I absolutely love the animated banner that the Goddesses of Promo made for Twice Upon A Roadtrip. Unfortunately, my “posting” area is 18 pixels narrower than a standard banner width, but if you want you can check it out here. (In the spirit of less coveting/more working my ass off, I’m not going to attempt to fiddle with either the blog or the banner. )
Also, the Smart Bitches and visitors are having an interesting conversation about Harlequin’s rumored very low royalty rate for e-editions.
During the conversation, the subject of e-pubs not offering advances came up. One pubbed-in-print author makes a good case for why that’s not a good thing. I totally respect her opinion and would probably agree with her if not for one of the big differences between print and epubbed:
It’s no secret my publisher pays monthly. It’s a fairly cut and dried process: Publisher releases ebook. Readers give publisher money. Publisher gives writer their substantial cut. Monthly. The money flows like a river.
Now let’s say that the publisher is pressured into offering advances. Now, every time they accept a submission they have to cough up some money. That means they need a pool to draw from. How do you get a pool? You dam up the river. Now the publisher gets the money from the reader and can’t give it to the writer immediately. They’ll disburse from the pool maybe four times, but more likely only twice, per year. And they’ll have to disburse less than they did before or the pool will start running dry and they won’t be able to pay those advances. So the author received a small advance, but loses out in the long run.
And while I do understand the arguments for ebooks earning advances, I personally think that as long as the epubs don’t think it’s broken and the e-authors don’t think it’s broken, we don’t need to fix it.
I’m not a person who returns books so I’ve never thought to check the return policy on the ebooks I’ve purchased. I’m assuming there are no returns so that you don’t have to deal with any money being held back against future returns, right? Just wondered. If not, seems to me the immediate pay benefits make the no-advance issue a non-issue.
Exactly. That all comes up, naturally, when the ebook goes into print, but the book has already been earning money for at least six months at that point. I’m guessing the print royalties are just as confusing here as for every other publisher.
I really do see it as a non-issue. I can see how somebody who’s only really familiar with print issues could see it as a problem. But to lose those immediate pay benefits in order to get what would probably be a very small advance doesn’t make sense to me.
There was one print pub that I’ve seen take some criticism for offering advances so low as to be useless, and that’s a problem. It’s probably…what? A year and half at least before that author sees money for that book? That’s an issue.
This is one of those times when, though I don’t believe in having a big division between print pubbed and e-pubbed, there’s an apples and oranges situation.
I also think that having an electronically published book and having an electronic version of a traditionally published book are horses of a different color, as well, but that’s an entirely different topic.
(Rivers, fruit and horses. I’m on a roll. :doh:)
Just three comments:
1. A lot of Har authors are indeed concerned about the low royalty rates for their e-books (which are now in the process of becoming a reality instead of a non-issue). The rates are the same as for our mass market paperbacks. Since it costs far less to produce an e-book than a print book, many feel we should be getting a bigger slice of that particular pie.
*My* major concern at this time is that, since our royalty rate is the same, that the retail (cover price) of the e-books also be the same. I know the ones that have been released as e-books are being discounted a lot more than our print books, which is great for the reader. . .as long as the “retail” price, which is how our royalties are figured, isn’t lower, too. Because if suddenly A LOT of folks switched from print to e-books and we AREN’T getting the same 28 cents per book or whatever, that could seriously cut into our income. As long as I’m not making less per book, I don’t care what the format is.
2. While what you say about advances not being as much of an issue for e-books both because the books become available more quickly and you get paid more regularly than most print publishers, that does make sense. . .to a certain extent. One of the nice things about advances is that they do provide at least some income while you’re writing the book (once you start selling on proposal). If it only takes a writer a few weeks to write a book, it’s probably not much of an issue; if it takes you six months, it might be. Just something to think about.
3. Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “the author [who’s paid an advance] loses out in the long run”? A book’s earnout is not influenced by how large or small the advance is (although really BIG advances usually light the fire under the publisher to promote the book, but we’re not talking that kind of league here.) If the book does well, the author will get royalties over the advance. If it doesn’t, she won’t, or might see very little over that advance. But — since, as you mentioned, it does take a while for the book to go to print, and for the royalties to be paid out — it’s always better to get the biggest advance you can.
In any case, Harlequin, and most reputable publishers, will “pay out” completely by the third or fourth royalty period after release (with Har, we get the biggest chunk the second pay period). If they don’t, they’re in big trouble, especially if the book is no longer on the shelves. Try as they might, they can only use the “reserves against returns” excuse for so long. A reputable publisher knows how much they’ll need to pay out in royalties, and they’re not likely to dip into that money to pay advances, which would have to come out of their profit and overhead reserve, as far as I can tell. Sure, some pubs will TRY to get away with some shady bookkeeping, but those guys aren’t likely to stay in business very long.
In any case, I can definitely see the apples and oranges thing here, but just thought I’d throw in my two cents.
Brilliantly put about damming up the river, Shannon! :clap: I made a few comments, but that particular aspect didn’t occur to me.
One of the nice things about advances is that they do provide at least some income while youâ€™re writing the book (once you start selling on proposal). If it only takes a writer a few weeks to write a book, itâ€™s probably not much of an issue; if it takes you six months, it might be. Just something to think about.
See, we don’t sell on proposal, so that’s another thing that’s a major factor for print publishing, but not so much for e-pubbed. (That I know of. Maybe some contract on proposal.) Is that a drawback? Kind of. It would suck to write the entire book and then have it rejected. But, theoretically, if EC were to contract the western quickie I’m working on and release it shortly after, I could have monthly income from Roadtrip and the western while working on the next one.
