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I'm not sure if you've been following the controversy over Random House's new digital-only lines: Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt. Writers have been up in arms because no advance was being offered on these books, like with Random House print authors, and also because copies and other miscellaneous expenses were going to be taken out of the author's royalties. When I first heard about it, I was reading a discussion on the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) listserve I belong to, and the argument was mostly with Hydra and whether or not a book published with this imprint would qualify a writer to belong to the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America). It turns out the way the Hydra contract was originally written an author was not eligible for SFWA membership.
The good news is that Random House has buckled under the pressure from the writers (YAY!), and they have revised the contract. They didn't give in 100 percent, but they now offer two different models of payment, and one of these offers an advance.
Authors and others in the publishing world who were up in arms seem to be happy with Random House's changes and have said so on blogs and Twitter. To read fully everything that has been going on, you should visit Writer Beware.
What I was hoping to discuss with Muffin readers today is this whole notion of having to get an advance in order to be considered "professional" enough to belong to a writing association. And in some of the blogs I read about this issue, they said that authors weren't taking themselves seriously if they didn't demand an advance. John Scalzi, an author with a popular blog, even said that we should question publishers that can't offer advances and wonder if we will ever get paid our royalties.
So, I'm sitting at my computer in St. Louis, thinking, Well, golly gee, I have three books under contract and am not going to get advances on any of them. I was super excited to get royalties and someone wanting to publish them. I think it helps me with my writing goals of doing school visits, teacher workshops, and teaching online classes. Plus, I like small and regional publishers, and I think they often don't offer advances to an author the first time they work with her or him. And I take myself and my work seriously.
What do you all think about this? If you have a book, did you get an advance? Was it hard to meet your advance? Did you feel pressure? If you aren't published yet, will take a contract without an advance? Would love to hear from you on this issue!
A few authors have filed a class action suit against the romance publisher Harlequin Enterprises and two European corporations it created. We’ve embedded a copy of the complaint below.
UPDATE: Harlequin publisher Donna Hayes responded: “Our authors have been recompensed fairly and properly for their work, and we will be defending ourselves vigorously.” The company added that “this is the first it has heard of the proceedings and that a complaint has not yet been served.”
The suit alleges that the publisher owes some authors eBook royalties from contracts signed between 1990 and 2004. During those years, these authors “entered agreements” with a Swiss corporation created by the romance publisher.
The lawsuit outlined the problem: “However, Harlequin, before and after the signing of these agreements, performed all the publishing functions related to the agreements, including exercising, selling, licensing, or sublicensing the e-book rights granted by the authors. Instead of paying the authors a royalty of 50% of its net receipts as required by the agreements, an intercompany license was created by Harlequin with its Swiss entity resulting in authors receiving 3% to 4% of the e-books’ cover price as their 50% share instead of 50% of Harlequin Enterprises’ receipts.”
Status: It’s official. RWA in New York has just begun. Most awkward moment today? Sitting on a panel that also had editors and being asked the question: what is a fair electronic royalty rate. Grin.
What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? BAILAMOS by Enrique Iglasias
Last Thursday, Harlequin sent out a press release announcing that for single title romances on their list, they would be switching to 25% of net receipts starting Jan. 1. 2012.
But before you begin celebrating that finally Harlequin is getting in line with the other major publishers, take a moment to look at the fine print or in this case, what isn’t there. What Harlequin didn’t mention in their press release is that as a Publisher, they are currently not on the agency model with their digital distributors—Apple iBookstore being the one exception.
So in short, this move to 25% of net is def. better than the paltry 6 or 8% of retail that they were offering but it’s not necessarily equal to what Publishers pay via the Agency Model.
Here’s why. Let’s do some math boy and girls.
Let’s say your single title Harlequin royalty rate is 8% of retail and the retail price for your romance novel is $7.99.
8% of 7.99 = 0.64 of royalty per sale to the author
That’s the baseline. Now let’s look at what 25% of net receipts from Harlequin looks like on the wholesale model.
$7.99 is the retail price but because Harlequin sells wholesale, they give (on average) a 50% discount to the seller. That would look like this:
7.99 – 3.99 (discount) = 4.00 of net receipts to Harlequin
25% of 4.00 = $1.00 of royalty per sale to the author
Well, that’s definitely better than 64 cents given previously!
