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Old 05-23-2009, 08:49 PM   #1
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And you thought royalty involved a crown

After recent discussions about protecting your work and the object of money in the writing process, here's quite a depressing article on the realities of publishing a book through the traditional publishing houses, and your cut as a writer (hint, it's not that much).


http://editorialass.blogspot.com/200...ved-crown.html
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:07 PM   #2
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That's how I lose all my money, by cutting out the middleman! (I give it away free...)
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:14 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ralph Sir Edward View Post
That's how I lose all my money, by cutting out the middleman! (I give it away free...)
It's the only way forward

But on a more serious note, the writer in the traditional publishing business is so badly treated overall that it makes me wonder why bother trying to get published through the traditional routes?

$2000 - $3000 advance on your novel (let's say it takes you 6-12 months on average to write) then you make 5% - 15% after that money has been recouped in sales. And this in a climate where 5,000 sales gets you on the NYT best-seller list. If you're not measuring up sales wise, then you're unlikely to get a contract for a 2nd or any other novel, and your name will be mud within the industry.

Or....

You give it away for free, enjoy what you're doing, do it when you want and how you want. Maybe sell some t-shirts on the side
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:16 PM   #4
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Great article as I've been wondering about other aspects of the payments to authors.

I found the below comment on that page very enlightening..

"Anonymous said...

Royalties are generally on cover price, so discounts, etc. make no difference to the author.

I've long since earned out on my first book, published in 2005. It's now out of print, but in ebook and audio format - good thing, because I'm raking in the cash. Last royalty check from my agent was $.48.

Yes, that's right - 48 cents.

Dayam, it's good to be published.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 11:12:00 PM "

So, if I've understood this correctly... wouldn't an author earn much more by selling from their own site? Sell at $5 internationally and it is pure profit? (sell only 2,000 ebooks @ $5 would be $10,000)
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:17 PM   #5
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That's how I lose all my money, by cutting out the middleman! (I give it away free...)
And we love you for it
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Sir Edward View Post
That's how I lose all my money, by cutting out the middleman! (I give it away free...)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
It's the only way forward
SNIP SNIP
Or....

You give it away for free, enjoy what you're doing, do it when you want and how you want. Maybe sell some t-shirts on the side
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And we love you for it
Ditto
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:27 PM   #7
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So, if I've understood this correctly... wouldn't an author earn much more by selling from their own site? Sell at $5 internationally and it is pure profit? (sell only 2,000 ebooks @ $5 would be $10,000)
[/QUOTE]

Exactly. There's a great article on Richard Herley's site (member here and also the author of Penal Colony which is a great book) and he estimates that the actual profit from a 1st time novel under the current system is roughly £800 ($1500)

And that's after all the messing with an agent, marketing rubbish and dealing with editors and all the other steps on the ladder you have to slog through.

If you only sold 100x$5 and you released 2 books a year, you'd still be ahead of the game money-wise and probably less stressed out
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:42 PM   #8
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If you're only going to sell 1,000 copies, sure. But it's unlikely any publisher is going to buy your book if they think they can only sell 1,000 copies.

The reason you go with an actual publisher is they'll put your book in retail bookstores and hopefully sell 10,000 or more copies. There's also a better chance that they'll sell foreign rights to the book. And that someone will read it and option film, etc. rights.

If you self-publish your own ebook it's unlikely you'll even sell 1,000 copies and the chances of any of the other things happening are close to zilch.
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post

Exactly. There's a great article on Richard Herley's site (member here and also the author of Penal Colony which is a great book) and he estimates that the actual profit from a 1st time novel under the current system is roughly £800 ($1500)
I read "Refuge" (and liked it) so, I will have to check out "Penal Colony".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
If you only sold 100x$5 and you released 2 books a year, you'd still be ahead of the game money-wise and probably less stressed out
So, I don't see why authors don't just sell from their own site. If they want more exposure and sales, why not also sell from places like fictionwise, etc.?
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:49 PM   #10
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If you're only going to sell 1,000 copies, sure. But it's unlikely any publisher is going to buy your book if they think they can only sell 1,000 copies.

The reason you go with an actual publisher is they'll put your book in retail bookstores and hopefully sell 10,000 or more copies. There's also a better chance that they'll sell foreign rights to the book. And that someone will read it and option film, etc. rights.

If you self-publish your own ebook it's unlikely you'll even sell 1,000 copies and the chances of any of the other things happening are close to zilch.
That's where you're overestimating the actual publishing business. A 'lot' of books are only selling 1,000 copies (5,000 remember for a NYT best-seller). A lot of writers are being picked up during market trends - the latest being the occult/romance sub-genre. And those books are filling up the shelves at an alarming rate, not all of them can actually reach their actual advance.

The key word in your statement is 'think'. The publishing business is a gambling business with little to no certainty about how the public will react. Again, that's why we so many derivative works, so many clones of what has been popular most recently. It's why you rarely get a surprising novel in any genre - the 'big' publishing houses are too timid to take risks, especially with such razor thin margins on their profits.

