From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:
This week came the news that Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program will offer its content providers a 70% royalty on all sales made in India—provided the content providers go with Kindle Select only. For those of you who don’t know, Kindle Select requires exclusivity from anyone who joins it. You can’t market your work on the iBookstore, for example, or on Kobo if you’re part of Kindle Select. Only on Amazon alone.
Writers who put novels up on KDP in India will get 35% of the price of all sales made in that country, regardless of whether they’re in Kindle Select or not. And, because of the restrictions, I for one will be getting only 35% on any work of mine that sells there. It’s my choice, and I choose to make my work available on as many platforms as possible.
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Plus, my own beliefs about maintaining different platforms for my work got reinforced this week after WMG hired someone to input the sales figures for the last six months. We looked at those numbers yesterday. I sell a lot of books on Kindle, but my biggest selling title, a short story called “The Moorhead House,” sold a grand total of one copy on Kindle from January to June.
Every single one of “The Moorhead House”’s rather surprising (to me) sales came on the Nook. For some reason, Nook readers either like or have found or continue to find that one short story. And they buy it more than they buy anything else of mine offered through Barnes & Noble.
If I had joined Kindle Select with that story, I doubt I would have made comparable sales. If my years in this business have taught me anything, it’s that readers determine what sells and what doesn’t, and trying to figure out why one reader buys a story when another reader won’t is largely futile. All I can do is write the best story possible, and move on to the next. Worrying about why someone buys this and won’t buy that will simply drive me crazy—and has in the past.
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The key really isn’t the device any more.
The key is the content.
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We writers are content providers. Theoretically, we’re in the catbird seat. Weshould be the ones getting rich or at least more financially comfortable from this tech boom.
Instead, we’re lining up to get screwed.
I saw a horrible example of the queue recently. There’s a major epublishing company, started about three years ago by one of the biggest names in the publishing industry, that has signed some of the biggest writers in the world. Most of these writers have been at the business so long that their contracts do not include e-rights, which they’re now selling to this particular company.
Its contract is one of the worst examples of a rights-grab I’ve seen. As I’m writing this, I have my iPad open to the company’s website, and I cringe at the names I see there—folks I respect greatly, whose writing I admire, who most likely signed a version of this contract that will guarantee they make very little money on their content for the rest of their careers.
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The fact that rights grabs have become commonplace in the publishing industry in the last three years is precisely because content has become king. Publishers used to be manufacturing and distribution companies. The publisher would manufacture a book from a manuscript and then distribute that book to bookstores.
Back then, writers did not have easy access to the manufacturing process, and even if they did, they couldn’t get their books into the distribution system without some kind of help. The monopoly that publishers had existed for a very good reason. They provided an actual service that writers couldn’t do themselves.
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We’ve had this part of the discussion before. You all know how I feel. Keep control of your rights, and don’t sign anything for a percentage unless you completely understand your contract and know what you’re gaining and what you’re losing.
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The best solution is the one that media companies have had from the beginning. Buy as much content as possible, own as much of it as possible, and make sure that the content providers work on flat fees or salaries.
I’m trying to get you to reverse that thinking. You’re a content provider. Make the company, like that epublishing company I mentioned, take a flat fee or a yearly salary. Distribute through all venues you possible can, even if you have to take a smaller percentage of the distribution money.
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If you sign an egregious contract with some of these agents or these publishing companies (e- or otherwise), you might be giving these companies the rights to your characters and your worlds. If you do that, then you’ve given them permission to have someone else write stories with your creations. Some of these contracts give these agents, publishing companies, and media companies control of your very name. They can make the readers believe that you actually wrote something when you didn’t and, chances are, in that circumstance, the readers will think you got worse as a writer.
You’ll want to read it all at Kristine Kathryn Rusch