Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Last talk of the day at DBW

Last talk of my day.

Author Royaties for Ebooks.

Survey of agents re: royalties.  130 responses from 400 they contacted.  7 CEO’s from publishers.  There was some inevitable bias.  Conversations were candid.  Some of the agents comments differed from the CEO’s.  50% is a fair royalty from agents, 20% from publishers.  The publishers have legacy operations they have to take  care of. 

Publishers look at from in two buckets.  Per unit royalty per units sold.  Charging the overheard attributable to the print side to the digital side. 

Publishers are trying to walk agents through to understand what the costs are. Agents are saying, show me the math.

The overall impact for ebacks is favorable for authors for backlists.
Publishers are saying they need a year or two to see how this works out.

Are the digital going to impact hard copy sales or vice versa?  Nobody knows.

25% royalties with the majors.  Random House was offering 50% but not the norm.  Some publishers have followed that.  Some back list books with ambiguous rights have garnered higher royalties.  Might not still be happening.  Publishers say that’s only the backlist.

Smaller publishers are paying lower royalties.  Although, some can be brow-beaten to pay higher. 

Rights.  Two thirds of the agents think it would not prevent them from doing an ebook outside of the contract.  Not all non compete clauses are the same. 

Agents expect the US publishers to collect local market for ebooks.

90% of the agents say they have heard authors are interested in self publishing.  Publishers feel they have the edge with by offering an advance.

Amazon is only a piece of the market.  You have to do more to market to all of the distributors.

25% is going to stick for awhile.  This will weaken as print sales weaken.  If and when this whole issue will be revisited. speaker  Russ Grandinetti the Kindle.  Looking to reinvent reading, while emulating the best features of the book.

Goal to reach customers around the world.
How does the device change a customers habits
3.3 times greater purchases in a year of having the Kindle. 
Greater than 3 to 1 sales of ebooks over actual books.  However fast we think this is happening, it’s happening even faster than we can imagine.

Print plus digital sales are going up higher than ones that are just digital.

24% of orders are done before street date.  Having it up pre-street date is incredibly important. 

Kindle singles
Compelling ideas expressed in their natural length. 
Typically 5,000 to 30,000 words
$0.99 o- $4.99

Making a book free for a month. Sold six or seven times more with the books they did that with.  Not suggesting free books are where books should go. 

Pricing is somewhat controversial.  If you think of pricing ebooks compared to traditional books, don’t.  Pricing a book in the traditional market can sometimes make someone walk away from a book if it’s too expensive.  He wants the book to compete. 

Printing on demand will become more and more important.  They can have a book ready in hours from the order and ready to ship out. (Paperbacks)  Below 2,000 units it’s cheaper to make a print on demand copy.  (Perpetual in-stock)  (CAN WE DO PICTURE BOOKS THIS WAY?)

Amazon needs improvement in the areas of cooking and children’s books and are hoping we can all help.  (Is it just book categories which begin with the letter, ‘c’?)

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”  Alan Kay


  1. These notes are tremendous! thanks so, so much for sharing them.

  2. Wow! This is amazing and interesting information! Thank you! I see why your head is spinning!!!

  3. Agents are saying, show me the math.”

    That is the question, plus which format? Don’t allow complexity to confuse... ask for specifics and deadlines. If they don’t know them, how can they decide what to pay authors?