Royalties

P.E.A. Films cites bad accounting practices as a reason to terminate contracts on classic films

12 September 2014

From The Hollywood Reporter:

The latest spaghetti western will be settled in a New York federal court after licensor P.E.A. Films filed a lawsuit that seeks to terminate Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer’s contracts pertaining to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, For a Few Dollars More and Last Tango in Paris.

. . . .

The plaintiff is upset with MGM’s “failure to send to PEA honest and accurate statements together with timely payments,” according to the complaint, specifically mentioning that the defendant has asserted more than $10 million in unsupported fees and expenses.

. . . .

The first lawsuit came in 1990. Three years later, the parties settled, and according to the latest lawsuit, MGM agreed then that for home video, it wouldn’t “charge any distribution fees as an expense before calculation of PEA’s share of gross receipts, but could only charge certain defined expenses.”

PEA sued again in 1996 with audit claims. It took another three years for the parties to reach a detente

. . . .

“As can be discerned from the factual pattern above, since at least 1990, MGM has not paid the proper amounts to PEA in a timely fashion, but rather has sent to PEA statements and payments which did not truthfully reflect the amounts due to PEA,” says the complaint filed by attorneys Ronald Taft and Howard Schwartz. “The delays between the time honest and accurate statements and payments were due, and the cumulative times until the 2004 Settlement, the 2007 Settlement, and the 2011 Settlement is between an astonishing 8 to 14 years.”

PEA suspects MGM’s method of accounting is no accident, asserting the defendant is engaged in a “‘Hollywood accounting catch me if you can’ process designed intentionally to keep for itself money rightfully due to PEA.”

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter and thanks to BS for the tip.

On #RoyaltyWatch

11 September 2014

From author Avril Ashton:

It’s that time again, when I’m searching high and low for my check.

Here’s the thing: Most will ask why I gotta talk about it. Why I gotta take it outside the office, put the business all up in the streets. I’d like to ask those same authors how their rents got paid this month. Because you see mine? Hasn’t been paid yet.

I’d like to ask them what they told the gas company and the light company when they called looking for their money? Do you think they’ll accept the excuse “my publisher hasn’t paid me yet, but it’s all good, cause I know they’re good for it. So I’m good for it.” Yeah?

This isn’t gonna be one of them keep quiet and toe the line type of joints. I’m going to say that once again Ellora’s Cave isn’t paying royalty checks.

. . . .

I do not give a damn about saving face. It ain’t my face that needs saving. I don’t care about burning bridges. The instant you stopped paying me you burned that bridge, I’m just here sweeping the ashes to the side. I don’t get why NO ONE seems willing to say that Ellora’s Cave is holding their money hostage. Why. Because they’re big and bad and it’s just little old us so they can come after us? It’s not a lie if it’s true. It’s not slander if it’s true.

Link to the rest at Avril Ashton and thanks to India for the tip.

When Not “Earning Out” is a Good Thing

5 September 2014

From author Steven Pressfield:

Here’s how big shot literary agents make a compelling living.

A client brings an idea to the agent who advises the client about its commercial possibilities. It’s important to note that this advisement traditionally means whether or not the agent thinks he will be able to sell the project to a major publisher for a compelling advance against royalties. Not whether there are actual people out there willing to pay money to read such a book idea.

The way the best sale works (meaning to the best advantage of the writer and agent) with a major publisher is to make sure that the publisher’s advance guarantee exceeds the amount of royalty that the writer will actually earn.

For the life of the book.

. . . .

[After detailed calculations showing books sold and royalties earned]

So Ms. Bestselling Writer has earned $4,250,000 but has been guaranteed $5,000,000. So her book does not “earn out.”  She’ll never get a royalty statement with a check in it.

So the publisher lost money on that one, right? Not by a long shot.

The publisher has made a major return on investment even though it has paid $750,000 more than the book earned. How did that happen?

. . . .