Also, Iâ€™m not sure what you mean by â€œthe author [whoâ€™s paid an advance] loses out in the long runâ€? … But â€” since, as you mentioned, it does take a while for the book to go to print, and for the royalties to be paid out â€” itâ€™s always better to get the biggest advance you can.
When I said “So the author received a small advance, but loses out in the long run” I was trying to sum up how I feel about e-books receiving advances. The process and business practices of print publishing absolutely demand an advance to the author. If I should be so lucky as to bag a NY print contract someday, I’ll want my advance, too. :nod:
But I think e-pub authors would lose out in the long run if the e-publishers were pressured into giving advances. I think the way they pay out and the rate they pay out would have to change. And there’s not really a shelf life for the e-book, so if the payoff for getting an advance is a lower royalty rate, eventually the author might make less money than if she’d foregone the advance.
But that’s just conjecture and opinion on my part. Since I’ve had one book out for a week and a half, I’m certainly not an expert. :doh:
Because if suddenly A LOT of folks switched from print to e-books and we ARENâ€™T getting the same 28 cents per book or whatever, that could seriously cut into our income. As long as Iâ€™m not making less per book, I donâ€™t care what the format is.
That’s a scary thought. During a conversation I had yesterday, I commented that I wasn’t sure how well e-editions of H/S books would do because they’re inexpensive and so widely available. (My mind jumps automatically to category when I see H/S.) But I was reminded about all the other books they put out, and I could see the urban crowd loving RDIs in e-format.
It’s probably time for authors and agents to start jumping up and down and screaming about that. I actually thought RWA was looking at that like two years ago. They must have gotten distracted by people running around using dirty words. They retro’d the pseudonym clause, so maybe this could be fixed before it starts costing the authors money.
My favorite quote on the issue of advances comes from NYT author JoAnn Ross who says, “If you’re earning out your advance, your advance isn’t large enough.” She also advocates writing, “less books for more money.” She’s kinda my hero!
See, we donâ€™t sell on proposal, so thatâ€™s another thing thatâ€™s a major factor for print publishing, but not so much for e-pubbed. (That I know of. Maybe some contract on proposal.) Is that a drawback? Kind of. It would suck to write the entire book and then have it rejected.
But if you don’t sell on proposal, and you don’t sell on full, what do you sell on? Just a synopsis?
No, we sell on full. We write the entire book and submit it. Then it’s a yea or nay. So it would suck to write the entire book, submit it and have it not bought.
I’m all for less books for more money! :cheer:
Ah, okay. I thought you were saying you didn’t sell on full! See, writing something short, it wouldn’t bother me to do that. But writing 100K words? Yeah. Like Karen said, I need some cash during the months it takes to write that, LOL!
I sell to NCP on partials. I send a partial (not even a synopsis) in and my editor sends a contract. Sometimes. If she likes it :doh:. My other pubs, OTOH, want the full before contracting.
Shannon said that ebooks don’t have a shelf life. I’m confused. I thought the point about ebooks is that they never go out of print. If I discover a new author at EC, I can go an glom her entire backlist, stuff she’s been selling for years, rather than just whatever they’ve got on the shelves in the bookstore.
I think that the E books put out by Harlequin have the same idea — category books are only avaiable for a month, but the e versions would be avaialble forever. I could get Karent Templeton’s books that she wrote 10 years ago — and in that situation, there would be money flowing to the author and publisher, whereas if I’d found them in a UBS there wouldn’t be.
What am I missing?
Oops. I think I forgot the word limited in there. They are available for a long time, so accepting a lower royalty rate in order to receive a small advance would probably be bad business (for E-books.)
That makes much more sense, Shannon. I wish the Hq rate was higher, but it does give cat novels, especially, an indefinite shelf life. Nothing bugs me more than really exciting cat books coming out during months when I’ve got to tighten my belt loops. I know I’ve missed out on some great reads.
And lets not talk about months when I’ve been abroad.
While I hope the authors can get that rate up, and I’m not sure how viable the e-editions will be in the long run, as a reader who has to read a series in order, I do agree that they’d be a good idea.
I can’t count how many times I’ve picked up an awesome looking book, only to find out it’s book 3 in a cont series. I’ll put it back on the shelf just because finding those first two can be a pain in the ass. But if I could immediately download the first two, I’d be much more apt to buy that book.
As more and more of the books seem to be part of a series, that could be a very, very good thing.
Gah, Shan. You know I’m the same with series and I just bitched about that yesterday. I got a Bombshell by Doranna Durgin and started reading, only to realize it’s the second book Some used seller wanted 15 dollars for it on Amazon. Ack! Like you, if I picked up a categroy and found it’s part of a series, I’d probably put it back no matter how great it looked because finding OOP categories can be a pain. Releasing them in e-book format would make for a good solution!
My question is, will Harlequin be releasing the ebook version while the book is still in print/on the shelves? Or will they wait a few months and then release the ebook version?
Shannon, you have to be careful about making blanket statements about e-publishers. Not all e-publishers are like EC. Not all of them pay monthly. Some pay quarterly, some twice a year. Some that pay quarterly still don’t offer an advance. Some that pay twice a year do offer a minimal advance. Also, most aren’t exclusively e-books, and how they handle print publication and payment varies widely, too.
So, yes, in an ideal situation, being paid monthly from the day your book goes on sale and having no reserves against returns would make an advance less necessary. But I don’t know how many e-publishers actually offer that scenario.
You’re right, Natalie. That was a blanket statement, and I humbly apologize.