Pub Rants

Agenting 101: Random House Royalty Statement

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STATUS: Statements and more statements.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? POOR UNFORTUNATE SOULS by Little Mermaid soundtrack.

When talking about royalty statement, first off you need to know that not all statements from different houses are created equal.

Today I’m going to begin by talking about the Random House Statements. They are my favorite. The statements are at least four pages long (sometimes longer depending on formats sold) and always contain all the information I need to evaluate if the statement is accurate.

Now this is not to suggest that every other publishing house has terrible statements. That’s not true. They just sometimes don’t contain all the info needed and then we have to request the extra info we need. All the houses, in general, are great at giving you the reconciliation to print info on request—but you have to request it. With RH, it’s all there.

Love that. (Tomorrow I’ll explain reconciliation to print, what it means, and why it’s important to have it when evaluating the accuracy of royalty statements.)

But for now, back to the Random House statement.

Page 1:
For RH, this is the royalty summary sheet and also highlights the ending royalty period. Then the page looks something like this (depending on what rights were sold to the publisher and how many formats have been exploited—by format I mean hardcover, paperback, audio etc.)

There would be four columns for the formats listed:
Current Copies, Current Earnings, Cumulative Copies, Cumulative Earnings

Trade paperback
Mass market
Electronic book

Then of course the above columns would be filled with numbers. The rest of the remaining sheets in the statement are to show detail for this summary sheet so you can see sales broken down by the individual ISBN numbers for the various formats.

So the next page or pages will have six columns:
Market, Royalty Rate or external market, royalty per Unit or net receipts, current copies, cumulative copies, cumulative earnings.

Then of course all these columns would be filled it with numbers.

But the next page is my favorite at RH—the Print Summary (this is all the reconciliation to print info that’s so necessary to review statements). Three columns for all this info.

Description, Current Copies, Cumulative Copies

Reserves released
Reserves held
No Charge

Total reportable sales

Returns to stock
Scrapped from stock
Internal Summarization

Total Shipments

Then we have the Sales Summary by Market with four columns:

Market, Gross Copies, Return copies, Net copies
Spcl disct
No Charge

Then we have Rate of Movement by Month with three columns

Month, Shipments, Returns

As agents, we stay on top of print runs done, how many copies in print, what is Bookscan reporting. Does the info we have match up to what the statement is telling us? If not, we are going to have a lot of questions.

In order to grab the columns, I was looking at a statement where only North American rights were sold to the publisher. (In other words, translation was not given to the publisher and the agency kept them to sell separately.) If the publisher has World rights, then that detail will also show on the royalty statement.

That’s all I’ve got time for today. More tomorrow!

7 Responses

  1. Marion Gropen said:

    From the honest publishers’ perspective, there’s a very good reason to shorten statements, and simplify them.

    Many (definitely NOT all and certainly present company is excepted) authors and agents are not mathematically inclined. The more information those poor souls get, the more opportunities they have to get confused.

    This can cause truly astonishing amounts of work as the royalty accountants or editors have to try to figure out, first, if this is a good question, or if the other person is truly clueless, then, where the other person went wrong, and hardest of all, how to explain the situation so that they “get” it. This last can take many tries and a lot of time. And aspirin, coffee or alcohol.


  2. Erin Edwards said:

    Wow! I love your attention to detail in going over those statements. I would find them interesting and would probably analyze them to death, but I can also see where it would be good to have an experienced agent to interpret them and to spot errors. I’m loving your blog!(And I am now stuck on POOR UNFORTUNATE SOULS.)

  3. Jenn said:

    I hate to ask the obvious, but do authors also get a copy of the royalty statement from the publishing house? And do they have any responsibilities concerning these statements? Should they be doing anything with these numbers?

    Great song and great blog!