Buy books by AWers

 

Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Changes to contracts

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    10

    Changes to contracts

    Hi! I'd appreciate opinions and advice on the following: my non-fiction publisher wants to make changes to my contracts as they want to cap royalty payments at 15% rather than have them rise after so many thousands have sold. I feel the 15% is above average and so am not completely opposed BUT they also want to reduce subsidiary payments from 50 to 90% to a mere 10%! The contracts for my two books are less than two years old. Obviously they can't make these changes unless I agree.

    I'm inclined to say that I'm not adverse to the 15% capping but absolutely no to any other changes. Afterall, I wrote the books based on the original contracts.

    Any advice? Many thanks!

  2. #2
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Here and there
    Posts
    3,306
    Who's your publisher?

    Why do they want to change their royalty terms?

    What are the consequences if you don't agree to the amendments?

    How much are you currently making in royalty payments on those books?

    Did you get paid an advance on your book?

    Personally, I don't see why you should agree to it. The current terms favour you and are there to see that you're remunerated for your work. The effect of changing them is to ensure that your publisher is remunerated for your work.

    MM

  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    10
    MM, the publisher is claiming that when the higher rates kick this causes them financial problems. Apparently all their 'new' authors now get offered a lower 10% from the start with no rise in rate at all.
    My royalties are calculated on their net receipts (what's left after they've finished deducting absolutely everything else, including sales' reps fees!). It works out about 40 to 45pence per new book sold. Fairly standard?
    I did get advances, yes.
    I agree, the changes favour them not me.

  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    10
    MM, apparently the higher royalty rates are causing them financial problems. My rates are calculated on their net receipts - works out at about 40-45p per new book sold. Yes, I was paid advances. I agree the new terms would favour them.

    (Lost original reply so this thread might read a bit strange now!)

  5. #5
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Here and there
    Posts
    3,306
    Well if they're only paying you royalties on net anyway, I don't understand why they're having financial problems - the calculation of net should leave enough profit for them and royalties for you.

    It would be really interesting to know who this publisher is (although I understand if you're not comfortable in sharing).

    Personally, I have to say that regardless of whether it's causing them problems I'd refuse to sign an amendment. The negotiated the terms of the contract when you first signed and they were the party with more commercial negotiating power. It's therefore up to them to get their sums right. It sounds to me that they're already screwing over their new authors, so I don't see why I should be made to join them.

    Presumably when theiy financial problems are over, they're not undertaking to up your royalties back to their pre-change levels?

    MM

  6. #6
    Agented YA Writer Ryan_Sullivan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    829
    This sounds like it falls under the category of "not my problem." It's okay to make mistakes in business--but when you sign a contract, you have to make good on it. You have no obligation to accept the changes. If they're having financial problems, they can change them in the future, but you shouldn't feel pressured to sign away what's promised to you.

    Writer, grad student and optimist, rep'd by Steve Malk.
    *Thanks everyone for the rep points/comments--I appreciate them!

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    10
    Thanks both of you. I'm thinking you're right.

  8. #8
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    5,033
    If you would, please share a copy of that letter from your publisher with Preditors & Editors.
    When it comes to PA, the royalty check and the reality check arrive in the same envelope.

    Remember to be kind to writers who step in PA. They really don't know how bad it smells.

    The difference between PA and WLA? None. Both have the stench of dead and dying books emanating from their doorways.


  9. #9
    Old Hand in the Biz Barbara R.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    1,682
    How would your publisher react if you informed them that the original contract was not working for you and you'd like to double your royalty rate? Outrage? Concern for your mental health?

    You might tell your publisher that you'd be happy to consider those altered terms for future projects but will stick to the terms of your contract for the work already published. BTW, there's a reason the royalty rate goes up as more books sell: the cost of production goes down. The company might be having problems generally, but I doubt royalties on book sales is the reason.

  10. #10
    Banned
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Somewhere between sanity and barking mad
    Posts
    1,622
    Quote Originally Posted by HilaryH View Post
    MM, apparently the higher royalty rates are causing them financial problems. My rates are calculated on their net receipts - works out at about 40-45p per new book sold. Yes, I was paid advances. I agree the new terms would favour them.
    Your higher royalty rates are causing them financial problems? And how is this your problem? After all, this is something they agreed to. If you're selling well enough that your higher royalty rate has kicked in, then your publisher should be dancing a jig because they're bringing in money. However, it sounds like your publisher is having financial problems because they have more books that aren't selling and need to depend on the high selling books to keep them afloat.

    From my perspective of the editor's chair, I don't see this as being your problem. You performed your duties and have a book that sells, so why is it your duty to sacrifice your earnings to keep their heads above water? It's not your responsibility to shoulder the burden of underperforming authors.

    I see this negotiation as a red flag to bigger problems around the corner. And if that's the case, lowering your royalties won't help stem the tide. I'd dig a bit deeper into their solvency if I were you.
    Last edited by priceless1; 08-23-2010 at 07:18 PM.

  11. #11
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Far from the madding crowd
    Posts
    6,668
    Quote Originally Posted by HilaryH View Post
    My royalties are calculated on their net receipts (what's left after they've finished deducting absolutely everything else, including sales' reps fees!). It works out about 40 to 45pence per new book sold. Fairly standard?
    That's not standard at all. I've never heard of a reputable publisher that deducts sales reps' commissions. Anyway, if they're deducting so much from the amount on which royalties are calculated, royalties can't be very high to start with.

    I agree that this seems like an ominous sign of possible problems to come.

    What's the cover price of your book?

    - Victoria

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    10
    I agree about the sales' reps' fees and argued with them about this when they suddenly introduced it. They have a 10% deduction called 'admin fee' which they deduct from their receipts and claim the sales' reps fees are part of that. I don't want to go into it here but we did eventually sort something over that. Even so I still feel they got away with it. I don't plan to let them get away with anything else.
    The cover price is 8.99 - but wholesalers etc have a 50 - 60% discount.

    Thanks for the opinions. It helps when others say what you're thinking!

  13. #13
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Far from the madding crowd
    Posts
    6,668
    I'm really curious about who the publisher is--would you be willing to contact me privately and in confidence to let me know? My email is beware@sfwa.org .

    Thanks!

    - Victoria

  14. #14
    Bird In Flight Wonderlander's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    122
    I used to edit at an extremely reputable technical publisher, and frequently to get an author on board if we weren't sure how well they'd do, I'd offer a low initial royalty with increasing payments as the sales went up. If it doesn't work out, it's a shame, but if the book does well, we're all winners.

    But it is possible to get to the point with an author where the high end royalty almost makes it not worth bothering for the publisher, particularly if the author is demanding (some of them would negotiate gross). The way round, of course, is that being technical books, they'd eventually need a new edition rather than a reprint, and the contract would be renegotiated then.

    But we never renegotiated a contract while it was actually in force. That's just insanely cheeky. The only exception to that I can remember was e-book rights, which was just then appearing on radar.
    Status Update:
    Represented by Greene and Heaton Ltd (UK).
    Sunday Times bestseller Dear Amy published by Michael Joseph 2016.
    Currently working on Morningstar.
    Website and blog are here.
    Twittering away here.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search