I write daily. I must. Creators—painters, photographers, musicians, and writers too—are like athletes: to keep in the game, you must stay fit. In order to strengthen our plots and dig deep into our characters, authors have to stretch their minds.

We can't do this by sitting in front of a computer for five to eight hours (or more) a day.

For me, even a hour or two's worth of scenery allows me to rethink work in progress. And because I have the great blessing of being married to a writer, we do our best to take our breaks together.

When we do, we walk.

Martin and Josie Cascade Falls MV

We are very fortunate in that we live in a beautiful place: San Francisco, California. If you're not opposed to taking in a few hills when you come upon one (a great cardio workout) it truly is a very walkable town. They say San Francisco is seven miles long by seven miles wide. On a normal day, we'll walk four to five of those. On a day in which we really want to get out of our heads, we'll walk as many as ten miles.

During that time, we talk: sometimes about our three wonderful kids, but mostly about our plots.

If you're a writer and you have a critique partner, you know the drill: you've chosen someone who knows and appreciates your work, understands your characters, and with whom you feel comfortable enough to explain the plot hole you may have fallen into.

Maybe they'll come up with an insight that you somehow missed. Maybe not. But just hearing you explain the concern out loud, you'll work through it. You'll have some sort of “Eureka” moment. 

Even if you don't, you'll be in sunlight. You'll hear others' conversations as you pass them. Something in the sky will catch your eye. Or maybe it'll be something on the bay. Or a front door of a house you've never seen before. Or wisteria is in bloom, and you it stops you in your tracks.

By the way, if you write but have not yet found a critique partner—and for that matter, if you are just dipping a toe in the process—check out the writers' collective known as the 85K Writing Challenge. There, you'll be inspired and challenge to come up with a daily word count that may result in the book you know lives within you. It is the brainchild of Author Julie Valerie, whose debut novel, Holly Banks, Full of Angst, will be out Fall 2019.

If we have the time, sometime we cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take in one of the many hikes in the trails in and around the tiny gem-like towns of Marin County. One of our favorites is in Mill Valley, California. Many of the houses are built on the lanes that zig and zag through the foothills leading up to Mount Tamalpais—or, as the Miwoks (first people of the area) called it, “the sleeping lady.”  This time of year, especially after a rainy season, a few of the falls that in the area are at full strength. The most accessible, and perhaps the most beautiful waterfall in this town is called Cascade.

I want to share it with you.

If you click onto this video you'll enjoy a tiny moment of zen.

—Josie

9780989558822 Smaller CoverSpring has sprung—with a Great price on my two-book set.

The Housewife Assassin's Killer 2-Book Set / Only $3.99!

amazon-2-icon  unnamed AppleBooks kobo-blue

An avenging assassin. The spy who loves her. In this two-book set, find out why readers are addicted to this deadly duo.

Why Authors Choose to Self-Publish

AR-305239320

Most authors walk a financial tightrope. 

Hey, don't take my word for it. In a September 2015 an article on a recent Authors Guild survey of its members' incomes,  Publishers Weekly put it this way:

 

Authors Guild Survey quote

Yikes.

Thank goodness for self-publishing. It saved my career, and those of many other authors I know.

Even with four novels (one optioned for television) and two-nonfiction books published traditionally, as early as 2010 I'd dipped my toe into the choppy waves of self-publishing. My subsequent success with it is why I now self-publish exclusively.

Whereas self-publishing has grown by leaps and bounds in the past ten years, ours wasn't the first generation to discover its financial rewards. Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Marcel Proust, and Walt Whitman self-published their books. Misery loves great company indeed.

But before self-publishing became a financially viable option for the current generation of writers, traditional publishing—that is to say, print books, primarily by one of the Big Five New York publishing houses—was the only venue for the sale and distribution of books. Even ten years ago, the thing authors love to do most—write novels—was not possible without running an unwieldy gauntlet that put their manuscripts in front of any literary agency that might deem the book sellable to a publisher, and any publishing house editor who might actually like it enough to purchase it. 

