded.
I noticed on the Tor page about the deal that Athena got the photo credit, so congratulations to her too!
This is exciting news, as I just finished Redshirts and have no more Scalzi to listen to on Audible. Any similar suggestions by other authors while we wait for Head On??
I am ecstatic that you’re going farther with the Lock In world – that was my favorite of all your work, and I’d really like to see where else you can take that story arc.
And I am very pleased to learn that you’re planning to dip your toe into the YA waters! I’ve got a niece and nephew who are right at the perfect age now for YA, and a couple of grandkids who’ll be ready for good YA stuff in another 3 or 4 years, so I’d be most grateful if you’d put at least one of your planned YA ventures into production in the near future.
Nice guys finish first. Congratulations!
HOLY SHIT THAT’S AWESOME!
Really, seeing a genre author sign a deal of that size gives every aspiring author hope (I would assume. It does me!). It *is* possible to both write and eat! Shocking!
Congratulations, Mr Scalzi, good for you. Also, and not insignificantly, I am extremely happy to see that a sequel to Lock/ed In is on the business plan. These are my faves of your books, by far, so I am eager for another.
Are you feeling the SQUEE? :-)
Mazel Tov! That’s a bit over $250K a book – which is, yes, a tidy sum.
That covers eRights as well as dead tree, right?
Congratulations on the deal! SO great to have a stable relationship with a publisher who goes to bat for you. Well done.
Just curious, you pitched the plans for your work for the next decade, and you mentioned that there is a flexibility in the deal that allows you/Tor to jump on a new trend or new development in the next ten years.
Can I ask how that works? As a creative (filmmaker) it would feel weird to lock up “here’s what I’m working on” for the next ten years. I love getting new ideas in the now and furiously letting my creativity in those spaces flow, and it would suck to have to go back to some commitment I made 7 years ago to finish X book in X series (I have nothing but sympathy for GRRM). How you do deal with the sudden flashes of inspiration or doldrums (if, say, one of your ideas just isn’t panning out the way you had hoped) while still respecting the contract and relationship with Tor? What does that structure look like for you?
The way you describe the security of the book deal reminded me of my argument in favor of faculty tenure. Professors (for the most part) work on things that they love, that speak to them, that get under their skin. I’ve never known anyone who, once granted tenure, just kicked back and effectively retired. Rather, when you don’t have to look over your shoulder every day worrying about if you will still have a job, you can really get some work done!
So – major Kudos on the book deal. Now Get Back to Work!
Warmest regards from your Friendly Neighborhood Physics Professor!
Holy crap, dude! Congrats!
Lots of money for you, more books for us—we all win!
So happy for you! Also – darn! MacMillan is privately owned, so no buying stock in the company that publishes both you and Sanderson … would have been a sure thing! :-)
Glad that Athena has had the chance to grow up here in Ohio. Any plans to move somewhere more fancy, now that you’re a gazillionaire?
Congrats apor course many times over. Really appreciate you sharing the info on money, as much as you are comfortable doing.
What often gets left out of these discussions is taxes and your costs (agents, whatever else, I really have no clue). Could you share some of that generally speaking, perhaps in a separate post if it merits more than a few sentences?
Congrats!! Now you can order the ‘fancy’ ketchup!
Sorry for double-posting, but I just thought of this:
Will this (very well-publicized) deal make any difference in whether any of the movie/TV projects come to fruition? I’m hoping for a big Yes on that!!
So does this mean we are that much closer to that squirrel polo league?
Congratulations, and well done! And hey, we’re all looking forward to seeing you at ConCarolinas in a few days!
It’s a big chunk of change (or will be when the books get written) and I’m sure you’ll spend/invest it wisely. Apart from the mayo hot tub.
I will however be very disappointed in you if you move from Ohio to Beverly Hills – I suspect that will be around the third movie trilogy, and not before ;)
Nice to have the financial security for ten years, now go write something :)
Also, can’t believe you missed the opportunity to rick roll everyone in the last posting!
First of all, congratulations. Second of all only one musician has ever managed to make wielding a double-neck guitar look cool. That axe should have come with a “don’t try this at home” advisory. Still, pretty good jump for a middle-aged man. Last time I tried that I only succeeded in amusing my wife.
This is such wonderful news, and very well-deserved!
Congratulations! More Scalzi to read! (happy dance)
I’ve been following your blog since “This is what a feminist looks like” and just yesterday picked up the OMW box set and Lock In, so I see what they mean about ‘backlists like crazy’.
This is such wonderful news,
Congratulations, and YAY for more books. But I’m really sorry you don’t get to do the Scrooge McDuck thing. I think Billionaires should arrange a room full of gold and a diving board as a service to more financially challenged individuals.
Dude, you’re avoiding the important question. To repeat Jon of the Baskervilles, what is that axe you’re slinging? The perspective makes it hard to judge, but I only see four tuning heads on each neck and the top neck looks pretty short. Is this some sort of demented doubleneck electric uke?
No questions. You’ve done well. :-)
I suspect that that in the first rush of adrenaline, Krissy may need help keeping your ego in check. Fortunately, most teen daughters are more than up to the challenge.
You left out ‘me’ in the phrase ‘hitting me over the head’.
For those asking about the guitar, it’s one of these.
I’m so happy to know there will be new Scalzi books for the next decade; you and Tor have done a service to all who love reading. Your Q&A was excellent. One quick question; is the amount fixed or is it a base which will go higher should royalties drive it? Despite what VD and other sad puppies assert, your book sales and associated royalties will likely exceed the contractual amount.
John, I think you may want to update this old post to include a “Holy Shit!” level.
Wow! Congratulations. It is really cool seeing where you have gone in the world since I started reading your stuff. Keep up the good writing and don’t forget about us, your faithful whatever readers.
