Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Midday Publishing Link RoundUp

Dear RWA:   It looks like next year, you’ll have to disqualify at least one New York publishing house from the RITAs next year. Hopefully you have someone looking into this right now and will be making an announcement in the interest of fairness and equity.

According to an editor, one New York house is not paying a full $1000 per advance. In fact, in a two book deal, the author is getting less than $1000 per book.   Authors, please consider what you are worth and whether print publishing is the right avenue at $1000 and a standard 6% royalty rate (or less).

I did manage to pick up some industry news. Not sure it’s really news, though, but perhaps more just confirmation of what we already knew was going down. A NYC print publisher has slipped under RWA’s stated “$1,000 for all books” requirement on a recent 2-novel contract (yes, in print). This is the second NYC house to do so, though RWA may not know about this one yet. Keep watching. This is far from a dead issue. Advances are falling almost everywhere, and I expect they’ll continue to fall as long as we have this economy.

Virgin is no longer going to be publishing Black Lace, Cheek or any other kind of fiction or non-fiction erotica.   This means editor Adam Neville is out of a job.   The books commissioned until December 2009 will be released as scheduled. Since January 2005, Neville and his colleauges published over 300 books and “were profitable unti lthe very end.”

Perhaps fiction authors might want to take a look at a new general imprint digital publisher, OR Books.   OR Books plans to spend upwards of $50,000-75,000 in marketing for each title.   The books will be made available in digital format and in print through print on demand technology.

The rumored Apple Tablet might be announced soon (yes, I squeed a bit here, but quietly).   According to the Apple Blog, The Street is confirming an October release date and a partnership with Verizon.   The Verizon plan may help to reduce some of the sticker shock of the Tablet.   I can see my Christmas list shaping up right now.

For those that didn’t attend the conference, you should check out Angela James’ speech she gave to the Passionate Ink crowd.

I know that, you know that and I believe that as time passes and more people get to know digital publishing, they too will recognize that. I’m not going to stop believing in our industry because people question, disdain or disbelieve. In the words of Galaxy Quest, I choose to "Never give up. Never surrender." because I have faith in digital publishing.

Chassie planned on having a whole lotta beer. She definitely needed alcohol to get the conversation started and probably an entire case to follow through with her plan. She took two bottles of Bud Light from the door and passed one to him. Snick, hiss, pop echoed, as the lids were untwisted.
Edgard’s backside rested against one counter; hers on the one across from him. She gulped her beer, cautioning herself to be tactful and calm, but what burst forth from her mouth was, "Are you in love with my husband?"

This is the industry that brought readers erotic romance and powerful books like Lorelei James’ Rough, Raw and Ready.

And it’s not going away.

Ron Charles of the Washington Post was given the Veritas Award by RWA for a single blog post he wrote that portrayed romance in a positive light.   Today he wrote about this honor and the struggle for romance writers to achieve legitimacy. Teresa Medeiros wrote a response proudly proclaiming her profession: Romance Write.

WHSmith takes “If You Like” recommendations to a new level by increasing the font of the branded author and nearly obscuring the actual book. Can you imagine cover quotes with supersized fonts for the Quoter?   (Via Sarah Weinman)

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

23 Comments

  1. Can I say this in public?
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 12:21:39

    Authors, please consider what you are worth and whether print publishing is the right avenue at $1000 and a standard 6% royalty rate (or less).

    I heard before the Dallas conference that one publisher :::cough:::Dorchester:::cough::: had fallen below $1K advances, and we all know that Red Sage is below this already. I heard not too long ago that another publisher :::cough:::Kensington:::cough::: had made at least one author a very lowball offer . . . and I assume that when they lower the advances for one new author, they're probably low balling everyone.

    A friend of mine who's a NYT's best seller has told me repeatedly: If you earn out and get royalties, your advance was too small. I'll be taking this to heart when I negotiate my next contract.

  2. jmc
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 13:06:06

    As I read Ron Charles’s post, the thing that stuck in my mind most was his description of the Veritas Award as an “uncomfortable honor”. Which makes me wonder: why did RWA select him? I don’t mean that in a snarky way. I would truly like to know, because it sounds like he did not feel all that honored by the award or as if he felt he merited it.

  3. Wendy
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 13:13:53

    The Black Lace news gives me such a massive sad that words fail me. Even when erotic romance “took off,” I still consistently went to Black Lace because it was where I discovered such wonderful authors as Emma Holly and Portia Da Costa. Holly seems to have moved away from her erotic contemporaries in favor of her paranormals, but at least Da Costa has found a home with Harlequin Spice.