But the whole reason why Big 5 Publishers moved to the net receipts royalty rate is because of the agency model. In this configuration, the Publisher gives 30% to the distributor and receives 70% as net receipts. So it would look like this:
30% of 7.99 = 2.39 to the distributor
Now deduct that commission: 7.99 – 2.39 = 5.60 of net receipts to publisher
If author gets 25% of net receipts on agency model, that would be:
25% net receipts of 5.60 = 1.40 of royalty per sale to the author.
Not quite the same.
Now keep in mind that the above calculations are not taking into consideration any other deductions a Publisher on Agency Model might possibly be taking before calculating the author’s share. So that is a possible factor to consider.
But in general, Harlequin’s move to 25% of net is not, on the surface, the same as what other houses are offering.
And from what I’m hearing via chat in the blogosphere, the other Harlequin royalty rate of 15% of net to series authors (which was also announced in a separate press release) is going over about as well as a lead balloon.
STATUS: Leaving the office at 5 p.m. That never happens!
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? YOU AND I by Wilco
In good news, we've now gone through all our Random House statements from the spring with a fine tooth comb and I'm delighted to report that RH is not doing a wholesale change to their electronic book royalty rate on existing contracts; there was simply an error that was resolved promptly.
Contracts that have the royalty rate of 25% of retail will still have 25% of retail. Now, I have heard that they want to change any 15% of retail to 25% of net (which is actually to an author's advantage per my previous blog entry) but I have not personally seen that so as far as I'm concerned, that's simply a rumor for now.
As RH royalty statements are my fav in the biz and because they always resolve issues quickly, I'm back to happy.
STATUS: Was all set to potentially launch something cool on Friday and lo and behold, ice storm in Seattle. Trust me, this makes sense because we are based in Denver but our tech person, who manages all things digital, is in Seattle. She had no electricity or internet for 3 days. Shudders.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? FREE by Graffiti6
Last week, the Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America reached out to SFWA members about Dorchester Publishing.
Dorchester's probationary period is scheduled to end on January 31, 2012 and SFWA would like to evaluate their progress in meeting the benchmarks SFWA set for them.
By their request, members could contact them with any information that the Board should consider.
Well, let me tell you, I was happy to oblige. I wrote a letter clearly outlining my stance that that Dorchester should remain on probation or be delisted altogether based on not making any progress whatsoever on benchmark 1: That it fulfills its contractual and financial obligations to the authors it has already published, including full and accurate accounting of royalties per contract, with scheduled payment of any royalties outstanding.
Despite repeated requests for updated accountings and the thousands of dollars still owed in back royalties to NLA authors who used to be with Dorchester, we've received excuses, delays, and no good faith efforts to resolve their obligations.
And I have no problem making my sentiment on the situation public.
GalleyCat contributor Jeff Rivera interviewed Grand Central publisher Jamie Raab for mediabistro.com’s So What Do You Do? feature today.
In the interview, Raab (pictured, via) defended her imprint’s standard practice of giving authors a 25% royalty rate for eBooks: “We have an infrastructure to support.” She outlined the values of what traditional publishers have to offer whether they are new in their writing career or established New York Times bestselling authors.
When asked on whether or not she fears big-name writers will take a less traditional publishing route, she replied: “I think about that a lot because I know it’s on authors’ minds. And I think it’s incumbent on every publisher to do a better job than they’ve ever done before — more creative on marketing and eBooks, working in partnership more closely with their authors, keeping them in the loop, publishing more strategically.”
I know a lot of you write YA, so you may be interested to know that Noble Romance Publishing is starting a new line of YA romance novels starting in October. They are pretty open when it comes to YA genre. They say, “If the story is great, we don’t care if it’s a historical set on Mars or a contemporary set in the cornfields of Nebraska.” They are offering $1000 advances.
**A note from Jill N. Noble, your friendly Senior Editor: Do you have a story that’s completely different? Too dark for other publishers? Too controversial? Too unusual? A mix of so many sub-genres you’re to the point of making up descriptions that defy the imagination? If so, I’d love to see it. Be true to yourself, be true to your characters, be true to your stories. I assure you, I don’t shock easily!
Here are the YA Romance Guidelines :
1. YA Romance stories all involve primary characters between the ages of 16-21.
2. YA Romance stories explore all facets of a young adult’s life — including those some adults/parents might find a bit uncomfortable to examine.KEEP IT REAL.
3. YA Romance stories must address the consequences — or potential consequences — of behavior and choices in a realistic manner.DON’T SUGAR-COAT THE TRUTH, BUT DON’T PREACH, EITHER.
