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STATUS: Caught the crud on my way back from New York over the weekend. It's not helping with my catch-up efforts.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? EL SUENO DE LA HIJA DEL REY by Savina Yannatou
As many of you already know, I was in The Big Apple last week speaking at Digital Book World. After Mike Shatzkin's interview with me and Hugh Howey, I sat on a panel with my fellow agents Jane Dystel, Steve Axelrod, and Jay Mandel.
My question was this: "What should Publishers be learning from authors who are self-publishing?"
My answer was twofold:
1) Authors who are successfully self-pubbing release a lot of content and a variety of content regularly. For example, one of my authors publishes 2 novels a year but also publishes short content in between the major releases to keep the momentum going. Also, successful self-pubbers do a VARIETY of content. If one work is building (and therefore more appealing to the audience), then the author will set aside the other content and focus on what is building momentum. Because the author is in full control of the publishing, she can make that decision quickly and immediately act on it.
Publishers need to find a way to do the same.
2) Second, success is all about the metadata. Most editors input the metadata tags when the author contract is submitted and then don't think about it again. Well, that's not what successful self-pubbers are doing and that's not what we do at NLA digital either. We are constantly tweaking.
For those of you wondering what the heck is metadata, these are the descriptive tags included in product description and in a lot of cases, embedded in the content file itself of electronic books, that allow a novel to be searchable and discoverable on distribution venues such as Amazon, BN, and Kobo.
I tell a great story about what was unfolding, literally, the week of DBW. And now I can share it with you. Some enterprising videographer filmed me while speaking (so thank you BookMarketingAME). The video starts a little shaky but evens out. Hear it for yourself.
And here is the visual I didn't include at DBW but can share with y'all via the power of my blog. *grin*
The author's editor is the true heroine of the story for being persistence with her internal team to get the metadata fixed. Within 12 hours of it happening, voila! This title was not even showing up in the top 100 or even the top 250 in ranking in this category until the fix.
STATUS: Haven't had a good video to share in a while. This one is worth the wait.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DON'T GO by Yaz
Chip Kidd is a legend in this industry. Video is not short but worth every minute of your time. It's a small glimpse into the brilliance of mind it takes to create a truly amazing cover. And I'll give you a hint. It's not about bells and whistles. It's about text.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? HARD TIMES by David Newman
Not to put too fine a point on it. The book selling market in the UK is between a rock and a hard place. Booksellers in trouble. Publishers selling half the books sold at high discount levels, etc. Consequently, UK publishers aren't buying that much. As of late, it's one of the hardest territories to sell into unless a title sold for a lot of moolah in the US.
We are struggling to land a licenses there.
In fact, it's probably why a lot of UK booksellers are buying US stock wholesale and offering it for sale there (and this would maybe show on a royalty statement as an export sale). It would be hard to track down.
So when we sell North American rights only and then request that the US publisher pull down their edition from the UK market, we aren't looking to screw UK readers. It's simply that the author might not get legitimately paid for those copies. If it's not in the grant of rights and not showing up on any royalty statement...
But authors who haven't sold into the UK are getting creative. In fact, some authors are taking matters into their own hands and are making their titles available electronically through the different ebook venues in the UK.
So even though the physical version might be a hard to find, titles can still reach UK readers.
STATUS: This morning I thought I had a mild day in front of me. After the third fire before 10 a.m., I gave up that notion.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? REMINISCING by Little River Band
So yesterday's announcement is not the be all end all of this topic. I'm happy to chat some more about our new Digital Platform.
As I said yesterday, we developed our model in conversation with our clients. In fact, their input modeled it. I went to them and said, "If an agent was going to offer a supported environment for self publishing, what would make sense to you? What would be of concern? What would make it worth an agent's commission?"
And they told me. They also were gracious enough to review various model outlines and the DLP agreement that any author interested in using the DLP would need to click "I Agree" to use it.
And their help was absolutely invaluable and I feel quite comfortable that what we've created is the right approach--that we have not created something that will be a conflict of interest in representing clients and is a very ethical way for an agent to provide yet another facet of services to our authors.
