I recently accompanied one of my authors to a bookstore reading for his new novel. After his talk, he signed copies of the new book. As usual, people lined up for this, and many had very nice things to say.
I positioned myself in the front row and one chair to the left of center, facing my author. I waited.
I spied "that guy" at the end of the line. After years in the publicity trenches, I can recognize him a mile away.
"I'm so excited to meet you! I've read your book! It was terrific!" That Guy says when it's his turn,
"Thank you! And thank you for coming tonight," says Author Mine. He glances down to see if TG has brought book for signature. No book.
"I read your book in the library. I kept it for the full three weeks even though I read it over night. I wanted to make good notes," TG continues.
Author Mine looks a bit taken aback.
"Now, I've got some ideas for a new book you can write," TG says. "I've got the ideas, you write it, and we'll split the money. Win/win!"
Author Mine looks at me.
I polish my smile with gunpowder.
"Excellent!" says Author Mine. "Let me introduce you to my agent. She's right here. She handles all these kinds of things."
I step up to the plate. Extend my hand. "Hello, I'm Janet Reid. I'm his agent."
TG says hello and gives me his name.
"Why don't we step over here where we can sit down and talk," I suggest. "I have the application right here."
"Yes. You have to fill out an application and pay a fee. The more detailed your ideas, the lower the fee, of course," I say.
"How much money are we talking about?" TG asks.
"Well, for just a concept, something like "Monty Python in Space" it's about fifty thousand dollars. But if you develop the concept, write a synopsis, the first hundred pages or so, it's about ten thousand dollars."
"TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!"
"Well, yes, that's about the going rate. You've heard of advances, right?"
"Well, sure, but...."
"Advances are how authors get paid ahead of publication. Exactly like this. You pay him, and he writes. Then of course you get a cut of the proceeds."
Spluttering from TG.
"I have an application form and an invoice for you right here."
"Well, sure. We need to get paid. Our bank details are on it right here, see?"
"I'm not paying you you! I'll just do it myself!" TG stands, turns on his heel and exits bookstore, umbrage at this callous reception of his magnanimity muttering after him.