Interesting post about advances (or lack thereof) over at Pimp My Novel:
True, the vast majority of titles currently acquired are eventually released as concurrent physical and electronic books, but I don't think the day is long off in which a substantial section of the market will comprise e-only titles. Once that occurs, I think the idea of the advance will become even more antiquated; it's much easier to pay an author a fixed percentage of dollars earned in the more or less real-time environment of e-book sales than to bother with advances.
It's incredible to think how much things have changed since I started out on my own writing journey in 2003, when I did my MA Writing course. We used to have agents and editors and various publishing people come in to give masterclasses. The information and insight was incredibly useful, but I should imagine that quite a lot of what they said then would not apply now.
As a 22-year-old, fledgling writer, I dreamed about collecting my first advance. Imagine the feeling! I could be a squillionaire! Of course, times have changed and so have I, thankfully. While I would love my novel to get taken on and to receive a nice advance, publication alone feels like satisfactory reward, what with the way things are at the moment.
It's funny, really. On one hand, we have an ever-growing indie scene with blog after blog decrying traditional publishing and talking up the commercial possibilities of going it alone. Then we have those voices from within the industry reminding us of the world's economic meltdown and forever lowering our - financial, at least - expectations.
In the end, it inevitably depends on who you are, what you've written and what you want to get out of this whole shebang. For some writers, the money plays a pretty big role in their decision making. For others, it's not such a big deal. Initially, at least.