4. YA Romance stories can address any topic (sub-plot to the romance or as part of the romantic thread) a young adult might encounter in their life, including but not limited to, sexual orientation, sexual experimentation, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, drugs, drinking, peer pressure, school, gangs, etc. If you touch on any of these subjects, do not glamorize the consequences or the reality. Alternatively, again, do not “preach.”
5. YA Romance stories . . . let’s talk sex. The question is not how much sex/level of explicitness is appropriate for a YA novel, but rather, how much sex is appropriate for your story and your characters. Our instructions for this are the same as they are for every NRP story: Be true to yourself. Be true to your characters. These stories aren’t about you (necessarily), or what you would want your son/daughter to do. They are about your characters — their choices, their thoughts, their desires, their actions. The sexual content – the action, the language, the reactions – should all accurately and adequately and believably reflect your fully fleshed out characters. *The only caveat to this is no sexual relations between adults and minors.
6. YA Romance authors know their audience. They don’t use language young adults wouldn’t use, they don’t “talk down” to their young adult readers, and they have an intimate knowledge of what it’s like to be a young adult in today’s world.
7. All sub-genres and genre mixes.
8. All story lengths – shorts, novellas, novels.
They’re open to anything…but remember, these are romance novels. The level of passion between the main characters must be authentic and palpable. Other than that, they say to feel free to explore any new, uncharted territory you can imagine, or re-do a well-worn plot in such a way as to make the story uniquely your own.
This article came out last week in the New York Times. It was such a bummer, that I didn’t post it. Even some best-selling authors are feeling the pinch. I know a lot of you have already read this, but when the Stinky Cheese Man Jon Scieszka says things are bad, we really have to be aware of what is going on in the picture book industry.
Picture Book No Longer a Staple for Children
By JULIE BOSMAN
Published: October 7, 2010 NY Times
Picture books are so unpopular these days at the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, Mass., that employees there are used to placing new copies on the shelves, watching them languish and then returning them to the publisher.
“So many of them just die a sad little death, and we never see them again,” said Terri Schmitz, the owner.
The shop has plenty of company. The picture book, a mainstay of children’s literature with its lavish illustrations, cheerful colors and large print wrapped in a glossy jacket, has been fading. It is not going away — perennials like the Sendaks and Seusses still sell well — but publishers have scaled back the number of titles they have released in the last several years, and booksellers across the country say sales have been suffering.
The economic downturn is certainly a major factor, but many in the industry see an additional reason for the slump. Parents have begun pressing their kindergartners and first graders to leave the picture book behind and move on to more text-heavy chapter books. Publishers cite pressures from parents who are mindful of increasingly rigorous standardized testing in schools.
“Parents are saying, ‘My kid doesn’t need books with pictures anymore,’ ” said Justin Chanda, the publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. “There’s a real push with parents and schools to have kids start reading big-kid books earlier. We’ve accelerated the graduation rate out of picture books.”
Booksellers see this shift too.
“They’re 4 years old, and their parents are getting them ‘Stuart Little,’ ” said Dara La Porte, the manager of the children’s department at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington. “I see children pick up picture books, and then the parents say, ‘You can do better than this, you can do more than this.’ It’s a terrible pressure parents are feeling — that somehow, I shouldn’t let my child have this picture book because she won’t get into Harvard.”
Literacy experts are quick to say that picture books are not for dummies. Publishers praise the picture book for the particular way it can develop a child’s critical thinking skills.
“To some degree, picture books force an analog way of thinking,” said Karen Lotz, the publisher of Candlewick Press in Somerville, Mass. “From picture to picture, as the reader interacts with the book, their imagination is filling in the missing themes.”
Many parents overlook the fact that chapter books, even though they have more text, full paragraphs and fewer pictures, are not necessarily more complex.
“Some of the vocabulary in a picture book is much more challenging than in a chapter book,” said Kris Vreeland, a book buyer for Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., where sales of picture books have been down. “The words themselves, and the concepts, can be very sophisticated in a picture book.”
They can, for example, be written with Swiftian satire, like “Monsters Eat Whiny Children” by Bruce Er
Since so many of you have signed book contracts or seeing the your book hit the shelves, I thought you might be interested in this post that Alan Rinzler had on his blog. This is important information to know about your sales.
Here’s Alan (make sure you link over at the bottom – there’s more):
An author friend of mine couldn’t figure out why he was having so much trouble selling his new book. He had a respectable list of published books to his name, a regular schedule of speeches and workshops, and a solid platform in print and broadcast media.
So on a hunch, I looked him up on Nielsen BookScan, an industry service for publishers that reports actual book sales by ISBN number at retailers across the country.
There was the answer in black and white. The sales figures for his last book were dismal.
