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October 2018
A Message from Kristin Nelson

Sexy Talk on Missing Audio Royalties

Kristin Nelson

Actually, there is no way to make this particular topic “sexy”—unless you consider the idea of authors increasing their profits to be spicy conversation. 

In years past, my articles about how authors can best advocate for themselves as they navigate the publishing world (contracts, rights, royalty statements, etc.) are the articles that receive the fewest comments and retweets. Yet I shall persist! This is such an important part of an author’s career, but many agents don’t analyze or review royalty statements. They don’t know how, or they don’t consider it part of their job. (Although isn’t the whole point of being an agent to manage an author’s career and handle the business side of writing?) In the end, you the author are the best champion of your own profit line. It’s important to pay attention.

So here’s a tip. Pay attention to audio royalties—even when your publisher holds your audio rights and has licensed them to a third-party audio publisher. 

Right now audio is a big hot-button topic for publishers. Most houses are now insisting that audio rights be included in the grant of rights. This is understandable. In the past three years, audio sales have grown significantly and have become a tidy profit center. If you grant your audio rights to your publisher, then your publisher can do one of three things: (1) produce the audio edition in-house, (2) license the rights to a separate audio publisher, or (3) opt not to produce an audio version at all (which is a bummer because then neither can you, unless your agent negotiates to have an audio-reversion clause included in your contract, but that’s a discussion for a different day).

In the case I would like to share with you here, the publisher licensed the audio rights to a third-party audio publisher. When the author’s royalty statements arrived, we noticed something odd. The second book in the series had earned out and was earning royalties, but the first book in the series had not. 

That is a solid red flag that signals it’s time to dig deeper. A first book in a series should always outsell subsequent books in that series. So we asked the publisher to connect with their audio licensor for a copy of the audio royalty statement. When the statement arrived, we zeroed in on the issue right away. For the first audio book in the series, there were zero digital download sales reported. That’s a huge problem. 

Was the audio publisher not making the digital version available for download? That seemed highly unlikely, as digital downloads are the fastest growing segment in audio sales right now. Or was the digital edition available and selling, but the audio publisher had not properly associated the ISBN with the title in their accounting system, and, therefore, sales for that ISBN weren’t showing up on the title’s statement? This would also be a plausible cause for why the advance had not yet earned out.

We suspect the latter. Now the only way to find out is to have the author’s publisher follow up with the audio publisher to get further details. A request we made and the publisher pursued—but only because we pointed it out and asked them to follow up. 

I believe that money will probably be due to the author—money that would otherwise not have been recovered if the receiver of the statements was not paying attention. 

Even if such efforts add only one more dollar to your pocket, that money belongs to you. Fight for it.

Recent News
Think Like an Agent

Face Time

By Joanna MacKenzie

I’m just back from a conference where I spent the weekend taking meetings with writers, and it got me thinking about how writers can best to use this—usually paid-for and booked-in-advance—face time with agents. Since most conferences charge extra to sit down with an agent, be it for a speed pitch or a meeting, I always want to make sure that the author feels they’ve received their money’s worth. And while I come prepared to hear pitches, offer advice, and answer general questions, said preparedness is a two-way street.

Are you ready? We talk a lot here in the newsletter and on Pub Rants about preparedness and professionalism, and it’s usually in reference to whether or not your manuscript is complete and you are ready to pitch. If you are pitching, then yes, your manuscript needs to be edited and should have been beta read. But that’s not what I’m talking about here—at least not necessarily. Since few authors get a chance to sit down and talk to an agent, I think it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of the opportunity…as long as you are realistic about what you want out of it. If you have an idea for a book, don’t sit down with an agent and ask, “Should I write this?” That’s totally up to you. But if you’re well into your current WIP (work-in-progress) and you’re dying to hear about next steps, then even if you’re months away from querying, an agent is going to be happy to answer questions—as long as you’re up front with them about where you are in the process. But if we don’t know how to help you, then you won’t be getting the most out of your time with us. The most unproductive meetings come from writers’ lack of awareness, so know where you are in the process, and then tell the agent you’re meeting with so that they can best be of service to you. 

Can you handle it? Of course there’s always another side to thinking that you’re ready. Say you’re 100 pages into your WIP and it’s going well; you’ve hit your writing groove and you know where your story is going. Ask yourself: Will this meeting derail you? If you sit down with an agent only to hear that crime thrillers are a hard sell these days, will you still be able to go home and finish yours? Knowing how able you are mentally to stay above the fray is key when meeting with an agent during any point along your writing journey.

It’s all relevant! The conference I recently attended had one of the most diverse agent pools I’ve ever been part of. Usually it feels like we’re all gunning for the same types of projects, but here I felt that our tastes were varied and eclectic. And because of that, I anticipate that our takeaways were different as well. It’s a good example of why doing your agent research is important, as each one of us was most likely to view each project though a unique lens. That being said, you can learn from each of us—just make sure the takeaway is beneficial to you.

Kristin's Book Club

Born a Little Troublemaker Too

As an avid audiobook listener, what a treat to listen to Trevor Noah narrate his own childhood stories. I can’t imagine reading this book any other way. (But I have to ask…Dude, you burned down a house?)

As a teen in the early 80s, of course we knew about Apartheid and to not support companies that fostered it. But Noah’s BORN A CRIME really drives home how dark a period this was. And in Noah’s typical Daily Show fashion, he delivers spot-on history lessons while making me laugh. (The neighborhood exorcism of the turd-leaving demon in the kitchen brought me to tears. This, and dancing Hitler. I’ll say no more.) Definitely add this one to your TBR pile!

This is my favorite quote, which demonstrates the depth of the work:

“Regret should be feared most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you’ll never have the answer to.

