STATUS: I’m working on two different contracts this afternoon. So necessary, so time consuming, and always delightful when it concludes.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? P.Y.T. (PRETTY YOUNG THING) by Michael Jackson
It’s no longer okay for Publishers to say to me in a negotiation: “we have a policy that we won’t do that.”
Especially when I’m talking about royalty structures and for this rant, the royalty structure for a trade paperback.
Just to be clear, there are three main types of print formats for books. There is hardcover–which is of a certain size and has a hard cover covered by a dust jacket. There is trade paperback—which is usually the same size as a hardcover but with, funny enough, a soft cover and no jacket. Then there is mass market—which is the smaller soft cover usually associated with “pocket” size (although some of them are tomes that wouldn’t fit in a back pocket or otherwise).
Today I want to rant about trade paperback royalty structures. For twenty years, the “standard” royalty percentage authors earn from trade pb sales from publishing houses has been 7.5% flat.
Why is that? Why is the trade paperback royalty lower than the mass market version where “standard” starts at 8% and usually escalates to 10% (typically around 150,000 copies)?
Trade pb has a higher price point for point-of-sale so that’s not the reason. Yes, it’s more expensive to print than a mass but it’s not as expensive as a hardcover. And why is there no escalation?
Especially now when publishing is rapidly changing and there is a movement away from doing hardcover publication and doing original trade paperbacks instead—even for debut literary authors.
So why in the world are we stuck with an outdated royalty structure that doesn’t match how publishing is currently operating today?
And it’s not enough to tell me, “well, we’ve never done an escalation for a trade paperback royalty. It’s just not done here at our house.”
Just because it hasn’t been done in the past doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it in the here and now. Publishing is not the same as it was 20 years ago so why are the royalty structures?
Very good question I think.
I’m out. TGIF!