The short story: The take home message for this quarterly report (in my opinion) = indie authors contemplating a trad publishing
deal: “It might also be a good time for agents to begin
including price ceilings in their negotiations with publishers. Their
revenue goes down as author earnings go down.“My list so far of factors to consider when contemplating a trad-pub deal (some obvious, some not so obvious):
1) How much control will I have creatively over my books (cover design, marketing, book content)? If I’m going to put my name on a book, then I want my readers to know it will deliver a certain level of quality. If I have no control over content, then how can I ask my readers to buy a book that isn’t truly mine?
2) Is the deal for eBook only? Or also for mass market paperback/audio as well? Foreign rights? If English-market eBook only, what are the publishers going to do that I can’t do for myself? … seriously. I want to know. Tell me.
3) Does the deal come with a “non-compete” window around the date of the trad published book? (meaning, how close to the date of the trad-pubbed book can I self-publish a book?) I would argue the window be no broader than one month on either side (before or after the release of the trad-pub book).
4) How much is the advance? If it’s low (i.e. less than 20k per book) then I know the publisher will do very little to ensure my book succeeds (because… why would they? They’ve invested nothing / very little).
5) Deadlines: Who decides when the book is due? How long do I have to write each book?
6) *NEW* Does the publisher employ agency pricing restrictions? If so, an eBook
price ceiling is needed/should be spelled out in the contract (for my
books, I feel like asking more than $7 per book would be untoward).
Background story: Last fall I was approached by a big 5 publisher about my books (3rd time in 18 months). Like the other 2 instances, I found no compelling reason to sign with a publisher (other than perhaps the opportunity to learn about publishing from a new perspective; still, 75% of my roylaties and no creative control over my books is a high price to pay for what I might gain just as well during a seminar… but I digress).
I still haven’t unmasked the benefits (for me, for my genre, for my situation) of signing with a publisher as I’ve yet to meet a person who can articulate the benefits… again, I digress. ANYWAY, I’m always looking out for pieces of information
that I can tuck away for future reference. Therefore, I keep a list of factors to consider when contemplating a trad-pub deal.
Other take home messages from the report:
The return to agency pricing of ebooks is hurting the revenue of the
big-5 publishers (and their authors), but they’ve made a conscious
choice to force Amazon into agency (higher) pricing in an effort to
curtail amazon’s superiority/dominance of the eBook market.
2) Increased prices of big 5 publisher books means that Indie Authors are taking more of the market (on Amazon and elsewhere).
As usual, indie authors make significantly more money than
trad-published authors per book, but also are making more money
(combined) than the big-5 published authors (combined).
4) If you’re negotiating with a big-5 pub, you might want to include a price ceiling ($7) for your book.
How about you?
What do you consider when evaluating a trad-pub deal? Have I missed anything glaring?