I’m a fairly busy woman, doing the things that I like to do – writing, walking the dog, and in general trying to stay out of trouble. The last one is pretty much a full-time job. My publisher Dean is the one who stays up on all the stuff happening in the publishing world. He weeds through all the news and gossip, and then he takes the time to fill me in on some of the more interesting tidbits.
One of the things he’s been following recently is the discussion that has popped up concerning the payment of royalties to authors. This really began with the April 13, 2011 blog post The Business Rusch: Royalty Statememts by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on her website. The bottom line is that she felt her royalty statements from her publisher were not correct. How could she have sold few eBooks, according to her publisher, when her self-published books were selling at a good pace. She detailed her questions and her ensuing investigation. She pointed out that there is an apparent problem in the accounting methods of some traditional publishing houses. What she also did was point out that not all of them had problems and that she didn’t suspect them of indulging in a criminal act. They simply don’t have a handle on the eBook market and aren’t taking care of business. And it’s a big business. She had over 90 comments on that one post.
Ms. Rusch provided an update post April 20 that was equally fascinating. I’ve been impressed by the balanced and informative nature of her posts. Ms. Rusch has pointed out that there is a huge potential for a fire in the theater without screaming Fire, or sounding like an insane conspiracy theorist. Is there a problem with the proper reporting of royalties by major publishers? No doubt in my mind that some of them have problems based on the information provided. Was it done to deny the authors their due? Doubtful, although I’m sure a few of those companies are aware there are problems and aren’t rushing to fix them. Does it need to change and accurate accounting methods be employed? Absolutely!
So where do I come out in all of this? Two things. First, I know it would be a huge undertaking, but authors should be provided screen snapshots of their sales figures. Amazon provides the account holder (publisher) a statement so why not share it with the author. What are they hiding? We all know how the money works so there should be no secrets? Pain in the butt – you bet, but what is your company integrity worth? Secondly, authors should be prepared to defend their rights. I like Ms. Rusch’s suggestion that authors utilize their writing associations and applying pressure for the big changes.
Me – I’m lucky in my choice of publishers. Dean is providing me screenshots of the statements. He had told me he was doing it long before this particular item appeared. Of course, I’m a little more pro-active in my approach than the ones suggested by Ms. Rusch – I own a baseball bat and I know where Dean lives…