My client Courtney Milan was graciousness enough to post a blog entry on the topic today if you'd like some insight from an author who is currently self pubbing happily and successfully and not through our DLP--which by the way, bothers me not at all. I support her choice. Another client plans to do a guest entry on why she is using the full-service option and why she has been over-the-moon to do so.
Just wait until you see her totally kick-a** cover--something I don't think she would have gotten on her own. It's stunning.
I imagine that if a writer believes that all an agent does is sell books to publishers, there might be questioning on why an author would bother using an agency's DLP. After all, a writer can certainly write the book, convert the efiles (or pay someone to), and put the titles up on Amazon, BN, Smashwords, Apple, what have you.
But you see, my authors know I do so much more than that.
And as an agent, I have relationships with folks that most writers can't even imagine. Will all of them be valuable? No. Have some already proven to be? Yep.
But let's talk DLP stuff.
1) First a correction. In yesterday's entry, I realized that I typed "term of license." Oi! In our DLP agreement, it's a "term of liaison." Not quite the same thing in a rather big way. So my apologies. For our full-service option, NLA foots all the upfront costs--which is why we specify a 2 year term of liaison. Could you imagine plunking down the money and have the author pull it a month later and we are simply out of luck? Quite frankly, my authors are awesome and I can't imagine any one of them doing that but as an agent, I still have to be smart about it.
In short, for full-service, it needs to be on our DLP for 2 years and that's it. After that, authors are free to do as they please and we will even give them their files. After all, they own it. They didn't grant rights to us.
If we haven't recouped in 2 and they take it, are we screwed? Yep. But I'm betting that it's so worthwhile, that they are happy to keep it there. Nothing is in perpetuity. Why would an author do that?
For distribution only venue, an author can come and go as they please. All we are providing is access to venues they can't access. It's our standard 15% commission. For anyone who doesn't think that's worth it, they obviously have not wrestled with google's very unfriendly platform. Not to mention, we have venues that authors individually do not have access to. And let me tell you, having been there and done that, it's probably not worth the headache for an author. Amazon and BN h
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: 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.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? HOWLING AT THE MOON by Ramones
JA Konrath updated his blog today giving some new stats on how he’s doing selling outside of traditional publishing and selling ebooks on his own. He’s hit the 100k mark. A great number in any format.
He notes that agents won’t mention it on our blogs but heck, I don’t mind. I’m not remotely threatened by authors pursuing this. He’s also a fellow backspacer and I love that he’s sharing this journey publically so if you have interest, you might want to give it a look. (My original mention of it here.)
In light of his recent entry, I’d like to make one comment. I wish I could disclose figures but that is client confidential so I can only share general info.
For my top sellers in print, their ebook sales currently don’t equal 1% of their print sales (and yes, they are available in all formats across many e-distribution platforms). It’s changing rapidly mind you but right now, the disparity is still pretty large in the ratio of print sales to ebook sales. I know that will change drastically in the next year or two.
Konrath mentions quite a few new authors are having success following an untraditional model as well. You might want to check out his list and find out what those folks are doing.
Because that’s the real question. As e-publishing allows a greater array of writers to have work out there, how will readers decide what to buy? What is creating notice for new writers outside of traditional publishing?
I imagine if you are interested in this, you might have the same question!
STATUS: Getting this entry in late as you can see.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? NOT THE GIRL YOU THINK YOU ARE by Crowded House
Well, if you were plugged into the publishing world via the internet, you might have a little sense of how my day unfolded.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m referring to, you might want to take a moment to click on this link. My author Jana DeLeon, fed up with Dorchester and the fact that they were illegally selling copies of her ebooks long after her rights had reverted back to her, decided to take that news public.
I only have one thing to add. Despite no response to my previous calls demanding they cease and desist what they were doing, I still called Dorchester to warn them. I did not receive a return call—that is until today after the news broke.
STATUS: I’m blogging before 5 p.m. I’ll call this a great day! I demonstrated restraint as I did not have an eggnog chai today….
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SHEPPARD’S PIPE CAROL by Bryn Terfel
Actually, just one of the many Google things as of late but this one is definitely worth a blog post. Long awaited and much expected, Google announced the launch for Google eBooks (formerly Google Editions).
