Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Digress

Normally, I love posting about the shifters and all their problems and how difficult it is to get a happily ever after, even when you're different. This morning, the shapeshifters I'll be discussing are electronically published authors.

Yeah, you know them, toothy babes, fang and claw at the ready, defending themselves because no one knows enough about what they do to make an informed decision as to how to protect them. And why would they need protection, anyway?

E-publishing has come a very long way in the past ten years and it's still evolving. Some companies are bigger successes than others, some are still folding or being bought by other electronic publishers--that's business. The same thing has been happening in New York. The bigger houses bought up smaller houses and the competition became an asset as soon as the papers were signed.

As the places to sell our work became fewer and the mid-list, where new authors were allowed to acquire a following dissolved, new authors had fewer opportunities. Electronic publishers offer really nice royalties. Really nice royalties, we're talking 35-40%.

New York publishers are starting to issue e-formats of their author's work. I think you can even get a major publisher's series titles in digital a full month before they come out. What royalties are they paying? Since it will be a secondary right, because print is their medium at this time, my guess is that it will be well below your print royalty. So what happens in ten or fifteen years, when we've presumably gotten used to the "green" movement and many more people are reading digitally?

What happens if no one is paying attention to the concerns of e-published authors now and lets this contract model standard become the standard? If print is still your first right, the print runs could dwindle and your digital copies could become your main source of income. The publishing house would have a lot of money flowing toward them and less flowing toward you.

Digital rights are something every author should be concerned with because whether they want to admit or it not, it is the future. What kind of future is being decided right now so I urge you to make your voices heard and push for some education and understanding among those who might not understand how important this is.

Start the ball rolling, talk to people, write letters, sign proxies, whatever you think will get this subject in front of those decision makers who don't seem to think this is important.



Savanna Kougar said...

Paris, excellent insights into what is currently happening and what the future holds.
Somehow, those of us who have chosen the small print and ebook path need to come together well enough to protect what is rightfully ours in the realm of royalties.
Once the Big Publishers establish a percentage on their e-books, it could be just one more unfair payscale for authors.
If readers, authors and aspiring authors want to protect the huge selection and variety currently available from romance authors, then I suggest they support the smaller publishers as much as they can in their purchases because it won't be the Big Publishers who offer ebooks for niche readers, nor will they present the best authors, either. It doesn't work like that, despite what people are led to believe. Often the best stories and the best authors aren't published by New York.

Sandy said...


Great topic. I think most e-pubbed authors making 34 to 40% are knowledgeable enough would never accept NY's terms for their e-published books with them, but the ones who don't know it would be easy to dupe them.

I also agree with Savanna that we need some protection like the other authors get.

Paris said...

Thanks Savanna and Sandy. I think both print and epubs need to be informed of what may happen if we don't set some boundaries now. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Crystal Kauffman said...

Because I'm not "NY" published, I hadn't given this much thought. I know there's a hooplah going on in RWA right now about the whole epublishing industry this is just one more -very eloquently spoken- reason why RWA should wake up and smell the coffee. I've noticed some of the NY8 are putting their books out in digital format now, so the proof is in the pudding. Epublishing is seeping into the industry, whether RWA likes it or not.

Serena Shay said...

Great post, Paris! The lack of education out there about this very thing is unconscionable. ALL authors need to be educated about digital rights. Epublishing is here to stay in one form or another so why not embrace it. :)

Kudos and thanks for the blog post.

Francesca Hawley said...

Super post, Paris. This is one thing that people forget. The present lays the groundwork for the future. Settle now and pay later - or don't get paid - in this case.

Paris said...

Francesca, you are so right! This is what I've been talking about for a long time. I hope this gets taken care of soon. We don't really have a lot of time! Thanks for stopping by;-)