KISS my eBook royalites (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

It’s an overused phrase, but one that we have used to avoid the growing pains that the new eBook world is creating for royalties. We think we’ve cracked the payment issue on eBook royalties for our authors in a way that is fair to the authors, but doesn’t shackle our growth.

eBook sales have hit 33% of our sales last month but in the Sherlock Holmes genre, in which we are ‘one of the leading publishers in the world’ – whatever leading means – it is nudging 50% in some countries. This presented us with a dilemma a while back as the complexity started.

With ebooks we have typically significantly lower RRPs, and a desire/market requirement/moral obligation (select your preferred description) to pay our authors more money on the ebooks as we make more margin. Yes all you publishing bleating hearts with your ‘but ebooks costs are much more than they appear’ can argue the toss about that but come on lads and lasses, in the medium to long term we’re much better off.

Layer on the 6 currencies we are already operating in (eek) which is growing and giving us palpitations every time the £ gets a hammering from the Euro and we have a potential scale limiting mess. Well, the good news is we’ve fixed it – I think.

We now pay a gross RRP % royalty based on the UK GBP RRP of the paperback version – irrespective of the format and channel and have changed our contracts to reflect that too. In practice what does that mean?

1)    Authors are getting % gross on the paperback, unchanged, but the eBook % equivalent is between 25-35% depending on the channel and is very easily explained to them.

2)    Reporting for royalties is a doddle – just add up the total amount sold in the formats (we are in 7 so far at last count) and the calculation is simple.

So one big headache removed plus the added benefit that it reinforces the “if you don’t have a blog, don’t bother sending us your manuscript” (engage with social media please) position with the authors. A ‘Kindled Up’ reader is much more likely to be highly influenced by social media so if the author clocks they are earning 35% from Kindle sales they may well get their blogging head on.

Comments

Very interesting

I personally enjoy seeing the inside look at things like e-books because amazon and the rest make it a bit more complicated than needed.  A lot of kindle books are also very low percentage as you mention, which I find a bit silly given that the formatting etc is all paid for by you and there's no tangiability to the item.  Still very interesting thanks for the insight Is publishing an open-access journal good business? And for whom? Many in the academic community agree that the goal of open access—increasing the availability and usability of the results of research and scholarship—is laudable. Yet there is great uncertainty about the financial viability of open-access journals. Will authors have to pay publication fees out of their own pockets? Can universities afford to support open-access journals? Can respected journals convert to open access and survive? 

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