My royalties for publishing a book?
I’m in a few marketing forums online and there was a question in one of them recently about the royalties for publishing a book from someone who wanted to dive into the world of digital publishing. He asked…
How do you structure a digital publishing deal? What kind of percentage should go to the author. We are thinking of 5-10%. Is that % too low? Or can it be even lower?
Wow — you’ve probably had a strong reaction to that?
The members of the forum certainly did. From those who thought he was being insulting to the author, to those who thought he should not only ask for most of the royalty, but should also be taking an up-front fee.
So it got me thinking…
We authors always think we should have the lion’s share (because without our creative genius there is no product to market 😉 ). Yet marketers or publishers tend to assume they should be well rewarded (because that’s where the ongoing work is — the actual creation is a one-time process).
Breaking the norms
I know the “norm” in traditional publishing has been for the author share to be as low as 10%. Although with digital publishing a share of 50:50 is more typical (and by the way is what you should probably be asking for if you’re negotiating a digital deal right now).
But not all authors get this and, when the stakes are high, some choose to break away on their own.
In the old days the publisher had costs. Books aren’t cheap to produce. Then they have to be distributed, and marketed. There’s PR and publicity, and tours. All that promotion to do. And remember it’s the publisher who usually has the connections with the journalists and TV channels — not you.
But as sales of digital books balloon out of all proportion, and so much of what we do is online, and is being done by the author rather than the publisher, is this still fair?
Overheads are lower. Distribution costs are almost zero. And as an author, it’s pretty much assumed that you’ll put time and energy into own marketing — at least if you want to see decent sales.
So, what do you think?
From your — the author’s — perspective, what’s a ‘fair share’ here?
- Do you want to hold out for a 50:50 deal?
- Do you want to do it yourself because no-one else has your best interests at heart better than you?
- Or are you happy to give away 80% or 90% of your royalties if your publisher or marketer actually sells a lot of books and gets exposure for you?
After all a bigger share of a smaller pie still doesn’t add up to much of anything.
Some would say that it’s worth paying someone if they have the connections and the skills to sell more books for you.
And whichever side of the fence you fall, try not to tie yourself in to long contracts. one thing that is certain right now is that this world is changing rapidly. Promises made today might not hold true tomorrow.
Have you found a magic solution that works for you, do you prefer to do it yourself, or what would be your perfect ‘marketing heaven’ solution? I’d love to hear what you think — let us know on our facebook page.
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