I hope I am reading this right — that Head On will come first of the bundle. My health makes it unlikely I will see more than 2 or 3 of these books.
Omg. Soo much gratulation!
High hopes and all..
Soooo in those 13 books..would you..could you…
just a little wish..
in my wildest dreams..
Put a hijabi astronaut in one? Seeing that would be sooo cooool^^
Ach, just ignore that..
I’ve slept too little so I’m adventurous to post that here..
Thinking to post that ..
Epic Space Opera Wooooo! I mean, I’ll most likely read the other stuff too, but yay for my particular special favorite sub-sub-genre! Very excited over here!
Congratulations, your hard work is bringing well-deserved rewards and your success is a great sign for everyone. It’s powerful evidence of the continued popularity of genre fiction, despite those regular “the novel is dead” pronouncements that pop up on the innerwebs. So happy for you and your family and for fans of space opera, of which I am one :-)
Congratulations. That’s a very nice baseline income stream. Now that you don’t have to hustle for the next deal, can we expect your output to crank up? ;-)
I don’t want to be a damper on your celebration, but I have observed that the quality of work of some others (not just writers, but also musicians) suffers when they enter this phase of their careers. Their muse leaves them. They start pounding out work, not because they are inspired, but because they are contractually obligated to. The pendulum starts to swing too far the other way and editors aren’t able to properly edit the author.
I really hope this doesn’t happen to you and from inferences of some of the above, it doesn’t seem as likely to happen to you as others. Still the best way I can help from keeping it from happening is to fire a short warning shot.
So, congratulations and I hope the dystopic future I paint above remains fiction.
I opened my email and the NY times sends me the headlines, and there is John Scalzi headlining in the arts section! So I click over to Whatever and you are in the air! So exciting! I am now even more happy for you and your family than before and only wish you and all the Scalzi’s more wonderfulness, joy and love.
>I’m not going to be doing a Scrooge McDuck-like dive into a pool of coins, sorry.
did someone say Kickstarter?????????? :-)
The word “congratulations” is not large enough to encompass this, but I don’t have a better one. :-D
Question for you, if you’re willing to answer: how the hell did you guys reach the point of negotiating over thirteen books at once? Did your agent say “gimme all you got, John; I think I can get them to buy your entire ideas file at once,” did Tor say “hey, we’d like to make sure you don’t stray any time soon, so whatever you feel like pitching to us, we’ll look at every last bit of it,” did you start out talking about a three-book deal and then it just kinda snowballed until you were all staring at a list of thirteen synopses wondering what just happened? (Probably not that last one, from the way you’ve described it.)
I mean, I know how I got from a two-book deal to a three-book one, on two separate occasions. But the mind boggles at the notion of saying to a publisher, “hey, wanna buy thirteen at once?”
Still the best way I can help from keeping it from happening is to fire a short warning shot.
Random Internet Commenter Warns Of Dystopian Future: World Saved.
(Also: good on you, John Scalzi!)
One of my favorite things you ever wrote is the blog entry about one day filling up your gas tank and how you didn’t have to think, “Should I only put a few dollars in and save the rest of what I have?” Just how, in your mind, you’d “made it” because you didn’t have to fret about whether or not to put $20 or $30 in the tank said a lot about earlier financial situations in your life (even while published). So it’s very cool seeing a deal that offers great security for you and your family for years to come.
So I guess you’re buying the next round.
Seriously, I echo all the congratulations and good thoughts and greedy anticipation of an unending stream of Scalzi.
I think it’s interesting that newspaper articles are picking up on the opportunity for cross genre books to greatly expand sales figures; I’m already convinced so it’s nice that others are heading that way also.
And, when it comes to diversity, it’s good to know that Tor recognises the potential of squirrel polo; I expect to see them offering sponsorship in the not too distant future…
Will there be a sequel to “Android’s Dream?” That’s still my favorite of yours.
Regarding Tor: “…when it comes to science fiction, Tor is as good as it gets, in every department.” Maybe so, but Tor is as bad as any current publisher with respect to the amount of time and attention given to copyediting.
“A new epic space opera series … in an entirely new universe”: Fine, but please, please don’t be tempted to go down the path taken by Robert Heinlein as he got older, having his characters from different universes interact for no good reason other than self-indulgence – likewise Isaac Asimov retroactively trying to integrate robots into his galactic empire stories, etc. If the stories are good enough to live on their own, they’re good enough to remain separate.
Finally, that first newspaper job at the Fresno Bee that started you off as a writer for pay (more than 10 years before your SF started appearing) was obviously very valuable in getting to this point – but the sphere of journalism jobs continues to contract, and has been doing so since around 2002. I feel a bit like one of the Whitherers in Jack Vance’s To Live Forever aka Clarges (1956) – who sit around saying “Whither?” to each other, as one of them puts it, but have no idea how to rectify the situation.
I, too, am interested in your answer to the question about Zoe’s Tale.
From your answers to your own interview questions, you talk like you’ve never written YA before.
I would very much consider Zoe’s Tale to be a work of Young Adult fiction, so you wouldn’t just be “waltzing in and expecting to be successful” but are, in fact, already established as a sci-fi YA author.
Congratulations; well deserved.
Larry McMillin would be proud.
As many others here, I’m thrilled to hear about a sequel to Lock In. As a disabled person, Lock In struck a chord with me.
I read somewhere that there’s discussion of a TV series of Lock In. I’m intrigued by that. Do you know yet how much creative input you would have with that project?
Looking forward to reading all of your new books!
Alex R.: Our host did indeed begin to write an Android’s Dream sequel, but it reached a dead end of some sort. Its first chapter, which he would read aloud during appearances at bookstores (such as the now-defunct Olsson’s in DC circa 2007-08), became the standalone “Judge Sn Goes Golfing” chapbook with cover art by the great Gahan Wilson.