Besides editing, printing, and distributing a book, part of the publisher's job is also to promote it. For doing so  the publisher holds on to anywhere from 80-92 percent of the book's retail price.

(Yep, some authors get only an 8 percent royalty. Worse yet, royalties are paid twice yearly, and they are only paid if their books "earn out"—that is, return any advance paid, which may not happen for years if at all, what with the other variables tied to this equation, including book returns, of which there are no cut-offs; and perhaps the payback of advances of other books as well.)

Sadly, in traditional publishing, marketing is the last consideration—never the first—when purchasing a book from an author. Compared to other products as a whole—and entertainment products in particular, including films, music, magazines, and video games—it gets a negligible budget, if any at all.

Steve Hamilton Publishers WeeklyDon't take my word for it.  In this article regarding the breakup between bestselling thriller writer Steve Hamilton and his former publishing house, St. Martin's Press, Publishers Weekly outs its industry's dirty little secret: there is no there, there:

 A book can be beautifully written, have scintillating dialogue and a page-turning plot. But without the adequate marketing and promotion that puts it in front of a targeted audience, a book is as dead as a beached whale. 

At this point in time, most Authors Guild members are traditionally published. Coupled with the Hamilton/SMP breakup, the Authors Guild survey certainly makes an excellent case for the guild to reconsider what it must do to protect its members. For example, the guild—along with literary agents and intellectual property attorneys—should insist that any publishing contract contain clauses that:

(a) Succinctly spell out a yearly quantitative financial base for the book, with instant reversion to the author if not met. Right now, most publishing contracts hold onto rights forever, under the assumption that digital distribution means that a book never goes out of print.

(b) Outline an advertising budget, tied to an actual, very specific media plan for the marketing of the book—at least for the first full year in print—and allow for immediate reversion of rights if there is no follow-through.

Is it any wonder that hybrid authors—that is to say, those authors who have been published traditionally, but then, like me, elected to publish their books independently of a publishing house—are a growing breed? Of course not. Like everyone else, authors have to eat. They have to pay rents and mortgages. They raise children, and pay for health insurance, taxes, and all the other expenses that come with being self-employed.

I personally know many hybrid authors. Under the traditional publishing model, their advances and sales shrunk along with the demise of both chain bookstores, and the winnowing of independent brick-and-mortar bookstores in the most recent recession. Several of these authors were at the brink of financial disaster (homes soon to be repossessed, couch-surfing, near bankruptcy) when they made the decision to walk away from traditional publishing contracts. After doing so, they rolled up their shirtsleeves and did what they had to do to self-publish: write good books; have their books professionally edited and digitally converted; distribute their books—primarily as eBooks.

The successful one know they must also promote their books.

The good news for their readers: the books are priced lower than their offerings still distributed by their traditional publishers. 

The great news for these authors: now that they retain 70 percent of the book's retail price, they are making a sustainable living for themselves and their families.

Some are doing better than that, having already sold millions of books since starting this journey. Sylvia DayBarbara Freethy, Stephanie Bond,  Bella Andre, and Kate Perry are perfect examples of hybrid authors who took advantage of the changing bookselling marketplace to not just survive, but to thrive. And whereas Ms. Day, Ms. Andre and Ms. Bond still have one foot in traditional publishing, Ms. Freethy and Ms. Perry are in total control of every facet of their books' design, distribution and promotion. 

Another hybrid author who made the leap to indie publishing and never looked back was thriller novelist Barry Eisler. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview him for the International Thriller Writers Organization's e-zine, "The Big Thrill." Some of what Barry says regarding the advantages of self-publishing versus traditional publishing can be found in the article linked here.

However, some of our Q&A was cut. Since the questions are relevant to this post's topic, I've included them here:

JB: If there were one (or two, or three) things you could change about the publishing industry and the novelist’s role within it, what would it be?

