Posts tagged ‘Renaissance Ebooks’

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 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.


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.



Jean continues to sell my books.


My books are still for sale at Ebook Mall and four of my titles are still available at Sony. and it has now been six weeks. It is important to check on these matters.

They were all supposed to have been removed from the online stores within 30 days. I’m still waiting.

First time in five years.

A major sea change is in the offing. Jean pulled all my books off Fictionwise in response to my demands for my rights back. It felt very strange looking at the site and no books. Now, push has come to shove and I have to take the next steps as soon as I can.

We will see what happens.

30th anniversary Chimquar collection (and more Jean)

I got the edits back on the Chimquar Collection. They are allowing me to do what I always wanted to do and that is a fresh edit and revision of the aging stories. I will also be writing two new tales of Chimquar for the volume.

Rob Mancebo is the editor and he’s amazing. The breadth of his knowledge is incredible and I am learning a lot from him.

I emailed Jean and demanded all of my rights back. I wish I could have stayed in SFWA, but I will rejoin before the end of the year I imagine. The last time I had to slap Jean around for payment, I went to the SFWA grievance committee and she knuckled under.

I have spoken before about how Jean edited “I, Vampire.” In 2001, Jean went to work for Renaissance Ebooks under the original owner. She handed him the anthology without paying any of the writers more money or renegotiating the contracts with them. None of them were ever paid royalties from the book. When I found out about it, I went to the SFWA grievance committee and they got me paid $100. However, I have no way of knowing whether they located the other authors or not.

Jean tried to do the same thing with New Eves, the book we edited together (I actually did all the work). However, I successfully blocked her on that one.

Knowing that I had already involved the Grievance Committee once kept her on the straight and narrow.

Here we go again.

I have a few more things to say once I am fully awake. I slept 12 hours once I managed to collapse into bed. I slept myself out, I think. It’s been months since I had an episode this bad.

I sincerely thought that Jean had mended her old ways. When Richard was alive, he kept her on the straight and narrow. He was always one of the few people that Jean always listened to. I miss him.

You could not argue with Richard’s business sense. He knew too much about publishing, marketing, and all the ins and outs. When I first met Richard, he and Helene had decided to move to Virginia in search of a slower lifestyle. He had been the head of marketing at Doubleday. He taught me to write press releases, taught me about reps and jobbers, and how to talk to people in radio and televisioin to get interviews for the Donning/Starblaze authors. Over the thirty years that I knew Richard, he worked for publishers, large and small, and was at one point the central buyer for the Walden Books chain.

When Jean was working for Jeremy P. Tarcher Incorporated as their editor-in-chief (her last position with them before they were sold to Penguin Putnam), Shari Lewis used to say that Jean was a diamond in the rough and Richard agreed.

I smoke cigars. Richard and I used to sit on the front porch of my home and smoke them. Jean and Helene did not like us smoking them in the house. So we were always banished to the outdoors to smoke.

Seeing the full extent of the mistakes that Jean is making with Renebooks since Richard’s death bothers me greatly. But it is part of a pattern. I’ve written elsewhere about Jean’s patterns, but I was calling her ‘H’ for Hank.

In the past, if Jean was shaken up enough, she eventually pulled out of these irresponsible periods, but it is almost like dealing with an unmedicated manic depressive. Jean does not fit the usual pattern of the manic depressives because her cycle takes a couple of years to hit the point that she is at now.

At one point in the 1980s, Jean was the highest paid editor on the West Coast. And she blew it. She hit this point in her cycle (which used to frighten me) and the excesses caught up to her (as they always did) and she was fired. She continued to work for Jeremy freelance. Her brilliance as an editor could not be denied. Some of Jeremy Tarcher’s best books were the ones that Jean development edited, turning a collection of experts into fairly awesome writers with books that made the New York Times best seller lists.

But Jean’s mental instabilities (she promised me that she was in therapy and was going to stay there, but I begin to doubt it), always brought her and whatever company she was working for into problems and difficulties sooner or later.

With Richard gone, and the ship without the kind of rudder that Jean needs to stay on top of everything, she has let Renebooks slide into the mud.

I’m going to try to locate a phone number for her. I think she and Frankie are staying with Bill Mills until they find a place of their own.

Every time that she wore out her welcome in an area, she moved. Jean is getting too old to keep doing this. She’s ten years older than I am. She was the only older man I ever became involved with.

I need to think for a day and reassess what is happening and see what more can be done to rescue my own books and those of others. I don’t like the idea of going down with the ship and it is sinking.

28 hours without sleep

I have gone 28 hours without sleep. Every time I put my head on the pillow I either get angry all over again, or I start having flashbacks. At Wednesday’s team meeting for Daverana Enterprises, we got off on a bitch session about Jean. The guys (Phil, Gustavo, and Niwi) went missing. In the course of it, we got off on the subject of my former step-son and that put me over the edge into flashbacks and nightmares.

I kept trying to leave the meeting as my stomach clenched up and another round of adrenaline hit me. I was shaking and sick to my stomach by the time I left. No one there meant to trigger those. They just happen. I’m as wired as I am on those night when I am trying to write myself into exhaustion so that I can lay down without having another round of memory noise.

The connections connect. The associations associate. I wish that my insurance covered more sessions with a cognitive therapist.

As I watch what is going down with Jean, I keep getting flooded with more memories. It is hard work to escape them. I’m hyper and nervous as a cat. But they won’t let me go. I have to just ride them out and keep going until I can let exhaustion release me.

Asking the distributors to take my books down.

So Jean Marie says that she’ll ask the distributors to take my books down.

That sounds okay, doesn’t it?

Except for one thing. Most distributors don’t control what the publisher has up.

Most ebook distributors have a back door that the publisher goes into using a password that was issued to them. The publisher uploads the books to the distributors site by a certain day of the week.

Then they are presented on a set day by the distributor.

Fictionwise is to have the books on by Thursday so they can be put out on Monday.

Most of this is automated.

I know this because there used to be a site called Ebookad. It fell behind in paying the publishers whose books it carried. Then it defaulted completely with a year’s worth of earnings lost to the publishers.

I just checked and it appears to be back again, but all the books I could find were public domain works. Anyway, onto Ebookad and my story.

When Ebookad defaulted on payments, several publishers, including Renebooks, arranged a raid to remove their books from that distributor. We went in through that publisher’s back door and removed all the books. There were five of us from Renebooks who did it. We substituted fake copies that Jean had issued to us. The only thing in those ebooks was “[owner’s name] is a thief.” And other insults

Within 24 hours Ebookad surrendered. All was fine.

But that’s how I learned about the back door.

When I needed to get something changed at Fictionwise on my books, I was informed that only the publisher could do that.

Back door.

What I wanted was a correction on the author bio.

When Jean reverted the rights on Mother Damnation and In The Darkness, Hunting, the books came down within an hour.

So why is this one dependent upon the distributor?

I will give Jean 24 hours and then start googling for those books.