He was shocked at the news, certain that the numbers were wrong. In fact, he was only dimly aware of BookScan and didn’t really understand what it was or how it worked.
BookScan numbers are like an author’s credit rating
All book publishers (and some savvy authors) subscribe to Nielsen BookScan. The very first thing an acquisitions editor does is check a published author’s Nielsen numbers, when considering a new submission.
Nielsen BookScan tells the naked truth about how many copies a book sells. It produces weekly tallies via electronic links to thousands of cash registers across the country. This is no guess or anecdotal report. It’s all ka-ching, straight from the till.
The numbers may as well be carved in stone.
“We only report what we receive from cash registers, and we never change our numbers,” said Jim King, the go-to guy for book publishers at Nielsen in a phone interview at the company’s White Plains, NY offices.
“The book may have sold additional copies, but not through our reporting outlets. An author’s book might have sold at non-reporting retailers like Wal-Mart or book clubs, but we have no way of including that. So there’s no way anyone can request us to change an ISBN report.”
Recent BookScan results may determine whether a book is acquired
The most recent Nielsen numbers will therefore have a powerful impact on whether or not a book is acquired in the first place, since publishers take these numbers as indications of the new book’s potential success.
Poor recent numbers may put a damper on a publisher’s enthusiasm to sign up your major new opus. I’ve known authors with a long track record of success slip into a marginal status with a single recent sales failure.
Brutal but true.
How Nielsen numbers impact bookseller orders
Even if a book is ultimately appealing, recent low Nielsen numbers will impact the all-important realistic projections for the new book’s potential sales.
This can affect not only the advance, since most publishers predicate the amount paid on signing on projected first year sales — but also the first printing. That’s because sales reps know that the major accounts will also consult Nielsen as well as their own internal records to determine how many they’ll order of the new title.
In some case, they may actually pass. That’s right, book buyers may skip ordering any copies at all if the author’s last book had unimpressive performance numbers.
How Nielsen collects sales data
Nielsen says that they cover about 75 percent of retail book sales in the United States. In a typical week, they track sales of more than 300,000 titles by their ISBN numbers, at nearly 13,000 retail accounts in the United States, including Amazon, the n
STATUS: It can’t be 2:30 in the afternoon already.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? NEVER, NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP by Barry White
One of the issues of writing a blog for so long (since 2006 for me) is that I often forget what topics I’ve covered and what I haven’t. And sure, I could scroll through some of my tags but I’m too lazy. *grin*
April/October is our biggest royalty period. It’s when we receive the most statements. So right now I have quite a pile on my desk so it’s first and foremost in my mind. And for one major publisher, their October statements always come the first week in November.
So after reviewing the umpteenth one today, whether I’ve already discussed this or not, I wanted to highlight the top 3 culprits regarding errors in royalty statements that I’m seeing:
1. Returns at a price point that didn’t exist with the original published edition. If a book was published for let’s say $13.99, then returns have to be at $13.99. Any other number is a clear error.
2. The wrong percentage recorded for electronic books This can happen in a variety of ways. Perhaps the royalty is supposed to be on retail price and it’s showing on net or it’s just the wrong percentage altogether.
3. A royalty escalator has kicked in but the statements don’t reflect it. In deals, there are often royalty escalators at certain break points. For example, for an adult hardcover, a standard is 10% to 5000, 12.5% to 10,000 and 15% thereafter. The royalty statement might have an error putting all copies at 10% but let’s say 6000 copies have sold so 1000 of those copies should be at the 12.5% level.
STATUS: Not really liking how dark it gets so early.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LIGHT MY CANDLE from the Soundtrack RENT
Yesterday I highlighted the top 3 culprits regarding errors in royalty statements. So what happens if errors are found?
It’s pretty simple. We call our main contact in the royalties department. Since rarely an accounting period passes without some error being found on any one of the hundred + statements we receive, we talk to the royalty managers pretty often. First name basis actually.
We usually call first to discuss the errors and then follow up with an email so there is a paper trail. In all our instances, the royalties contact has corrected the errors promptly and regenerated the statements so we have correct ones for our files.
We make notes in the client's royalties file so we can track past issues and be on the look-out for future issues (as sometimes it's the same error that keeps reoccurring). Do I think the errors deliberate? For the big publishers, no. For some of the indie smaller publishers, it depends on the company.
Now there are definitely other things Publishers have done that haven’t been above board (as there have been lawsuits etc) that could impact royalty statements but they weren’t issues on the royalty statements themselves per se.
