There's really lots of those stories floating around.
Like this one from Lilliana Hart:
It's always about the numbers. I know Brenna's deal wasn't for 7 figures, but I always use an example of a million dollars whenever I do my workshops because that's an easy number to work with. I've been offered that much for a book deal before and turned it down. More than once. It's not really a million dollars. 15% will go to my agent, which drops your million to $850,000. And then you've got to pay 40% self-employment income tax on that, which leaves you with $510,000. More than likely, if you're being offered 7 figures, you're already making this much self-publishing anyway. But until you put it on paper and look at it that way, it's easy to let your head spin with the thought of a million dollars. So always work it out before you sign on the dotted line. It's much easier to turn down $510, 000. Especially when there are non-compete clauses and other ridiculous items in the contract that will bury your indie career.
There is a big disconnect between tradpub thinks writers are worth and what even a semi-successful indie author actually earns. To say nothing of the outliers.
The tradpub party line for the last year is that indie publishing will float up stories and authors that they can then swoop in and sign the starry eyed innocents for "six figure contracts!!!!"'.
Cue up Dr Evil:
Now, Ward didn't get to where she is without a lot of hard work marketting herself and her books--she is no starry eyed innocent looking for validation, not with that photography resume--so she knows the kind of marketting program it takes to make $100k a week and, understandably, she wants to see something an order of magnitude better. (And paying B&N to place a couple stacks of books on a table isn't going to wow her.)
The publishers haven't really internalized the new publishing economics and what they mean. They think they can cherry pick today's indie author-publishers with advances right out of 2004. And much like time-warped Dr Evil are getting laughed at.
Those deals might get them a top-1000 indie author but not the Top 10 class they're aiming at.
They need to up the ante or cut back the predatory contract terms. Probably both.
It really is an entirely different era.