Wednesday, October 19, 2011


On Friday I’m flying to Florida to give the keynote address at the Ancient City Romance Writers Boot Camp on the Beach retreat. Because I have to fly through Atlanta to connect to Jacksonville, I’m going to spend a week visiting family outside of Atlanta before returning home. The difference in the cost of the flight to do this on Delta was approximately $75.

The end of January I’ll once again be in Florida, speaking at the Space Coast Writers’ Guild Conference. Once again, I have to switch planes in Atlanta. Only this time Delta wants to charge me an additional $277 to stay in Atlanta instead of immediately hopping on my connecting flight coming home. If I were to fly roundtrip to Melbourne, FL without staying over in Atlanta, the flight would be $206.80. Spending time in Atlanta increases the flight to $483.80, even though I HAVE TO SWITCH PLANES IN ATLANTA ANYWAY!

Where is the sense in this? On any given day on any flight, the person to my left may have paid half what I paid for my seat, and the person to my right may have paid three times what I paid. The seats are the same. The person who paid three times what I paid isn’t getting three times the service. He’s getting the same non-service I’m getting.

And why am I telling you about this, given Inkspot is a writing blog? I’m about to draw a parallel here that brings this all back to writing.

Just the other day I read an article in the New York Times about Amazon’s new publishing division.
 According to the article, Amazon purportedly paid actress/director Penny Marshall an $800,000 advance for a memoir. I know several people who recently sold books to  Amazon’s new fiction lines. They're not getting a dime in the away of an advance. See where I’m going here? On any given day in any given bookstore, the book to the left of mine may have received half the advance I received for my book, while the book to the right of mine may have received ten, twenty, or even 100 times the advance I received for my book. The book to my left might wind up selling better than my book, and my book might wind up selling better than the one to my book’s right.

A huge advance is no guarantee of huge sales. More often than not, the books that receive six, seven, and eight figure advances wind up never earning out those advances. I saw one statistic a few years ago that claimed 80% of celebrity memoirs and fiction “written” by celebrities (We all know they’re actually ghost written. You really didn’t think Snooki actually wrote A Shore Thing, did you?) wind up on the remainders table.

Seems to me Penny Marshall makes plenty of money already. Does she really need another $800,000? Why not give her half of that $800,000 and spread the other half around to the authors not being offered any advance? I know my friends would certainly appreciate that. They might even buy  copies of Penny’s memoir as a way of saying thanks.

As for me, I’m looking forward to February 12th. That’s the date Southwest begins service between Newark Liberty and Atlanta.

Lois Winston writes the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series. The first book, Assault With A Deadly Glue Gun, was a January 2011 release and received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Death by Killer Mop Doll will be a January 2012 release. Visit Lois at and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog,


Robin Allen said...

Tell Delta that you're a mystery author and the $206.80 they want to charge you is $6.80 more than your book advance.

Deborah Sharp said...

If only WE ran the airlines!!! And, BTW, I did think Snooki really penned that memoir .... (kidding, kidding!) Fla. trips sound great; c'mon down a bit more south and say hi to me in Fort Lauderdale.

Alan Orloff said...

Hmm. Lois, you've given me a great idea for a new series: Crusader Man, roaming the country stamping out GROSS INEQUITIES (which is the title, btw!).

Darrell James said...

I would rather drive a thousand miles than fly ten feet, these days!!!! And who do these celebrities think they are anyway, celebrities!!??!! It makes me so CRAZY!!!! (There, I got that out.)

Kathleen Ernst said...

It's a strange business.

Lois Winston said...

Robin, when was the last time an airline gave a customer anything other than giving them the shaft?

Deb, that would probably increase my airfare to around a grand, but next time I head down to Boynton Beach to visit my aunt, I'll let you know.

Alan, do I get to share in the profits?

Darrell, it's always good to blow off some steam. ;-)

Kathleen, that about sums it up, doesn't it?

Anne Van said...

Great post Lois! And so true!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Anne!

Patg said...

I agree about the author advances.
HOWEVER, Travel Agent Here!!! And even more importantly here, I was a fares agent for both a domestic and an international airline for @#$% years. Fare constructions for both are majorly different. So complaining about added costs for stopovers never flows through my brain the way most people see it.
You got a cheap fare to Melbourne FL??? Shocker! I know Jacksonville would be up for additional discounts, but Melbourne. Okay, here's how it works. Most excursion fares allows one additional stopover for 1/2 of each of the common discounted fares between each city. It there is a 'special' with only roundtrips allowed, you have to move up a level to get a discount. Sure, EWR to JAX or ATL is possible, but ATL to JAX is probably not in there for the big specials. And the only reason you get any discount is because it is all DL routemap. It's been a while and a lot of rules change, but it used to be that you could only have the stopover on the return if you spent a Saturday night in the farthest destination.
Good luck with Southwest. Sure they have great rules, but only on their routemaps. Good luck with JAX/ATL.
Did I mention my series is about a travel agent and NOT a tour escort? Oh the years I spent explaining fare to people. :(
:) Patg

Jess Lourey said...

Keynote speaker, Lois? That's awesome!!! And they're lucky to have you.