Pub Rants

In The Spring An Agent’s Fancy Turns To…

 12 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: Yesterday Angie and I were reviewing one client’s statement and to sum it up. What a hot mess.

What’s playing on the iPod or the XM radio right now? SWAY by Dean Martin

Love of royalty statements.

Yep, it’s that time of year again. April and October are NLA’s biggest royalty periods which means that the month of May and November are consumed by hours reviewing those statements.

So, in an effort to empower authors about their statements (because I promise you that a lot of agents don’t spend nearly the time they should on reviewing them), here’s another tidbit to file away in your knowledge bank.

If your publisher holds World rights and is selling your titles abroad, it’s important to track where the projects are sold to and when they will be released.

Why? Because if you don’t know that info, how do you know when the monies are supposed to appear on your royalty statements? Also, do you have a copy of the licensing agreement and the latest foreign royalty statement from the territory in question?

Most agents insert a clause in the contract allowing the author to receive such info—usually upon request. Without it, it’s impossible to review a statement for accuracy. What? You gonna just take the Publisher’s word for it?

Considering the number of errors we see in EVERY royalty period, that’s a lot to take on faith.

And there’s another facet to this. If Publisher has World, did they sell UK rights to separate publisher or was it done by a sister house in England? If a sister house, then UK royalties are specified in the US contract and should show on the US statement.

You don’t want to know how many times this information has just been plain missing from the statement or just wrong.

Knowledge is power and as an author, you have a right to a copy of those licensing agreements so ask for them. I would say that in the last several years, NLA has recovered well over $100,000 in missing royalties—money clients would never have received if we hadn’t pestered Publishers about info missing from the statements. In fact just last week, a client got $8000 because we argued that the wrong royalty rate was being used to calculate certain sales listed on the statement. And per the contract, we were right and they paid up. But if we hadn’t pointed it out…

Well, that’s a lot of money to leave on the table.

12 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    Kristin, why do you think these errors happen? Is it the publisher not being careful enough in processing royalty statements per each author? On purpose?

    Does it happen more often with a certain publisher than not>

    Would you say that each agency with a clientele list as strong as yours would have the same amount to recover?

    Could you write up a post about what to look for, especially in the statements that are longer?

    THANK YOU for all you do!

  2. Suzanne Warr said:

    Posts like this one both fascinate and terrify me. They’re cool because they give me the insights I crave and help me feel forearmed, but I’m also well aware that you’re applying a specialized skill and there will be things I miss. Maybe big things.

    Thanks for another great post and a free ride on the contract roller coaster!

  3. Remilda Graystone said:

    So much information, but that’s why I love your blog. This sounds like common sense, but it hadn’t ever occurred to me before you mentioned it, but then I was like, “Ah. That’s right. Good point.”

    I hope I can remember all of this when the time comes.

  4. Andrew said:

    Thanks much for this good reminder.

    Do you have any recommendations as far as software or tools that help you track rights and royalties?

  5. Michael G-G said:

    Now that, right there, is why an agent is worth her weight in gold.

    Interestingly, the whole topic of money is not one I come across in most agent blogs. Thanks for the valuable information.

  6. Natalie Aguirre said:

    Thanks for sharing this. I hope I remember this if you aren’t my agent. Posts like this are one of many reasons I would love to have Sara or you as my agent.

  7. Shannon said:

    Okay, that’s scary. Such a little yet important detail, makes me wonder about all the other gaps I’ve missed! Thanks for shining the light, Kristin! It just goes to show how much you think you know, and how much you really don’t. Scary. Ta.