BE: The first thing I’d like to change is the popular perception that organizations like the Authors Guild and Authors United primarily represent authors rather than establishment publishers. I have no problem with organizations advocating for publisher interests, but the dishonest way in which the AG and AU go about their publishing industry advocacy misleads a lot of authors. I could go on at length about this topic and in fact I have—so for anyone who wants to better understand the real agenda and function of these “author” organizations, I’d recommend starting with this article I wrote for Techdirt, Authors Guilded, United, and Representing…Not Authors.

JB: But isn’t it true that the AG speaks out on various topics of concern to authors, like unconscionable contract terms?

BE: Hah, the AG going after publishers is like Hillary Clinton going after Wall Street. I’ve had a lot to say about this, including thecomments I wrote in response to this post at The Passive Voice.For anyone who’s curious, just search for my name and you’ll find the comments, the gist of which is, when the AG wants to accomplish something, it names names and litigates; when it wants authors to think it’s trying to accomplish something but in fact isn’t (or, more accurately, when what it’s trying to accomplish is maintenance of the publishing status quo), it talks.

When the AG talks, it’s a head fake. The body language is what to look for in determining the organization’s actual allegiances and priorities.

Another thing I’d like to change is the generally abysmal level of legacy publisher performance in what at least in theory are legacy publisher core competencies. Whether it’s cover design, the bio, or fundamental principles of marketing, legacy publishers are content with a level of mediocrity that would be an embarrassment in any other industry. I’ve seen little ability within legacy publishing companies to distill principles from fact patterns (particularly patterns involving failures) and then apply those principles in new circumstances. Institutional memory and the transmission of institutional knowledge and experience are notably weak in the culture of the Big Five. My guess is that the weakness is a byproduct of insularity and complacency brought on by a lack of competition.

JB: Agreed. Having spent fifteen years in advertising before becoming a novelist, I was abhorred as to what passed for “marketing and promotion.

BE: I'd also like to increase awareness of the danger a publishing monopoly represents to the interests of authors and readers. No, I’m not talking about Amazon; “Amazon is a Monopoly!” is a canard and a bogeyman. I’m talking about the real, longstanding monopoly in publishing (or call is a quasi-monopoly, or a cartel), which is the insular, incestuous New York Big Five. An important clue about the nature of the organization is right there in the name, no? See also the Seven Sisters

Okay, another thing (and then I’ll stop because I could go on about this stuff forever): I’d like to see more choices for authors; new means by which authors can reach a mass market of readers; and greater diversity in titles and lower prices for readers.

Wait, that last set of wishes is already happening, courtesy of self-publishing and Amazon publishing—the first real competition the Big Five has ever seen, and a boon to the health of the whole publishing ecosystem.

Hybrid author success stories are now numerous. As author advocate Jane Friedman's wonderful blog points out,  Claire Cook, Harry Bingham, and William Kowalski are just a few other examples of hybrid authors who made the leap and never looked back.

Products are created from a perceived need. Industries are created by providing sales and distribution venues for products.

But sometimes how the product is distributed changes also how the product is purchased by its consumers. 

Books—in whatever form they take—will always be needed. They entertain, they provoke thought, they provide knowledge.

In publishing, books are the products. Still, how books are distributed and sold doesn't change how they are made: by authors with the perseverance to write a good story, and then do what they can to find readers who will fall in love with it. 

 

Like Mr. Kowalski, Ms. Cook, and Mr. Bingham, I love what I do. Now that 2015 has come to an end, I now know that all my hard work toward creation and release of the my latest four books and a novella (The Housewife Assassin's Garden of Deadly Delights, The Housewife Assassin's Tips for Weddings, Weapons, and Warfare, The Housewife Assassin's Husband Hunting Hints, Totlandia Book 5, and Gone with the Body) was worth it.

It is confirmed by my bookstore royalties. More importantly, it is substantiated by the many kind comments received from my supportive readers. 