An eBookstore to rival Amazon and Apple. According to the press release, it is the largest eBook provider offering up to 3 million books for sale and download (many of which are in the public domain). Click here for the article.
According to the president of ABA, this latest game changer can benefit Indie booksellers the most. They now have access to a store platform that will allow them to sell eBooks from their stores (about time!). It’s also the first eBookstore that’s not directly connected to a specific eBook reader. And, according to the release, publishers can sell traditionally or through agency model (see sidebar tag for electronic books for more discussion on that issue.)
Now if we can just get everyone to agree on a specific eBook format… Hey, I can dream, can’t I?
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TURN YOUR LOVE by Jack Johnson
If you are a regular blog reader, you’ll know that I’ve mentioned JA Konrath’s on-his-own foray into e-publishing and the success he has had. Links here and here for that. The world of publishing is shifting almost daily.
Today Writer Beware talks about a series of recent articles in the news about self-pubbing and the importance of context. Konrath and Strauss both add nice analysis to the on-going dialogue so wanted to share the link.
STATUS: I don’t know what to do with myself! I’m literally caught up on all queries, all sample pages, and I’ve responded to every full we’ve requested. Maybe I should just revel in the moment….
What’s playing on the iPod right now? SEX ON FIRE by Kings Of Leon
We are getting our latest round of royalty statements. Our biggest months are Feb/Aug and April/Oct.
All I can say is whoa. Who turned on the ebook sales? In five years, I’ve never seen numbers like I’m seeing from the past 3 or 4 months. Ereaders were THE gift this holiday season is what I’m thinking. About 6 months ago I said the tipping point was near. I think it’s here.
STATUS: The great thing about rainy days and Mondays is that you don’t mind working when that is the case!
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TIME & TIDE by Basia
As you folks know, as an agent, I’ve pretty supportive of self-publishing. I’ve discussed JA Konrath and his efforts on my blog and provided links to his blog. I’ve taken on self-published authors--even way back in 2004 when it was not the “cool” thing to do. I’m not remotely threatened by the transformation that electronic books are creating in the publishing realm and the opportunities it creates for some debut authors who don’t go the traditional route.
In short, I’m fairly levelheaded and sanguine about this whole topic but I have noticed a rather worrisome trend as of late. There seems to be a rather skewed perspective that ANY author can make it rich, be successful, if they just eschew traditional publishing and forge ahead in the electronic world.
It’s as if these voices completely forget about the amount of marketing and promotion that successful self-publishing authors such as Konrath, Doctorow, McQuestion, and Hocking have done. It’s like they have the assumption that all these authors did was throw some manuscripts up on the web and the money just started rolling in. On top of that, there’s an attitude that these authors stuck it to the publishing man—a finger to the perceived “gatekeepers” of the industry.
I thought Amanda Hocking did a thoughtful post on this that is definitely worth reading.
And I just want to add one other thing. Regardless of whether an author self-publishes or pursues traditional publishing, some writers just win the publishing lottery and their books become major successes.
We honestly don’t know why that sometimes occurs; and even more telling, why it sometimes doesn’t occur—even for some really good books. It’s basically a mystery. (And of course I know every blog reader can point to one book they think is totally awful and was a big success. Truly a mystery!)
So yes, I totally believe that statistically, some authors will self-pub and become great successes with huge numbers. They have, in essence, been one of the lucky ones to win the publishing lottery.
STATUS: Talk about chat in the blogosphere. Rumors has it that internet ePublishing phenom Amanda Hocking might be on the verge of accepting a 7-figure deal with a major traditional publisher and traditionally published Barry Eisler is foregoing SMP deal and moving to digital only.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SYMPHONY No. 3 –LARGO by Gorecki with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
In the other big news flash of the day (she says facetiously) is that the Judge Denny Chin rejected the Google Book Settlement. In the end, he said is main issue could be ameliorated by changing the settlement from an opt-out process to an opt-in.
As this issue hasn’t been actively discussed in 13 months, I suggest reading the article and re-familiarizing yourself with all the arguments, issues, and objections. This case is definitely not dead. I imagine we’ll see a something new put forward in the not so distant future. As Judge Chin points out, such a settlement would give Google an unfair competitive advantage (definitely not a news flash for anyone following this case), and Google won’t want to let go of that easily.
