Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Tagged RWA

Two Years In A Row!

STATUS: First day back in the office after 6 weeks. Slight chaos.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? BRANDY (YOU’RE A FINE GIRL) by Looking Glass

I honestly didn’t think it was possible but obviously it is. *grin*

Huge congrats to Sherry Thomas for winning the RITA-award for Best Historical Romance two years in a row. In 2010, she won for NOT QUITE A HUSBAND. This year, it’s HIS AT NIGHT’s turn!


Doing The Math on Harlequin’s Move to 25% of Net Receipts but on Wholesale Model

Status: It’s official. RWA in New York has just begun. Most awkward moment today? Sitting on a panel that also had editors and being asked the question: what is a fair electronic royalty rate. Grin.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? BAILAMOS by Enrique Iglasias

Last Thursday, Harlequin sent out a press release announcing that for single title romances on their list, they would be switching to 25% of net receipts starting Jan. 1. 2012.

But before you begin celebrating that finally Harlequin is getting in line with the other major publishers, take a moment to look at the fine print or in this case, what isn’t there. What Harlequin didn’t mention in their press release is that as a Publisher, they are currently not on the agency model with their digital distributors—Apple iBookstore being the one exception.

So in short, this move to 25% of net is def. better than the paltry 6 or 8% of retail that they were offering but it’s not necessarily equal to what Publishers pay via the Agency Model.

Here’s why. Let’s do some math boy and girls.

Let’s say your single title Harlequin royalty rate is 8% of retail and the retail price for your romance novel is $7.99.

8% of 7.99 = 0.64 of royalty per sale to the author

That’s the baseline. Now let’s look at what 25% of net receipts from Harlequin looks like on the wholesale model.

$7.99 is the retail price but because Harlequin sells wholesale, they give (on average) a 50% discount to the seller. That would look like this:

7.99 – 3.99 (discount) = 4.00 of net receipts to Harlequin

25% of 4.00 = $1.00 of royalty per sale to the author

Well, that’s definitely better than 64 cents given previously!

But the whole reason why Big 5 Publishers moved to the net receipts royalty rate is because of the agency model. In this configuration, the Publisher gives 30% to the distributor and receives 70% as net receipts. So it would look like this:

30% of 7.99 = 2.39 to the distributor

Now deduct that commission:
7.99 – 2.39 = 5.60 of net receipts to publisher

If author gets 25% of net receipts on agency model, that would be:

25% net receipts of 5.60 = 1.40 of royalty per sale to the author.

Not quite the same.

Now keep in mind that the above calculations are not taking into consideration any other deductions a Publisher on Agency Model might possibly be taking before calculating the author’s share. So that is a possible factor to consider.

But in general, Harlequin’s move to 25% of net is not, on the surface, the same as what other houses are offering.

And from what I’m hearing via chat in the blogosphere, the other Harlequin royalty rate of 15% of net to series authors (which was also announced in a separate press release) is going over about as well as a lead balloon.


Romance Anyone?

Status: Whose bright idea was it to schedule meetings from 9 in the morning until 9 in the evening? Oh wait, that was my fault.


What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? I DON’T WANNA FIGHT by Tina Turner.


First off, if you are a Denverite and you have not had a chance to vote for Jamie Ford’s HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET to be the One Book One Denver choice, please pop on today as June 15 is the last day to vote!!


Pretty please. *grin*


As all of you know, I’m here in New York for the whole month of June meeting with a variety of editors. This week, I’ve had a chance to talk with 4 editors who work in the romance and women’s fiction field.

For wm’s fic, it’s still the order of the day to find an upmarket literary voice with a story that has a great hook.


In other words, a good story well told…


In romance, there’s a bit more uncertainty. Editors really don’t have a clear picture on what might work for a debut. Will it be paranormal? Historical Romance? I was hoping Historical Westerns would make a come back (as I do have a soft spot in my heart for them) but editors weren’t showing a lot of enthusiasm.

Now contemporary Western (or set in Texas) seems to be working okay. And yet sales, in general, for contemporary romance is soft.


All I’m really getting is that whatever the novel is, the author needs a powerful and strong voice. If she has that, the rest will hopefully follow.


In other words, romance writers, I got nothin’ to share here. Should make for some interesting spotlights at RWA!


Congrats NLA RITA Finalists!

STATUS: This is how I like to start my morning.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? HOW WE DO by The Game Ft. 50 Cent

Not all the finalists have been notified so I’m hoping we might hear some more news as the RWA website doesn’t update until the finalist has been reached.

Still, we are super excited to say HUGE CONGRATS to…

Simone Elkeles for RULES OF ATTRACTION–Young Adult Romance

And to

Sherry Thomas for HIS AT NIGHT–Historical Romance

Both of these authors won the RITA award last year so if you haven’t picked up one of their amazing novels, what are you waiting for?