Wow! Super excited now!
Advice from an 18-year-old: When writing for YA, just write any other book, and cut out graphic violence, sex scenes, and most profanity. Low-level curses and such are generally OK, but don’t shy away from anything else you’d write in a regular book.
Otherwise, though, stuff like “The Android’s Dream” or “Agent to the Stars” would generally be OK. And heck, graphic violence has been OK in YA ever since the Hunger Games.
And: “Honestly, who gives a shit what those dudes think. My actual puppy knows more about publishing than some of them, particularly the ones pretending to speak with authority on the subject. ”
Indeed. In my online exposure to Puppies and their pontificating about publishing in general (and about John Scalzi’s career in particular), I’ve been bemused by how misinformed and uninformed they are about publishing, how it works, the fiction market, etc.
Lacking anything original to say, let me just add my congratulations to the pile. You keep writing ’em and I’ll keep reading ’em.
Yer gonna need a bigger yard . . .
>>Yes! YA! Because I love YA, many of my favorite writers are in that field, <<
It's about fucken time you came to our side of the fence, Scalzi! What took you so long???!! Once you write YA you never go away!!!
In other news, Scalzi announced today that he would begin recruiting for the new American Squirrel Polo League.
Congratulations John. It’s amazing in a way, I never knew a writer who could make a good living at it. You can certainly handle the pressure. Keep up the good writing.
I agree with sheteaches math that Zoe’s tail is a YA story. Even a chick story.
Mate, John Scalzi could spend the next ten years pounding out “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” and still not change the fact he’s a tiny god. Congrats on a wonderful deal well earned.
Congrats ! And thanks, you rock too ! :)
Well, VD has weighed in with predictable results. One of the comments wishes to know how this deal compares to those given authors whose books actually sell.
Another points out that Tor clearly won’t be around long enough to pay all the money out since John is ‘their big dog’.
A third doesn’t care because ‘Scalzi will spend all the money as fast as it comes in and die penniless’.
Congratulations! But more importantly: was the trash ever taken out???
(hint to the squirrel polo folks): I’d love to see a pic of our gracious host brandishing his mandotenor photoshopped onto the appropriate scene from Mad Max:Fury Road. I’m sure I’m not alone.
That whole Tor dropping you thing? I guess that timeline got cancelled or altered or something.
Host has also officially entered T. Pratchett land with this kind of a deal (…And I said sure, just go ahead, cancel it, and send me a new one. Then I put the phone down and realized it was for half a million pounds.“). I can imagine how good it feels not to have the pressure of it all, hope it frees the imagination.
And, you never know, might start a fashion trend or marketplace for bigger advances, with benefits for others (like the amount of free advertizing going on around here).
WE WILL BE SENDING YOUR DETAILS TO EVERY RIDE-ON LAWNMOWER SALESPERSON IN THE STATE AS A REWARD.
I have no illusions that I am just going to waltz into the YA field and be successful — it’s a different writing field with different conventions
What exactly distinguishes YA from non-YA fiction? Some of the books I’ve read that were labelled “YA” seemed to differ only by the fact that the protagonist was a teenager.
I’m not sure about a tiny god; it brought to mind one of the terrifying moments in Terry Pratchett’s ‘Small Gods’ involving a tortoise and an eagle, but I think Scalzi is unlikely to discover that he’s run out of ideas.
After all, Whatever is where he engages with what he wants to think about and discuss; I think it’s a source of strength for his fiction writing and that it gives him a considerable edge over writers who live in an echo chamber…
Congratulations, John! It’s so nice to see that the American dream still works now and again. Isn’t it lovely to know that all your hard work (and the hard work yet to come) have lead somewhere?
Apparently Zoe’s Tale is “YA-friendly”. http://whatever.scalzi.com/2008/10/13/zoes-tale-cover-art-teenage-girls-and-you-yes-you/
So even though it is clearly a YA story written about a teenager with standard YA concerns and voice (plus, you know, aliens)… for marketing reasons it’s an adult book with an adult cover. So Scalzi has written a YA book, but hasn’t *marketed* a YA book.
I hope the next YA book isn’t so stereotypically YA! The best YA books don’t try hard to be YA (think Tiffany Aching or much of Diana Wynne Jones or Robin McKinley). But there’s a market for the standard stuff too.
We went in with the idea of discussing a long-term contract and I had thirteen titles queued up to let them know I’d thought about the long term very seriously. Apparently I convinced them.
Android’s Dream< sequel is not currently on the schedule. But as they say, you never know.
I’ll be an Executive Producer on the show, when/if it gets going.
Has: If John Scalzi tried to turn out more that one volume of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” I’m guessing any money he makes out of this contract will wind up in a lawyer’s pocket.
He might be a tiny god, but trying to create a literary “Metal Machine Music” is not a wise career move.
dammit….more than one volume…
Hey, remember that $5 I loaned you in highschool? Seriously, nobody who knew you then is at all surprised at your massive success. You and your writing are awesome and you deserve it. Congrats on the deal !
Joe Fontana: Wil Wheaton does a great job reading Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. You might give that a try.
I thought Zoe’s Tale fit the YA model pretty well. That being said, I’m often confused at the difference between YA and adult novels. Partly because I began devouring my dad’s Sci Fi bookshelf by age 9 or 10, I guess having the protagonist be a teenager is part of the formula. But frankly I’ll read YA or adult or whatever. Loved Doctorow’s Little Brother and Homeland, as well as Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching storyline.
A side note- I’m pregnant and I was planning to name my kid Zoe, but he thwarted me and is male. Zoe’s Tale really resonated with me, and I’ve always liked the name anyway. Husband feels Zoe is not a good choice for a boy :) So now we hunt for male names. Would have been easier if baby cooperated and was female!
