Pub Rants

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

Talk About Burying The Lead

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Status:

Need to finish one more contract tonight before I leave for New York in the morning. And I need to pack still. I need another 4 hours please!

Listening To:

THIS GUY’S IN LOVE WITH YOU by Herb Alpert

Today HarperCollins announced their latest digital-only mystery imprint Witness. But buried in the third paragraph was the most interesting tidbit in the story! The real news item!

Harpercollins is changing their royalty period so as to pay digital-only authors on a monthly basis. Once again Amazon took the lead (as they announced this on March 18) and the Big 6 had to follow. What I wouldn’t give for Random House or S&S to lead the way rather than do things after the fact but that might be wishful thinking.

But here’s my question to publishers and I hope they are paying attention. You are now starting to reward authors who are doing digital-only. Great. But what about your stalwart current authors who have stood by you and continued publishing with you as the industry revolutionized around them?

Why should they get shafted just because they are doing both print and digital?

I get why print payments need to be on the slow-as-molasses-every-6-months payment schedule because publishers have to factor in returns from physical bookstores. But why should those authors have to wait for their digital royalties? Why can’t this be separate? Of if that can’t be fathomed, why can’t digital royalties be paid immediately after earn out?

There is no longer any reason for the 6-month cycle.  How about payment parity for those authors?


8 Responses

  1. Barbara Freethy said:

    Great post! I have lots of traditionally published friends wondering why their loyalty to print/digital isn’t being rewarded with a better payment schedule!

  2. Marla Miller said:

    Hugh Howey led me here. In his interview with the Guy Kawasaki team, he spoke highly of your agency. Glad to know you’re out here.
    RE: this post–Now that traditional publishing is no longer running the race, they don’t seem to be able to do anything but follow the entrepreneurial movement.
    Given that they aren’t rooted in an ‘entrepreneurial’ model, it kind of makes sense that they can’t act like entrepreneurs whose roots are in risk taking.
    I have noted that some entrepreneurial types are being courted by traditional publishing. Perhaps, in time, traditional publishing will shift enough to become leaders again.
    Marla Miller

  3. Deb said:

    Hi Kristin,

    On your agent bio you should provide a summary of the story when a reader clicks on the books you represent. Just another way to market the books. Thanks

  4. Jodi Lynne Cox said:

    This answer is easy. Big 6 will not be giving checks anytime sooner as long as they can hold other peoples cash and continue to make interest on it.

    Its the same as modern day banking. There is no real money in the agency no vault full of greenbacks just numbers sitting on a bank-screen some where. The longer those numbers stay stationary or invested, the longer the agency can make money of other peoples earnings and hard work.

    So the agency will drag there feet on this as long as possible. Hell any company would, It doesn’t matter if your a publisher or a McDonald. It doesn’t make it right but there current us financial system is set up this way. The longer you can go without paying people the more money you stand to make. So why would you think they would change it? I’m actually surprised Harper Collins took the imitative considering this move is probably going to cost them a fortune.

    As for companies like amazon. Amazon sells more than books, they aren’t giving you quick returns because they are a magnanimous company that loves authors. They are simply paying you the same way they are paying there internet vendors and affiliates. Its much easier to process all the earnings together on a set schedule.

  5. Karen Clayton said:

    With self publishing companies, authors must reach a certain amount of money in sales before they are ever paid. Thus, some authors never make any money from their products – ever. Just got to hang in there and enjoy writing.
    Anyone looking to help out a young writer, check out the book Mason Davis and the Rise of the Storm Makers. It is available online at Amazon.

  6. Trudy V Myers said:

    I agree that sending royalties on print books could be done monthly, even if the big publishers continue to wait 6 months. All they need to do would be to pay March’s royalties in September, and so on.

    But to do that, they have to abandon last century’s mindset.

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