Royalties

Taylor Swift says Apple Music is ‘shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike’ the company

22 June 2015

From Business Insider:

In response to mounting criticism of her decision to snub Apple Music, Taylor Swift has posted a letter explaining her boycott on Sunday.

She writes Apple Music’s decision to not pay musicians any royalties for its three-month free trial period is “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”

She says her not being part of Apple Music isn’t just about her — it’s about protecting new artists “who will not be paid for its success,” she writes.

She continues: “Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.”

. . . .

Apple plans to pay music owners 71.5% of Apple Music’s subscription revenue after the trial period, Recode reports. Robert Kondrk, one of the Apple executives who negotiates music deals, explained to Recode that “Apple’s payouts are a few percentage points higher than the industry standard, in part to account for the lengthy trial period; most paid subscription services offer a free one-month trial.”

Link to the rest at Business Insider and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple has backed off its plan not to pay royalties to artists during the three-month free period after the protest of Taylor Swift. Link to the article at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Indie Earnings

18 June 2015

From author Brenda Hiatt:

I’ve finally had a chance to compile all the results from the 2014 “Quick & Dirty” indie earnings survey and crunch the numbers to the point I can put together a report that I hope you’ll find useful.

. . . .

This year, rather than asking authors to email me responses to my questions, I used an anonymous Google form survey, which had both advantages and drawbacks. The anonymity and ease of sharing and answering this year’s survey netted FAR more responses than previously and also made MY job enormously easier (so yes, I’ll be doing it this way going forward, for sure!) However, it also means I can’t follow up if a particular respondent’s answers are unclear or contradictory. For this reason, I had to delete a few authors’ responses entirely (but only a very few-maybe 3 or 4 out of 200+).

. . . .

This year I received responses from a total of 227 authors, representing 2,594 indie titles of which 1928 were frontlist indie titles and 666 were backlist (trad-pubbed, now indie) titles, assuming no duplicates (see above).

AVERAGE indie earnings reported per author: $91,337

Average number of indie-only (frontlist) titles per author: 8.45
Average number of backlist (but now indie) titles: 2.93
Average TOTAL indie titles per author: 11.43 (again, this number could be slightly inflated by any duplicate reporting)

Perhaps slightly more useful, since averages can be skewed by outliers:

MEDIAN earnings per author: $20,000 (half of earnings fell above, half below this amount)

Earnings reported ranged from a low of $4 (which might possibly have been a typo) to a high of $2.1 million.
This works out to an AVERAGE of $7,996 per title for 2014 earnings. (If there are duplicates in the frontlist & backlist columns, average per-title earnings would be greater.)

As I saw in my previous indie earnings surveys, the more titles an author has out, the greater that author’s earnings tend to be. HOWEVER, this year that correlation is noticeably weaker than in previous years. Several of the very top earners had fewer titles than many earning much less.

. . . .

[T]hose earning upwards of $250,000 in 2014 fell predominantly into three genres:
Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, and Romantic Suspense/Mystery (in that order).

Earnings-wise, Historical Romance appears to be next in line, followed by such genres as Erotic Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy and Young Adult (order is less certain here as fewer authors of these genres responded).

This year I also asked which vendors accounted for the majority of authors’ earnings. As expected, Amazon was #1 for the vast majority of respondents. In fact, out of 227 authors, only 11 listed a vendor other than Amazon as their primary indie income source.

Link to the rest at Brenda Hiatt and thanks to Jo for the tip.

Here’s a link to Brenda Hiatt’s books

Good Agents Audit Royalty Statements

5 June 2015

From agent Kristin Nelson:

Over the last decade, I really wish I had tracked how much money NLA has recovered by carefully auditing our royalty statements every accounting period. Because of some big errors found a couple of years ago, it’s probably to the tune of over $600,000 recovered at this point, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that total was actually more. Even now, nary an accounting period goes by that we don’t recover at least $500 to $3,000 owed to a client.

On rare occasions, we have even found errors in the Publisher’s favor—and yes, we do notify them to highlight the correction. Luckily, those have only amounted to several hundred dollars at any given time.

. . . .