Thank you, readers, for taking a chance on me, loving my characters, and chatting up my books with others who they felt might enjoy them, too. 

Here's to a wonderful new year filled with more great stories from your favorite authors.

—Josie

 

My NaNoWriMo Tips!

WriteWriteWrite
A tip a day keeps you scribblin' away.

Okay, not exactly a great line, but it gets the point across. And as my tips say here, "I'll edit on the back end."

And so will you–but first things first

Every day through November, I've been supporting those participating in National Novel Writing Month by launching posts on creative writing tips (usually by 12 noon PDT) that will help them reach their goal: writing 50,000 words in their novel.

Here are links to my tips:

Tip #1: Treat writing a if it is your career.

Tip #2: Outline the plot of your story.

Tip #3: Don't give up!

Tip #4: Meet your word count first; then edit.

 Tip #5: Show, don't tell.

Tip #6: Recognize when your" backstory" is really your story.

Tip #7: Chapter doesn't work? Fix it in "post."

Tip #8: Why every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end.

 Tip #9:What to do when your story is boring, even to you.

Tip #10: Better late than never. Here's why.

Tip #11: Choose the right writing voice. If your voice is wrong, change it.

Tip #12: Stuck? Change your writing pattern.

Tip #13: Make your readers love your hero.

 Tip #14: Is writing a craft, or an art?

Tip #15: 3 ways in which you sabotage your creative writing process.

Tip #16: How to get out of "paragraph paralysis."

17. The emotional depth of your characters is important.

18. Writing a novel is a marathon, so pace yourself.

19.Scene needs a rewrite? Try changing the point of view.

20. Write the way George Clooney acts: with confidence.

21. Every word counts. Here's why.

22. If your dialogue doesn't match the character, fix it! Now!

23. Make sure your novel isn't half-baked.

24. It's not what you mean, but how you phrase it.

25. Yes, you need an agent. Here's why.

 

Good luck with your own manuscript. I look forward to buying your book, too!

 Josie

 

HA5 Vacation to Die For (LoRes) (768x1024)Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S VACATION TO DIE FOR contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 

 

 

HA1 Handbook 768x1024 FREE!
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 
Over 150,000 free and paid downloads.
Find out why readers love it.

Read more about Donna at www.HousewifeAssassinsHandbook.com

 

 

And then there were five (NaNoWriMo tips)…


NaNo5
It's NaNoWriMo Month
!

(National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated…)

For those of you who have begun writing your first book, every day I'll repost my fave creative writing tips here, just for you. 

Here's Tip #5, for Monday, November 5th…

The previous day's post can be accessed on this page, too.

Here's to your success as an author,

— Josie Brown

Don’t forget to enter my HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GUIDE TO GRACIOUS KILLING contest, for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice!

 

 


HAH Hanging Man V2Buy THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK Today, on

 

 

http://www.authorprovocateur.com/2011/11/nanowrimo_tip_5.html

NaNoWriMo Tip #28: Here’s what to do to keep your story from being a turkey.

Boyfriend-a-Turkey
Over Thanksgiving weekend–yep, NOW!–the pull of family, friends and great food will lull you away from your daily NaNoWriMo goal of 1,350 words or thereabouts.

The more diligent writers will do what they can to double up on their daily word count prior to this holiday. But if you're actually in charge of the feeding frenzy, you may be AWOL the Tuesday and Wednesday of prior to Thanksgiving as well.

That said, here are some food for thought to help you stay on track over the weekend: 

1. Don't beat yourself up for taking time off.
It happens to all writers, published or not. I've known of writers who were under deadline during family illnesses, personal illness, while planning weddings, and even planning funerals. Here's the facts: real life gets in the way. If you're lucky to have family to gather with on this wonderful holiday, be thankful about it. You can write when everything calms down.

