Monday Midday Links: Coming Soon Booklist
Because sleep is for the dead, I spent some time in the past few weeks compiling a list of upcoming books. I hope you find this helpful. I have more to add (see the prefatory note on the upcoming books page).
In the UK, authors receive a royalty every time someone checks their book out from the library. These are called PLR fees. These fees are in jeopardy of being reduced and the reduction will affect romance authors the most. Some romance authors earn more through PLR scheme than through royalty payments.
Authors receive just over six pence per loan, up to a cap of £6,600, through the Public Lending Right (PLR) scheme, something many describe as a “lifeline”. Along with all bodies funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the scheme’s budget is being reduced this year by 3%, to £7.45m, and authors are desperately concerned that further reductions will be forthcoming in the autumn, when the government’s next spending review is published.
Amazon has added embedded video and audio in books playable on the iPhone and iPad. I can see this being a great boon for how to manuals and recipe books.
Colleen Lindsay started a debate about how agents should get paid in the future. Apparently many feel that moving away from a contingency fee toward a flat rate or per piece payment is awful. In the law, there are two ways for lawyers to get paid – by the hour and contingency fee. There is nothing inherently immoral about either method. Contingency fee system allows lawyers to take on riskier cases in hopes for a great reward but it’s not a morally better method of being paid by a principal.
Nadia Lee and agents at Wylie Merrick support a reading fee (i.e. a fee prospective authors pay to have their pieces read by an agent.
I think all of these things are fine so long as there is a good governing body. By this I mean that agents should be regulated with a clear code of ethics and a clear method in which to bring complaints and have those investigated. I remain surprised that literary agents aren’t policed in such a manner.
Agent Andrew Wylie is making threats that he is going to start bypassing publishers and selling direct to etailers like Google or Amazon if publishers don’t come up with better digital book royalties.
Considering that most publishers won’t buy without digital rights, it will be interesting to see what comes of Wylie’s threats.
Moriah Jovan suggests that authors aren’t going to get rich by publishing through New York and that it will be the intermediaries that benefit in the new system. Jovan urges authors to consider self publishing as a way to making a liveable income off of writing.
Don’t like my analysis of ebooks and ebook readers? Try Jason Perlow’s article on for size. He compares the Apple iPad apps for reading. He likes BN Reader App with the Kindle second.
Wow, I loved Moriah’s book, and I think she may be in the minority right now of folks who have made money self-pubbing. (The big guys aside.) My own recent experiment in self-pubbing was so difficult that I’ve accepted an offer of pubbing the same book from a new small house. The work of marketing is overwhelming for a self-pubbed title. I’d never get any writing done. If that is the wave of the future, a lot of authors who aren’t great marketers are in trouble.
I would not pay any agent to read my manuscript, unless it is an in depth critique or for charity. And maybe not even then. Most unagented authors don’t have the cash to pay for a rejection–which they get most of the time. I think it’s more likely that many agents will be forced out of the business.
You didn’t get the data quite right on PLR. An author doesn’t get a certain amount every time a book is checked out, she gets a payment based on a sample that is taken. So no, it’s not book out – 6p to the author, like a kind of royalty. We wish! It’s not a flat rate, either. The money doesn’t come from the library coffers, or the public purse, btw.
A reading fee for agents? Are they kidding? They’ll still get the desperate, but that’s all. No way would I pay an agent to read my books.
Wylie is one of the few agents with the clout to carry his threat through, and he represents some major clients. Good on him.
Self publishing? Not for me. I just don’t have the money, skills and platform it would take to make a success of the venture. I’d have to pay out a lot more than my publishers currently take to earn what I do.
And have a happy Monday. After watching Muse on Saturday night at Glastonbury, I still feel good.
Not all authors receive PLR. Even in this computer age of records only some libraries are sampled. My local library has only been on the PLR list once in about 25 years. It makes a big difference to regional authors.
Ciar, thanks, lady! Didn’t know you’d read it.
Now, I HAVE made money self-pubbing. My profits for The Proviso alone qualify me for membership in RWA PAN (if I ever got a yen to apply). It’s not close to a living wage. It may GROW to be, as it’s been out 18 months, and book 2 has been out seven months, and I have another coming out on Easter next year, but I have the luxury of time and freedom. In fact, I consider those my most important allies right now.
I do NOT think it’s a way to make a living income for the majority of writers, but I also don’t think ANY OTHER WAY is, either. I’d like a show of hands of published authors who could write full time without a backup income (spouse, day job, trust, lottery).
So my point of the article was for writers to find some way to branch out and gain some ancillary skills to make money that may also translate into sales.
My experiment in self-publishing has now become a full-time-and-more business of ebook formatting. My publishing company, B10 Mediaworx, has another niche imprint for literary works, headed up by the guy who edited my second book (and every one henceforth forever and ever amen) (Eric Jepson, for those who are looking for Teh Most Awesomest Editor evAR) But those books, while worthy of being published, couldn’t be published were I not making money formatting ebooks.
My position is that good writers need some other skills that complement and boost the writing effort. That’s all.
As for the money I’ve made, I look at some of my self-pub compadres who are well out of romancelandia and doing so much better than I, but… I wrote something unsaleable by most standards and… they didn’t. :) So for what I wrote, and continue to write, I feel successful with the money I’ve made, yes.
The most important thing, though, is that there are people out there (ones who don’t know me!!!) who are willing to pay for what I wrote and read it and become my fans–the ones who now trust me to take them on any ride I want to build.
That’s why I self-published. I wanted to be read.
Don’t most writers?
PLR isn’t just a system in the UK. Many countries operate a similar system and several have reciprocal arrangements with the UK. It isn’t a royalty but rather a lump sum based of the number of times a title is checked out from sample libraries.
So, for every agent a writer sent their submission to, they would have to pay a fee in order to get their manuscript read? I’m so not for that at all.
I would have to pay in order to get published? If so, I would just go the self-publishing way instead.
I agree but it’s not so surprising that something like this isn’t in place considering the many scam artists and such that keep popping up with no regulated system to stop them before they hatch (aside from P&E and Writer Beware blogs). Plus, a lot of authors and other works mainly keep tight lipped about unscrupulous agents so it can be tough to know their work ethics before it’s too late.
It reminds me of Dean Wesley Smith’s awesome publishing myth buster series (recommended reading for all authors) where he mentioned that agents are not regulated at all and anyone can basically become an agent. I’ve heard this more than once from other veterans in the industry. Especially the ones that now rely on IP lawyers instead of agents as they have in the past. Even though there’s the AAR, it doesn’t really weed out any particulars but it would be nice if it kicked up a watchdog system of some sort. Even if previous clients submit something anonymously it’d be immensely helpful for feedback before the ball gets rolling.
The publishing industry overall is really feeling like the wild wild west once again. On one hand it’s exhilarating because of the things mentioned in Moriah’s wonderful post (thank you so much for linking that) about authors and how they can handle their own writing fates for the future. On the other hand it’s a bit scary because of a crumbling system that’s been ongoing for centuries opening up a completely new world.
As strongly as I suppport PLR, I’m not surprised it’s getting reduced in the UK right now; in fact, I’m surprised it’s only 3% so far (though the autumn budget will probably hit it far harder). Considering the cuts in other sectors, and the fact the Olympics have pretty much sucked the culture budget dry for foreseeable future, it’s lucky it hasn’t been scrapped altogether.
(not bitter about the Olympics at all… I’d love it when one month events potentially cost jobs in the middle of a recession)
Thank you for the coming soon booklist!!