[After more detailed calculations showing how much the publisher earned]

So the bottom line for the publisher is gross revenue of $16,550,000 minus the $5,000,000 guarantee to Ms. Bestselling Writer, minus the $2,800,000 to print and ship the physical books. Or a total of $8,750,000 ($16,550,000 – $5,000,000 – $2,800,000) to their bottom line.

Even though the book never “earned out.”

Everyone wins.

. . . .

How far would a publisher be willing to dip into their pool of revenue to overpay for a book? This is the question literary agents enjoy contemplating.

. . . .

The big books from big name writers (who don’t bleed red ink, but don’t earn out either) are the coveted ones for agents. Although it may be apocryphal, agent Andrew Wylie has been credited with having once said, “If my client’s book earns out, I haven’t done my job.”

But here’s the thing…

When I began in publishing in the 1990s, there were at least 20 “major” houses to submit a book proposal or novel. Today there are only 5 major corporations that control the trade book market. Sure, you’ll hear that there are tens of different publishing imprints within the major corps that “compete” with each other for properties. But when the time comes to put money on the table in a book auction, only one of those imprints from each of the five will end up bidding. The most big bids you’ll ever get as an agent today are 5.

And you can never discount the power of negative commentary around a book on submission.  Book publishing is so connected that if an editor at Random House didn’t care for a submission, you can count that an editor at HarperCollins who also received the submission will get that information before his having to make his own decision.  No one likes being the only one to like something.

. . . .

If only there were a way for writers to do their work, find people who like it, and then offer the book to them directly through free distribution networks as well as their own…  Instead of having to curry favor with a big shot literary agent, then hope the literary agent is able to drum up enough interest from the Big Five to make a good deal, and then wait 12 to 15 months for their work to reach the public and then another month to learn whether the book “worked” or not and then hope that their next book will be embraced by their publisher, all the while never knowing who actually bought their book or why…

Link to the rest at Steven Pressfield Online and thanks to Keith for the tip.

Here’s a link to Steven Pressfield’s books

Authors receive higher royalties on new HC website

4 September 2014

From The Bookseller:

Authors who have e-books sold through the HarperCollins website will receive a higher net royalty than if they were sold through another site, the publisher has confirmed.

HarperCollins unveiled its new site last week, which features a direct-to-consumer function, allowing visitors to the site to download e-books to read through a free HarperCollins app.

. . . .

The publisher has confirmed that authors will earn more through direct e-books sales through the site. A spokesperson said: “I can confirm that authors’ net royalty is higher on e-books sold through our website because we don’t have to share a commission with a third party.”

However, HarperCollins would not say what the exact rate was.

The new website offers a range of discounts on titles, although Amazon offers a higher discount on those titles.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Under a typical New York publishing contract, the author receives 25% of the net revenues received by the publisher for ebook sales.

For an ebook sold through Amazon at a 70% price level, this translates to about 17% of the sales price of the ebook before agent’s fees.

PG assumes that ebook sales through the HC website will pay the author a 25% royalty based on the discounted price for which HC sells the ebook.

This should be the case for direct sales by almost every major publisher, except Harlequin, which generally pays less because sells through an affiliated HQ company instead of directly through the corporate entity named in the publishing contract.

A Hybrid Author Busts the Myths: Should You Self Publish?

18 August 2014

From The Huffington Post:

Yesterday, I gathered with a group of diverse writers for the Haverhill Public Library Authors Fair. My table was situated between Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, an author who publishes traditionally, and Connie Johnson Hambley, a self-published mystery writer.

This was the perfect place for me: I’m a hybrid author who has jumped from a traditional publisher (Random House) to indie publishing and back to a traditional house again. As I start my fourth novel to be published by New American Library/Penguin Random House, I have no contract for the next one. This means that I’m revisiting the all-important question for many writers: do I want to go solo when I publish my next book, or stay where I am?

. . . .

1. Publishers are Out to Screw Authors

MYTH. Publishing companies are businesses that compete in a global marketplace. Their job is to make money–and, in so doing, they will make money for you.