STATUS: I think my telephone’s handset is permanently glued to my left ear. Way too much phone time over the last few days.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE LOVECATS by The Cure
Wrapping up the fun facts tonight!
Mari Mancusi—It took me over two years to convince her publisher to buy the fourth book in the Blood Coven Vampire series. Then they did, repackaged the back list with new covers and now the series is doing great and we are up to having recently sold book eight!
Lisa Shearin—who has well over 100,000 copies in print for her Raine Benares series had a ton of passes while on submission for MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND because the editors didn’t like the “fun voice.” It wasn’t the “norm” in fantasy.
Shanna Swendson—Gets regular royalty checks for her Enchanted Inc. series even though the first book published more than 5 years ago. Talk about evergreen!
And I have a ton of other facts that will probably never see the light of day but this has been fun to recap.
STATUS: Yesterday Angie and I were reviewing one client’s statement and to sum it up. What a hot mess.
What’s playing on the iPod or the XM radio right now? SWAY by Dean Martin
Love of royalty statements.
Yep, it’s that time of year again. April and October are NLA’s biggest royalty periods which means that the month of May and November are consumed by hours reviewing those statements.
So, in an effort to empower authors about their statements (because I promise you that a lot of agents don’t spend nearly the time they should on reviewing them), here’s another tidbit to file away in your knowledge bank.
If your publisher holds World rights and is selling your titles abroad, it’s important to track where the projects are sold to and when they will be released.
Why? Because if you don’t know that info, how do you know when the monies are supposed to appear on your royalty statements? Also, do you have a copy of the licensing agreement and the latest foreign royalty statement from the territory in question?
Most agents insert a clause in the contract allowing the author to receive such info—usually upon request. Without it, it’s impossible to review a statement for accuracy. What, you gonna just take the Publisher’s word for it?
Considering the number of errors we see in EVERY royalty period, that’s a lot to take on faith.
And here’s another facet to this. If Publisher has World, did they sell UK rights to separate publisher or was it done by a sister house in England? If a sister house, then UK royalties are specified in the US contract and should show on the US statement.
You don’t want to know how many times this information as just been plain missing from the statement or just wrong.
Knowledge is power and as an author, you have a right to a copy of those licensing agreements so ask for them. I would say that in the last several years, NLA has recovered well over $100,000 in missing royalties—money clients would never have received if we hadn’t pestered Publishers about info missing from the statements. In fact just last week, a client got $8000 because we argued that the wrong royalty rate was being used to calculate certain sales listed on the statement.And per the contract, we were right and they paid up. But if we hadn’t pointed it out…
Well, that’s a lot of money to leave on the table.
Some royalty statements arrived this week and PA John has been practising making sense of them and learning how to enter the information onto a simple spreadsheet (the only way to keep track of things).
Some publishers still send out statements requiring decoding skills that the guys at Bletchley Park would have been proud of, but many are getting at least a little more user-friendly. I don't pretend to be able to make sense of all the codes and sub-sections, but I like to keep track of the bottom-line of what has been earned each period, and what the new running total is. (NB: do you like my shark stapler?):
For most books, this means the Unearned Balance, at least for a while - that is: what I have yet to earn before I have covered my advance and get any more money (sigh). But for books that have either done really well, or have simply been chugging away for a very long time, I actually get a payment (hurrah!).
My royalty payments are generally more the kind that will buy a nice new pair of shoes, rather than a nice new yacht but, hey-ho, it all feels like free money by that stage anyway...
By the way, if you are confused about why Thursday's post Digitally Created Backgroundsappeared, then immediately disappeared, it's because Blogger went down this week and that post got wiped off. It's back again now.
Earlier this year, I blogged about advances and royalties. In part, I mentioned that a New York Times bestselling author, Lynn Viehl, had posted her royalty statement online at http://www.genreality.net/the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller. Lynn has received another royalty statement for that bestselling book and posted it online at http://www.genreality.net/more-on-the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller. The way I understand it, her profits from the book now stand at just under $25,000 after subtracting expenses, taxes, and agent commissions. She said she posted these royalty statements to dispel myths in publishing. Consider the myths dispelled.
