Passive Guy was ready to hang up his fingers for the day when a perfectly lovely publisher fast shuffle caught his eye.
Romance conglomerate publisher Harlequin recently sent
emails letters to existing authors announcing what the emails letters tacitly admitted was a less-transparent royalty structure for ebooks. What’s more, if you had written only a single title for Harlequin, you received a higher royalty rate than if you were a series author.
But Wait! There’s More!
It’s all automatic and retroactive. If you don’t like it, you have to tell Harlequin soon, otherwise it just happens to you, like that tornado that destroyed a city in Missouri a few weeks ago.
e-reads helpfully provides copies of two
First, the royalty structure change description:
As you know, until now Harlequin’s position has been that digital royalty rates as a percentage of cover price is a more transparent way to pay authors than as a percentage of net receipts: authors know exactly how many copies they sold at what price and their compensation is not affected by unspecified costs. Over the past several months we have worked to ensure a smooth transition from the current percentage of cover price calculation to a net receipts calculation while maintaining the same transparency.
It’s so nice that the “same transparency” will be retained, but no explanation of how the new royalty structure works is included. “A net receipts calculation” is never defined in the
“Net Receipts Calculation” sounds like a dial-a-royalty system for Harlequin, a black box that spits out whatever number is most convenient.
Here’s more language from the
Effective January 1, 2012, series authors who are actively writing for Harlequin will receive a digital royalty rate of 15% of net digital receipts for each digital unit sold in the English language, United States and Canada, frontlist and backlist. This will include books in Harlequin’s digital backlist program, Harlequin Treasury.
If you’re a single title author, you receive bolded language that’s nearly identical, only you get 25% of “Net Digital Receipts.”
The first lesson is that writing a single title pays better than writing a series.
Let’s go to one last paragraph in the
emails letters (bolded language included in the
Given that these are more favorable terms than those in your existing contract(s), this notification will be considered the amendment to those contract(s). If you wish to maintain the existing terms of the contract(s), please let us know by Friday, July 15th, 2011.
Isn’t that wonderful, an automatic
Passive Guy would be greatly tempted to send a
So, Harlequin is telling its authors that a mysterious, undefined “net receipts calculation” resulting in “net digital receipts” are “more favorable terms” without explaining what the new terms are and, PG’s cynical lawyer mind notes, not saying for whom the terms are more favorable.
The tone and tenor of the
The legal and business issues of these
emails letters are so obvious and extensive, PG will cut his snarky legal analysis short.
He will simply say that few legal documents (or
emails letters purporting to be legal documents) are breathtaking for him any more. But these are truly breathtaking.
emails letters remind PG of something the kind Old Massah might have sent to the slaves if Old Massah had an email account wrote letters to the slaves in the Old South.
Here’s a link to the most-helpful ereads post containing the full texts of both