Good things come to those who work hard. Congratulations :)
Scalzi has, indeed, worked hard but I’m pretty sure that he hasn’t changed his mind about how he got here:
Truly excellent news! Obviously, it’s great for you and your family personally, but as a fan, I am chuffed by the thought that you can put more time into writing, and have such ambitious plans for your work. yay!
Congratulations Scalzi. Like the rest of your fans, I’m looking forward to reading your work. You are worth every penny!
It has already been mentioned I’m sure, but I can’t help but think that part of this was because of your track record not just in profitability, but in your willingness to work with TOR, and as you have describe in your works about writing, being open and easy to work with.
Good on you :-)
I didn’t get around to typing it in the other article announcing the deal, but Con-fuckin’-gratulations John. Seriously. I sit here in my recliner imagining the indignant squeals of the Rabidly Sad Pupas. I find it hilarious that in one fell swoop there arguments that Tor and John Scalzi really don’t make any money have been doused in gasoline and set alight with a blowtorch. A silly part of me imagines VD running around naked with his scrotum and pubic hair blazing.
Job security is a wonderful thing, and I really can’t wait to see what YA you come up with. As someone who is a little bit ahead of you in age, I will admit here and now that I do still love that slice of the Genre. It gives everyone a bit of hope that the youth of today (and the future) are going to take up the reins and make us proud.
I don’t have a question, just, I’ve been reading your books for 10 years (after seeing you on a panel at Glasgow Worldcon), and I’m delighted you’re going to have the stability and security to write more books for another 10 years. Whoop!
Hearty congratulation on this, I have greatly enjoyed all of your works so far and this bodes well for the coming decade!
I’d like to plead with you to back out of this book deal, in the name of science. The accuracy and integrity of the milliScalzi is at stake. Think of the children, man!
>> I was planning to name my kid Zoe, but he thwarted me and is male. Zoe’s Tale really resonated with me, and I’ve always liked the name anyway. Husband feels Zoe is not a good choice for a boy :) So now we hunt for male names.>>
Just slur the opening consonant a little, and bam, there you are!
Ah, okay. So “long-term contract” was an idea that had already been put on the table, it sounds like, and the length of the term was settled by you blowing them away with your plan. :-)
Well done indeed, sir!
I think my favorite part of the NYT article was the acknowledgement that this deal was done on the strength of your *backlist.* As a bookseller, I can give first-hand evidence on the truth of this. You are one of my favorite authors to sell and to recommend. Well done, sir; very well done.
Thank you for the info on the books. It gives me something to look forward to in the book world for the next decade. And once again…..
Btw: now that your greatness is sealed (although, let’s be frank, it was before this), have you thought about running for president? :)
W00t and Gratz. Way to lvl up dude!
Congratulations! Good things for you, and good things for science fiction in general!
Your photo in the Times makes it look like they’re taking $3.4 million away from you.
Wait! Was that you up on the Doof Wagon in Mad Max: Fury Road?
Thanks for more details. Congrats again.
Epic Space Opera, well, if I had a guitar and a dog, I would be doing that thing in the picture, too. Super psyched. But, really, I have liked everything of yours that I have read, and that’s almost all of it. So, the world will be a richer place 13 books from now, I am sure.
Just remember the words of Baron Harkonnen: He who controls the trash, controls the universe. So, go take out the trash, already.
“Second of all only one musician has ever managed to make wielding a double-neck guitar look cool.”
How to spot someone who hasn’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet.
So enough other people have been congratulating you on the contract. I’m here to talk about something much more important – the awesome photo at the top of this post. The contrast between you body language and the dog’s is gorgeous!
Double-Doubles of Victory all around!
Yay! We can haz moar Scalzi!
Well done, you, and well deserved too.
1) How much did you squee like a schoolgirl, when you found out about this – on a scale from 1 to 10?
2) How much time has been spent flailing your arms, going “YayYayYayYay!”, or similar?
3) Did you mean to earworm people or was that an accident?
I can see the tweets from a throwaway account now:
20:08 : “WE HAVE YOUR DAUGHTER! IF YOU WANT TO SEE HER AGAIN, GIVE US MUCH MONEY!”
20:32 : “DUDE, WE HAVE YOUR DAUGHTER! GIVE US SOME MONEY!”
21:04 : “JESUS CHRIST SHE IS FREAKISHLY STRONG! TELL HER TO LET GO!”
21:18 : “YOUR DAUGHTER AND OUR MONEY ARE READY TO BE COLLECTED!”
Good for you, John. Not suprisingky in any way, Tor locks in (what else?) a solid long term cash flow, and so do you.
I’ve always thought you produced very solid, highly professional, commercial fiction, which should be rightly praised.
But…i hope somewhere in this deal is a big, sprawling, hairy, weird, monster of a novel (or two), that might dig its teeth into your reality and ours.
Massive congratulations! Wonderful!
Am looking forward to the Lock In sequel most of all.
Lots of <3s from constant reader, extremely rare commenter. Looking forward to the new books.
(And darn, now I’m cursing myself for not asking about YA during reader request week, because I’m so curious as to who you’ve read/enjoyed now).
Is one of the “101 Uses for a Dead Goat” to Apply Directly To The Forehead?
That’s all I got.
I make it $261,000 per book, which is a lot of money, but not a stupid huge amount of money. Athletes get way more than that; starting salary in Major League Baseball and Basketball is twice that per year. Some people with “real jobs” make more than that. I’d love to have that income, but I do not have a talent commensurate with it. Being a very good slave to cats doesn’t pay. furry little bastids, mumble grumble…
It occurs to me that the Vast Scalzi Lawn would make an excellent venue for squirrel polo.
Congratulations! I am happy for you and happy because I love a weird publishing deal and I love a plan and I love looking forward to having (a lot) more of your books!