During a conversation the other day, a friend said he'd like to read more of my work. He's never purchased one of my books, and announced that he would search online sites to find the cheapest used copy. Can't quite describe how it made me feel. I don't mind people buying used books. I buy used books when I cannot afford the new edition, or it is not available. But I was immensely surprised. My top selling book, at full retail, costs less than a fast-food lunch. The exchange set my thoughts to churning. About writing. About the talent and skill it requires to be a mass market author. About the efforts and creativity involved in presenting a book that causes most readers to want the story to continue. And about that particular friend. Perhaps his comment was ignorance. I wondered how many people realize that a written product is someone's livelihood. When I write a book, and it begins to sell, I receive modest royalties for each new copy sold. The more the book is discounted by a seller, the smaller my royalty. In fact, some discount stores sell the book so cheaply, I receive no royalty at all. That is okay. It's part of a book contract. But royalties are my bread and butter. They allow me to pay bills, stay warm in the winter, buy hats to shade me from summer sun, and occasionally give away copies to fans during holidays or special events. Royalties help me take care of abandoned cats. Royalties help me help others. Without royalties, I could not write books, and I certainly would never be able to bring back popular characters. When people cannot afford my books, I always recommend they ask their library to purchase them. Libraries exist for the patron, and what the patron wants to read is what the library is obligated to buy. And I receive royalties, albeit very small, for each copy a library adds to their collection. It is a simple food chain.
I've thought a lot about this. I would never ask a person to sell me their goods and services at such a discount that they weren't breaking even. I wonder if people consider this. Whether books or music, the same is true. Most artists (author or musician) have day jobs, or have had day jobs. We aren't in the top ten (which is an artificial place created by the publisher/book store industry, not actual popularity, but that's another story). We don't support ourselves entirely off our product royalty. And we don't guest on Oprah. But we are part of the wheel that keeps art alive. We create the stuff that people toss in their carry-on to make flights and travel more enjoyable. We bring you thrills and mysteries, suspenses and dramas, in a tiny package you can take anywhere. Without the small royalty from each item sold new, we are out of business.
Next time you read a book, I hope it changes you, entertains you, brings out emotions you need to experience. I hope you realize the only way that authors can create another book for your enjoyment is through royalty compensation. And, if you really want a surprise, shop at the comparison sites. Most of the time you will discover brand new copies of what you are looking for are available, along with a free shipping coupon, for less than the used book (which never has a free shipping coupon).
I'm a recently published author. I just got my first-ever royalty statement from my agent, and it turns out my book hasn't earned out yet. I was surprised, because I heard a couple months ago that the book went into a second printing only three weeks after publication. I did some math for myself, and I don't understand how the book couldn't have earned out if the first print run sold out. Can you explain? Should I be worried something fishy is going on?
First of all, my dear, you should be very happy about the second printing--that means that the performance of your book exceeded expectation (as expectation was established after sell-in).
But to answer your question, no, you shouldn't be worried about fishiness. There are many reasons a book goes back to press, and all of them have something to do with stock availability (while only some have to do with sell-through).
Two things to remember:
1) Publishers only expect (on average) a 60% sell-through (in the US--UK and Commonwealth are smarter about their stocking and tend to not get as many returns, although exactly how much smarter I'm not sure). However, almost 100% of the first printing is shipped out to stores. The other 40% is returned after 2 months or so (or the laydown period).
2) Books always sell more strongly in certain markets than others. If you write a book about cow farming, it is simply not going to sell as strongly in urban areas as it does in rural, even if it becomes a national bestseller. So certain vendors will return in a higher portion than others, depending on your particular book.
You say your second printing was only three weeks after the book came out--to me that says that the book was selling successfully in various accounts, who then proceeded to run out. But they ran out so close to the initial pub date, returns hadn't come in from other accounts yet, meaning there was no available stock to send to the placed that needed it. Your publisher needed to reprint in order to provide stock to the vendors that were selling it strongly.
Another reason your publisher may have to reprint without selling out is a surprise order. This may come from a book club sale--some book clubs buy finished copies instead of printing their own. It may also come from an unusual account. Some of the box stores like Walmart or Costco come in with last-minute very large orders, and your publisher may have already printed without enough run-off to accommodate these large orders.
This means that a second--or even a third, or even a fourth--printing doesn't necessarily indicate that the first printing sold out. What's a better indicator of whether your first printing has sold out is how much time has elapsed since your book came out combined with the number of reprints. After two months, accounts that were not selling your book will have returned it, and those returned copies will be recycled to accounts that are selling. So if you go back to press after that two-month mark, for example, that's probably a very good indicator that your first printing is gonesville (in a good way).
In what appeared to be a clear bid to anticipate the release of the breathlessly awaited Apple tablet, Amazon announced Wednesday new royalty terms for authors or publishers who release e-books through its Kindle’s digital text platform, a direct publishing initiative.