    Still…..

    I haz a sad.

  4. RStewie
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 14:07:32

    What was the reasoning behind the abandonment of erotica by Virgin? Obviously it wasn’t a lack of sales…so what was it?

    Does anyone know?

  5. DS
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 14:37:35

    I was curious enough to Google and I found this:

    “The whole community is up in arms [about the decision],” said a rival publisher, who added that the market for erotica had suffered a slight downturn, partly because so much material is available for free on the internet, and partly because too many titles had been published. “On the other hand the people in the seats of power at Random House don’t give a damn about erotica, and the fact it has not been making money is just an excuse to get rid of the lines.”

    Source here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jul/07/erotica-publisher-black-lace

    Contradicts the profitable statement but it just may not be making enough money to suit Randam House.

  6. Theresa Stevens
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 14:52:06

    Actually, Red Sage meets or exceeds RWA’s stated minimums for all print releases, including novels and the Secrets anthologies.

    It’s e-book advances which are the sticking point. We pay advances on all e-books, but not at RWA’s stated minimum level.

  7. Can I say this in public?
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 15:47:23

    Actually, Red Sage meets or exceeds RWA's stated minimums for all print releases, including novels and the Secrets anthologies.

    Then they’ve upped their advances since RWA put the $1K rule in place. Back when the rule was first proposed, many of the ePubs made a stink about Red Sage specifically, because not all their novella contracts make the cut (and it seemed that RWA was going to turn a blind eye).

  8. Charlotte Stein
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 16:12:22

    The Black Lace news gives me such a massive sad that words fail me. Even when erotic romance “took off,” I still consistently went to Black Lace because it was where I discovered such wonderful authors as Emma Holly and Portia Da Costa.

    Couldn’t agree more. My love of erotica and erotic romance was born with Black Lace books. It’s not just as writer for them, but as a reader that I’m devastated by this.

    What was the reasoning behind the abandonment of erotica by Virgin? Obviously it wasn't a lack of sales…so what was it?

    Does anyone know?

    I’m one of their authors, and I have no idea. The official line is that it wasn’t making enough money, but as many sources have proved, that just wasn’t the case. At least in terms of the erotica market.

    It could be that Random House simply doesn’t care about erotica, but it seems odd that in these times, any publisher wouldn’t care about a line that was apparently still making them money.

  9. katiebabs
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 17:30:39

    Under $1000 advances? I guess it is the love of writing that keeps authors doing what they do so well.

    What would happen if most publishing houses no long offered advances? The RITA awards would only be ten minutes then.

  10. Shiloh Walker
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 19:40:48

    Just out of curiosity, I wonder if the author(s) who received the <$1k advance discussed it with RWA. If the publishers are paying under that $1k, it would seem they've lost their eligibility status as a publisher.

  11. LAmonkeygirl
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 19:52:26

    @Can I say this in public?:

    A friend of mine who's a NYT's best seller has told me repeatedly: If you earn out and get royalties, your advance was too small. I'll be taking this to heart when I negotiate my next contract.

    I’m confused. How is this feasible? If the author’s sales figures don’t cover her percentage of the royalties, how can the publisher justify the amount of the advance, and wouldn’t it also reflect poorly on the author’s sales figures? Does it mean that the publishers generally low-ball the advance? I had also heard that most authors earn out through foreign rights sales.

  12. Shiloh Walker
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 20:00:53

    hmmmm…i think i’m getting caught in the spam filter.

  13. Shiloh Walker
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 20:02:26

    Nope, that one showed. Okay, lemme try again…

    I’m curious about the publisher(s) paying the less than $1k advance. Specifically, I’m curious if the author(s) discussed it with RWA. The publishers would lose their eligibility status, but it’s not likely to happen unless an author who received the low advance discussed it with RWA.

  14. Kate St. James
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 20:09:51

    @Can I say this in public?:

    Actually, Red Sage meets or exceeds RWA's stated minimums for all print releases, including novels and the Secrets anthologies.

    Then they've upped their advances since RWA put the $1K rule in place. Back when the rule was first proposed, many of the ePubs made a stink about Red Sage specifically, because not all their novella contracts make the cut (and it seemed that RWA was going to turn a blind eye).

    No, no, Red Sage didn’t up its advances since the $1000 RWA rule. The rule is $1000 for a solo release (regardless of format) and $500 per novella in an anthology. I’ve sold three novellas to Red Sage Secrets (the anthologies), and my advances began at the low level of the novella scale, then went up from there. They went up with every sale. The third sale enabled me to join PAN on the basis of the advance alone.

