The Brave New E-World

As an author I’m very interested in the publishing world, of course. And that means electronic books these days. There was a recent discussion in New York that seemed to get to the heart of the matter for authors, that is, how will royalties work. Or how they might work in various models. If you’re as confused as I am about the “agency model” this is a pretty good summary from Publisher’s Weekly. To make it even more concise (for you authors) here’s the nugget: “a publisher, on a title with a $26 list price, makes roughly $5.10 on the hardcover while the author makes $3.90. On the e-book sold through the wholesale model, the publisher brings in $9.25 while the author gets $3.25. On the e-book sold through the agency model, the publisher gets $6.38 and the author gets $2.28.” You can see why publishers like the wholesale model. The prices of these e-books isn’t mentioned but I assume these are new bestsellers since most newish—but not new bestelling — e-books sell for $9.99 at Amazon anyway.

Another interesting essay about another discussion in NYC featured agent Simon Lipskar and other angry souls. It features in a fabulous new blog I just found called FutureBooks out of the UK: We’ll All Lose Money Then We’ll Learn. I like the way Lipskar stands up for authors, as well he should. Especially when Kindle Content director David Naggar had the audacity to exclaim that “there’s never been a better time to be an author.” Except of course if you’re trying to make a living at your writing. And the ground under your feet feels like quicksand sometimes.

Most of this brave new world is still being formed by god’s hands, or God Bezos’s hands, or God Jobs’s hands. Apple for their ipad is trying to get lower prices for ebooks. Some publishers acquiesced, some didn’t. It makes little difference to me at this point since my e-books are reprints of out-of-print books and I can sell them for whatever I want because I own the rights to them. Only one of my NYC publishers published one of my novels as an e-book: Sweet and Lowdown which is now almost impossible to find and only came out as a Palm Reader E-book. I have now published myself through Amazon three of my Alix Thorssen novels and am working on Blue Wolf and One O’Clock Jump (from the Dorie Lennox series.) And the new one, Blackbird Fly. Most of these are $2.99 and less. It’s great to have them available digitally, if only for the Kindle at the mo, but the money stream is more like a Chinese water torture. Still, it is the future. And I’m hanging onto the tiger’s tail.

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