Authors and publishers will be offered a royalty rate of 70 percent of the digital list price after “delivery costs,” typically about 6 cents per digital unit. This rate is similar to that currently offered by Apple in its app store.
Amazon’s move is also a clear bid to woo authors away from traditional publishing houses. Publishers typically offer authors a royalty rate equal to 15 percent of a hardcover list price and 7.5 percent of a trade paperback list price. On digital books, the emerging industry standard among the largest publishing houses is 25 percent of net proceeds from the sale of an e-book.
Amazon has set some criteria for authors or publishers who want to receive the 70 percent royalty. List prices must be from $2.99 to $9.99, a maximum that is much lower than the typical hardcover price of around $25. The e-book’s list price must also be 20 percent lower than the lowest list price for a physical copy of the same book and the same price as or lower than any competitor’s price.
Any thoughts on whether this is good for writers?
Posted in News, Royalties Tagged: Amazon, Books, need to know, Royalties
Presented by Edward Necarsulmer IV, McIntosh & Otis, Inc. on January 30th 2010.
Advance Against Royalties or SHOW ME THE MONEY - Upfront money publisher pays author for the right to buy a literary Property.
Track Record/Earning Out or HOW DID MY BABY DO? – Did previous books sell enough copies to cover their advances?
Grant of Rights/Territory/Work for Hire or MY WRITING SOUNDS BETTER IN KOREAN! – States where a publisher is allowed to sell your book and your relationship to the work.
Manuscript Delivery or DEADLINES - When is your manuscript due?
Payout Structure or WHERE IS MY MONEY? - The schedule in which the advance will be paid.
Royalty Rate (Hard, Soft, Mass, Board Books, etc.) or IT’S FLYING OFF THE SHELVES… - Royalties are how the advance is earned out. For each copy sold, the author earns a percentage of the price. The amount he earns changes depending on how many copies and edition of the book was sold.
Escalation/Slide or AND NOW I’M GOING TO BE RICH! - The percentage a publisher pays usually increases after a book has sold a certain amount of the copies.
Joint/Separate Accounting or MIGHTIER APART THAN TOGETHER - If there are two books in the contract, will they both have to earn back their advances before royalties can be paid? Are they counted together or apart?
Subsidiary Rights or ICING ON THE CAKE - Additional right such as audio rights and foreign rights that can either be granted to publisher or author. Publishers traditionally shares in any profits made from subsidiary rights.
Flow Through or THE EXPRESS LANE - A clause that ensures payment of subsidiary rights income is paid as it is received by the Publisher, instead of waiting for bi-annual royalty statements.
Royalty Statements/Unearned Statements or I’VE ARRIVED! - Issued twice annually these statements are your report card from the Publisher calculating your number of units sold at the each royalty rate.
Copyright or YOUR FRIEND, THE ‘C’ IN A CIRCLE - Your publisher will register the title, year of first publication and the name of the copyright owner with the U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE, although copyright protection actually begins the moment your pen touches the paper.
Jacket/Cover Consultation or PUT ON YOUR BERET! - A clause in an agreement stipulating a good will exchange between Author and Publisher when designing the dust jacket or cover art.
Out of Print or PREPARING FOR RETIREMENT - Enough said.
Option Clause or TO BE OR NOT TO BE A FREE AGENT? – no explanation from Edward.
Bonus Language or PROTECTING FOR SUCESS – My comment: This is where you really need an agent. Edward whipped though 32 things that he tries to get in the contract that you or I would never think of, but could make a big difference in the outcome of your book.
GENERAL: Avoid vague language, Reserved rights, Right to audit
STATUS: So excited! Leaving the office before 6! However, I’m just going to take Chutney for a walk and then continue working tonight as I need to read client material.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? POCKET FULLOF SUNSHINE by Natasha Bedingfield
Today I was reviewing a royalty statement from a book that had been recently released. In other words, this was the first statement for the title that we had seen.
In looking at the statement, I noticed that there wasn’t a single electronic book sold in the six-month accounting period this statement encompassed.
Red flag! And you don’t even have to be a rocket scientist (or a literary agent for that matter!) to be able to look at the statement and realize that if an electronic book is available but sales are not showing on the statement, something has gone awry.
Now in this instant, the problem was easily solved. The book released right at the end of the six-month accounting period (so in late December) and the ebook didn’t release until 2 weeks later (in January) so there was no way for ebooks to show on this statement. Problem solved.
However, I bring this up because I’ve seen this issue on other statements and the above situation was not the issue.