RWA—Orlando, Florida (Day 2 After)

STATUS: Hum… I thought August was the slow month for publishing. Couldn’t tell by all the action we are seeing this week at the agency.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WILDFIRE by Michael Martin Murphey
(Holy cow does this song bring back memories from the 70s! If you can handle the sap, click on the title. *grin*)

Today I promised you my notes from the tidbits and insights gleaned from editors at RWA.

Here’s the consensus:

1. Although editors and agents are a little tired of seeing paranormal proposals, demand from readers remain unabated. So, if you’ve got a great novel with a fresh take on it, well, bring it on I guess.

2. The latest catch word from editors is “heartfelt.” Seems like regardless of whether it is contemporary, historical, paranormal, women’s fiction, editors want that heartfelt emotion. What that really means—you’re guess is as good as mine. I don’t tend to lean toward the small-town Debbie Macomber-like sweetness and light in the romances and women’s fic so if it means that, probably not right for me. I gravitate more toward emotional complexity, sexy, and a little edge.

Probably it’s a term that’s just as nebulous as editors want fresh stories with a great voice. Still, it probably wouldn’t hurt to read some up-and-coming new romance authors such as Sarah MacLean.

3. Whispers of Westerns and Medievals. Haven’t heard that in a long, long time! Two different editors mentioned they had bought new authors they just loved—even though they are in this tough category. Bring that on!

3. Huge uptick in eSales for romance. Stats are running close to 20% of 100% of the sales pie. That’s a big increase in a short period of time. No surprise though. Romance readers tend to be early adaptors simply because they read so much.


RWA—Orlando, Florida (Day After)

STATUS: Well, you can see how well blogging went during the conference!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LONELY NO MORE by Rob Thomas

I took a ton of notes so I could share with all of you during the conference. I had one hour on Friday to do it but ended up getting sucked into answering emails during that time frame. I know! Blog readers should come first.

So I’ll have lots to share tomorrow but today I want to say a HUGE congrats to Sherry Thomas and Simone Elkeles for winning two RITAs at Saturday night’s awards ceremony. Even with six RITA nominations, a win is always tough. We couldn’t be more thrilled.

Here is Sara Megibow and I with NLA’s RITA winners.


RWA—Orlando, Florida (Day 1)

STATUS: Spotty blogging this week (as if you couldn’t already tell) but I will try and pop on when I can to send on any inside scoop.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing at the moment.

Monday was crazy as I tried to wrap up anything that could be finished before leaving for Orlando. Yesterday was a travel day so spent the time on the plane getting lots of reading done! I sat next to a lady also heading to RWA who had both a Kindle and the Apple iPad with her. She let me play with that new iPad.

Oh, I like shiny things and was much enthralled. Did it make me want to run out and buy one? Yes and no. Mostly to me, it’s just an oversized iPhone without the capacity to call someone. So I liked it (of course I did) but I think I’m going to wait for the next generation before contemplating a buy. I’d like it to be smaller (something easier to fit in a purse) and to be honest, I still want an unbacklit screen for big chunks of my reading. It’s just easier on the eyes for long stints that we agents end up doing. Nice if iPad could create toggle switch so we could have it both ways. The iPad itself is nice eye candy though.

And I would judge that my seat row companion was in her fifties (if I had to make a guess). So interesting.

Since I just got to Orlando late last night (and just had dinner with one of my clients), I haven’t got any good juicy gossip from RWA to start the blogging week.

Instead, you get lame picture of the Swan & Dolphin hotel on the Disney compound.


As added bonus, Ally Carter had a great turn-out in Boulder. 75 people. The next day she went to St. Louis where 170 fans showed up for her reading. Wow. Go St. Louis.

So here is Ally with a NLA Colorado local author Kim Reid who came out to show support. How fun is that?


Public Knowledge Now

STATUS: Mondays. I wish we could have Tuesdays without the Mondays.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? PLEASE COME TO BOSTON BY Dave Loggins

For those of you who might not have seen the news, Romance Writers Of America (RWA) has declared that Dorchester cannot attend the 2010 RWA conference in Orlando next week because of past due contractual and financial obligations.

I won’t comment further except to say that I’m glad this is now “public” knowledge and that RWA has taken a stand on it.


2010 RITA Nominations

STATUS: Feeling much better although that’s not hard to do after how awful I felt during the last two days. To be a little gross, I can’t believe my body can produce this much mucus. Blah. Kristin—1 Flu–9

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HARVEST MOON by Neil Young

This post is long overdue as the news came in last week—and big news it was. Nelson Literary Agency has 6 RITA nominations for 2010! Woot.

Biggest congrats to Carolyn Jewel who is a double finalist! Much deserved Carolyn as I think you are an amazing writer who is flying under the radar and shouldn’t be.

2010 RITA for Historical Romance Finalist

2010 RITA for Paranormal Romance Finalist

2010 RITA for Regency Historical Romance Finalist

2010 RITA for Romance Novella Finalists
“This Wicked Gift” by Courtney Milan in The Heart of Christmas

2010 RITA for Young Adult Romance



Harlequin Horizons Debacle Revisited

STATUS: Dashing out again in about 15 minutes.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? COME BACK AND STAY by Paul Young

Sorry for the blog silence. I left my hotel around 8 in the morning yesterday and didn’t arrive back until after 10pm. Sure, I could have done the blog entry via my iPhone but I really can’t see me “thumbing” in a whole entry.