Just wanted to add my congratulations to the stack. A well deserved reward for a lot of time and effort on your part.
May the next deal be better than this deal.
Once again, congratulations on the deal. I’m glad to hear you have a degree of financial stability (gods willing and the creek don’t rise) in what is looking to be a rather unstable time. Would we were all able to get the same.
(As a celebration yesterday I used up the bookshop gift card I got from my brother for my birthday and purchased “Lock In”. So you’re whatever fraction of $29.99AUD goes to you in royalties for that one richer, anyway).
Digital Atheist: never underestimate the power of Denial. These guys have it in spades, to the point where they are quite willing to edit the universe to omit unpleasant-to-them truths. I really don’t expect their party line to alter one jot or tittle, because that would mean they’d have to admit a) they were wrong; or b) they made a mistake. Neither of which are ego-compatible. So expect some nasty snide remarks about bragging, a period of silence, and then back to the status quo of “John Scalzi’s books don’t sell, he isn’t making money, he’s going to die destitute in a ditch somewhere”.
Congrats! Congrats! Very interesting deal. You may have set a record for most books licensed by an author in one deal with a publisher.
I’m curious to see if Tor and other big publishers try to “lock in” more bestsellers with long-term deals like this. The trend for awhile has been to go the other way, so they obviously have a lot of confidence in your work.
For any confused (or to help those trolls annoying Scalzi talking off the top of their small brains,) the 3.4 million advance is an advance of estimated royalties. That is, Tor has estimated, based on past sales and Scalzi’s proposed books, that sales will be such that Scalzi will earn a minimum of 3.4 million in royalties (at the agreed upon royalty rates,) altogether for the thirteen books over ten+ years. In this particular case, where the books are not tied together in earnings, each book presumably has been assigned an individual advance (all the advances totaling 3.4 million.) While these advances might not all be the same amount, you can think of it as roughly $260-270K per book.
If an individual book in the deal doesn’t earn as much as the advance in royalties for Scalzi, then Tor still pays Scalzi the full advance, in a series of payments over a time period. They eat the cost between the advance and the actual royalties (although they can still make money if the difference isn’t too big.) If the book does earn the amount of the advance in royalties, then Scalzi has “earned out” his advance. If the book earns more in royalties than the advance, then Scalzi is paid the royalties additional to the amount he was paid earlier as an advance on his royalties, and everybody is very happy. Potentially, if some of the books are good hits, he could earn a good deal more than 3.4 million, plus foreign sales, film/tv deals, etc. If Red Shirts does make it to t.v., then that brings more readers to all his books.
So this is a good, practical, long term gamble on both their parts.
(For the self-pub crowd, as a self-pub author, you are the publisher and a vendor like Amazon is your distributor, not your publisher. What Amazon pays you for your sales are NOT royalties, even though Amazon likes to call them royalties. It is instead your, as the publisher, net profits after Amazon deducts their cut — your business expense. It’s the same money that Tor would receive from Amazon and Barnes & Noble after sales. So no, Scalzi would not be making a higher “royalty” self-pubbing with Amazon because Amazon doesn’t pay royalties unless you publish with their actual publishing imprints. Learn the business you are in.)
John Small Berries:
YA is a sub-category of the childrens/teen market, which is segmented by age ranges. YA is the last age range, for readers 12 years old and up. A title is YA fiction if it is published by a childrens/YA publisher and sold in the YA section of bookstores. YA books from those publishers will have a protagonist who starts off somewhere between the ages of 11-25. Many teen books contain graphic sex, violence, rape, drug use, mental illness, etc. Books aimed for younger teens in YA will have less of that, but YA is not cleaned up adult fiction. It’s books that are specifically published and marketed for an audience of mainly teens, though that audience may include younger kids who read well and adults.
Many books published and sold in the adult market have teen protagonists, especially in fantasy fiction. Many of them are never sold as YA. But some of those books, like Zoe’s Tale, may be cross-marketed to the YA market. That is, the adult publisher will also market the book in the YA media and to schools, and sometimes sell it in the YA section as well as the adult section of the bookstores. A book may be sold as YA in some countries and in the adult market in others, depending which publisher is doing the book in that country and how much of a separate YA market the country has.
So Zoe’s Tale was cross-marketed to the YA market, but not specifically published in the YA market. Scalzi’s new YA series will be published (probably in a coordinated effort,) by Tor’s YA arm and sold in the YA sections of the bookstores. They may also reissue Zoe’s Tale and make a YA marketing push with it to go along with the new YA novels, depending what they are.
So basically, a book being YA is a matter of which publisher published the work and where it is sold in bookstores/vendors, the only requirement being having a protagonist who is under the age of thirty.
Dog:- ‘Yeah right. Where’s the food?’
Wife (off-screen):- ‘Did you put out that trash YET?’
This is so very cool and logical and the excitement being generated is good for everybody. Cheers and congratulations on your present and future success!
Congratulations! To you, and to all your readers, including me.
Since you included the bit about loans, I figure you’ve carefully considered the territory. Given that, and your non-inclusion of objections to requests for gifts, I will accept cash donations. Feel free to PayPal them. ;)
Ah. There will be something worth reading over the next decade.
Thanks for making the commitment.
That’s crazy good man!
Marie Brennan: “Long-term contract” wasn’t on the table until John and his agent brought it up, at which point we said “Yes, we’re open to that!” The rest was working out the details.
Kat Goodwin: “You may have set a record for most books licensed by an author in one deal with a publisher.” Actually, no, I doubt it.
It may well be the largest number of books and the longest period of time covered by a single deal in SF&F over the last ten or twenty years. But it certainly isn’t the “most books licensed by an author in one deal with a publisher” ever. Far from it, and pretty sure about that.