    What happened was Red Sage opened its epub division, eRedSage in late ’07, I think it was. ERedSage pays advances, but they aren’t min. $1000 per release. The $500 doesn’t apply, because they aren’t part of an anthology. They are released alone, so the $1000 rule steps in. Red Sage became “ineligible” for RWA purposes as a result.

    Theresa Stevens is the managing editor of Red Sage (I know because she’s also my editor). What she’s saying is true. It’s the advances for ebooks that are the issue.

    Kate

  15. Jane
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 20:12:24

    The fact is that Harlequin doesn’t pay $1000 per digital only work either and I doubt it is in danger of losing eligible publisher status.

  16. Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 20:18:48

    The fact is that Harlequin doesn't pay $1000 per digital only work either and I doubt it is in danger of losing eligible publisher status.

    Ah, but that’s because the Harlequin stories are shorter than novella length. RWA decided that stories novella length and longer, sold as individual downloads had to be $1000 advances. That’s why Red Sage was disqualified and Harlequin continues on.

  17. ME
    Jul 22, 2009 @ 21:14:27

    Actually, Harlequin does pay up to 1k advance for their bites, spice briefs and undones. Maybe not all authors, but several that I know got at least that…..

  18. liz...
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 00:19:19

    This is a rude question but i am going to ask anyway. How much does the average author make? Say they have a few stand alones and have some fans, if they are good what would they make?

  19. Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 02:12:33

    Depends on the author, depends on the publisher.

    There is a website where people report their earnings:
    http://www.brendahiatt.com/id2.html

    Pretty depressing when you consider how much time it takes to write a book.

  20. Sherry Thomas
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 08:23:01

    I'm confused. How is this feasible? If the author's sales figures don't cover her percentage of the royalties, how can the publisher justify the amount of the advance, and wouldn't it also reflect poorly on the author's sales figures? Does it mean that the publishers generally low-ball the advance? I had also heard that most authors earn out through foreign rights sales.

    I’m not Can I Say This in Public, and I really haven’t been published long enough to know for certain whether one should never earn out–but it is actually not an uncommonly held view.

    The thing is, most mass market authors get between 8%-10% of the cover price of their book in royalty rate. The publisher has a much higher margin, of course. And given that bestselling books tend to have much larger print runs, the fixed cost, spread per book, is much lower. Therefore the publisher can still turn a profit on a book without the author selling enough books to earn out the advance.

    When I was on the Levi bus tour, another historical romance author told me that her agent’s rule of thumb is to demand $1 per book in the next contract for every copy sold on her latest book to hit the shelves.

    She is now a NYT bestselling author. So let’s assume that she sells 100,000 copies of her last book. So she gets $100,000 per book for the next contract. If she again sells 100,000 of her next book, if her book price is $7.99, and she gets 10% royalty, that would mean accounting wise she has earned only $80K of her $100k advance, but I would bet you anything the publisher has made money on her.

  21. Janie
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 08:53:49

    A friend of mine who's a NYT's best seller has told me repeatedly: If you earn out and get royalties, your advance was too small. I'll be taking this to heart when I negotiate my next contract.

    I'm confused. How is this feasible? If the author's sales figures don't cover her percentage of the royalties, how can the publisher justify the amount of the advance, and wouldn't it also reflect poorly on the author's sales figures? Does it mean that the publishers generally low-ball the advance? I had also heard that most authors earn out through foreign rights sales.

    Unlurking. This is simply not true. And I would think that published authors with good agents would know this is not true. For years, many authors have not earned out big advances. In fact, even low advances might not earn out. Considering today’s publishing climate, it would be better to get a lower advance and earn out than to get a large advance and not earn out. The life of a career may be considered only 3 books or maybe 3 more in a second contract. Foreign sales help, especially in series romances, like Harlequin. It takes a lot of book sales to earn out a 3 book basketed $125,000 advance. Used to be, 75% sale through was good enough. Not anymore.

  22. Kate St. James
    Jul 23, 2009 @ 11:11:41

    @Jane: This is very true. But their ebooks (Briefs for example) are under 20,000 words, so the RWA rules don’t cover them. They are considered short stories. “Novellas” as defined by RWA are 20K-40K.

  23. Kate Willoughby
    Jul 24, 2009 @ 08:36:26

    Actually, Harlequin does pay up to 1k advance for their bites, spice briefs and undones. Maybe not all authors, but several that I know got at least that…..

    I thought RWA required that a publisher to give the 1K advance to EVERY author…or maybe the caffeine just hasn’t reached my brain yet this morning.

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