My Friday posts are usually full of fun and frivolity, but today I've a discussion instead. Several people, here and elsewhere have expressed an interest as to what I think about e-publishers. I swore I'd never go there. I swore up and down and sideways, I'd never go there. Guess what? I'm being swayed. I should rephrase that -- I'm being swayed to think about it more.
My reasons for not heading straight to an e-publisher with MASQUERADE were very simple in the beginning. I wanted it to be a BOOK. A tangible, living, breathing thing, that people can hold in their hands, laugh with, cry with, then send on to their best friend saying, "Oh, this is so wonderful, you've simply got to read this." You know how you feel when you've read a good book, you want to pass it on. With an e-book you can't. (I don't think.) Unless your friends have their own e-reading device. You certainly aren't going to let them borrow your reader.
After reading Roni's post the other day (Fiction Groupie) and her discussion on the pros and cons of e-publishing, I went to a couple of e-pub web-sites. Some were very well presented, some were kind of schmaltzy, some made me want to cringe. The only one who gave (that I read anyway) any kind of mention of renumeration was Samhain Publishing.
Now I'm not crass enough to ask my published writer friends how much money they made on a book or what their contract looks like but being who I am, (and in the restaurant business for so long) I always want to know 'the numbers'. I appreciate Samhain's posting this on their website.
"Our pricing philosophy
Samhain believes the price of an ebook should be less than a print book; after all, it doesn’t need to be printed, stored or shipped! Why should it equal the cost of a print book? Samhain is dedicated to delivering excellent books at reasonable prices.
Short Stories: $2.50 12,000 to 18,000 words
Novellas: $3.50 18,001 to 35,000 words
Category: $4.50 35,001 to 60,000 words
Novel: $5.50 60,001 to 100,000 words
Plus Novel: $6.50 over 100,000 words
Royalty and Contracts
Samhain is a royalty paying ebook company that offers 40% of the cover price (as set by Samhain Publishing, Ltd) for a single-author ebook.
The author is not required to pay any fees for editing or for publishing in either digital or print. We are NOT a vanity publisher.
Our contract requests full rights to the work, including both digital and print, is fully negotiable and available for review upon acceptance of your story.
5.1. Will I have to pay to publish my book or for it to go to print?
Absolutely not. Samhain is not a vanity or subsidy publisher. We pay royalties (40% of the cover price on single-author ebooks sold through My Bookstore and More, 30% of the cover price on single-author ebooks sold through third-party vendors, and 8% of the cover price on single-author print books), and we require no money from authors at any stage of the publishing process.
5.2. What are your terms of contract? May I review the contract?
Our contract is for seven years, requires full rights, including digital and print, and is fully negotiable. All details are available for review when we offer a contract for your book.
5.3. If I contract the first book of a series with Samhain, do I have to give you first refusal on subsequent books in the series?
No. Samhain contracts one book at a time. We hope you’ll love working with us enough to send us all your other books, but we want you to be free to make that decision for yourself."(All of this in italics was taken directly from the pages of the Samhain Publishing web-site.)
So for my novel (95K) to be published by them, I would get $2.00 per book. From them. Consequently, if I sold through other vendors the price per book would go down.
The problem with that is, I have to sell the books so I can get the money. (Yes, I know, isn't that the point but bear with me.) Ten thousand books equals $20,000.00. If I were Sabrina Jeffries, that wouldn't be a problem. However, I'm just me. I don't have a fan base, I have (to date) 128 "friends" on my blog, and I know maybe 6 people who would buy my book in real life. How long would it take me to make twenty grand?
In the traditional publishing world, you get an advance. As to what that would be, I have no idea. It all depends on the book, the contract, the publishing house, lots of other factors too numerous to mention here. However, that is the deciding factor (for me anyway) -- the advance. I need the money now. I can't wait for 10,000 books to be sold. I can't live my life on $38- a week, or worse yet, pay period.
That being said, in the traditional publishing world, you can always negotiate the contract. My thought has always been (and I'm strictly speaking about my Regency Romances here -- this is not about Genna & Tony -- that's a different animal) I sell MASQUERADE, I take a higher advance and a lower royalty rate on the back side. In each of the subsequent books in the series, I would negotiate for a lower advance with a higher royalty rate on the backside, so when I "sold through" I would earn more money.
With the contract from Samhain, you get $2.00 per book. Period. For seven years. And if anyone knows different here, please please please jump on this discussion.
If I, say, sold through MASQUERADE (with a traditional publisher on a seven year contract) in the first two years, (yes, I'm being very optimistic) the last 5 years of the contract would be royalties. And because I've built such a great fan base, the sell through of each of the subsequent books would earn me more royalties. (And also the publisher and the agent.)
(Note -- I had a whole paragraph on publicity to aquire a fan base but I took it out because I just don't know anything about that, and I don't want to insult anyone.)
Now, Samhain also doesn't say anything about serial rights, movie rights, audio, book club, or foreign rights either. And that's a whole other ball game. I think I would want an agent behind me to negotiate all those things.
Also with a traditional publisher, if the first book is well received by the editor there is the chance you could get a multi-book deal. With most of the e-publishers I read, you are bought, book by book. Query by query. And who wants to go through the query process for every book? With a multi-book deal, sure you have to write proposals and synopsis, (of which I have already done for the rest of the Regency series) and all kinds of other stuff, but you already have an agent, and an editor. You're already in. With an e-pub, you're a newbie every single time.
For me, right now, it's all about the money. Yes, it is also about fantastic awesomesauce writing and creating a book that will delight people when they read it, but it's also about the money. I'm not going to get into why, that's personal, suffice it to say, I need the cash. (Hey, who doesn't, but for me it's different.) And even if the traditional publisher is only willing to shell out say $8,000- for an advance, (I have no idea what a traditional pub is willing to pay, I just took a figure off the top of my head) that's nothing to sneeze at. And a multi-book contract would be totally freaking awesome. How many times have you heard, "So and so just signed with such and such for a multi-book, six figure deal." I want to be that so and so.
Which brings me around to the beginning of the discussion -- I've been swayed to THINK about e-publishing. It's all about the money. A girl's got to make a living (and in this economy, where I live, 237 resumes later, I still can't get a job) and I have Monster Baby to support.
Finding an agent for my genre is hard. There aren't many that will even look at Regency romance. And those that do, already have their very successful clients. It takes a lot of research and a fabulous plot to write a great Regency. It takes a great agent to take a chance on a newbie author like me.
That being said, I have to do what's right for me and my little family. I've never not worked. I've always had a job, sometimes, 2 or 3 at the same time. I've always had money. The reason I actually started writing MASQUERADE in the first place was because, besides restaurant-ing, writing is the only other thing I know how to do and do well. If I can't get a job as a waitress, or even a dishwasher, I can write a book.
The question is -- can I get an agent? And publish in the traditional way? OR do I bite the bullet if I can't, and publish in the 21st century way? I don't know, it's anyone's guess at this point. I still have a few queries out, one partial request that I pray turns into a full. It's all I've got for the moment. Which is why I'm starting to think about e-publishers.
And that's my take on e-publishers. Now please, if you have anything to add that I may have flubbed or mis-read or interpreted, please feel free to set me straight.
And this is only MY opinion as it pertains to the e-publishing world.