Posts tagged ‘marketing’

Royalties and Contracts

I’ve been asked to write about royalties and contracts as many new authors have run afoul of bad or scammy publishers and need to know their rights and how to tell good from bad.

Two writers organizations (there are more) have model contracts that immediately came to mind so I’m posting links to them.

EPIC MODEL CONTRACT

EPIC is a good organization. They have an award that has gotten some fine reactions. However, they charge their members (this can and ought to be paid for by the publisher instead of the author) in order to cover the costs of their yearly convention, which can be a lot of fun for their authors and others.

SWFA MODEL CONTRACT

The SFWA contract is mainly directed at doing business with the majors and middle ranks, but can be a great source of information for those doing business with the small press. SWFA has public information pages which ought to be read with frequency.

The traditional publishers have long had a graduated royalty rate based upon how many copies are sold. They base their royalties upon cover price. But the average breakpoints have been 8%, 12%, 15%

You will find cover price as the base  in the royalty clauses of both sample contracts.  The standard for ebooks is 40% of cover price if sold directly through the company store and 25% of cover price when sold through distributors. Most ebooks are sold through distributors and very few ebook publishers are set up to host a store on their site. A good example of how a onsite store is set up can be found at Renebooks (Renaissance Ebooks).

Small press royalties on print tend to be 10% of cover price.

Never ever go with a contract that says royalties are based upon net or gross receipts. These are too easy to abuse and hard to track. Companies will include all of their costs (cover, editorial, PR) into their calculations, making the total come out of the author’s due royalties.

On the flip side, Amazon, for instance, has ways to view the sales figures for books that have you as author. This one I have not figured out for myself, but Angeline Hawkes uses it for all of her book sales regardless of publisher, and she is a very savvy author.

Reputable writers organizations are a must for the protection of authors. Most will not grant admission to self-published authors, however EPIC and NWU (National Writer’s Union) will.  HWA (Horror Writers Association)  will give an affiliate membership to authors with small press credits. One of the largest services that a good writers organization will give you is access to their grievance committee, which will go to bat for you against bad publishers and try to get you paid.

 

Amazon wins and it makes no difference

Victoria Strauss tweeted about this article in PW.

Months ago the Department of Justice ruled against the Big Six publishers and their attempt to force Amazon to sell their books at a higher price. The ruling stated that the publishers were committing restraint of trade violations. So Amazon was able to sell the ebooks they published at lower prices.

The irony of the whole mess is that nothing changed. Lower prices did not alter which books went onto the  best seller lists and apparently did not increase sales on those titles.

The one way that all of this bothered me was not in the pricing loss or victory. What Amazon HAS done is to make those books more competitive with the small press. For years, the small press was able to compete with the majors simply because we priced our books lower. If lower pricing from the majors becomes the rule across the breadth of distributors like Amazon, B&N, and others, then we might have to slash the prices on our own books down to the bare bone. We are not as visible as the majors. We do not have huge teams of publicists and money to toss into the ring to gain attention.  With the death of places like Fictionwise, the Indies are losing a lot of the outlets they counted on from the get go.