Most errors we catch are human errors. In other words, the Publisher’s in-house royalty management staff simply keyed incorrect information into their accounting system. Also, “accounting departments” at some mid-sized publishers and small presses are staffed by English majors. Mistakes will be made.

These mistakes need to be found and corrected and the monies paid to the author client. Here is the jaw-dropping fact: A good percentage of agents do not audit their clients’ royalty statements.

Let me repeat that. Even though authors hire literary agents to guide their careers and most importantly, manage their business publishing interests (royalties being a huge component of this), many agents do not actively audit or even read client royalty statements. This leaves authors to fend for themselves regarding reading and understanding their statements.

. . . .

When I was newer to this business, I did the time-consuming auditing and analysis myself, every accounting period, and shared my comments with my client. Every accounting period. I even hired a professional book royalty auditor to mentor and read behind me to assess my competence and capability. Then I hired and trained our amazing Contracts & Royalties Manager Angie Hodapp to handle this at NLA.

And Angie took it to a level that leaves me in awe every accounting period. I imagine our clients are often in awe as well when every six months, she sends a detailed letter with my comments as well as her analysis of the statement and what questions we had to track down and if extra monies are owed.

Link to the rest at Kristin Nelson

PG agrees with Kristin that every agent should do this for every royalty report.

However, he observes, if most of the mistakes on royalty reports are human error, one would expect errors to the publisher’s disadvantage would make up about 50% of the errors instead of occurring only on “rare occasions.”

Canadian Writers Working Harder While Earning Less

29 May 2015

From The Writers’ Union of Canada:

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) has released today a summary report from its latest income survey of Canadian writers. Devaluing Creators, Endangering Creativity contains the very bad news that writers in Canada are making 27% less from their writing than they were making in 1998 (when last surveyed to this extent). What’s more, a full 45% of those surveyed indicated they are working harder in order to earn that lower amount.

The Writers’ Union believes these results represent a cultural emergency for Canada. For 81% of respondents, income from writing would not allow them to live above the poverty line, and the average writer’s income ($12,879) is a full $36,000 below the national average. This despite the fact that writers have invested in post-graduate education in large numbers.

“This is not a sustainable situation,” said TWUC Chair Harry Thurston. “If we want a strong and diverse publishing and cultural industry in Canada, it’s essential that creators are reasonably rewarded. Everyone — governments, corporations, institutions, and individual consumers — have a part to play in fairly compensating writers for the content they expect, need and enjoy.”

Similar findings have emerged from recent income surveys in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Writers’ incomes are in steep decline across the English-language publishing industry. Changes to contracts and publishing practices (declines in royalty percentages and advances on sales), industry consolidation, as well as worldwide pressure on professional creators to work in a disastrously weakened copyright environment are all likely contributors.

Link to the rest at The Writers’ Union of Canada and thanks to Tudor for the tip.

It’s interesting to PG that this announcement from Canada is released at the same time The Authors Guild announces a steep decline in the income of traditionally-published authors in the United States.

Both announcements fail to mention the incomes of indie authors.

Halt sales of Jonasson bestseller, court tells UK publisher

28 April 2015

From The Guardian:

The high court has ordered the British publisher of Jonas Jonasson’s smash-hit novel The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappearedto stop selling it, following an alleged failure to pay royalties.

Hesperus Press was ordered, after a hearing on 24 April, to cease publishing, printing and selling the English translation of Jonasson’s bestselling Swedish novel and to return copies to Hachette Book Group, which owns world English rights and which brought the legal action against the independent publisher.

“Following an action brought by Hachette Book Group against Hesperus in London, the English high court has issued an order confirming Hesperus’s undertaking to desist from selling or distributing an English translation of The 100-Year-Old Man,” said a spokesperson for Hachette.

The case follows a report in the trade magazine The Bookseller last week that, although Jonasson’s story of a man who runs away from his 100th birthday celebrations at his old people’s home had sold more than 500,000 print copies and 700,000 ebooks since it was published in English in July 2012, his agent Carina Brandt had said the author had seen only “a small amount” of royalty money in the autumn of 2012, and nothing since.