In an interesting side note, Scribd has the rejection filing posted in its entirety for reading on their site. This alone might underscore Judge Chin’s position on unfair advantage.
STATUS: I think my phone receiver might be permanently glued to my left ear. For the last two days, I’ve literally averaged about 6 hours on the phone.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? ANTARCTICA ECHOS by Vangelis
If you haven’t read the conversation between Mr. Eisler and Mr. Konrath that might be posted everywhere by now, I highly recommend it. It’s long but it’s also a very interesting read regardless of your own personal sentiments on the subject of self-publishing and Eisler’s decision. There is also another interview up on The Daily Beast that sheds a bit more light on his decision.
As I know both Barry and Joe, they probably won’t mind my pulling out an excerpt from their conversation and resposting it here. This section touches on what they see as the potential evolving role of the literary agent:
Barry: To turn a manuscript into an actual book and get it into the hands of a reader, we still need an editor, line editor, copyeditor, proofreader, jacket copy writer, bio writer, cover art designer, and digital formatter. Plus there are various marketing and sales elements, too. You manage all these functions yourself, and this is one way in which I’d argue that you really are, if not exceptional, then at least unusual.
Joe: I wouldn’t disagree with that.
Barry: So as legacy publishing dies out, where will other writers turn to for assistance with the critical functions I mention above?
Joe: We’ve talked about this before.
36 Comments on Joe and Barry Talk Role of Agents, last added: 3/28/2011
STATUS: I’m listening to Chill on XM. This station is new to me. Do I feel calmer? Hum…
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TAMELESS by Yonderboi
Sadly, Dorchester Publishing has been in the news again recently. I’m sure most of you have already seen the headlines as it certainly is not a secret that Brian Keenecalled for a boycott of the publisher because unauthorized editions of Keene’s digital editions were being sold after the rights had reverted to him.
I can confirm that the same has happened to several NLA authors whose rights had also reverted.
Last Thursday, I was on a conference call that detailed Dorchester’s current financial situation where I also brought up this issue.
Currently they are paying royalties owed to what they call “currently active Dorchester authors” (ie. authors whose rights Dorchester currently has under contract and can exploit). I also received confirmation that those payments are happening on a weekly basis.
However, Dorchester owes a tidy sum of back royalties to what are called “non-current inactive authors” (ie. authors whose rights have reverted) and as of Thursday’s call, there is no plan in place to pay these past royalties owed.
I imagine that this is partly what CEO Bob Anthony is referring to when he mentions that they’ve needed to prioritize cash flow and in the end, one can hope that Anthony’s vow that “all authors will be paid in full” will come to pass.
STATUS: It’s Friday! This would be more exciting if I didn’t have plans to work all weekend. Need to catch up from being away the week prior.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? JEALOUS OF THE MOON by Nickel Creek
And bite you in the a**.
Not to be a downer on the Friday but a lot of authors are super excited about getting their rights reverted and then being able to digitally publish those titles themselves.
By all means, I’m certainly not opposed but you might want to check that agency agreement you signed before you run out and do that.
For the record, Nelson Literary Agency does not hold author rights into perpetuity but I know of a lot of agencies that do.
At NLA, our client agreement clearly states that if we sell the author’s book, it’s for the full term of the publishing agreement. When the book is out of print, publishing contract ends, all rights revert to the author with no further obligation to us.
But we are the minority. I know a lot of agencies that have “in perpetuity” language that they will be the agency of record for life of the property—regardless of whether that title is currently under a publication contract or not.
In short, what this means is that even if all rights to a title has reverted to you from the publisher, and even if you are no longer with that agent or agency, if you signed an agency agreement separate from the publication contract that has an “in perpetuity” clause and that agreement is still in force, you owe the agency of record monies for your self-pubbed digital sales.
Yep, that would suck. So, review any and all agency agreements you signed and if necessary, consult an attorney if it is in question before posting to digital distribution sites.
Status: Most of today I felt like I still had BEA brain. And the Brenda Novak Auction is ending tonight!