2. Like getting on a diet, force yourself to get back into your best writing habits.
In the past, these skills have done the job in the past to keep your creative juices flowing. Don't get lazy; get OCD crazy with them again. It's a regimen, so get back on it, and keep to it.

3. Don't worry about overbaking your manuscript.
Layer in atmosphere. Pack it with nuance. Give us the deets on your characters — by showing, not telling.

In other words, more is more.

So stuff it. Stuff. It. Good.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All Rights Reserved

The photo above: An overdressed turkey. I used him in an article I wrote on SingleMindedWomen.com: “Is Your Boyfriend a Turkey?” 

_________________________________________

READ YESTERDAY'S TIP HERE…

__________________________________________

Question of the day: Did you write on Thanksgiving Day? If so, let me know, so I can celebrate with you (that means an extra piece of pie for us both, so YEA!

Happy Thanksgiving — and happy National Novel Writing Month,

— Josie

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #11: Why the voice you choose matters.

Stand-out-of-crowd
Yesterday I read a comment from an author participating in National Novel Writing Month that made me wince: she was bemoaning the fact that she'd started her book in first person, but now realizing that third person worked better for the story, didn't want to go back and make the changes needed.

In my head, I was thinking, NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Trust me, it's worth the time to make the fix.

Been there, done that. Of my five published novels, four of them are written in first person: that is to say, one of the characters narrates the story, from his/her point-of-view, for the reader.

When it comes to fiction, this is not norm, for a very good reason: sometimes the story needs to be told from many points of view, or in “third person.”

True-Hollywood-Lies
Impossibly Tongue-Tied,
the one novel of mine which was written in third person, didn't start out that way. I spent two weeks and many pages before I figured out that what had worked so wonderfully for my first novel, True Hollywood Lies, would be the death of my second.

True Hollywood Lies is told from the point-of-view of its heroine, Hannah: all the other characters are seen through her eyes, their actions and motives scrutinzed through the mess of Hannah's emotional pain, which comes from the sudden demise of a father with whom she never got to reconcile their differences. He was a revered film star who'd had numerous wives and lovers. As a personal assistant to a red hot film star who reminds her too much of her dad, Hannah has to work hard not to be blinded by his charisma, at the expense of her own dreams and desires. 

 

CandidateThe Candidate takes place in Washington, D.C.,  but follows several characters, all of whom have personal agendas or traumatic plights that put them at cross purposes, and puts the nation in danger.. The hero, Ben, is desperate to find a presidential candidate who won't implode on him. The vice-president wants a slam-dunk into the White House, and will do anything to get it. And the mysterious love of Ben's life, Maddie is a pawn in everyone's game.

Of course, the goal is to make it so that the reader enjoys the twists and turns–and hopefully doesn't see what comes next. 

That's what makes the book so fun: lots of shenanigans happens before the explosive climax.

But had I kept slogging it out to make the story first person, the reader would not have gotten to enjoy all the fun leading up to the climax.

The best rule of thumb in choosing voice is this: Go with what works best for the reader. 

Even if you have to start over and replace all the “I”s with “She”s or “He”s.

The pay-off will be a wide open vista of opportunities for your characters. 

Their actions will speak volumes to your readers in the way that your first-person voice could never do.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown

__________________________________________

READ YESTERDAY'S TIP, HERE…

__________________________________________

I've got a question for you, and be honest: Have you ever started a story in the wrong voice, then had to change it? If so, how are were you into it, before you realized it?

Happy National Novel Writing Month,

— Josie

  

HA 8 - Next Up

Don’t forget to enter my Housewife Assassin's Killer App contest, for a chance to win a $200 COLD HARD CASH 

 

 

 

 

 

HA1 Handbook 768x1024 FREE!
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 
Over 266,000 downloads.
Find out why readers love it.

 

Read more about Donna at www.HousewifeAssassinsHandbook.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why MacBook Air is “Meh” for Authors

MacBook Air I'm a big Apple Mac fan. Always have been–

Until now.

