Tag Archives: author’s rights

Let’s talk money: Author royalties, or how much do you think you should be paid?

As I said last week, things have gotten increasingly difficult for new writers. No longer do editors and agents proffer a helping hand to those of us who have a fabulous manuscript that needs some help. Instead, writers are not only expected to write a brilliant book, and do impeccable research that underpins their flights of fancy (especially true for historical novelists) but they are also expected to sell their books.

The shocking thing is that this is not just true for those of us who choose to self-publish, it’s also true for those who choose to go the traditional publishing route.

The dirty little secret is that publishers will not help their mid-list authors. And these authors typically don’t find this out until it’s too late, when the 3-4 month window of opportunity for selling their book has passed.

But that’s not the worst of it. The worst part about it is the low royalties that authors are expected to accept. Typically, authors are paid 6% to 10% on the NET price of the book. Net price means the price listed on the cover that’s been discounted by anywhere from 40% to 66%.

Let’s do the math. Supposing the price listed on the cover of your book is $15.95. The net price of your book will be around $8, if 50% is knocked off. What’s 10% of $8? It’s 80 cents. What’s 6%? It’s 48 cents.

Think about that. Think about all the hard work you’ve done to write your novel, and you get paid less than a dollar per book. It’s insulting.

When I think about my novels, I think about how I poured myself into them. I think about how emotional they made me. I think about the considerable amount of thought I had to put into each one, in order for it to be interesting (and easy) to read.  And I think about the fact that writing a novel is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, including writing a PhD dissertation.

This is not just about money. It’s about self-respect and respect from others. Do you like being used? Do you like having that feeling of being screwed over when you’ve poured yourself into your novel? Of course you don’t.

What can you do about it? How about self-publishing? Let’s do some more math. If you sell your novel for $2.99 on Amazon, you pocket 70% of the proceeds. How much is 70% of $2.99?

$2.09.

What does that mean? By publishing it yourself, you make anywhere from TWO AND A HALF TO FOUR TIMES what you would make with a traditional publisher. And considering that a traditional publisher isn’t even going to bother to market your book (unless you happen to be that lucky author with a blockbuster on your hands), you might as well publish it yourself and pocket the proceeds.

OK, so what’s the catch?

The catch is that you’re going to have to spend an enormous amount of time marketing your work so that it actually moves. I have seen e-books sitting on Amazon, dead in the water, because no-one knows they are there. Yes, you have to sacrifice the time you would spend writing your next novel to market this one. And that is a big decision to make.

Image: 80 cents from raisetheroop.com

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear. HE MUST BE SOMEONE is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment

Filed under How to Publish Your Novel

Dan Poynter’s SELF-PUBLISHING MANUAL

I was going to write about something else today, but I’ve just finished reading Dan Poynter’s THE SELF-PUBLISHING MANUAL, and I think this is such an important book for an aspiring writer, that I’ve decided to share my observations.

The history of publishing in the last 100 years, has been one of increasing difficulty for writers. (And I’m not even talking about the insultingly low royalties that writers are expected to put up with! ) Up to the 1980s, it was not unreasonable to hope that an editor might take you on, even though you were an aspiring writer with a flawed first manuscript. Then editors got too busy to do that, so agents took over that role, and found publishing houses whose job it was to sell your books.

As many of you know, the new reality of publishing is that traditional publishers no longer see it as their job to sell your book, unless they think it is going to be a blockbuster. Too many authors have assumed that publishers will market their books, only to find out too late that very little effort was expended in that direction.

This is why Dan Poynter’s book is so valuable, both for those who choose to publish with a traditional publisher and those who choose to self publish. Why? Because I have never met an author who was so thorough and conscientious at explaining all the ins and outs of something.

You want a marketing plan for selling your novel? Buy this book, and flip through it. The chapter outlines will tell you exactly what to do. If you’re still unsure, Appendix 1 gives you a calendar of what to do, while Appendix 2 gives an exhaustive list of resources. Need more help? Go to his website, www.parapublishing.com, and you will find more articles, some free, some for a modest price.

If you do nothing else, buy this book. No-one else is going to care as much about selling your novel as you are.

I know. You would much rather be writing than selling, and thinking about selling gives you indigestion. But if you want people to read your books, you are going to have to do something to make them more visible.

Best of luck, and feel free to share your experiences by commenting below.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear. HE MUST BE SOMEONE is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.


Leave a Comment

Filed under Book Review, How to Publish Your Novel, Promoting Yourself