“What if? If only? I wonder what would have happened? You’ll never have an answer, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days.” —Trevor Noah

Next up, book club is reading Danielle Burby‘s client Ausma Zehanat Khan‘s AMONG THE RUINS.

New Releases


by Dacre Stoker and JD Barker

The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s—and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…

A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen—a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen—and that the nightmare they’ve thought long ended is only beginning.

Buy It Here:


The Hollow of Fear

by Sherry Thomas

Book 3 of the Lady Sherlock series.

Charlotte Holmes, Lady Sherlock, returns in the Victorian-set mystery series from the USA Todaybestselling author of A Conspiracy in Belgravia and A Study in Scarlet Women, an NPR Best Book of 2016.

Under the cover of “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Charlotte Holmes puts her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. Aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, Charlotte draws those in need to her and makes it her business to know what other people don’t.

Moriarty’s shadow looms large. First, Charlotte’s half brother disappears. Then, Lady Ingram, the estranged wife of Charlotte’s close friend Lord Ingram, turns up dead on his estate. And all signs point to Lord Ingram as the murderer.

With Scotland Yard closing in, Charlotte goes under disguise to seek out the truth. But uncovering the truth could mean getting too close to Lord Ingram–and a number of malevolent forces…

Buy It Here:


The Color of Lies

by CJ Lyons

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author CJ Lyons comes The Color of Lies, a world drenched in color and mystery.

High school senior Ella Cleary has always been good at reading people. Her family has a rare medical condition called synesthesia that scrambles the senses—her Gram Helen sees every sound, and her uncle Joe can literally taste words. Ella’s own synesthesia manifests itself as the ability to see colors that reveal people’s true emotions…until she meets a guy she just can’t read.

Alec is a mystery to Ella, a handsome, enigmatic young journalist who makes her feel normal for the first time in her life. That is, until he reveals the real reason why he sought her out—he wants to learn the truth behind her parents’ deaths, the parents that Ella had always been told died in a fire. Alec turns Ella’s world upside down when he tells her their deaths were definitely not an accident.

After learning her entire life has been a lie, Ella doesn’t know who she can trust or even who she really is. With her adoptive family keeping secrets and the evidence mixing fact and fiction, the only way for Ella to learn the truth about her past is to find a killer.

Buy It Here:


One Giant Leap

by Heather Kaczynski

Leap into the unknown with the second book in Heather Kaczynski’s heart-pounding duology, which is perfect for fans of The 5th Wave.

When Cassandra Gupta was chosen to be the youngest member of a top-secret mission to the far reaches of the universe, she knew to expect the unexpected. But nothing could have prepared her for the catastrophic events that would occur once she left Earth.

Cassie and the rest of the crew have found themselves in the middle of a conflict between two alien civilizations hell-bent on destroying each other . . . and anyone else who gets in their way.

What was supposed to be a reconnaissance mission soon becomes a fight for their lives. But Cassie knows that it isn’t enough to simply survive.

The war is coming to Earth, and only she has the information that can possibly stop the devastation it will bring. With humanity’s fate in the balance, Cassie must decide who she can trust and who she’s willing to sacrifice in order to complete her mission.

Buy It Here:


No Sleep Before Doomsday

by Laurence MacNaughton

Book 3 of the Dru Jasper series.

An inexperienced sorceress must retrieve a priceless artifact from the enchantress who stole it, break the curse on her half-demon boyfriend, and stop her friends from turning on each other before the enchantress calls down doomsday.

When a wicked enchantress steals a cursed doomsday amulet, crystal sorceress Dru Jasper has only twenty-four hours to get it back before the world will come to a fiery end. With this supernatural amulet in hand, the enchantress intends to break the sixth seal of the apocalypse scroll–making the seas boil, the stars fall from the sky, and the earth itself split apart. Overall, bad news.

Dru must hit the road to get the amulet back. But she suspects her half-demon boyfriend, Greyson, and his demon-possessed muscle car, Hellbringer, are hiding a dark secret. Can she trust them to help her stop doomsday? Worse, tracking down the enchantress runs Dru smack up against a pack of killer shape-shifters, the grim mystery of a radioactive ghost town, and a dangerous speed demon even more powerful than Hellbringer.

As the clock runs out, Dru is locked in a high-speed chase with the enchantress, fighting a fierce, magical duel she can never win alone. Can Dru and her sorcerer friends unravel Hellbringer’s secrets, outwit the shape-shifters, and retrieve the stolen amulet before the dawn of doomsday?

Buy It Here:


The Black Khan

by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Khan has created a rich, well-crafted world that will appeal to readers of S.A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass (2017) or Erika Johansen’s The Queen of the Tearling  — Booklist

To fight against the cruel and superstitious patriarchy known as the Talisman, members of the resistance group known as the Companions of Hira have risked their lives in a failed attempt to procure the Bloodprint—a dangerous text that may hold the secret to overthrowing the terrifying regime. Now, with their plans in ashes, the Companions of Hira have scattered, and the lives of two brave women at the center of the plot—Arian and Sinnia—face unprecedented danger.

Yet a spark of hope flickers in the darkness—the Bloodprint has survived. It is hidden in Ashfall, the seat of Rukh, the Black Khan, whose court is ruled by intrigue and conspiracy. Treacherous enemies ruthlessly maneuver for power behind the throne, including the autocratic Grand Vizier; the deadly and secretive Assassin; the Khan’s deposed half-brother; and the commander of Ashfall’s army, who is also Rukh’s oldest friend.

The Companions of Hira must somehow reunite, break through Talisman lines, and infiltrate Ashfall. A master of treachery himself, the Black Khan joins forces with these powerful women to manipulate them for his own ends. But as Ashfall comes under siege, he is forced to make a deadly calculation . . . one that could cause irrevocable damage to the Companions and their fight for freedom.

Buy It Here:

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