This past year my travel schedule heavied up. I wasn't looking forward to hitting the road with my iBook laptop. (Walking through the streets of New York and Chicago with the strap of your computer bag dragging you down is not a great fashion statement.)

At first I thought I'd splurge on an iPad. Heck, that way I could easily read my (and other authors') books on it as well. The price was a bit daunting, I'll admit. But what really turned me against it was the omission of a real keyboard. No, not that li'l picture of one under glass, which shared the screen with anything else you were viewing, but a real, separate keyboard.

"You can always buy the keyboard attachment," my techno-savvy sis-in-law told me.

"What would be the purpose?" I answered. "For me, flying is down time. It's the best time to write chapters of my next book. The airplane seat room is small enough as it is! Usually I have to bribe the person in front of me with a drink so that they don't recline the seat, snapping off the lid of my computer. The last thing I need to do is juggle a tethered keyboard and the iPad on some little stand…"

Not to mention the crick I'd get in my neck, for hunching over that faux keyboard.

The solution: No Apple.

Instead I purchased a slim ASUS Netbook. It's 10 inches and under 3 lbs, has 13 hours of battery life, a 2GB memory, a pricetag of $349–

And best of all, a REAL keyboard.

The first few days I had it, I'll admit it: I got hives thinking about being away from my seamless OSX Apple Snow Leopard operating system. Slowly but surely, though, I let go of my iBook. It felt soooo heavy, compared to the ASUS.

Yeah, okay, I miss some of the wonderful shortcuts that Apples have, which make our lives easier. But I'll gladly trade it for the convenience of tossing my ASUS into a tiny bag and taking it on the road with me.

And I certainly don't miss the sore shoulder.

Apple must have missed me, too, because now it's got its own solution to the Netbook: the MacBook Air.

I thought it might bring me home to Apple . . .

But no. Why? NO HARD DISK DRIVE.

In other words no place to save my chapters, or access my research, or archive my most important (read: security blanket) files.

Grant it, it's wafer slim, only 11 inches in length, has a 5-hour battery–and yes, a keyboard.

But NO HARD DRIVE?  Fuggedaboutit. This article, in FORTUNE, convinced me to stay away.

I'm over forty. I''ve lost enough memory as is.

I guess Thomas Wolfe was right. You can't go home again.

Have Netbook will travel,

–Josie

http://twitter.com/JosieBrownCA

http://www.facebook.com/Josie.Brown.Author.Page 

 

Josie's latest book:

SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading." –Jackie Collins, Hollywood Wives

 

A Secret Agent Man, Nathan Bransford, Lets Clueless Authors In On: Yes, We Need Him.

Me, as Supreme Goddess of the Universe I love my agent (Holly Root, that'd be U!) She gives as much as she gets: that means advice, both to clients and to any author willing to ask questions–and more importantly, to listen.

Thank goodness for us writerly types, she's not the only agent willing to depart some important nuggets of knowledge. The indubitable Barbara Poelle does this also, on a weekly basis (Tuesdays, at Hey, There's a Dead Guy in the Living Room  ) and so does Nathan Bransford.

As way of example, here is a question I hear too often from my unpublished peers: "Do I really need an agent?"

My answer to them: YES.

Since I am not Supreme Goddess of the Universe*, most of you won't take this at face value. That said, if you need additional convincing, let me refer you over to this article of Nathan's, which I feel hits the mark on target. I missed it when it first ran, and since I'm Supreme Goddess of the Universe, I'm guessing you did, too.

Nobody says it better,

–Josie

*If I were, the picture to the right here is what I'd look like, fyi…

Hey, don't laff, coz I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE. (I'm Supreme Goddess of the Universe, remember?

Josie's Latest Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading." –Jackie Collins, Hollywood Wives

 

The Authors Guild: Advice to Authors on Protecting eBook Royalties

Stack_of_books Sometimes we authors are so desperate to see ourselves in print, that we forget to protect ourselves when it counts most: during contract negotiations.