What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? ROSEALIA by Better Than Ezra
Many weeks before several authors started making headlines about their choice to self-publish, my author Courtney Milan, with my blessing and support (not that she needed it!), had already made that decision. She walked away from an offer on the table from her publisher Harlequin. There were several reasons for this decision but it will come as no surprise that it mainly hinged on the electronic royalty rate that had been offered. It’s no industry secret that Harlequin is well below what has become the “industry standard.” And it’s also not a secret what I think about Publishers’ current industry standard of 25% of net.
What was secret is that Courtney didn’t announce it—until now. Today she launched this new publishing direction with a novella entitled UNLOCKED in her Turner Brothers series that began with Unveiled & Unclaimed which will release in September.
In four short days, I can already tell you two important things about this digital revolution.
1. Pricing is everything. Pricing a title appropriately will move a great number of books in a short period of time.
2. Publishers are under-reporting electronic book sales in any given period on the royalty statements we are seeing.
Status: Best moment in NYC today? Walking over to Central Park and seeing a dude that looked remarkably like Will Smith asking folks if they wanted to do park bike rentals. And in this town, it really could have been him and people didn’t notice. It was a remarkable double…
What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? REAL LOVE by The Doobie Brothers
Today a fellow agent and I were having a discussion about eBook pricing. What should backlist romance titles be priced at and does that poach sales for the current release?
Obviously there are a variety of opinions on this subject but here is mine.
I don't personally believe that a lower eBook price for a backlist title poaches from a current title. I think the romance reader is more likely to then buy both if the backlist title is reasonably priced.
In terms of pricing, most authors are seeing good movement when a backlist title is priced between the $2.99 and $3.99 price range. Higher than that and the sales are flat.
And speaking of reduced pricing for backlist titles, this is a perfect segue albeit for women’s fiction. Need a cheap summer read? HarperCollins is letting you get a taste of NLA client Kristina Riggle for $0.99
Yep, less than a buck. And it’s across all platforms. Here are links for just a few:
STATUS: Man, I powered through my To Do list today. Gosh I love when that happens.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? FREE FALLIN’ by John Mayer
One of things that we always do is make sure the author and our agency have a final copy of the finished novel in electronic form. For the author, it’s just nice to have an electronic copy of the book. I mean, we get the other editions. Why not this one? For the agency, we prefer to use the electronic copy to sell subsidiary rights when we hold those rights.
Usually, this is no big deal and the acquiring editor sends me the final page proof in PDF.
Well, just recently I made my standard request and I received a rather interesting email from the editor in return. (And let me just say right here I feel very sorry for the editor as I know she was simply citing some new company policy…) But basically the editor said that if we wanted an electronic copy in PDF, we’d have to pay a production copy fee of $250.00.
Uh… I rather stared at the email. Is the editor really suggesting that the author has to pay $250.00 for a copy of her already published book in electronic form? No, she can’t be serious.
Needless to say, I voiced my rather incredulous response in a return email.
I’m positive that the company implemented this fee policy for a good reason but in this instance, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
STATUS: I’m sure I don’t have to say that yesterday was a little hectic.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SIMPLE DAY by One Eskimo
As an agency, we have a subscription to Bookscan and every Wednesday, we send out a sales reports in Excel spreadsheets to each of our clients for their published titles. (FYI--Nielsen is a subscription service that captures point-of-sales information from certain retail outlets.)
This sounds great. Real sales numbers! Except not every retailer reports to Bookscan. Some key accounts like Costco do report but other key accounts like Walmart do not.
Which means that Bookscan is not a whole picture of how a title is doing.
So over the years, I’ve created our own system of calculating how accurate it is by comparing the royalty statement sales to the Bookscan number sales and capturing the percentage difference.
For some genres, it can be off by 50 or 60%. That’s a lot. The numbers for literary fiction tend to be a bit more on target as Bookscan seems to capture about 70% of sales for this segment.
Why is this important? Well, if you are a midlist author looking to move houses, well, guess what numbers the editors are looking at in order to base a decision of whether they want to offer for you or not? You guessed it. Bookscan.
And if that number is only capturing 50% of the sales… I have to firmly argue the actual sales numbers and sometimes, that doesn’t matter. The house will often make a decision based solely on those Bookscan numbers. Hugely frustrating as you can imagine.