With a traditional publisher, you will get royalties from your books–typically about 25 percent of ebook sales. This is much less than the percentage of royalties you’ll get if you self publish. Rates vary, but with self publishing, you’ll reap about 65 percent of a book sale as your royalty rate.

However, with a traditional publisher, you receive an advance against royalties–anywhere from $5K to $45K for most first-time novelists, though of course there are some pie-in-the-sky whopper deals. You will also get–for free!–an editor, publicist, marketing team, designers, sales people, etc. Your team at a traditional publisher will help you whip your book into shape and get it into the hands of readers.

People who self publish don’t get advances, obviously. In addition, they must shell out money in advance to designers, editors, copy editors, publicists, advertising venues, reviewers, etc.

Bottom line: Yes, I have friends who self publish and make buckets of money. However, the only self-published authors who really make a solid profit are those who are willing to write several books a year; have deep pockets to get the whole business of branding started; and most likely write romances, mysteries, or fantasy novels in series. Most say it takes them four or five books before they start seeing a solid, reliable annual profit.

. . . .

2. You Have More Control as an Indie Author

SOMEWHAT TRUE. Everything–and I mean everything–is up to you as an indie author: writing, editing (or hiring editors), design, marketing, promotions, etc. You can decide everything from what kind of brand you want to create to how you want to promote that brand. Nobody can tell you, for instance, that you can’t write a paranormal book because your last book was a romance. You call the shots, and it’s a great feeling.

There is also a great deal of transparency. Your sales are visible nearly to the minute, and you can tell with some degree of accuracy whether certain ads or blog posts have caused upward tics in sales. If you’re with a traditional publisher, you probably won’t have any clear idea as to how many books you’ve sold until you get your royalty statement six months after your book is published, because traditional publishers have agreements with bookstores about returns–i.e., the books you “think” you’ve sold might actually be returned, so the publishers don’t want to tell you how many have gone out until they’re sure the books won’t be returned.

. . . .

As you’re polishing up that manuscript, consider these two key questions: Do you want to invest money up front and build your brand as an indie author, basically running your own business as you go? Or would you rather take more time and try the traditional route first?

For me, traditional publishing is still the place I want to be. But your situation is unique. Weigh your pro’s and con’s carefully, and don’t rush into anything. This is your book–you want it to be the best one possible.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Toby for the tip.

While it’s up to each author to determine whether he/she prefers self-publishing to tradpub, PG believes every author should understand the royalty math of each option. It appears the HuffPo author doesn’t understand how the math works.

The standard tradpub deal pays the author 25% of the amount the publisher receives for ebook sales, not 25% of the retail price of ebooks. Amazon pays 70% of the retail price of ebooks if a KDP author prices between $2.99 and $9.99.

Here’s how the math works out:

Retail Sales Price $9.99
Tradpub
Publisher receives 70% $6.99
Author receives 25% of
what Publisher receives $1.75 17.50% of sales price
Less Agent’s Commission $0.26
Author’s Net Income $1.49 15% of sales price
Indie Author
Author receives 70% $6.99 471% of the amount the tradpub author receives

So, the rule of thumb is that an indie author earns almost five times as much as a traditional author from each ebook sold.

Or, to flip things around, if a tradpub author sells four times as many ebooks as an indie author does, the indie author still makes more money.

Kindle Unlimited’s Two-Tier System Makes Some Authors Second-Class Citizens

22 July 2014

From Digital Book World:

On Friday, Amazon rolled out it’s Kindle Unlimited feature, where for a fixed fee of $9.99 a month readers can read as many books as they want from a certain subset of the ebooks sold by Amazon. It also includes a limited number of audio books from Audible.com. Here is how the numbers break down:

– 2,769,500+ ebooks in Amazon
– 645,790 books in Kindle Unlimited (about 23%)
– 2,157 audio books (about 0.3% of the Kindle Unlimited Books
– 2,773 books in KU are free (even if the reader isn’t subscribed to Kindle Unlimited)

How a title gets into Kindle Unlimited

Before I discuss the two-tier system. Let me explain how an author’s book gets into Kindle Unlimited.

