For Better or For Worse gets it wrong
I usually am a big fan of this comic strip, but boy did the author blow it today. One of the characters, Mike, finished his novel about a month ago, just before his family's apartment house went up in flames the day before Christmas. In today's script he gets a contract in the mail from a publishing house.
Hah! Fat chance.
We see him celebrating it was done, then his whole house is destroyed. Even if he put it in the mail the day after Christmas (while he was preoccupied with salvaging what he could from his house), they wouldn't have gotten it until three days later... Dec 29, the Friday before New Years. The earliest they could have possibly gotten to it would have been January 2nd. The chances of them hitting the slush pile after a week or two of vacation are pretty darn slim... but let's say the acquisitions editor did sit down and read it (before getting to the rest of the slush pile that's been pilling up since before Christmas, heck maybe even before Thanksgiving...), then there'd be meetings with the rest of the editorial staff, the marketing and publicity team, etc. All in three weeks. I just don't buy it, especially as he doesn't have an agent (or at least, we've never heard about him having an agent, or him trying to get one.)
Then there's the advance... $25,000. I know that debut novelists can get advances like that (I know one who got an advance four times that) but the average advance is more like 5,000 (at least in sf... thanks to Tobias Bucknell who did a survey of authors and found out that precious info.). The chances of an unagented author getting a higher advance is pretty slim. The woman I know who got the very high advance had a bidding war going on for her book -- several publishers wanted it and her agent was able to get an auction going for it. Just sending it off in the mail to the publisher is not likely to get an offer out of the blue for that kind of advance.
I wonder if dentists sit and pick apart the depictions of Mike's Dad's business, or if only authors go through this agony....