Tag Archives: Royalties

5 Legal Terms Every Author Should Know…

We never hear this enough! Thanks, Chris!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Extract from an article by Writer and Lawyer Helen Sedgwick:

What is the worst mistake an indie author can make?

A bad book cover? A poorly edited manuscript? A hokey website?

No. It’s losing control over your work.legal terms

Pause and Read the Fine Print

Your work is valuable property, just like your car or home. You wouldn’t hand over your car keys to a stranger you met on the internet. You wouldn’t let someone with a slick website move into your guest room. Yet, every day, writers click ACCEPT to contracts with self-publishing companies that take too much control over the author’s work.

Why? Because they can’t bring themselves to read the fine print.

If you are like most people, online contracts with all those legal terms look like 5000 words run through a blender. My goal is to show you where and what to look for, so you can…

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Filed under business of writing, Copyright for writers, ebooks publishing and selling, indie publishing, Money issues for writers, Myths and Truths for writers, Print on Demand for fiction writers, Publishing, publishing contracts, Self-publishing, small presses, Smashwords, Writing, writing novels

Terrific Post on Reading Your Contract!

Typewriter publishThanks to PubCrawl and Kelly Van Sant for this clear and comprehensive piece about red flags in publishing contracts.

It should be required reading!


Filed under business of writing, Money issues for writers, Publishing, publishing contracts, reversion of rights clauses, small presses, Writing, writing novels

For Authors: E-mail Marketing Companies Compared

Thanks to Brittney Sahin for a look at some of the promotion options available! I haven’t tried this yet, but this post encourages me to consider it!


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During the holiday season I decided to try out 3 different e-mail marketing companies for my first novel, Silenced Memories. I will discuss the results of each below. I did attempt to submit my book to 3 other websites as well, but they were booked (because many other authors were probably thinking the same thing-holiday promotion!)

  1. December 5th- ENT- E-Reader News Today

Sale price Dec. 5th-Dec. 6th

Price for ‘romance suspense’ – $45 (price varies depending on genre)

E-book discounted from $2.99 to $.99

Books sold on day 1: 208 Amazon; less than 10 between ibooks & nook

Books sold on day 2 (no promo running): 46 Amazon; less than 5 (ibooks/nook)

Overall results: I think this campaign was very successful. Gaining that many new readers was great. I also reached #69 on romance suspense on Amazon (for a few hours!) & #49 on romance military. I made my money back…

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Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, indie publishing, Money issues for writers, Self-publishing, Writing, writing novels

Victoria Strauss’s Year-End Post List

Hand in books

Something here for every aspiring writer! Strauss is one of the best resources around! Info on contracts, social media, marketing, promotion—check it out!

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Filed under blogging, business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, Finding literary agents for writers, indie publishing, Learning to write, looking for literary editors and publishers, Money issues for writers, Myths and Truths for writers, Publishing, publishing contracts, reversion of rights clauses, Self-publishing, Writing, writing novels

Important advice on publishing contracts!

Writer with questionsFound this at Writers in the Storm today. Here’s what I wrote as a comment:

I had old contracts that required me to give notice and then wait 90 days for the publisher to decide whether or not to re-activate the titles. While I was pretty sure the rights to at least one of the books had already been passed on and then returned to me by another publisher, I went through the steps as laid out in the contracts. The hard part was finding the right place to send my notice. The web site (of a major publisher) was no help. I found a “permissions” link and wrote asking that my request be forwarded to the right person. That eventually happened. and I eventually received written confirmation of the reversion.
The clauses you provide would have saved me a lot of trouble. I’m not sure they were standard when my books were originally published, but for future publications, I’ll be on the lookout! Thanks for some solid advice!

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I Continue to Learn about Publishing. . . .

Following up on the rather alarming article by Dean Wesley Smith that one of my earlier posts linked to, I wrote to some agents and publishing experts requesting their thoughts. Question marksDespite dealing with a family emergency, Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware took the time to write back with a compelling clarification of Smith’s more extreme claims. With her permission, I reproduce her reply here. You’ll note a link to a very thorough article on the issue of reversion-of-rights clauses in contracts. If you’re on the verge of querying or have an offer, this article is well worth your time.

Here is Victoria’s reply to my questions:

Taking your questions in order:

1) Is it true that “life-of-copyright” is now the industry standard,
so that rights never revert, regardless of the original publisher’s
intentions for the book?

Life of copyright has _always_ been the industry standard among large and medium-size publishers. This is nothing new, and I’m bemused that Dean Wesley Smith would say that it is.

I do think that a limited-term contract is far more desirable, if you’re going with a small press (and small presses do often offer limited-term contracts–though life-of-copyright is not at all uncommon in the small press world). But life of copyright doesn’t have to be a problem–as long as there’s a detailed, specific reversion clause that ties rights reversion to minimum sales (for instance, making rights reversion automatic on author request once sales drop below 100 copies in any 12-month period). I’ve written about this in detail here: http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2012/04/importance-of-reversion-clauses-in-book.html .

