How to Lose a Publisher but Keep Your Advance

Ultimately, Wong and Doubleday Canada agreed to part ways, with Wong receiving her full advance – which she describes as “not a trivial amount” – and rights to sell the edited manuscript elsewhere. Initially, the publisher insisted she sign a confidentiality agreement, but having been gagged throughout her legal proceedings with the Globe, Wong adamantly refused. In fact, she was already envisioning a new epilogue for the book, in which her former publisher would undergo the same criticism as the Globe.

“I told them, ‘You know what, you should just pay me – make this short – because the longer it takes, the longer the epilogue will be,’” she says. “And I wasn’t kidding.” In the end, Doubleday Canada dropped the confidentiality clause. (Wong did write that epilogue, but kept it to a brief four pages.)

Quill and Quire relays the story of how Jan Wong’s publisher, Doubleday Canada, dropped her book about being fired by the Globe and Mail for … being about the Globe and Mail. But: She negotiated to keep her full advance and rights to publish her book, Out of the Blue: A Memoir of Workplace Depression, Recovery, Redemption and, Yes, Happiness. It would have been her fifth with the publisher, but now is her first as a self-publisher. Wong is a hustler. We should all be hustlers. Respect.

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5 Comments / Post A Comment

Megano! (#124)

If she wasn’t Jan Wong, she probably wouldn’t get to. I didn’t think you got an advance before they knew what a book was about though, so that one is kind of on Doubleday anyway. Usually once they’ve paid it you don’t have to pay it back.

AnnieNilsson (#406)

@Megano! any thoughts on what happens if you have to turn your book in, oh, say, a year and a half later than when it was due? can they try to take your advance back then? asking for a friend…

Katzen-party (#219)

I’m sorry, I don’t want to be That Really Annoying Person Who Points Out Mistakes, but where did the quote you start this post with come from? I’d actually be interested in reading the article! Jan Wong is definitely an interesting person–she wrote this kinda effed-up article in the Globe & Mail, the reaction to which led to the depression and firing she talks about in her book (or so I gather from the Amazon link…).

annnnd it’s fixed. thanks for alerting me x

Katzen-party (#219)

Thank YOU!

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