The issue ended up being this: the ebook ISBN was not tied to the print title of the book and thus the publishing house royalty system was recording ebook sales with that ISBN but it wasn’t linked to anything. There was no way for the computer to know what author to attach it to.
The only way the problem was solved was by me ringing up the editor to get the ISBNs for the ebooks and then ringing up the royalty department to say, look, there’s an issue here. You need to tie these ISBNs to the statement for these titles. Then have the publishing house regenerate the royalty statements.
So even though you trust your agent, it’s still good idea to read your royalty statements and see if they make sense. Lots of royalty statements can come in certain months (like April/October) and heck, everyone is human and something could be accidentally overlooked. Be your own best advocate.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? FOREVER YOUNG by Alphaville
After my blog tirade two years ago when Simon & Schuster didn’t play nice in the sandbox (by deleting the crucial last four lines of their Out of Print clause without telling anyone), you know how strongly I feel about publishers behaving badly.
I do not have any authors impacted by the sale of Bloomberg Press to Wiley so I have not seen this letter. And for the record, I have no personal take or stake on the situation but for general purposes, I like to pass on warnings when they occur so they reach as many readers as possible.
If you’re impacted by this, you might want to touch base with the folks at the AG.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LONDON CALLING by Clash
Okay, my wifi at home has gone kaput. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to blog while still at the office so then I’ll pop online via the laptop at home. Kind of difficult when it’s not working. Hopefully that will get taken care of tomorrow.
So many little tidbits to share. Most of them funny and it’s not even Friday yet.
Authors Guild and Wiley continue… Lots of people didn’t agree with the AG stance on Google but I’m still quite glad they are out there being a watch dog for authors.
All I can say is there must not be a lot going on in Boise, Idaho. Still, I’m dying to know the motive for this condiment crime spree. (Never imagined those three words would appear in the same sentence together.)
And best for last. You know publishing has hit mainstream when The Onion jumps in the mix. I just laughed and laughed. (It’s TWILIGHT but with Minotaurs!).
Several agent friends have confirmed that Macmillan sent a letter over the weekend asking authors to sign amendments that gave them electronic rights to backlist titles.
Oh Shades of Random House hegemony!
By the way, these letters went out to authors—not to the agents or agencies who represent them.
Tsk, tsk. I wag my finger at you Macmillan.
If you are an author and you received this letter, do not sign or return it without consulting with your agent or attorney first. If you haven’t got either, then pick up the phone and call the Authors Guild. I know the lawyers over there and they’d be happy to take a look at this amendment that has been sent out (if they haven’t seen it already).
Whatever you do, make sure you have a complete understanding of your rights and what you’d be granting if you signed the amendment and what other options exist if you don’t.
This has been a public service message from Agent Kristin… *grin*
Note: Two are children’s authors and two more are trying their hand at children’s writing.
While you may not have a lot of inherent faith in their methodology, Forbes has released their new list of guesses at how much the most successful authors made over the 12 months ending June 1:
James Patterson ($70 million)
A former junior copywriter at J. Walter Thompson, Patterson is intimately involved in cover designs and marketing for his own books. One out of every 17 novels bought in the U.S. are authored by Patterson. Over the past two years he has made some $500 million for Hachette, his publisher.
Stephenie Meyer ($40 million)
Last fall Meyer’s novels were fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh on USA Today‘s bestseller lists. Her four-book series, Twilight, has sold 40 million copies in the U.S. and 100 million worldwide. In June the third Twilight film posted the most successful first week box office return of any movie of 2010.
Stephen King ($34 million)
Among King’s current projects: a deal with DC Comics to co-write a comic book series; a musical with John Mellencamp; and a drama series with the SyFy network based on his novella The Colorado Kid.
Danielle Steel ($32 million)
Steel has four new hardcovers out this year and clinches an average $7 million advance per book. Among other income this past year: a reported $1 million settlement from her former assistant, who was convicted of embezzling $760,000 from the romance novelist.
Ken Follett ($20 million)
Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth was adapted to a TV series that premiered in July starring Donald Sutherland. Follett often sets his novels where he lives: the author has homes in Stonehenge, London, Antigua and South Africa. Follett’s wife was Minister of Culture under Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Dean Koontz ($18 million)
Koontz’s latest book, The Husband, came out in May and was optioned to Focus Features and Random House Films. Forty-four of his novels have been New York Times bestsellers.
Janet Evanovich ($16 million)
Evanovich may rank seventh, but her selling power is comparable to James Patterson (about 20 million of her titles sell annually). Still, St. Martins failed to agree to a $50 million a