– Kindle Direct Publishing titles enrolled in Select: this is by far the largest group of ebooks in Kindle Unlimited and is mainly self-published titles, although I suspect there are a fair number of small-presses that use KDP to list their books with Amazon. For those that don’t know, Select titles have added features such as the ability to be sold for free for five days out of 90, ability to do time-bound sales, can be borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and now they are available to those who are subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. While that’s a lot of advantages, it comes with a big down-side. You must be EXCLUSIVE to Amazon. You can’t sell those titles anywhere else. Not your own site, not Barnes and Noble or the iBooks store.

. . . .

How a publisher/author is compensated

– For books enrolled in KDP & Select: Amazon has a pool of funds which is established at the start of each month. This is the same fund that has been used for “borrows” for people who are enrolled in Prime (they get 1 borrow a month). The fund does not take into account the size of the book or it’s price. Instead it takes the total amount of the pool divided by the number of borrows to calculate a unit price. This unit price is then multiplied by the number of times an author’s books are borrowed. Historically, the per unit price has been about $2 (sometimes a bit more, other times a bit less). The “downloads” from KU will be treated like a “borrow” once the reader gets past the first 10% of the book.

– For publishers/authors who opt-in to KU: they are paid the same price that they would receive if the reader had bought the book outright. Again, this amount is only credited once the reader has passed the 10% mark.

– For titles added without consent: Publishers are paid as if a regular sale were made without any minimum reading requirement.

. . . .

Historically, Amazon has been good about treating self-published authors and traditionally published authors equally. There are some exceptions (for instance traditionally published titles can be pre-ordered, and most self-published authors cannot get this feature. Again there have been exceptions made for best-selling self-published authors), but for the most part both self- and traditionally published authors have enjoyed equal treatment. They share similar exposure on best-seller lists and top-rated lists, and Amazon’s “cut” from sales have been the same for both groups (30% under the agency model). In fact, when the agency model went into affect, Amazon raised self-publisher’s royalty from 35% to 70% to match what traditional publishers were getting. But now with the roll-out of Kindle Unlimited, we see two very different treatments:

Self-published authors MUST be exclusive to Amazon (except for a handful of best-selling authors) and can’t sell their books on other sites. Traditionally published books have no such exclusivity requirement and can be sold wherever the publisher wishes.

Self-published authors are paid from a pool set by Amazon each month. They have no idea how much they will be paid per book. Traditionally published books get paid exactly as they would if a sale were made. They know exactly what the unit price will be for each book and are not relying on the Amazon’s whim as far as what their unit price will be.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

July 2014 Author Earnings Report

17 July 2014

From Author Earnings:

It has been nearly half a year since we first pulled data for nearly every ranked ebook on Amazon.com’s thousands of category bestseller lists. This is our third quarterly report, and every data set tells us something new. With enough reports, we should be able to spot emerging trends in the world of digital publishing in order to help authors make the best decisions with their manuscripts.

As before, we are dividing the ebooks up by publication path while looking at the following four measures: the number of ranked titles, the number of unit sales, gross earnings, and authors’ earnings. Our primary focus at AuthorEarnings.com is the writer, so we pay special attention to the last of these measures.

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Of note here is that all of our graphs show remarkable consistency across data sets taken over the course of half a calendar year. And with our latest data set, we estimate that self-published authors now account for 31% of total daily ebook sales regardless of genre. This makes indie authors, as a cohort, the largest publisher of ebooks on Amazon.com in terms of market share.

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Gross sales are where it begins to get interesting. Now we are factoring price into the equation. We know self-published ebooks cost less than ebooks from the Big 5, but how much less? Being able to see the combined effect of price and sales rank in a single graph for 120,000 ebooks is very powerful. A lot of small discrepancies begin to average out with such a massive sample size. And while indies have seen positive movement across all three quarters, it’s too soon to tell if this is a global or a seasonal trend. It could be that indies promote their books year-round while major publishers pull out all the stops around the Holidays. This time next year, we should be able to answer this question.

