Publishers are still trying to get their heads around how to deal with self-publishing authors. The most recent attempt was Random House US's new digital imprints Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt.
They came into the market, offering a new kind of deal, one that might actually tempt a self-respecting indie over: 50:50 royalty split as well as access to the publishing process.
Except that the terms were problematic, including life-of-copyright clauses, payment – through deductions from royalties due the authors – for the normal costs of doing business that should be borne by the publisher, and hoovering up primary and subsidiary rights.
We're pleased to report that the company has changed its terms in response to pressure from author groups, including ALLi Watchdog Victoria Strauss, and the Horror Writers' Association.
RH's most recent press release says: “We are making adjustments to our proposed terms for authors with Random House’s new digital imprints, Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt”.
Prospective authors have a choice of two publishing models: a profit share or the more traditional advance-plus-royalty.
- Under the profit share model, there is no advance offered. Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt and the author will split profits 50-50 from the first copy sold.
- Under the advance plus royalty model, authors are offered RH’s standard eBook royalty of 25 percent of net receipts. These authors will be paid an agreed-upon advance against royalties, and Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt will cover production, shipping, and marketing for all formats at 100 percent of cost.
The most significant change is that the life-of-copyright clause is now balanced with a good reversion clause: “I don't have a problem with life-of-copyright, as long as it's balanced by precise reversion language,” says Victoria. “That is now the case.
“Three years after publication, the author can demand reversion if sales fall below 300 copies over the 12 months preceding the demand.”
Further details on the RH offer: here.
And an interesting analysis by The Bookseller's Philip Jones here.