PNH: “It may well be the largest number of books and the longest period of time covered by a single deal in SF&F over the last ten or twenty years.”
I just felt like repeating that sentence for some reason. [whistles tunelessly while looking up at the sky]
So happy you got this deal. It may be good for you but it’s even better for your readers. Was away for the weekend at our annual Beatles party and spent an hour at the party discussing your books with another person (yes, I’m aware you are not one of the Beatles). Then came home to read the good news about your deal with Tor.
Question is, though . . . what does John Scalvi make of all this? :)
Congrats, sir. Well earned.
No idea if you’ve thought about it yet, but do you plan to publish the Young Adult novels under the same name as your adult fiction? I know there’s more than a few authors who use various versions and initials and occasionally outright pseudonyms when they are writing in different sandboxes or targeting somewhat different audiences.
And congratulations! Being able to reliably look forward to a book a year (or more!) is fantastic news <– Selfish take
Android’s Dream sequel is not currently on the schedule. But as they say, you never know.
That’s a real bummer. Android’s Dream is my favorite of your books and my favorite of your fictional universes.
Meteorologist John Scalzi needs to call his agent.
congrats – you’ve become one of my proof points that good guys DO win !!
“I’m not going to be doing a Scrooge McDuck-like dive into a pool of coins, sorry. ”
I’m a husband and father, and I know we’re meant to say responsible things like that, but…
not even once ?
oh, and the YA thing – ONE, it is harder because young readers don’t / won’t fall for some of the pretntious BS that older readers do (but you have that covered:), and TWO, YA or not, it’s the story. dull story, dull book, YA or not. So you have that covered as well :)
Most importantly, I know there’s more Scalzi for me to read :)
It makes me happy to see someone who writes such good and humane things being rewarded (even though it does seem to me to be a little on the low side :) –if I was Emperor of Known Space artists would be rewarded above all others!).
John, one of my very real pleasures over the last several years has been seeing you at cons and cruises and basking in the glory of your continued success. This is amazing and I could not be happier for you, for Tor, for your family, and for all the fans who contribute to and benefit from your success. This is, truly, a perfect deal for all concerned.
Good on ya.
Of new books, though, not backlist? I’ve heard of seven book deals, usually for one series, but this seems pretty large. But in any case, I said “may” have set a record. :) I defer to those who may know of other deals. The advance, obviously no, but the deal itself is pretty interesting.
I don’t suppose we get any hints about what the first book will be, if that’s been decided?
PNH: “It may well be the largest number of books and the longest period of time covered by a single deal in SF&F over the last ten or twenty years. But it certainly isn’t the “most books licensed by an author in one deal with a publisher” ever. Far from it, and pretty sure about that.”
Well, there’s always the 75-book $0-advance deal Laurann Dohner apparently signed with Ellora’s Cave in 2011. (It doesn’t specify the advance there, but Ellora’s Cave has reiterated more than once that they do not pay advances.)
Kat Goodwin: Thanks for the comprehensive reply. So… what really distinguishes YA fiction from non-YA fiction is not any specific difference in content or writing style, but simply whether or not the publisher labels it as YA fiction?
That’s pretty awesome! Pretty sure I am going to buy all of your space opera books, since you’re fairly decent at those.
Also, replying to a guy above: there is, in fact, a second guitarist who makes playing a doubleneck cool: Kristian Dunn of El Ten Eleven:
First the Irish Referendum, and now this. The universe clearly wants me to be happy!
My heart is filled with joy for you, John Scalzi. And I’ll be buying and reading the HECK out of your books.
I must confess, part of my joy is due to the way the Puppies are shitting kine. And loudly trumpeting how little they care, it’s so cute!
But mostly: I like your fiction, your blogging, and you. You’re a national treasure, and I’m just thrilled that your medium-term future is secure enough to let you do the work you love and live well.
It’s not the amount of money that impresses me so much as the Ten Year Job Security thing. That’s what’s making me sigh in delightful professional envy.
Oh, and btw, John, that “fake interview thing”? It’s called an intraview.
Ok I read the whole post and all the comments, but I’m missing an info:
CAN I BORROW? (Just joking)
Well done sir, pity for those 3 YA since I hated the genre when I was a YA and I hate it today, but , as you say, “wathever…”
On a side note: Has it been joked that the acronym for “The End of All Things” is eerily close to TEAT? I’m sure that it WILL be a financial teat of sorts, providing your family with the warm milk of stability, just like this wonderful multi-mil deal of yours. Congrats, John! You are a wonderful human being and I am proud to have been a fan of your work for more than a half-decade. Looking forward to the next decade.
Will this new space opera you mentioned be near future or far?
Congratulations! I’m delighted for you.
Ten years from now, John, when you negotiate your next deal, maybe you can get yourself one of these guitars (though you probably don’t want to try jumping around with one).
Besides being happy to see a good author get a smokin’ good deal, I think credit is also due Tor Books for making it clear that publishers aren’t looking for just flash-in-the-pan NYT bestsellers, but that writers who can develop strong and enduring backlist sales are still a viable part of a publishing business plan. So kudos to PNH and Tom Doherty.
I was also pleased that the 13-book deal was for a variety of different books, not just for one particular series. I think that versatility is one of Scalzi’s strongest assets. (I’m finding that I get tired of most series, even ones I adore at first reading, after about five or six books at most.).
Congrats on the deal! I’ve always wondered about those multi-book contracts – do they actually spell out the contents of the books, or is it just a general (in legalese of course) “writer agrees to write X Books for Publisher for (insert payment schedule)”? And you mention the flexibility to read the market and adjust accordingly – does that mean if “epic space opera” is no longer teh new hotness, you can start the “Steampunk Dinosaur Ninja Detective” epic if that becomes a thing?