Truth is, if you don't push back, you can't survive.

Don't be stupid. Take the advice from the Authors Guild that I've reprinted here, below.

Just another reason to join, by the way, is taht there is power in numbers!)

—Josie

http://twitter.com/JosieBrownCA

Random House, HarperCollins Look to Lock In Low E-Book Royalty
Rates: 5 Ways to Protect Yourself

AuthorsGuild.org

March 18, 2010. Random House and HarperCollins are sending
letters to authors and agents seeking amendments to contracts regarding
e-book rights.  These letters, although some suggest that the author's
work was "selected" for digitization, appear to be going to virtually
all authors who have no stated e-book royalty rate in their contracts. 
In some cases, the letters have gone to authors who have never granted
e-book rights to the publisher. 

These amendments should be treated with extreme care.

E-book
royalty rates are low at the moment.  Both publishers are trying to lock
in e-book royalty rates at 25% of net receipts.  As we've previously
said
, we believe this will prove to be a low-water mark for e-book
royalties:

Authors and publishers have
traditionally split the proceeds from book sales.  Most sublicenses, for
example, provide for a 50/50 split of proceeds, and the standard trade
book royalty of 15% of the hardcover retail price, back in the days that
industry standard was established, represented about 50% of the net
proceeds of the sale of the book.  We're confident that the current
practice of paying 25% of net on e-books will not, in the long run,
prevail.  Savvy agents are well aware of this.  The only reason e-book
royalty rates are so low right now is that so little attention has been
paid to them:  sales were simply too low to scrap over.  That's
beginning to change.

Here's how to protect yourself:

1. Get the absolute right
to renegotiate
.
  If you accept these low royalty rates, don't lock
yourself in.  Try to obtain the unconditional right to renegotiate the
royalty rate after a period of, say, two years.  If you don't get the
unconditional right to renegotiate, then, at a bare minimum, you should
have the right to renegotiate if industry standard royalty rates change
or if the publisher's standard royalty rate changes.  We can help you
with the contractual language.

2. Negotiate for a royalty
floor
.
   Insist that your royalty amount (in terms of dollars and
cents, not percentage points) for e-books will never fall below the
royalty amount for the print edition of the work.  It's best to peg the
minimum to the royalty amount for the hardcover edition of your work. 
If not, then have the minimum royalty tied to the royalty for the
prevailing print version at the time the e-book is sold.  This will keep
e-book sales from eroding your royalties.

3. Double-check
your reversion of rights clause
.
  This is critical.  If your
reversion of rights clause doesn't have sales thresholds in it, your
publisher can argue that availability in any edition — regardless of
the number of sales — means your book is "in print." (We don't agree
with this interpretation of older contracts, but some publishers argue
this with a straight face.)  Take this opportunity to clarify your
reversion of rights clause by inserting a minimum number of annual sales
for a work to be deemed in print.  Again, we can help with the
language.

4. Check your contract; you may control e-rights. 
Some of these letters have gone to authors of books for which the
author hasn't granted the publisher electronic rights.  Others have gone
to authors for books in which all rights have reverted.  Please contact
us or your agent if you have questions about your contract.

5.
If you can't obtain adequate safeguards, you may want to bide your
time
.
  The e-book market is still a small, developing market, with
uncertain economics.  Publishers and distributors are fighting major
battles over business models.  For some books (children's picture books,
for example), the market has been especially tiny, although some
believe Apple's new iPad may soon change that.  In any event, e-book
publication isn't a now or never proposition, and signing the contract
amendment will prevent you from seeking e-book publication deals with
other publishers.  Take your time, weigh your options carefully.

As
always, if you need help evaluating the terms of your existing Random
House or HarperCollins contract to see whether it contains a more
favorable e-book royalty rate or whether you granted e-book rights to
those publishers in the first place, send in your contracts.  We're here
to help.

©
2010 The
Authors Guild