Monthly Archives: June 2013

Author Concerns and Complaints at Crimson Romance

29 June 2013

From Writer Beware:

Often viewed as experiments, these digital-only and digital-first imprints may offer less favorable terms than the publisher’s standard contracts, in an effort to shift more of the risk to authors (one example: Random House’s Hydra, Flirt, and Alibi imprints, a controversy that had a happy ending when Random House changed the imprints’ deal terms to make them more author-friendly). Another potential problem: in the rush to take advantage of a burgeoning new market, plans may not be as carefully laid as they should be, and books may be acquired and pushed out too fast.

This seems to have been the case at Crimson Romance, F&W Media’s digital romance imprint.

. . . .

I’ve seen several Crimson contracts. There are no advances. Books are published within six months of delivery (fast by traditional standards). Royalties are paid on the publisher’s net (a.k.a. “gross amount received”), 30% for ebooks and 10% for print.The grant of rights is life-of-copyright, with a reversion clause that allows authors to request reversion if royalties fall below $250 in each of two consecutive royalty periods (royalty periods are six months). However, this is qualified somewhat by the fact that, as an alternative to simply returning rights, the publisher can choose to “[take] such steps as it is able to accelerate sales” beyond the $250 threshold; if it can manage that within six months of the author’s reversion request, it doesn’t have to revert. In other words, if the publisher can get sales to $251, it gets to keep authors’ rights for at least two more royalty periods.*

Last month, I heard from a few Crimson authors about problems at the imprint. I put out a call for contact, and received a flood of emails. The issues cited are very consistent, the most frequent being late or missing royalty statements and payments, paltry sales, and hasty and/or inadequate editing.

. . . .

[Speaking about a subscription service that wasn’t provided for in contracts between Crimson and authors] Authors’ March 31, 2013 royalty statements didn’t include subscription service income, and those who contacted Crimson to ask why discovered that there was still no payment plan in place. Not until April 23 was a payment plan formally announced. Using the contract royalty percentage, Crimson is allocating 30% of subscription income to authors. But instead of pro-rating authors’ share based on the number of downloads, as many authors had expected, payment will be based on the amount of time each book has been available in the service.

. . . .

Crimson is apparently not reporting actual download numbers; and since the subscription service earned only modest revenues in its first royalty period, royalties due were tiny, with books published in the last month of the royalty period receiving just $0.42.

Link to the rest at Writer Beware and thanks to Jodi for the tip.

It’s a good time to reiterate two pieces of PG advice:

1. Read and understand every contract you sign.

2. Know who you are dealing with. Even with a perfect contract, you’re going to lose money if you deal with flakes.

Amazon’s Next Move: Fine Art

29 June 2013

From The Wall Street Journal:

Moving into more upscale markets, Amazon.com Inc. is quietly laying plans to sell high-end art.

The online retail giant is planning to open a new section on its site as soon as July where it will offer one-of-a-kind paintings, prints and other fine art, according to interviews with a dozen gallery owners.

Amazon is set to debut the site with works from roughly 100 small galleries across the U.S., say gallery owners briefed on Amazon’s plans. In recent weeks, the Seattle company has held cocktail receptions in its hometown, San Francisco, New York and other cities to invite galleries to take part in the new program.

. . . .

“It’ll always be difficult to sell art on the Internet,” said Richard Feigen, owner of Richard L. Feigen and Co. gallery in New York. “Serious collectors want to see the art before they buy it—you don’t have to see a book to buy it over the Internet.” He said he wasn’t approached by Amazon.

Gallery owners who were briefed on the plans said Amazon will charge a tiered commission based on an art piece’s price, generally from 5% to 20%, with higher-priced works subject to lower commissions.

. . . .