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In February, we were able to announce that self-published authors are earning nearly as much as Big 5 authors combined when it comes to ebook sales on the Kindle Store. In the two quarters since, the earnings for Big 5 authors has shrunk while that for indies has grown. We can now say that self-published authors earn more in royalties than Big 5 authors, combined.

. . . .

It bears putting a number here and stressing what we are seeing: Self-published authors are now earning nearly 40% of all ebook royalties on the Kindle store. The days of looking at self-publishing as a last option are long gone. A lot has changed in six months.

. . . .

It wasn’t surprising to see that most Big 5 books employ DRM, but we were shocked to see that it is practically 100% of them. Indies, on the other hand, locked down roughly 50% of their titles. Since there isn’t any variation in the Big 5 books, we are forced to look at the self-published titles for any effect on sales, and indeed there is one. The 50% of non-DRM ebooks account for 64% of total unit sales.

Indie titles without DRM sell twice as many copies each, on average, as those with DRM.

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We believe this is one of the most important graphs we have ever published. At a glance, we can see how each publishing path performs in the top genre categories, and we can also see how these genres compare to one another in both total revenue and market share by publishing path. This last distinction is crucial, because the old-time advice to “never self-publish” has now faded to the advice that “self-publishing only works in certain genres.”

The truth is that, regardless of which publishing path an author chooses, some genres of trade ebooks sell vastly better than others, period. Other genres languish. For Big 5 authors, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense is by far the most lucrative genre. But you don’t hear many people assert that traditional publishing is only good for people writing sleuths. Another common refrain is that nonfiction and literary fiction are uncrackable genres for indies. But in non-fiction, self-published authors are earning 26% to the Big 5′s 35%.

It turns out that Big 5 publishers have nearly as small a portion of Romance earnings (18%) and Science Fiction & Fantasy earnings (29%) as indies have of Literary Fiction earnings (13%) and Nonfiction earnings (26%), respectively.

Self publishing isn’t just viable for Romance and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. While indie authors are absolutely dominating traditionally-published authors in those particular genres, indies have also taken significant market share inall genres, including Mystery/Thriller/Suspense and Non-fiction. The market for literary fiction is anemic for indie authors simply because it is an anemic segment of publishing overall.

In fact, Literary Fiction makes up only 2% of Amazon ebook unit sales and 3% of Amazon ebook dollar sales. More startling is the fact that 20% of that 3% belongs to a single aggressively-promoted title, The Goldfinch.

Link to the rest at Author Earnings.

The Tenured vs. Debut Author Report

17 July 2014

UPDATE: Oops. Posted this late last night and was off the grid this morning. Latest report up above.

From Author Earnings:

In our most recent earnings report, one chart jumped out at us and begged for deeper analysis: It was a look at daily author earnings according to publication date, and it revealed the heavy reliance Big 5 publishers have on the sale of their backlist titles. The same chart showed, less surprisingly, that self-published authors are making the vast majority of their earnings on recently published works. In a single chart we were witness to the economic effects of new participants entering an industry in which they were formerly uncompetitive. The same chart made it apparent that the effects self-publishing will have on the trade book industry have only just begun.

Because of this chart, we began looking more deeply at authors from two different camps: those who debuted prior to the explosion of self-publishing and those who debuted after. Authors getting their start today will of course be joining the latter camp. And we believe those authors will want to know the following:

• Big-5 publishers are massively reliant on their most established authors to the tune of 63% of their e-book revenue.

• Roughly 46% of traditional publishing’s fiction dollars are coming from e-books.

• Very few authors who debut with major publishers make enough money to earn a living—and modern advances don’t cover the difference.

• In absolute numbers, more self-published authors are earning a living wage today than Big-5 authors.

