Round up #142: flat rate royalties, eReaderIQ worked for me
The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.
eReaderIQ saved me $25
I frequently recommend
to my readers. I think it’s the best resource for Kindle owners on the internet. One of the useful features is that you can list a book there, and get a free e-mail when it goes down an amount you specify.
Universal Horrors (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shoppin*)
by Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas, John Brunas
a long time ago. I was a big fan of Famous Monsters of Filmland and have watched a lot of the old horror movies (Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy) from Universal…multiple times. The book is supposed to be a good history…but the digital list price is $29.99. I’ve had it on my Wish List, and thought I might get it as a gift…but when I got the e-mail from eReaderIQ that it had dropped to $3.99, I bought it.
My Significant Other is out of town for a few days (those are always difficult days) helping our adult kid move, so it was good to have a special book to read.
This is a book I’m not going to do with text-to-speech in the car, because of all the pictures I want to see.
I’m about 5% into it, and while it is certainly an important work with good documentation, I’m a bit disappointed. In writing about the Lugosi Dracula (1931, and the one that really kicked off the sound cycle of Universal Horror), the authors adopt the all too common position of “If you were educated like us, you wouldn’t like it.” I want to be fair, so I’ll quote them:
“The flaws inherent in Dracula are so self-evident that they are outlined in nearly every modern-day critique; only Lugosi freaks and the nostalgically inclined still go through the motions of praising and defending the film.”
There is nothing wrong with having an opinion and including it in your writing, of course…that can be done without condemning opposing opinions, though. I may have been old-fashioned in expecting a more neutral tone in a history.
Still, to be clear, I think the book is well worth it. If you need to get a gift now for someone who was a “Monster Kid” or otherwise is a fan of these movies (and Universal is starting them up again, as their own “Cinematic Universe”, a la Marvel), this is a great price! You can delay the delivery until the appropriate gift-giving occasion. Check the price before you click or tap that Buy button…it can change any time.
Great illustration of the value of eReaderIQ!
Judging a book by its Amazon-friendly cover
This is an interesting
Wall Street Journal article by Lucy Feldman
talking about how publishers are designing their covers to optimize sales on Amazon (which the article says now sells 45% of the books in the USA).
That means the book has to stand out in a thumbnail…maybe a couple of centimeters (one inch, roughly) tall.
The article has a great illustration with a bunch of current books which have yellow covers.
It makes sense…you could hypothetically have different covers for e-books and p-books (paperbooks), but that would reduce the impact of multiple exposures to the same item (often necessary before someone buys it)…and they aren’t talking about just e-books, but p-books bought on Amazon.
PrimeNow comes to Walnut Creek, CA
We don’t live in Walnut Creek (across the Bay from San Francisco and farther east than Oakland), but I do work there sometimes.
This Amazon delivery truck was recently spotted there…probably connected to
just starting up delivery there.
That means that I could hypothetically be at work, and order, say, a Nylabone chew toy for the dogs and get it within two hours…at no additional cost beyond our Prime membership.
If we suddenly find out we are going to a party and need a gift, we could have a
Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*)
in hand in two hours…one hour, if we are willing to pay $7.99 (I haven’t checked, but I assume that’s available in Walnut Creek).
There’s what looks like a weekly 50% off section, and I get $10 back on the first order.
This feels like a game changer…
Kindle for Kids bundle on sale for a limited time
Kindle for Kids Bundle with the latest Kindle, 2-Year Accident Protection, Blue Kid-Friendly Cover (at AmazonSmile*):
which is the basic Kindle, plus a cover, plus a better warranty than you usually get…and it’s $89.99 right now.
With royalties, is flat where it’s at?
How authors get paid may seem esoteric, but it has a huge impact on what you read.
Not every author makes their living writing…but for the ones that do, how they get paid, and how much they get paid affects not only whether they write at all (or give it up and get a different sort of job/income stream), but what they write.
Back in the pulp days, authors might get a penny a word…and the same pulp magazine wasn’t going to publish five stories from the same author in the same issue.
That meant that authors might write in a wide variety of genres and under a number of different pen names, just to get as much published as they could.
For example, Robert E. Howard, best known for Conan the Barbarian, wrote boxing stories (I’ve read some…bought them with a misleading cove, but I did enjoy them), Westerns, detective stories, comedies…even “spicy” stories.
When an author (often through an agent, traditionally) licenses the rights to a publisher, it’s for a specific format or formats. One publisher might have the hardback rights and another one might have the paperback rights (less common today than it used to be).
E-books are a relatively new format (Amazon turned it from fringe to…somewhat mainstream in late 2007), so new negotiations and new rates are involved.
That’s all been pretty confusing and in flux. What is the right royalty rate for an e-book? Should it be based on the suggested retail price (the list price), on what was actually paid for it, or on the profit? What about an advance…should that be like a hardback?
Oh, a couple of quick term definitions. A royalty is something paid to the author for each book sold (I’m keeping this simple). An advance is something paid by the publisher to the author before the first book is sold. The publisher then keeps the royalties from sales until they equal the advance. That’s usually something for either well-known, “brand name” authors, or perhaps a celebrity who doesn’t usually write books (someone involved in a scandal might get one). The advance may happen before the book is even written…which might allow the author to not have another job while writing it.
Different pay method are being explored and suggested.
Publishers Weekly article by Rachel Deahl
looks at the idea of a “flat rate” across formats…authors would get the same rate for a sale, whether it was an e-book or a p-book.
I have a tough time seeing how that would work. Oh, I suppose it could work if it was all based on profit, not list price or sale price. Otherwise, the publisher has different cost burdens for different formats.
Authors would generally not want something to be based on profit, because you effectively have to trust the publisher on that. Many an actor who took a percentage of the box office was surprised when somehow, a blockbuster movie didn’t make any profit.😉 The studio might charge expenses (like sets and costumes) for a whole franchise to a single movie’s costs, for example.
I had something like that happen to me.
I was managing a game store…hadn’t been there long. As the manager, I got a bonus based on the holiday sales. I was doing well…yes, I was working 120 hours a week (I didn’t want to make my assistant managers work 80 hours a week on their salaries, so I opened and closed the store all the time), but my Significant Other and I figured we had a hefty bonus coming.
Well, I could do the math. I said, “What happened?”
Owner: “You bought the bags.”
Me: “I bought the bags?”
Owner: “We have four stores, right? We rotate which store buys for all four stores each quarter. This quarter, your store did…and being the holidays, there were a lot of bags.”
That was a surprise!
Authors and agents don’t want surprises.
In the article, they talk about maybe a 50% royalty rate for e-books.
That brings up the challenge for publishers.
Authors can independently publish through Amazon, and by meeting certain not complicated guidelines, get seventy percent.
That means that publishers certainly don’t have all the power in the relationship.
Amazon’s terms are very clear, generally easy to understand for a newbie. They revolutionized the pay cycle, with authors getting paid more often.
Right now, authors who already have successful relationships with traditional publisher are understandably reluctant to switch away to something which is still developing.
New authors, especially agentless ones, won’t have the same reluctance.
Then there is the whole issue of subsers (subscription services), but that’s a ride to take another time.😉
What do you think? Can traditional publishers continue to offer services to authors which are worth the writers getting lower royalties? If you have PrimeNow in your city, why do you ever go to a store for something it carries? Will we see the end of intricate book covers? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.