I just returned from a week long workshop on marketing for fiction writers. We learned about the publishing business, how it works, who has the power, and how to get our novels the best chance they can get. A lot of classes, a lot of assignments, a lot of reading, and not much sleep.

I learned some interesting bits of trivia. For example, I never knew that the practice of giving writers an advance against their royalties began with F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was running out of cash so he asked his publisher to give him some advance money on the book he was writing. The publisher agreed. Turns out Fitzgerald was out of money because he drank it all. Or most of it. Other writers heard about the arrangement and demanded advances as well. (I can just see the scene: “Hey, I drink at least as much as F. Scott. I deserve advance money too!”) Advances soon became an industry standard. So all you writers out there who get paid money before your book is even published: you have F. Scott Fitzgerald’s drinking habits to thank for that fortunate circumstance.

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