Oh and double neck? Cool? You want cool, I present Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick and his FIVE neck Hamer – http://www.guitarworld.com/files/imagecache/futureus_imagegallery_fullsize/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/images/i-rick-nielson-5neck.jpg
Great, now that Scalzi has his big contract, we have to worry about the post contract year phenomenon where he starts being lazy running the court and doesn’t work hard enough in the off season. Not to mention he’ll probably face several arrests because he’ll still be hanging around his trouble-making posse from high school. Hopefully he’s attached himself to someone responsible to keep him from getting into even worse trouble.
No questions! Except to say that I’m really excited about HEAD ON and this new space opera you have planned. Will be waiting (somewhat) patiently for them to come about :) Again, congratulations on the new contract!
John Scalzi! I just wanted to say how happy I am to learn of your success as an author. It’s satisfying to see good guys do well. Take care.
A blast from your past.
Congratulations and keep up the good work!
2. I’m pretty sure I became aware of you, as an author, as a side effect of the whole taping bacon to a cat thing. Have you ever bothered to thank bacon, cats, and tape for their role in your success?
Congrats John. The dog doesn’t seem to care at all though. I guess jumping in a pile of dead leaves is just the same as jumping in a pile of bank notes for him. Wich is a refreshing perspective on life. We should listen to dogs more often.
Congratulations! As to your detractors, I was going to say that it’s a foolish man who ties his happiness to other people’s misery, then I remembered my reaction to hearing Vox Day desperately try to spin this as a horrible mistake on your part that won’t give you nearly the success he’s expecting with self-publishing, and I realized that hypocrisy is beneath me. :)
rochrist started : Well, VD has weighed in with predictable results.
When I first read the sentence, I thought venereal disease. After realizing whom he meant and thinking about it for a moment, I decided that Venereal Disease would be a good metaphor for Theodore Beale.
I thought I had close the italic and didn’t notice it in the preview.
Congratulations, John! Now you just have to write ’em! (shouldn’t be TOO hard for you!) Well deserved, and I am looking forward to reading every single one that comes out of this deal! Keep up the great work!
As a huge, and rather rabid, fan of the OMW series…I can’t express how overjoyed I am to hear of this deal and wanted to just stop by and say “CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!”
Also…expect that I will be purchasing those books as they come out because there isn’t enough books to be read in this world and your contribution to the pile is greatly appreciated!
Holy crap, dude! Mazal tov!
Not only am I delighted for you (because, obviously) and for me (because, moar books!), but I am also delighted for Tor, because this means that they make so much money off you that they can afford to retain you for a pretty sum and still (I assume) make a decent profit off your work. Great news for science fiction in general. Congratulations!
‘Living well is the best revenge’ comes to mind when considering the monomaniacal attacks on Scalzi by VD and his chums; I am glad that Tor recognised that partnership is a pretty good way of approaching business. All in all, a thoroughly good outcome…
Congratulations on the contract and I’m looking forward to the upcoming work (which as you indicated on twitter has a Unicorn Pegasus Kitten in there*).
I’ve enjoyed working with you over the years in my capacity as former Books and Authors Manager for Phoenix Comicon. As the first author guest I brought out in 2009, I’ve really appreciated your support as I built it up until it ended this year. However, I hope to be able to work with you in some future endeavors I’m looking into. Hopefully, Poisoned Pen in Phoenix will be a regular book tour stop as well.
* Actually, any likely follow up to the Unicorn Pegasus Kitten will likely fall into the self published area.
Huge congratulations, John!
Congratulations! My husband loves your books and he will be excited to know more are in the pipeline.
I would like to add my heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS to everyone else here. When I saw it I also did a Oh SHIT! to that dollar amount.
I have read almost every book you have written and I look forward to 10 years more of excellent Scalzi books!
VERY happy for you!! Congrats and all that jazz.
I am slightly disappointed your double-neck guitar doesn’t shoot flames.
Can you please, please promise us that your YA novels will avoid the trope of the love triangle? So sick of that one!
Congratulations and I am looking forward to reading everything!
Ack, editing to say “Sick of the triangle showing up in YA lit, not in your books.”
Many congratulations – bloomin’ marvelous news for you and your family, and for ravenous readers. I’m particularly happy about the prospect of YA books. I’m in my late 40’s and would have *loved* to have more intelligent YA SciFi available in my very early teens.
Congratulations! Looking forward to tripping over another Scalzi book pile. (Also, I now know there’s another Warren Ellis besides the author.)
3.4 million congratulations! Just in time for college bills too :)
You can probably afford a studio apartment in San Francisco with all that loot.
@Andy: With a roommate.
@Andy: Speaking as somebody familiar with S.F. housing prices, that loot’s enough to afford a decent house.
But again, congrats to John! Wonder if the cats and dog are contemplating whether this deal means they’re getting a higher grade of noms in the future.
It certainly was nice of you to thank us.
I want to say “Thank You!” for writing all those wonderful books.
And an even bigger “THANK YOU!!” for all the neat stuff you will be writing in the future!
Congrats! That’s a lot of moola anywhere, but its REALLY a lot of moola in west central Ohio.
if there was any doubt before, clearly you are a 1%’r now. Ironic an a few ways….
I think Heinlein might have had a 12 year run with Scribners for his Juvy novels. I always thought it was an agreement that he would publish one a year until they rejected one. The string ended whey they rejected Starship Troopers.
I also want to say congrats. You write great books.
Huge kudos, John, and much deserved.
Well done sir! I look forward to reading them.
this is a great deal for you and for us. I look forward to the thirteen book run.
I also both hope and fear that you’ll get Alice Dagleish’s ghost as an editor. She made many writers better at their craft but she also let her personal views come before the quality of the work.
I suppose you think we’re going to all sing “Shake it Off” for you on the Joco Cruise. (Hint: we are.) Way to go dude!!