• When comparing debut authors who have equal time on the market, the difference between self-published and Big-5 authors is even greater.

In this report, we will also reveal how e-book earnings represent roughly 64% of a traditionally published fiction author’s income, and therefore why authors should focus less on statistics geared toward publisher earnings and trade bookstore sales and consider their own incomes instead. Finally, we will tackle the difficult question of just how many authors are earning a living wage today. The results are sobering. I’ll spoil it for you and say that there aren’t many. But there are reasons to celebrate. Read on to see why.

. . . .

[We started] wondering how much of traditionally-published author revenue was coming from new releases by long-tenured authors, and how much of it was coming from debut authors. This is a crucial question for a new artist hoping to break into an entertainment sector. What we were hoping to discover is how many seats are left on the traditionally published bus. So we divided authors and books into “New” and “Old” using January 1, 2010 as a cutoff date, and checked.

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This final chart reveals a startling insight: If the Big 5 hadn’t signed a new author since 2009, and simply released new works from their long-established authors, they would still be making 63% of the e-book revenue that they are making today. Ownership of backlist and long-tenured authors is quite clearly big publishing’s most powerful commodity. This goes a long way toward explaining ever more restrictive reversion and non-compete clauses in publishing contracts. It also lends credence to rumors that some top-name authors are already receiving ebook royalties higher than 25% of net. Publishers rely heavily on these established authors and may be willing to violate their own most favored nation clauses in an attempt to retain them.

. . . .

This time, when comparing only the earnings of “New” authors who debuted after 2010, we see that below a tiny handful of mega-selling Big-5 debuts (like Veronica Roth), far more “New” indie authors are making a good living from their Kindle e-books than their “New” Big-5 peers. This is a logarithmic scale, which means a little separation signifies quite a difference in outcomes.

Some might argue that this comparison does not reveal the entire picture, because best-selling traditionally-published authors have a healthier complement of print sales than their indie counterparts. However, non-ebook revenue for traditional-published authors makes up a smaller percentage of their author earnings than you might think, and this is especially true for authors of fiction. To see this requires a digression, one that may be just as important for the aspiring author as our larger analysis in this report.

. . . .

While only 32% of the publishing industry’s gross revenue currently comes from e-books, nearly 64% of the average traditionally-published fiction author’s earnings is coming from their e-books. Earnings for the average genre-fiction author will skew even further toward their e-book sales. Perhaps an e-book-based comparison between publishing types is not so unfair a comparison after all. Especially when considering that the gain of 8% – 15% royalties on print sales means taking a massive cut in e-book royalties—from 70% of gross to 25% of net.

. . . .

[This data] neatly captures so much of what is going on in the e-book market today, mainly that there are far more indie debut authors from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 who are now holding spots on the Amazon bestseller charts than Big-5 debut authors. Even more striking, the number of today’s bestsellers from these “New” indie debut authors increases steeply year-over-year, while the number of today’s bestsellers from “New” Big-5 debut authors stays flat. The number of today’s bestsellers from small to medium publisher debut authors is also growing year over year, although not at the same explosive rate with which indie debuts are grabbing and holding slots on the charts.

. . . .

After years and years of querying and jumping through gatekeeper hoops, it appears that even the less-than-1% who are lucky enough to land an agent and a Big-5 publishing contract can’t manage to quit their day jobs. (This is an observation in the data that matches what we have seen anecdotally in the publishing and bookselling trenches).

By contrast, we see over 700 Indie-published authors who debuted in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 who are today earning more than $25,000/year from their Kindle e-books alone. For these authors, e-book sales on other platforms and POD print sales will add another 20%-30% on average to this total. It’s easy to see that, for the past 4 years, and even taking lost print sales into consideration, far more Indie authors than Big-5 authors are earning a living wage from their writing.

Link to the rest at Author Earnings

Traditional publishing is ‘no longer fair or sustainable’, says Society of Authors

11 July 2014

From The Guardian:

After figures released this week showed professional authors’ median annual incomes have collapsed to to £11,000, The Society of Authors’ chief executive has claimed that traditional publishers’ terms “are no longer fair or sustainable”.