Nick Lawrence, owner of the Freight + Volume gallery in New York, said he had decided within the past month to list some paintings on Amazon’s site after getting an unsolicited offer from the company. “I figured this would be a great way to reach a massive crowd,” said Mr. Lawrence. “There are a lot of people who aren’t necessarily going to be able to visit New York to buy art and maybe they can find something instead on Amazon.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Why boys don’t read

28 June 2013

From Mad Genius Club:

[A]nother author was asking why it wasn’t enough to simply write a good story, one that entertains the reader and makes them want to finish it. This writer was tired of those who identify themselves as being “literary” looking down their noses at genre writers. You know, writers who have figured out not only how to tell a story people want to read but who have also, in many cases, figured out how to add a message to their work without having to beat the reader over the head with it.

. . . .

If a story doesn’t entertain, folks aren’t going to read it — or at least not finish it. If they don’t read it, then what good is any message we might put into it? That message will be lost because it was never read.

But that isn’t enough for the literati, for all too many editors and, unfortunately, for the boards of too many professional organizations these days. No, you have to be socially relevant and enlightened in your writing. You have to promote what is “right” — as is defined by those who have the loudest voice. Heaven help you if you write something that might offend someone else, especially if you are a male of a certain age.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned (and I know that means I have the wrong beliefs and should probably be silenced now. Sorry, I’m a loud-mouthed woman who isn’t afraid to exercise my First Amendment rights). But I still feel that the story is the thing we should be concerned with and not the message. As I said earlier, folks won’t read the message if they don’t read the story. The corollary to this is: why is publishing in trouble? Because it forgot that readers, on the whole, read to be entertained and to forget about their troubles.

Don’t believe me, ask yourself why so many in publishing are trying to convince us that boys don’t read. Oh, I think there are those who sit in their ivory towers in NYC who actually believe that. Why? Because they look at the sales for their middle grade and YA books and see that the majority of those buying their books are girls. So, therefore, boys don’t read.

No, quite the contrary. Boys don’t read, on the whole, about sparkly vampires or angsty teen problems. They want stories that speak to them. Adventure and fun and characters they can identify with. (Sound familiar?) So they turn to other options, manga being just one of them. But the publishing powers that be fail to recognize that fact.

Then we have those publishers and editors and writers who feel that we must address all of society’s ills with our writing and “educate” our readers so there will never be any racism or sexism or any other ism they don’t approve of ever again.

Link to the rest at Mad Genius Club

I’m writing a book

28 June 2013

I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.

Steven Wright

R.I.P. Chicago Sun-Times Books

28 June 2013

From The Reluctant Blogger:

Yesterday the Chicago Sun-Times, infamous these last few weeks for sacking its entire photography department, did the same to my old stamping ground, the Sunday Show section and its book pages. On July 14 the entertainment stories will be folded into the paper’s gaudy Splash! celeb-and-style section, and regular coverage of the literary world will end.

. . . .

As a working author, however, I don’t feel so fortunate at the loss of the Sun-Times book section. Getting a new book reviewed by competent critics anywhere is nigh unto impossible now. Crowdsourcing outlets such as Goodreads.com are all very well, but  their mini-notices often are idiosyncratic and uninformed.

Link to the rest at The Reluctant Blogger and thanks to Abel for the tip.

There are exactly zero defensible reasons for authors to link to Amazon

28 June 2013

From Melville House:

A heated discussion about the lowly book link has burned its way out of The Bookseller this week. Keith Smith, owner of Warwick Books and Kenilworth Books, wrote a post for that site calling out a handful of authors by name for linking toAmazon or toWaterstones from their sites rather than to indie bookstores.

. . . .

Two caveats: first, if you are an author self-publishing your own work exclusively on Amazon, none of the below applies to you. Thank you, goodnight.

Second, in the UK, the problem is a bit knottier than in the states. The American Booksellers Association provides its members with a basic ecommerce template to use on their sites. It is not the most graceful platform in the world (cue the laughter of 30,000 American booksellers), but it generally works. This is precisely what Smith is asking the UK’s Bookseller’s Association to do. To simplify things, let’s talk about the U.S., where most indies do sell books online.

For authors, the choice about where to link really is quite easy. There are incredible altruistic reasons that you might want to support an independent bookseller.

. . . .