John Small Berries:
Yes. Children’s publishing has its own market and areas in bookstores, with imprints and publishers specifically serving it, such as Scholastic. Within that market, the children’s publishers divide their fiction offerings into bookselling sub-categories that are defined by age ranges (average reading comprehension levels.) They do this primarily for the schools and school libraries who are major customers of the market. They are infant books (1-3 years), picture books and early readers (3-6 years,) secondary readers (6-9 years,) middle school (9-12 years,) and YA (12+ years.) Some middle school books that are series are moved into YA if their protagonists age up, such as Harry Potter.
YA is the age range marketing sub-category that serves tweens and teens, and therefore has one requirement — a protagonist that those readers can relate to, in the 11-25 years or so range. The YA section of the bookstores is placed within or next to the children’s section of the bookstores. The books sold in that section are YA.
The books in YA cover every possible genre — drama, comedy, historical, suspense, romance, SFFH, etc. There is no one writing style. YA also does not have content requirements beyond the age of the protagonist, though individual publishers may have decided that they will not use certain content for their books.
Books sold in the general fiction or genre markets that have teen protagonists may also be sold in YA sections of the bookstore, which technically makes them also YA. Or they may not be sold in the YA sections, but be cross-marketed to the YA market through media meant to reach tweens and teens, children’s reviewers, school flyers, etc., as well as the adult markets. Those books are not YA technically but may have large teen audiences and may get called YA-friendly or various other terms.
The category market of SFF in adult fiction has a long history of having teen protagonists and coming of age stories, especially in fantasy. This wasn’t much of an issue until the YA market started to grow leaps and bounds, and so some people assume a story with a teen protagonist has to be YA and has to be written in a certain way. But that’s not how it works in the market.
This is why, in part, Scalzi has to “break in” to the YA market with his YA series as a new author to that market — because it’s separate. The teens don’t necessarily know his work, nor will his adult fans necessarily all show up to buy the YA series. Tor’s YA arm will be hitting up media and venues that were not approached for his adult work, except maybe for some crossover marketing for Zoe’s Tale. Luckily, YA SFFH is quite friendly to adult fiction authors coming into the field, because that has also been a long tradition in SFFH.
I mean, really, what else is there to say? There should be flames coming out of that guitar, but otherwise, yeah. Well done, you.
You’re going to make it after all!
You’ve given me a new goal in life: Kickstart something to get Scalzi’s money. Let me think….
First: CONGRATS, Mr Scalzi! Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy… unless, of course, it happened to ME…
Second: As far as self publishing goes, at this point, your work is reaching the ‘self-promotion’ stage. Essentially, all you have to do is format a piece, announce that it’s out there and the faithful will download or order it. There is, of course more to it than that, but you are a KNOWN quantity in writer-dom. That makes a big difference in self publishing. We’d buy your stuff if it’s out there. I, OTOH, am a self-published UNKNOWN, still struggling to get that first level of acceptance that having an agent/publisher represents.
Third and most important (to me, anyway): Who is your agent? Are they accepting submissions? Is Tor accepting unsolicited submissions?
Do something a little silly and impulsive to celebrate… like, oh… Wait a minute… why am I telling a successful author what to do… I should be writing myself…
Adding my congratulations to the queue — yay! I clicked the link in the first post (NYT link) and said, “Wow!” Sounds like a great move on Tor’s part and something you’ve worked your whole career toward. I’m particularly psyched about the Locked In sequel.
Delighted for you! Now you can relax in the Hot Tub of Puppy Tears.
Congrats, Mr. Scalzi!
I’ve really only been reading your stuff since the whole Sad/Rabid thing started… and I figured that anyone that motley collection of individuals loathed would have to be someone I’d like. And sure enough, I am loving what I have read so far.
Nice to know there will pretty much certainly be more for me to read as time goes on!
Congratulations. You have become one of my favorite writers and I am super excited by the fact that we get at least another 13 books from you.
We can all go home now. Greg’s last comment (May 27 @ 8:56am) wins. (I loved that show as a kid.)
Congratulations! Looking forward to all the books you are going to be writing.
Glad to hear there’s another OMW in the works, but hopefully not too many years ahead of its publication. Wait too long and Paul & Storm might write a song about the wait like they did with G. R. R. Martin. ;)
Late to the party, but congrats!
YA is where the work of C.S.Lewis often ends up. That’s a pretty good bar to set.
I remember first reading Out of The Silent Planet as a young adult and it still stands out as some of the best science fiction today for people of any age.
Mega Congratulations to one of my favorite living authors! Looking forward to many years of reading bliss to come. Just have to invest in another bookcase to make room (yes I am one of those who buys dead tree books to put on dead tree shelves and KEEPS them). I will start saving pennies now. Well deserved accolades to you!
When I was a wee lad (10 yo) I had access to a great library and read what was labeled YA. Took 2..3 years to read through everything, then the kids librarian got me into the adult section. What a dream!!
YA was defined by (1) teen characters, and (2) very simple plot lines;and (3) a cliff-hanger at the end of each chapter.
I was surprised to learn Starship Troopers and Zoe’s Tale are (considered) YA. They have fairly complex plots (failing (2)) and few cliff-hangers (failing (3)). And now the age of the main characters have gone from a max of 17..18 to 25 (stretching (1)).
So, I am happy that YA has evolved. It will be interesting what Mr Scalzi and TOR determines what is YA. I am excited about more OMW books, and am fascinated about the two “new universes” he has in the wings.
Mr Scalzi: Can you please (PLEASE!!) tease us with a look-ahead of a book or two?
Reblogged this on dcpwords and commented:
I referenced this earlier. Like I said, well-deserved. I love the first book of his that I’m reading, he’s a wonderful blogger, and one of the major reasons I miss twitter.