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual to encounter life of copyright contracts that _don’t_ have adequate reversion clauses–especially in the small press world, where people often don’t know what they’re doing. You may be able to negotiate to add a good reversion clause–my agent has negotiated sales-dependent reversion clauses into all my contracts since at least the early 2000’s–but, depending on the publisher, you may also choose to walk away from a life of copyright contract offer with inadequate reversion provisions. It’s definitely something to watch out for. But the reality is a lot more nuanced than what’s presented in Dean Wesley Smith’s post.

2) Is it true that authors who were once seen as “midlist” should
now assume they will most likely be offered $5000 or less as an
advance? (I received that amount for my first novel, but much more
for subsequent submissions that definitely did not quality as
“best-sellers,” though they sold respectably.)

Advances have generally fallen, especially since the 2008 economic downturn. But they are all over the map, so it’s impossible to make a blanket declaration. Advance amounts depend on all kinds of factors, including your agent (or if you have one; authors without agents tend to get lower advances), the publisher (smaller publishers generally offer smaller advances), what the publisher’s expectations of your books are–and, unfortunately, if you have a publishing track record, the sales of your previous books. In any case, if your sales are good, you’ll get the money owed to you regardless of the advance amount.

As for the whole “midlist” thing (that word doesn’t mean what it used to)–a lot has changed in the publishing world over the past 15 to 20 years, and one of the things that’s changed most is how hard it is to stay in the game. I don’t think it’s any more difficult to break into traditional publishing than it ever was (possibly easier, given the huge volume of books that are being published), but it is a lot more difficult to maintain a career, especially if your sales aren’t stellar.

   3) the proliferation of “royalty only” publishers. How are such
entities regarded in the industry at present? Is this a coming wave?

This really is a phenomenon only in the small press world, which has expanded hugely over the past 15 or so years thanks to digital technology. These days, anyone can set up a publishing company just by registering with CreateSpace or LightningSpark. One of the ways many small presses try to limit their financial outlay is to eliminate advances. This is extremely common, and has been for some time. However, don’t believe anyone who tells you that advances are becoming less common among large and medium-sized publishers, or that debut authors no longer receive advances. This simply isn’t true.

There are some great small presses, but an awful lot of amateur and predatory ones whose staff know little about editing, production, design, and marketing. When Writer Beware was founded in 1998, we mostly got complaints about literary agents and scam vanity publishers; these days, small press problems make up by far the biggest volume of complaints we receive. In many cases, self-publishing is preferable.

– Victoria

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Filed under business of writing, ebooks publishing and selling, Finding literary agents for writers, indie publishing, Money issues for writers, Myths and Truths for writers, publishing contracts, reversion of rights clauses, Self-publishing, Working with literary editors, writing novels

Five Questions Indie Authors Should Ask Agents

A couple of posts ago I linked to an article that took me to this post from Dean Wesley Smith, in which he informed us that the current industry standard in traditional publishing is “life-of-copyright,” which basically means that we will never regain the rights to our work, regardless of the publisher’s intentions for our books, and that the most we can expect in the way of advances is $5000 or so.

I’ve posted questions about these claims to a couple of active blogs on the business of writing, including to an agent’s blog, and will be posting to others. In my searches, I came across this post about how indie authors should expect agents to protect their rights, which is directly relevant to these issues.

This appeared on the web site of the Alliance of Independent Authors. I’m following their blog and will share interesting information.


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I’m venturing into self-publishing …

I’m venturing into self-publishing ….

From brittneysahin, who reposted it from Nicola Prentis. When you click through Brittney’s site to the full piece (Prentis), BE SURE to follow her link to the Dean Wesley Smith argument for self-publishing over traditional publishing. I’m really rethinking all this. I think we get caught up in the fantasy of that six-figure advance, when the reality is going to be much different. And just having retrieved the rights to my earlier novels from Bantam, I’m appalled at the “Life-of-Copyright” language that Smith says is now standard in contracts. If so, that’s a deal breaker, and it should be for us all.

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Filed under Finding literary agents for writers, Myths and Truths for writers, Self-publishing

Authors’ Guild Advocacy on Fair Contracts for Writers

Found this on Twitter today. Absolutely essential knowledge for all of us approaching this point. This information mirrors much of what I learned the hard way when I published in the 1980s and 1990s: for example, that you never get the lump sum you think your advance is going to be. I am lucky in that I had reversion-of-rights language in my contracts (thanks, J and L) so that I have been able to self-publish my previously published books as ebooks. But it looks as if not everyone is so fortunate. In any case, this information is worth keeping up with:


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