Jonasson told the magazine last week: “My former agency, my current agent, my Spanish lawyers and Hachette US lawyers are involved in this mess. I feel helpless. I do not understand what happens except that it’s a lot of money that I have not received.”

. . . .

Roma Tearne, a Sri Lanka-born novelist whose books have been shortlisted for the Costa and longlisted for the Orange prize in the past, released her new novel, The Last Pier, with Hesperus on 10 April. Set just before the second world war, it “vividly depicts the devastating impact of war on ordinary lives”, said the Independent, and “creates a palpable sense of some danger that’s lurking in the shadows”, but the novel is now facing obscurity with no staff to champion it.

“It took three years to get to publication, and I’d got a wonderful team at Hesperus who loved the book. It’s such a fragile thing, this book – it is getting fantastic reviews, but I just don’t know what the future is for it,” said Tearne. “The thing I want is that this book doesn’t die. It isn’t about the money. I went to a small publisher for the TLC, and I got it, so this is tragic. I found out as the publishing date was coming up. The editor was in tears telling me – they were terribly upset. My agent is now investigating. More than anything, I want the book to live.”

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

Lawyers called in over Jonasson royalties

23 April 2015

From The Bookseller:

Hachette Book Group USA and the Swedish writer Jonas Jonasson have engaged lawyers to pursue royalty payments owed to the author by Hesperus Press.

Jonasson’s book The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared was published in the UK by Hesperus Press in 2012, and became a runaway bestseller. But the author has received only a “small amount” in payments. Earlier this week, The Bookseller reported that all four of Hesperus Press’ UK staff had resigned, with the last employee leaving this Friday. The directors of Hesperus Press have declined to explain the departures.

Hachette Book Group in the US, whose imprint Hyperion owns world English rights to Jonasson’s book, has confirmed that it will begin legal proceedings against Hesperus Press this Friday 24th April in the High Court of Justice in London.

. . . .

The 100-Year-Old Man . . . has recorded UK print sales of 548,435 via Nielsen BookScan and over 700,000 e-books have been sold since publication in July 2012. Jonasson has confirmed to The Bookseller that he has concerns over the level of royalties paid to him, and the quality of the royalty statements he has received, and that his Barcelona-based lawyers are now working on the issue in conjunction with those of Hachette Book Group USA.

Jonasson’s agent Carina Brandt said the author had seen only “a small amount” of royalty money in the autumn of 2012, but nothing further. He had also seen no approved royalty statements, she said. Jonasson commented: “It has been difficult over the years to get any information at all from Hesperus Press.”

He told The Bookseller: “My former agency, my current agent, my Spanish lawyers and Hachette US lawyers are involved in this mess. Personally, I feel helpless. I do not understand what happens except that it’s a lot of money that I have not received.”

. . . .

“If I am to focus on my artistic ability, I need to stay away from it all,” the author said. “But I’ve always felt proud when I think of how popular the book has become in the world. And I remember when the book filled the whole shop window in Waterstone’s flagship store in Piccadilly in London. It felt great that a Swede could become so popular in English. But it’s a mental collision between that experience and the feeling of how I have been handled by Hesperus Press.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Authors’ income ‘at breaking point’

20 April 2015

From the BBC:

The top 5% of authors earned 42% of all income received by professional writers in 2013, according to The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.

Meanwhile, the bottom half of professional writers accounted for just 7% of all authors’ earnings overall.

The society said last year that writers earned 29% less in 2013 than 2005.

“The creative industries are thriving, generating £76bn per annum, yet professional writers have seen a near 30% reduction in earnings in recent years,” the society’s head of rights Richard Combes said.

“Consequently many are no longer able to sustain a career. The one truly irreplaceable link in the value chain is being stretched to breaking point.”

. . . .

There is a paradox for an author in 2015. It is harder than ever to make money from writing. And yet there are more people writing and publishing books than ever before. The market is reasonably stable but it can’t begin to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of new books flooding it every year.

You don’t have to be a maths scholar to work out the financial ramifications. Nor the consumer response. Readers, with little spare time are overwhelmed by the choice and end up sticking to what the authors they already know and trust.

