Pub Rants

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

Agenting 101: Why I Don’t Like Net Amounts Received

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STATUS: Phone conference in 10 so I’m trying to dash this entry out before it begins.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? NESSUN DORMA by Paul Potts

If you read my Agenting 101 entries on royalty statements (see right side bar), you should know why Kristin wouldn’t like net amounts received.

But if you haven’t, then I happy to just rant about it and tell you. There are two main reasons why I don’t like royalties to be based on net amounts received.

1. It’s archaic and currently doesn’t serve much of a purpose as audio and eBooks have a retail price and there are high discount clauses in all contracts so why not simply make the royalty based on retail?

And

2. Agents can’t track net amounts received by the Publisher. The only way we will get that information is if we:

a. audit and therefore look at the books to see what monies were actually received, from what account, for how much, and what were the deductions, or

b. we put a clause in the contract, not unlike reconciliation to print, that allows us to request the information from the publisher at any time and they can print out all the amounts received information so I can determine if what is on the royalty statements is correct.

Ah yes, once again the onus is on me as the agent to be a squeaky wheel, to demand more info, and pry the necessary info out of the publisher to see if the royalty statement is remotely accurate. And this is making a huge assumption that the publishers have the necessary software in place that will allow for this information to be accessed, printed, and shared.

I know Random House has that in place. Do the others? Guess I’m just about to find out because you know I like kicking up a fuss and less is not more for me when it comes to royalty statements.

See how much simpler it would be if all royalties were based on retail price? I’m capable of doing the math easily on royalties calculated via retail price.

Now that we have this big push from publishers to move to 25% of net receipts for eBook royalties, whose going to hurt 10 years from now when eBooks may be the main format and print editions the secondary?

Yep, you can see why I’m in state of righteous indignation all the time as of late. Maybe it’s time we move back to a term of license on contracts instead of Out of Print clauses and term of copyright.


12 Responses

  1. Diana said:

    Just to put a little more squeak in your wheel, it’s easy for a publisher or any company to do a little smoke and mirrors thing with the accounting to make it seem like the cost is more than it really is. I’ve seen it done. That’s another reason for paying on net.

  2. Ash. Elizabeth said:

    I’m hoping ebooks don’t become the main format. It would be a shame because there’s nothing better than holding a book in my hand (and hopeful someday my own book). I’ll never buy ebooks. I love flipping through pages, real pages.

  3. Joseph L. Selby said:

    How are you managing OOP clauses as the industry replaces OOP with POD? Inventory records won’t list it as OOP any more. It’s listed as in stock publicly and POD internally. It’s a technicality, but with viable POD solutions, there is no out of print any more.

  4. Anonymous said:

    Keep fighting! Especially for those of us who aren’t ready to let go of our dream of being published just yet. It would suck to finally achieve that goal only to step into an industry that’s subtly trying to screw us out of our hard-earned money. It’s bad enough women earn 70% of what men make in the country. It’s sad for people to continuously not get rewarded for their hard work and perserverence 🙁

  5. Courtney Milan said:

    “How are you managing OOP clauses as the industry replaces OOP with POD? Inventory records won’t list it as OOP any more.”

    My contract defines “out of print” as less than a certain number of units sold in a particular number of accounting periods, so it’s not tied to whether the work is available for printing, but whether the publisher is selling it.

  6. nkrell said:

    Okay, first of all, I love your music choice! I bought that CD as soon as it came out. I’m a sucker for underdog stories like Paul Potts.

    Secondly, it is fascinating to read about all of the details that go into publishing a book. Keep up the good work as a squeaky wheel.

  7. Laurel said:

    Off topic…sorry. Just wanted to let you know that the kerfluffle on Monday spawned my purchase of Soulless which, oh my gosh, rocked! Currently recommending to everyone I know.

    Cheers,
    Laurel

  8. kathleen duey said:

    Courtney,

    This is my concern. With POD…. when is a book ever oop? Never. So the rights never revert? So we really don’t own our copyrights? Term of license makes more sense to me.

    Thanks for making me think about this (again).

    k

  9. Haste yee back ;-) said:

    The word *NET* on any Pub contract has to be, must be, needs to be, absolutely should be — taken apart and scrutinized under an electron microscope. (The chances for accounting slight-of-hand are amazing)!

    Haste yee back 😉

  10. Anonymous said:

    Is there a special email bloggers use to ask questions they hoped to be answered on your blog?

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