By the way, Bookscan does not currently capture digital point-of-sales. Yeah, that’s going to need to change as more and more sales are done digitally in the upcoming years. And yet another problem with Publishers deciding that Bookscan is a reliable reflection of sales…
STATUS: Spotty blogging this week (as if you couldn’t already tell) but I will try and pop on when I can to send on any inside scoop.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing at the moment.
Monday was crazy as I tried to wrap up anything that could be finished before leaving for Orlando. Yesterday was a travel day so spent the time on the plane getting lots of reading done! I sat next to a lady also heading to RWA who had both a Kindle and the Apple iPad with her. She let me play with that new iPad.
Oh, I like shiny things and was much enthralled. Did it make me want to run out and buy one? Yes and no. Mostly to me, it’s just an oversized iPhone without the capacity to call someone. So I liked it (of course I did) but I think I’m going to wait for the next generation before contemplating a buy. I’d like it to be smaller (something easier to fit in a purse) and to be honest, I still want an unbacklit screen for big chunks of my reading. It’s just easier on the eyes for long stints that we agents end up doing. Nice if iPad could create toggle switch so we could have it both ways. The iPad itself is nice eye candy though.
And I would judge that my seat row companion was in her fifties (if I had to make a guess). So interesting.
Since I just got to Orlando late last night (and just had dinner with one of my clients), I haven’t got any good juicy gossip from RWA to start the blogging week.
Instead, you get lame picture of the Swan & Dolphin hotel on the Disney compound.
As added bonus, Ally Carter had a great turn-out in Boulder. 75 people. The next day she went to St. Louis where 170 fans showed up for her reading. Wow. Go St. Louis.
So here is Ally with a NLA Colorado local author Kim Reid who came out to show support. How fun is that?
STATUS: Today we made a debut author’s dream come true as we sold her first novel. Man, that’s the best feeling in the world.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DREAM CAFÉ by Greg Brown
What news to start my Friday. I’m not here 10 minutes when an agent friend sends me the news that Dorchester is ceasing mass market publishing and switching to electronic. It’s a testament to how linked in we are as the news didn’t officially hit until 2 hours later via PW’s daily news email blast.
I’m just shaking my head. We agents have known for the last year (at least) just how precarious Dorchester’s financial position has been but I must say I was not expecting this announcement.
We ceased submitting to them awhile ago. As an agency, we have three former Dorchester clients (that have moved on to other publishing houses) so for us, only our clients’ backlist titles will be impacted. I really feel for any author who might have signed a deal with them recently as this is not what they signed up for.
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*
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? BLUE MOON by Elvis Presley
While at RWA in Orlando, I sat on a PRO panel for published authors with Steve Axelrod and Karen Solem. One of the questions asked of the panel was what we thought about Andrew Wylie’s announcement of doing eBooks through his own publishing arm called Odyssey and the Mexican stand-off that subsequently ensued with Random House over it.
For the record, I don’t know Mr. Wylie personally and any viewpoint expressed here is simply my opinion.
My answer at the panel was that I thought it was a strategic wake-up call on his part. He was firing a shot across the bow so to speak to send a very clear message that for well-established legacy authors still in print (for books sold long before eBooks were even conceived), he wasn’t going to 1) settle for the industry’s current low watermark royalty of 25% of net for the electronic versions of those legacy titles and 2) That unless explicitly granted in the contract, the rights belonged to the authors to exercise them as they deemed fit.
This, of course, was in direct opposition to Random House’s viewpoint that they had de facto electronic rights for titles still in print with them. (Hence the stand-off with RH proclaiming that they would no longer do business with Wylie agency.)
Well, I personally didn’t think that this tiff would last too long. The Wylie agency has been around for 25+ years and has too many distinguished authors on its list for RH to ignore forever. They were going to have to come to an agreement and sure enough, that was announced late yesterday.
What does it mean?
It means that who controls electronic rights for titles negotiated pre-computer/electronic age is still in question. That publishers, authors, and agents have very different viewpoints regarding it. Disagreements will happen (and some will play out in court). Further discussions and agreements are possible. But in my mind, only when push comes to shove.