Link to the rest at the BBC and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Secrets of Bestselling Indie Authors: Crunching the Data

2 April 2015

From author Alexis Radcliff:

I love to play with data. 

Pulling down raw, massive chunks of information. Sifting order from the chaos, searching for patterns. Give me a big, messy spreadsheet and I can spend all day with it.

That’s why I was so delighted to find that AuthorEarnings.com makes the Excel data from their quarterly reports public for anyone to download. Their analysis is fantastic! But it does take wide cuts at the overall bestseller list for Amazon, which is overly broad for my purposes. Being an indie author, I wanted to dig deeper on the data most relevant to me and see what conclusions I could draw about what other indies are doing to make sales.I decided to do my own analysis and laser focus on the Indie-specific data, starting with what I found in the January 2015 Author Earnings report. The questions I was most interested in were the ones you see many new authors asking:

  • Which genres sell best for indies and self-published authors?
  • Which price points are best for those genres?
  • Is putting my book in Kindle Unlimited a good idea or not?

. . . .

So What “Secrets” Did I Find?

  • Genres: The top indie genres by daily total revenue earned for this period are Mystery & Thrillers (13%), Science Fiction & Fantasy (13%), and Erotica (11%).
  • Pricing: My best estimate for “optimal” price points (by both unit sales and revenue) from the data is $3.99 for the first two genres, and $2.99 for erotica titles.
  • Kindle Unlimited: The data in this report alone is insufficient to say whether Kindle Unlimited would be a good idea for your title, but I did see some patterns worth diving deeper on (all revenue cited is author revenue):
    • Bestselling Mystery & Thriller books in Kindle Unlimited have 33% more daily revenue and 32% more daily unit sales on average compared to their counterparts.
    • Bestselling Fantasy and Science Fiction books in Kindle Unlimited have 11% more daily revenue and 55% more daily unit sales on average compared to their counterparts.
    • Bestselling Erotica books in Kindle Unlimited have 69% less daily revenue and 62% less daily unit sales on average compared to their counterparts.

Link to the rest at Alexis Radcliff Lexirad.com

 

What I Get Paid For My Novels: Or, Why I’m Not Quitting My Day Job

29 January 2015

From author Kameron Hurley:

In the spirit of honesty and transparency that’s often sorely lacking in the literary world, here’s what I’ve been paid for my novels for the last 7 years.

Many of you don’t realize I’ve had writing contracts for 7 years! That’s because the first contract I ever signed was canceled. They paid it out anyway. But it was nearly three more years before those books saw print, so my professional writing career didn’t start until 2011.

Needless to say, I’ve had a day job this entire time because I like money and also paying for health insurance and food and paying off student loans.

This is the first year that book advances, royalties, and my day job salary will all combine to bring me up over the $100,000 a year mark (likely $105,000 or so, depending on outstanding items).  I was pretty much destitute in 2007 – laid off, sleeping in a friend’s spare bedroom, living completely on credit cards – so 7 years from penniless to $100k is a big milestone for me, and I intend to celebrate it by paying off a student loan.

The goal is to be debt-free (aside from the mortgage) in two years.

I also worked relentlessly to get here, and I’m aware it could all blow up tomorrow.

About 75% of that money I’ll make this year, still, comes from my day job. The numbers below show why.

15% of all of these amounts went to the agent who negotiated the deal.

Another 15-20% went toward taxes.

. . . .

[After listing advances and rights sales for various books]

You can see the advances there looking pretty grim after the 2008 publishing crash. Prior to the crash, there were a lot more people getting $20k advances and saying, “Hey, yeah, that’s OK,” instead of “Thank GOD.” They became harder to get after 2008.

. . . .

This is a tough business to stay in, especially if you don’t have a solid day job or a partner with same. I hear folks say that the 4-5 book place is where a lot of folks start to make money, and it’s true that this is the first year I could earn what I’d call a living wage if I quit or was laid off. But I know too much about publishing – and the changing tastes of the readership – to go all in making $30-40k a year when I’ve spent this long slogging to get to $100k through a combined workaholic income stream of novels, day job, and freelancing. You don’t give all that up just because you had one positive year.

