anghara (anghara) wrote,
anghara
anghara

Weighing in on the latest Publishing Situation...

By now anyone in the game would have heard about Night Shade and the cavalry riding to its rescue, Sky Horse/Start Publishing. Authors have commented on the proposed new contracts that would go into effect under the new broom, and the responses have ranged from lukewarm to outright outrage. And now there's this, an interview with the heads of the rescue party publisher, elucidating a few things.

A couple of things that caught my eye (with my comments IN CAPS):

"We're the good guys," insists Jarred Weisfeld with Start Publishing. "We're the ones who are coming in and trying to save something."
Weisfeld and Lyons see themselves as rescuing a sinking ship, and they're not thrilled about being painted as the bad guys on the internet because they want to offer what they see as realistic terms to Night Shade's authors.

Night Shade proved that "there was no way to run a book publishing company in that field, with those kinds of royalties, and make a profit," adds Lyons. So he tried to come up with a realistic royalty rate, "where I felt pretty confident that we could make a small profit." And that meant shaving those 22 to 25 percent losses that Night Shade was making out of the author's share -- because other costs in publishing are fixed, like printing and binding.


THERE ARE ALWAYS "FIXED COSTS" LIKE PRINTING AND BINDING. BUT I SAID IT BEFORE AND I AM SAYING IT AGAIN HERE NOW. *WITHOUT THE AUTHORS THERE WOULD **BE** NO "FIXED COSTS" LIKE "PRINTING AND BINDING". SO THE CHEAPEST WAY OUT OF THE FIXED COSTS OF PRINTING AND BINDING WOULD BE TO GET OUT OF THE BUSINESS THAT REQUIRES THEM. WHY WHY WHY *WHY* IS THE ONLY "NEGOTIABLE" ASPECT IN THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT THE *AUTHOR* GETS? wHY ISN'T THE AUTHOR A "FIXED COST"? WHY IS THE THING ON WHICH ALL OF THE REST OF IT RESTS CONSIDERED TO BE A NEGOTIABLE THING, WHY SHOULD THE AUTHORS BE EXPECTED TO TAKE THE CUT EVERY TIME? PROFIT ISN'T A FIXED COST OF DOING BUSINESS, AND IF YOU FRIGGING MAKE A LITTLE BIT LESS PROFIT WHILE PAYING YOUR CONTENT PROVIDERS WHAT THEY ARE WORTH, SHOULDN'T THAT BE A COST OF DOING BUSINESS IN THE FIRST PLACE? NOBODY SIGNED ON TO PROMISE YOU OODLES OF MOOLAH. BUT WITHOUT A BOOK NONE OF THE REST OF IT IS RELEVANT AT ALL. SO WHY DOESN'T THE AUTHOR GET AT LEAST 40% OF THE PRICE (AS THE CREATOR OF THE PRODUCT!!!) AND THE REST OF THE "FIXED COSTS" GET TAKEN OUT OF THE 60% THAT REMAINS? I REALISE PEOPLE LIKE BOOKSELLERS NEED TO PAY RENT - BUT SO DO THE AUTHORS. REALLY. HONESTLY. WE DO. WHY IS IT ALWAYS THE WRITER WHO HAS TO BE THE "SACRIFICE" PART IN THE "SHARED SACRIFICE" EQUATION?

Meanwhile, Start will be handling the ebook side of things, and Weisfeld says that the deal only makes sense if they drop the ebook royalty, from between 30 and 50 percent to 25 percent. That original, higher royalty rate is just another sign that "bad decisions were being made by editors and business people," says Weisfeld, adding: "We're not bad guys, we're here to turn a profit and at the same time keep our end of the deal and make sure all our authors get paid." This is definitely better for authors than if Night Shade enters bankruptcy, he adds.

AGAIN. MAKES SENSE FOR WHOM? FOR THE PROFIT MARGINS OF EVERYONE BUT THE WRITERS? MAY I REITERATE. THE AUTHOR WROTE THE BOOK. WITHOUT THAT BOOK NONE OF THE REST OF IT MATTERS AT ALL. THERE WOULDN'T *BE* ANY ROYALTIES. PAY THE AUTHOR *FIRST*, AND THEN DEAL WITH THE COSTS INVOLVED IN PRODUCING THEIR WORK. THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE WHEN IT COMES TO EBOOKS WHERE THERE *ARE* NO "FIXED" COSTS LIKE PRINTING AND BINDING. THERE IS A ONE-TIME COST OF PRODUCING AN ELECTRONIC VERSION OF THE WORK, YES, WHICH A COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL CAN DO QUICKLY AND CLEANLY AND IT ONLY NEEDS TO BE DONE ONCE FOR A GIVEN BOOK WHICH CAN THEN BE ELECTRONICALLY (AND COSTLESSLY) DUPLICATED WHERE AND HOW IT TURNS OUT TO BE NECESSARY. THE ONLY OTHER OUTLAY IS PRODUCING A DECENT COVER (AND, WELL, OF COURSE THE AMAZON CUT...) BUT THE POINT IS IF YOU'RE KVETCHING ABOUT THE COSTS OF PRINTING AND BINDING AND THAT'S WHY THE OTHER ROYALTIES OF 10% WERE TOO HIGH FOR YOU TO SUSTAIN, WHAT'S YOUR EXCUSE HERE? REALLY, WHAT IS IT? WHY IS A 40% *MINIMUM* ROYALTY ON AN EBOOK UNSUSTAINABLE? bECAUSE THE AUTHOR GETS WHAT IS ACTUALLY A FAIR SHARE OF THE PROFITS...?

Lyons says that the bloggers and other people who have been weighing in on the deal, and posting on the Skyhorse Facebook page, seem to believe that "everybody ought to get the most that anybody's getting."

AND OFF WE GO INTO THE HOLLYWOOD SYSTEM, FOLKS.

THE STARS GET THE MILLIONS. THE REST OF YOU, THE LINE FOR THE SLAG HEAP STARTS OVER THERE.

And then there's the "Term of coypright" clause that it's in the new contracts that the Night Shade authors are now expected to knuckle under and sign - the very same clause that drew the fire of organizations like SFWA when it turned up in the new contracts from a Random House imprint recently. WHy oh why would anyone sign away their rights for "term of copyright" - for the duration of their LIVES?! Who thought that this is a good idea? Well, it might be, for the publishers. Authors, not so much.

And then there's the clause which gives the new owners the right to dispose of some of the acquired properties to third parties at their discretion, without the author's further approval or consent. So you could end up being published by who knows who, and you have absolutely no say in the matter at all.

I don't have a book with Night Shade, I don't have a horse in this race. But I have friends who do.

And there is a lot of unhappiness.
Tags: publishing, rant
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