. . . .

Nicola Solomon, who heads the 9,000-member strong Society of Authors, said that publishers, retailers and agents are all now taking a larger slice of the profit when a book is sold, and that while “authors’ earnings are going down generally, those of publishers are increasing”.

“Authors need fair remuneration if they are to keep writing and producing quality work,” she said. “Publisher profits are holding up and, broadly, so are total book sales if you include ebooks but authors are receiving less per book and less overall due mainly to the fact that they are only paid a small percentage of publishers’ net receipts on ebooks and because large advances have gone except for a handful of celebrity authors.”

On top of that, said Solomon, “publishers are doing less for what they get. There are still important things they do – a traditional publisher can edit, copy edit, design, market, promote, make your book better, deal with foreign sales. With ebooks, though, publishers’ costs are less, so authors should get a better share. They do not have to produce, distribute or warehouse physical copies. Even on traditional books, publishers’ production costs have gone down but authors have not benefited from these costs savings. And, increasingly authors are being asked to do a lot of marketing and promotion themselves.”

. . . .

Self-publishing, meanwhile, is becoming an increasingly attractive option for writers, according to the survey, which found that just over 25% of writers had published something themselves. Writers were investing a mean of £2,470 in publishing their own work, with the median investment at £500, and typically recouping their investment plus 40%. Eighty-six per cent of those who had self-published said they would do so again.

Mark Edwards is an author who topped Amazon’s charts with the self-published thrillers he co-wrote with Louise Voss before landing a deal with HarperCollins. Unhappy with his deal, he then returned to self-publishing, and released The Magpies, which he says sold 160,000 copies before Amazon Publishing acquired rights.

“I spent 15 years trying to get a deal before self-publishing. When I finally got a deal it was a disappointment so I returned to self-publishing, which rescued my writing career. Lots of writers are seeing other writers having success via self-publishing and deciding to try it themselves. I would encourage any mid-list author to try it. A lot of writers who’ve got back the rights to their novels are now self-publishing them and having a lot of fun in the process,” he told the Guardian.

It offers, he said, “freedom and control”, and higher royalties. “As the writer, you will always be the person who cares most about your work, and if you can channel that passion and energy and know what you’re doing, this can be more effective than having a team of people who have 10 other books coming out that week.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Russell for the tip.

Authors’ incomes collapse to ‘abject’ levels

9 July 2014

From The Guardian:

Will Self’s lament for the death of the novel earlier this summer has been cast into stark relief by “shocking” new statistics which show that the number of authors able to make a living from their writing has plummeted dramatically over the last eight years, and that the average professional author is now making well below the salary required to achieve the minimum acceptable living standard in the UK.

According to a survey of almost 2,500 working writers – the first comprehensive study of author earnings in the UK since 2005 – the median income of the professional author in 2013 was just £11,000, a drop of 29% since 2005 when the figure was £12,330 (£15,450 if adjusted for inflation), and well below the £16,850 figure the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says is needed to achieve a minimum standard of living. The typical median income of all writers was even less: £4,000 in 2013, compared to £5,012 in real terms in 2005, and £8,810 in 2000.

. . . .

Commissioned by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and carried out by Queen Mary, University of London, the survey also found that in 2013, just 11.5% of professional authors – those who dedicate the majority of their time to writing – earned their incomes solely from writing. This compares with 2005, when 40% of professional authors said that they did so.

. . . .

“My direct income from sales is abject – literally abject. There’s been an absolutely radical decline in my income over recent years,” said Peet. “I do live by writing, but that’s because I have got a backlist of educational books which keeps on selling, and I have a pension, and I have to go on the road. Because I’ve a certain reputation, I can ask for a £25,000 advance, but then you spend a year writing the book, and £25,000 is a loan against sales and you can easily spend five years earning out. So that’s £25,000 for six years.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Suzanne for the tip.

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