You pick one store. Make it an indie. Maybe the one closest to your house. Make sure they have a website. Make sure your book is available on their website. Make sure the store is willing to ship books to customers. Link to your book through the store’s page. Tell the store you are doing this. If you have a big enough following and sales result, they will surely notice in a hurry anyhow. Even if not a single customer finds them through you, they will be happy. They will be happy with you.

. . . .

Amazon is so dominant that in most cases people looking to buy your book will navigate there first, not your site. Linking to it from your site does not effectively benefit you whatsoever, and barely benefits them. Linking to Amazon does not somehow put you on their good side. Bezos doesn’t even have a good side—that terrifying crazed laugh face wraps around the entirety of his fleshy cylindrical head. Maybe Amazon is a good friend to have—but unless you happen to be some kind of Attorney General with a dashing little mustache, you’ll never find out. They don’t care about you. Oh, and the affiliate program? You are hoping to get a kickback if people but things after getting to Amazon from your site? Yeah, indie booksellers have those, too.

Link to the rest at Melville House

Let’s see. I’m an author who lives in Tucumcari and I link to Tucumcari Books and Tackle from my website.

Of course, everybody knows there are neighborhoods on the web and all the people in Tucumcari spend almost all of their time in the Tucumcari web neighborhood checking out the latest news at Tucumcari High School, home of the Fighting Rattlers, and the city council meeting schedule. So most of the visitors to my author website will be within easy traveling distance of Tucumcari Books and Tackle and will go there to buy my books.

Anybody who lives in New York and, by mistake, wanders into the Tucumcari web neighborhood will, of course want to buy my books from Tucumcari Books and Tackle because TBT always stocks copies of all my books at prices far below the publisher’s list price and will ship anywhere in two days at no charge.

Ebooks? TBT has great iPhone and Android apps that let me download any ebook I want in seconds at really low prices, sometimes even free.

With no disrespect to either authors or independent book stores, if bookstores think links from author websites to local stores instead of Amazon are going to make a discernable difference in bookstore sales, they’ve lost any connection to reality. Ditto for publishers who think the same thing.

Amazon Derangement Syndrome strikes again.

Mallemaroking

28 June 2013

From The Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day:

mallemaroking, n.

‘ The boisterous and drunken exchange of hospitality between sailors in extreme northern waters.’

. . . .

1994   Guardian 28 July i. 22/7   She had just crossed the Arctic Circle, the captain reported, and indeed he had to cut short the communication ‘due to an outbreak of mallemaroking among the crew’.

Link to the rest at The Oxford English Dictionary

Quick-To-Market Ebooks Now Norm, Not Exception

28 June 2013

From Forbes Blogs:

Basketball player Jeremy Lin shocked the nation last year with his performance filling in at point guard for the depleted New York Knicks. His scoring, passing and flair for the dramatic with breathtaking buzzer-beaters earned him fame, a position in the starting lineup and, ultimately, a big contract with a new team for the following year.

The charming part of the story and what likely separated him from any other unknown athlete to rocket up the ranks is that he was the first Asian American and first Harvard graduate to do so in the NBA — both unexpected in a league with very few Asian or Asian American stars and even fewer players from the Ivy League.

Linsanity, as the craze surrounding him became known, also swept the publishing industry. Half-a-dozen books were scheduled to be published when his compelling story reached national prominence, none more stunning than Linsanity: The Improbable Rise of Jeremy Lin.

What made this title by sportswriter Alan Goldsher from digital publishing house and platform Vook so shocking was that it took less than six days to write (72 hours), produce (36 hours) and publish (less than 24 hours).

. . . .

In March of this year, Diversion Books, another digital publishing start-up, came out with a book on the tenure and resignation of Pope Benedict XVI less than a month after his retirement was announced — and half that time was spent negotiating the deal. Once signed, it only took about a week to bring the ebook to market.

. . . .

Within hours of this post being published, another quick-turnaround ebook hit the market, Hawkeytown: The Chicago Blackhawks’ Unforgettable 2013 Season. This came just days after the hockey team won the NHL championship and the Stanley Cup.

Link to the rest at Forbes

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