To your last point, sure, you might not even sell 1 copy of your indie published book, but you've got to weigh up why you're writing in the first place. If it's to make a living or get rich then it's the worst business in the world to peg your future on.
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Old 05-23-2009, 09:58 PM   #11
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I read "Refuge" (and liked it)
So, I don't see why authors don't just sell from their own site. If they want more exposure and sales, why not also sell from places like fictionwise, etc.?
I think I can answer that one (although this is just my own theory).

We've had the publishing industry in place for such a long time and reinforced by so many who've gone through it, that writers have become wary of taking a chance to go it alone. They believe that without a publishing contract, without the marketing push (which in a lot of authors' cases is non-existent) they won't be read.

Writers are a reclusive bunch on a whole, and a lot (if not most) aren't that confident in what they write. They need reinforcement, whether that's by the 'rubber-stamp' of a publishing house or through some greedy agent taking them on (there's a whole other kettle of rotting fish that I could waffle on about).

You add the 'industry' advice that's reinforced all the time (get an agent, write-to-the-market, write in language that a thirteen year old can understand) and it only makes these writers even more nervous about taking the leap.

Happily, I think, we're seeing a shift in attitudes that is also occurring in music production. A lot of writers are waking up and saying "what do I actually need you -- publishing companies -- for in the internet age?". Then they start finding out about the actual monetary benefits and the whole rotting business, and start shifting their expectations away from monetary gain and toward readers and being read.

For love or money? Only one will actually give you what you need
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Old 05-23-2009, 10:45 PM   #12
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That's where you're overestimating the actual publishing business. A 'lot' of books are only selling 1,000 copies (5,000 remember for a NYT best-seller).
No, I'm not overestimating. That's 5,000 copies *per week*. Compared to a self-published ebook which may be lucky to sell 5,000 copies *ever*.

Self-publishing your ebook is great if you're well-known. And it's your best alternative if you can't get published at all. And even some great authors like Boyd Morrison here can't get in print. But to suggest that authors are better off financially publishing their own ebooks than being published in print is nonsense 9 times out of 10.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
To your last point, sure, you might not even sell 1 copy of your indie published book, but you've got to weigh up why you're writing in the first place. If it's to make a living or get rich then it's the worst business in the world to peg your future on.
Regardless if you can making a living on it or not, if you don't care about money then give it away for free. If you do care about money, you should be trying to get the best deal you can.
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Old 05-23-2009, 11:04 PM   #13
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No, I'm not overestimating. That's 5,000 copies *per week*. Compared to a self-published ebook which may be lucky to sell 5,000 copies *ever*.

Self-publishing your ebook is great if you're well-known. And it's your best alternative if you can't get published at all. And even some great authors like Boyd Morrison here can't get in print. But to suggest that authors are better off financially publishing their own ebooks than being published in print is nonsense 9 times out of 10.



Regardless if you can making a living on it or not, if you don't care about money then give it away for free. If you do care about money, you should be trying to get the best deal you can.
5,000 copies per week funded by million dollar advertising and promotional campaigns. Of course no indie-publisher is going to achieve those kinds of figures, but that was never the point. And better off is subjective. If you must insist on measuring this in monetary terms, then you are right, they probably won't be better off. But 5million or 50 the attitude toward publishing is changing, and it's not about caring about money, it's about money as a motivator in an industry with a dwindling mid-list, notoriously bad deals for creators (except those at the top) and sales figures that are taking a month-on-month dive into the toilet.

If money is the motivator behind writing then why write? Only the slim minority of authors make an actual living from writing. And do you really think a first time author has any say whatsoever in the publishing industry? Do you really think he can go for the 'best deal' on his/her terms? Of course they can't. That's reserved for vacuous celebrities who get million dollar advances and have ghost writers doing all the heavy lifting.

I read an agent recently on her blog talking about how if 'everyone' publishes themselves then the bookshelves (virtual or not) would just be filled with rubbish. She then went on to say how she'd secured a new client who was nothing more than a 25th generation knockoff of that prose murderer Laurell K Hamilton. And I bring that up because the publishing industry has nothing to do with actual 'writing' good or bad, it's product. The writer is the product to them, and the more familiar and inoffensive that product is, the better chance it has of selling.

So that's the choice writers face, a choice they might never have had before. Do they want to be a product? Do they want to bend and twist under the whim of some corporate gatekeeper with dollar signs in their eyes in the slim to nonexistent hopes of making a living out of all this? Or they can do what they want, when they want and how they want.
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Old 05-23-2009, 11:46 PM   #14
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Y'all are making me blush....

I guess I have a new hobby for my retirement years....
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Old 05-24-2009, 12:05 AM   #15
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Y'all are making me blush....

I guess I have a new hobby for my retirement years....
YES!! I loved reading "And the World Changed".
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