On Thursday, I stopped by Harlequin to talk with several editors there. Now I realize that this whole Horizons business was a corporate decision made at the Toronto headquarters and they probably didn’t even bother to tell the editors in New York before they did it but I still voiced my negative opinion about Horizons now called DellArte. Now one editor did try out the spiel about how publishing houses need to shift models in this bad economy but I wasn’t having any of that.

I said vanity publishing was predatory—plain and simple and that needed to be understood. That Harlequin had a reputation that they are now putting in jeopardy and that the writers organizations had every right to speak out strongly as their whole purpose is to protect writers.

And speaking of, Mystery Writers Of America issued a statement today. Here it is:

Dear MWA Member:
The Board of Mystery Writers of America voted unanimously on Wednesday to remove Harlequin and all of its imprints from our list of Approved Publishers, effective immediately. We did not take this action lightly. We did it because Harlequin remains in violation of our rules regarding the relationship between a traditional publisher and its various for-pay services.


What does this mean for current and future MWA members?

Any author who signs with Harlequin or any of its imprints from this date onward may not use their Harlequin books as the basis for active status membership nor will such books be eligible for Edgar® Award consideration. However books published by Harlequin under contracts signed before December 2, 2009 may still be the basis for Active Status membership and will still be eligible for Edgar® Award consideration (you may find the full text of the decision at the end of this bulletin).

Although Harlequin no longer offers its eHarlequin Critique Service and has changed the name of its pay-to-publish service, Harlequin still remains in violation of MWA rules regarding the relationship between a traditional publisher and its various for-pay services.

MWA does not object to Harlequin operating a pay-to-publish program or other for-pay services. The problem is HOW those pay-to-publish programs and other for-pay services are integrated into Harlequin’s traditional publishing business. MWA’s rules for publishers state:”

The publisher, within the past five years, may not have charged a fee to consider, read, submit, or comment on manuscripts; nor may the publisher, or any of the executives or editors under its employ, have offered authors self-publishing services, literary representation, paid editorial services, or paid promotional services.

If the publisher is affiliated with an entity that provides self-publishing, for-pay editorial services, or for-pay promotional services, the entities must be wholly separate and isolated from the publishing entity. They must not share employees, manuscripts, or authors or interact in any way. For example, the publishing entity must not refer authors to any of the for-pay entities nor give preferential treatment to manuscripts submitted that were edited, published, or promoted by the for-pay entity.

To avoid misleading authors, mentions and/or advertisements for the for-pay entities shall not be included with information on manuscript submission to the publishing company. Advertising by the publisher’s for-pay editorial, self-publishing or promotional services, whether affiliated with the publisher or not, must include a disclaimer that it is advertising and that use of those services offered by an affiliate of the publisher will not affect consideration of manuscripts submitted for publication.”

Harlequin’s Publisher and CEO Donna Hayes responded to our November 9 letter, and a follow up that we sent on November 30. In her response, which we have posted on the MWA website, Ms. Hayes states that Harlequin intends as standard practice to steer the authors that it rejects from its traditional publishing imprints to DellArte and its other affiliated, for-pay services. In addition, Harlequin mentions on the DellArte site that editors from its traditional publishing imprints will be monitoring DellArte titles for possible acquisition. It is this sort of integration that violates MWA rules.

MWA has a long-standing regard for the Harlequin publishing house and hopes that our continuing conversations will result in a change in their policies and the reinstatement of the Harlequin imprints to our approved list of publishers.

Frankie Y. Bailey,
Executive Vice President,

MWAMWA’s Official Decision: That because Harlequin’s for pay publishing business violates MWA’s rules for approved publishers, MWA takes the following action: First, Harlequin shall be removed from MWA’s list of approved publishers upon the adoption of this motion; Second, that all current active status members of MWA whose status is based upon books published by Harlequin shall remain active status members; Third, that MWA decline applications for active membership based upon books published by Harlequin pursuant to contracts entered into after the effective date of this motion; Fourth, that books published by Harlequin pursuant to contracts entered into prior to the adoption of this motion shall be eligible for the Edgar® Awards, except that books published by DellArte Press shall not be eligible for the Edgar® Awards regardless of when such contract was entered into; and Fifth that books published by Harlequin pursuant to contracts entered into after the adoption of this motion shall not be eligible for the Edgar® Awards.

MWA’s Executive Vice-President, and her or his designates, are directed to continue discussions with Harlequin in an effort to reach an agreement that would allow for Harlequin to be an approved publisher according to MWA’s rules. This e-bulletin was prepared by the MWA national office on behalf of the MWA National Board of Directors.

I have been told that Harlequin is still have dicussions with RWA over this matter.

Good but I don’t necessarily see Harlequin abandoning this appalling business path with Horizons/DellArte. I think the lure of easy money is too strong.


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