Long-Term Relationships (In Business)

So, KKR had a great post yesterday on John Scalzi’s recent ten-year, $3.6 million dollar deal for thirteen books.  It’s all about how each of us have our own careers and get to make our own choices and how what Scalzi did works for his career.  Well worth reading.

(I have to say I was a bit surprised by PG’s comments about the deal.  It showed a bit of his bias since he’d just recently featured another post where someone claimed Tor was going down.  Or at least Tor UK…And rather than point that out at all he attacked the Scalzi deal instead.)

But, setting that aside.

What interested me in the deal was the timeframe.  Ten years.

Now, Scalzi is one of those steady, long-term kind of guys as you can see from his blog.  Solid family man used to long-term commitments.

Me?  The idea of committing to a business relationship for ten years gives me the heebie jeebies.  (No, I don’t know how to actually spell that.)  So far, in my adult business life my business relationships have lasted about seven and a half years with a major shift in each relationship at some point.

First job, started in one state, moved halfway across the country after about three and a half years and took on a very different role.

Second job, quit after two and a half years and then ended up working for them on a contract basis for five, about half of that time from another country.

So my personal experience tells me ten years is a long time to tie yourself to someone else’s wagon.

With the first company I worked for we had a significant management change that led me to move states, then another significant management change that left me disillusioned, and then a merger that made me realize it was time to go.

With the second company we had a cultural shift over time that made me realize I and the company were not in synch, then the primary person I worked with experienced certain career setbacks that influenced my working with them, and then my own life and priorities shifted so that I wasn’t compatible with what they wanted.

If I were Scalzi and someone offered me that deal, would I take it?  Yes.  Because, the world shifts, sometimes dramatically, and someone who wants to guarantee that they will pay me $250K a year for something I enjoy doing and plan on doing for that time period will get my attention.

Would I seek out a ten-year commitment with any business partner?

No.  (Unless I had a damned good buyout clause in there that let me walk away if it all went to shit…)

Scalzi had his reasons and I think they work for him and I think it was a great deal for him.  I will also say that I’m glad to see such a solid, viable trade deal signed, because I like there to be options in this world.

And, remember, in the world of trade publishing, the advance is often just the floor of what someone will earn.  (Not always, of course.)

As with everything, we each need to make the choices that work for us and our careers, another great point that KKR made.  Don’t blindly go to either side.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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