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RWA Proposes PAN Changes

In March 2007, RWA decided to review the Publisher Recognition standards. Currently the standards require the following:

  • publisher pay royalties
  • not a subsidy or vanity presss
  • length of business minimum of 1 year
  • sold at least 1500 hardcover or trade paperback or 5,000 of any other format of one romance book

Selling to the publisher qualifies a member for PAN (published author network) membership

Amy Padgett, a Cerridwen Press author is unhappy with the PAN proposed changes. She had a post detailing her problems with the proposed changes. She has since deleted the blog post. [Note to authors: a blog is not a personal journal. Don’t post stuff if you don’t want the blogosphere to talk about it.] Her post doesn’t actually state what the proposed changes are, only that she is unhappy. What I understand is that the proposed changes require an author to earn $2000 in royalties/advances on a single title. This is probably no problem for anyone who publishes with New York, but for the non advance paying epublished authors, the income requirement could be onerous.

As a reader, I can’t get excited about this, but I thought it was newsworthy for the authors who occassionally visit.

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

14 Comments

  1. Anonny
    May 29, 2007 @ 08:37:54

    I don’t think the Cerridwen Press author liked being linked to. The post is gone.

  2. Jane
    May 29, 2007 @ 08:42:54

    Thanks for the update. I modified the post.

  3. Anne
    May 29, 2007 @ 08:58:17

    Thanks for posting that. I am an aspiring author and this is news to me. So, thanks again!

  4. Angelle
    May 29, 2007 @ 10:07:57

    Since ebooks pubbed by epublishers tend to pay about 35 – 40% royalty, it’s not that bad. If you have a book that’s priced at $5.00, you only need to sell about 1,143 copies to make $2K.

    As for novellas and short stories, they never qualified anyone for RWA PAN even under the old rules, so discussing them is irrelevant although they’ve been brought up a lot by unhappy short story / novella epub writers.

  5. Sarah McCarty
    May 29, 2007 @ 11:04:40

    I haven’t actually decided how I feel about this. I don’t think the current system works. I’m just not sure this is the solution. Then again, I can’t come up with an equitible counter proposal either.

  6. Emily
    May 29, 2007 @ 11:05:11

    I guestimated about 1500 copies would do it. Of course an e-writer could only apply after they sold, a paperback writer could apply based on the advance whether they ultimately earned out or not.

  7. Karen Scott
    May 29, 2007 @ 12:30:58

    So basically, e-pubbed authors can’t join unless they make $2000?

    Does this mean that authors now have to work harder in order to sell their books?

    Forgive me if I’m totally missing the point here, but what’s the big deal? They should be going all out to promote and sell their books anyway.

  8. Karen Scott
    May 29, 2007 @ 12:33:57

    If an author can’t make $2k, they probably have bigger worries than not being allowed to become a PAN member.

    Just sayin’.

  9. Jane
    May 29, 2007 @ 12:35:48

    Some of those Trisk authors weren’t making royalties in excess of $25 so I am guessing that there is a level of authors at these epublishers who are just not selling. On the other hand, if you are an author who sells in excess of $2000 at a non RWA recognized publisher, you would get to be a PAN right? That almost seems more fair.

  10. Caro
    May 29, 2007 @ 15:09:34

    Some of the concerns I’ve heard are from people who are now provisional PAN members because they are contracted with an RWA-recognized publisher and will be affected by this change. They’re not worried that they won’t make the $2,000, but that this could delay their change in status by a year or more. People who are provisional PAN end up in a sort of no-man’s land — they’re out of the PRO loops because they’ve sold, but they can’t take advantage of the PAN loops because they don’t have all the paperwork. Add a year on to the process, and I can understand why they are somewhat upset.

    It’s also something that could be easily changed to cover the broadest number of people — have a member be PAN-eligible if they sell to an RWA-recognized publisher or make $2,000 on a single title through a non-recognized publisher.

    That’s the suggestion I’m emailing to my board member, along with my comments on the GH/Rita changes (gotta do that tonight).

  11. Sara Dennis
    May 29, 2007 @ 17:43:42

    Karen,

    Making $2000 on a book is not necessarily an easy thing to do. If one sells, for instance, to a publisher (print or otherwise) that doesn’t pay an advance, or pays an advance less than $2000, you have to rely on royalties.

    And there are more than a few authors who don’t make, or who have not yet made, $2000 in royalties on a single book. Sad but true and it really doesn’t have to do entirely with marketing effort.

  12. Sarah McCarty
    May 30, 2007 @ 04:18:32

    There are small print houses like Avalon (sweet romances) that completely follow the accepted RWA approved model of advances etc, that won’t make it because they don’t earn out more than teir advance. (Ironically, this house was often held up as proof to epubs as a model of how a small press should do business) Because there are no provisions to grandfather in existing members, there are members of RWA that have been members for over a decade that will suddenly be demoted to non-professional status and put back in the prepub area of the organization. That, I think is wrong, but it won’t be the first time RWA has done it, so I wouldn’t say the organization wouldn’t do it again. Needless to say, I have a real problem with the lack of grandfathering. If people qualified due to the rules at the time and qualification is a one time thing, members should not be humilliated and stripped of their status and forced into a do over situation. I’m not sure why PAN has decide to “tighten” its standards, but I think the fact that grandfathering in current members wasn’t automatically part of the overhaul process makes the motivations behind the “decison” questionable to say the least. And the decision to do it at all disturbing.

  13. Charlene Teglia
    May 30, 2007 @ 07:44:28

    Sarah, never crossed my mind they wouldn’t grandfather existing members, but you’re right, it’s happened before. Although that is exactly why I hope it doesn’t go there again; there are still a lot of bad feelings years later.

    I understand that the changes in technology and new and evolving markets are causing organizations to struggle with how to change standards to reflect today’s realities. I don’t think it’s an easy task by any means.

  14. Sarah McCarty
    May 30, 2007 @ 08:05:31

    Charlene-

    You’re so much more diplomatic than I am. *G*.

    I’m extremely disturbed that the proposal goes out of its way to stress they are not going to grandfather in already approved members who have met their criteria for any number of years. Many of whom have worked hard for the organization’s causes as full fledged fully admitted PAN members. *sigh*

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