If I’ve learned anything about publishing it’s that you should always hope that one great year is the start of an upward trend – but you should never count on it.

I was poor in 2007. I have no interest in going back if I can help it.

And that’s why I’m not quitting my day job.

Link to the rest at Kameron Hurley and thanks to Margaret for the tip.

Here’s a link to Kameron Hurley’s books

The Last Taboo: What One Writer Earns

20 January 2015

From author Cara McKenna via Wonk-o-Mance:

When I was a new writer, there was only one place I knew of that offered a sense of what money there was to be made in this gig, and that’s the famous Brenda Hiatt blog post, Show Me the Money! Even now, I don’t really know what my closest writer friends make—and we blab in excruciating detail about nearly everything when sequestered late at night in conference hotel rooms, with our Costco merlot swirling in plastic tumblers and our achy dance-floor feet dangling off the edges of our overpopulated beds.

. . . .

[T]oward the end of 2014, I met what I’d always imagined was a ridiculous, pie-in-the-sky professional goal—a dream more than a goal, really. I set this goal when I sold my first book, just over five years ago. I was infatuated with writing, and I told myself that I would feel satisfied and proud and legitimized forever if I could manage just this: to one day make as much money in one calendar year of writing as I’d made as my salary when I stopped being a full-time graphic designer. And this past year, I did it. With a couple thousand dollars to spare.

. . . .

Now, let’s get the figures out of the way, because in all honesty they’re probably not going to blow your mind and so I don’t want a big build-up. At the time my old office in Boston closed in 2009 and I lost my design job, my salary was $44,000 a year. I wasn’t raking it in by some standards, but hey, I went to a state art college. The kid done all right. And now my “Book Earnings 2014” spreadsheet tells me that, from January through December of last year, I earned from royalties and advances $46,517. And eighty-six cents.

. . . .

I’m comfortable writing about this because in all honesty, I don’t care what anyone thinks of what I make. Money to me is strictly about security and freedom, not prestige or worthiness or even success. I want enough money, but not much more than that. Having much more money doesn’t seem to bring people much more peace of mind. Some might think the amount I now make is great, while some others will probably try to draw me aside in the lobby at RT this spring and murmur conspiratorially, “You know, you could be making so much more by self-pubbing. Let me share with you my secrets.”

. . . .

“Woman Writes for Several Years, Eventually Makes a Living Wage” is not a headline that’s going to inspire thousands to quit their day jobs.

. . . .

I have been writing seriously for 6.5 years.

In that time, I have sold 39 original books and novellas to 5 publishers. (I’m not counting anthologies featuring previously released stories, foreign editions, or re-releases.) Of those 39, 6 titles are not yet released.

My first title was published just under 5 years ago, with Ellora’s Cave.

. . . .

My first royalty check was for $141.00. (Always one to keep my expectations low, I had been hoping for $40, enough to pay for some celebratory drinks, so I was stoked to surpass that by a hundred and one bucks. I’m pretty sure we got Indian food that night.)

In 2010, my first year of being published, I made $11,000 from my writing, with 7 titles released and 1 more contracted. (A large chunk of that came from my first advance, with Harlequin Blaze.) That’s a lot of titles in one year. I wrote short, and quickly. I was intoxicated by this new job that I ached so badly to keep. I was on unemployment, so money wasn’t too much of a stressor between me and my husband. I was very excited to have made five figures in my debut year, considering my initial hopes of getting $40 out of that first royalty period.

. . . .

The healthiest chunks of my income arrive as advance payment checks, not individual books’ royalties. I would not be surprised if my yearly income takes a dip in 2015, if only because I’m contracted and on deadline through the spring of 2016, and don’t imagine I’ll be seeing any juicy signing checks for selling new proposals this year.

Of my 8 books that came with advances and have been out for 12 months or more, only one has yet to earn out its advance—and even that straggler’s getting very close. Modest advances aren’t a bad thing, provided you don’t like a lot of pressure and you’re not too vain.

Link to the rest at Wonk-o-Mance and thanks to Mike for the tip.

Here’s a link to Cara McKenna’s books

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