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Kurt Vonnegut on Book Deals: ‘Carry on Without an Advance’

It is too easy for first-time writers to obsess over book deals. Back in 1972, the great author Kurt Vonnegut cautioned one young writer against seeking an advance before finishing his book–sharing important advice that all aspiring authors.

Vonnegut advised his son (author Mark Vonnegut) “to carry on without an advance” while working on his first book. You can read the complete letter he wrote to his son in the new Kurt Vonnegut: Letters collection, but we’ve posted an excerpt below:

I have mixed feelings about advances on first books. They are hard to get, for one thing, and are usually so small that they tie you up without appreciably improving your financial situation. Also: I have seen a lot of writers stop writing or at least slow down after getting an advance. They have a feeling of completion after making a deal. That’s bad news creatively. If you are within a few months of having a finished, edited manuscript, I advise you to carry on without an advance, without that false feeling of completion, without that bit of good news to announce to a lot of people before the job is really done.

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