Could Publishers and Agents Agree on a Flat Royalty Rate?
Insiders say the problem is still e-book royalties
By Rachel Deahl
Since e-books became a crucial source of revenue for publishers six years ago, the royalty rate on the format has been an ongoing bone of contention between authors (and their agents) and publishers. While authors and agents have stood firm on their position that the standard rate of 25% (which refers to the percentage of net profits authors receive on e-books sold) must change, publishers haven’t budged. Could a flat royalty system, in which one rate is used across formats, be a solution? Though some industry members believe a single rate could simplify a complicated royalty structure, agents said the move wouldn’t address the real problem: authors being shortchanged on the profits from their e-books.
Publishers React to Amazon’s Pop-Up Stores
by Anisse Gross
Recent news that Amazon is getting into bricks and mortar retail, with plans for two California pop-up stores, has gotten people in publishing talking. That Amazon wants physical stores to sell more of its hardware is, according to a number of publishing professionals, no surprise.
Spotlight Falls on E-book Subscription Services
Amazon’s entry into the e-book subscription business has raised some eyebrows, and some hackles
by Rachel Deahl
Oyster, the e-book subscription service with nearly half a million titles, launched in 2013. Scribd, its main competitor, also launched last year. While each generated some interest from publishers and consumers, it wasn’t until the July 18 launch of Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s e-book subscription service, that pundits and media outlets began parsing what these new business models mean for the future of books.
The second life of literary agents
La Stampa, 16/7/2011
[Translation via Google translate:] “I talked to many authors,” says Julie Ortolon, “and all seem to agree that it is not a good idea for agents to become publishers. But as we consider the staff assisting with the self-publishing authors?”
Stanford Math Professor Tests A New Book Publishing Equation
by Laura Hazard Owen
When a section was cut from Stanford mathematics professor Keith Devlin’s new book The Man Of Numbers, Devlin could have pitched it as an article to Scientific American or Wired. Instead, he decided to self-publish it as an e-single, “Leonardo & Steve: The Young Genius Who Beat Apple to Market by 800 Years.” And his publisher, Bloomsbury, went for it.
Literary Agents Try New Role as Self-Publishing Consultants
by Carla King
With big publishing buying only the crème de la crème of books, and more authors turning to self-publishing, many literary agents are getting squeezed right out of the middle.
But some savvy agents are acting as literary consultants to help their authors self-publish, a role that offers up new opportunities and challenges for everybody in the industry.
I talked with three agents about their experiments to serve authors by widening their middle ground.
E-books causing seismic shift in publishing
Commentary: Are publishers more prepared than music honchos?
by Therese Poletti
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — One doesn’t have to be in Manhattan this week at BookExpo America to figure out that the electronic book is causing a seismic shift in the publishing industry.
Some other events in recent weeks have provided further evidence that book publishing — as the music business already experienced — is being turned quickly upside down by the growth of digital books and e-readers.
CliffsNotes goes digital
by Jennifer Collins
Kai Ryssdal: John Wiley and Sons reports profits today. The publisher behind the “For Dummies” books and Frommer’s travel guides did all right. Sales were up, as were profits.
Back in the day, you may well have used another Wiley publication to get you through a class or two. CliffsNotes, the study guides. CliffsNotes have been around since the 1950s, so Wiley’s looking for ways to put a new shine on the old brand.
Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins reports.
Ask the Pro: Literary Agent Ted Weinstein
by Kara Gebhart Uhl
BEST ENCOUNTER AT A WRITING CONFERENCE: A slightly wild-eyed writer sat across from me with a haphazard stack of papers and proceeded to pitch me the proposal he had stayed up all night working on at Kinko’s after his own printer had run out of ink. I agreed to read the proposal and called him back a few days later to say I’d be interested in representing it if he would work with me to cut it in half. We revised it together, I sold it to an imprint at Simon & Schuster that published it well, and it was even optioned for a movie. Only later did I find out that 26 other agents had already turned down [Bob Welch’s] proposal for what became American Nightingale.
Agents Weigh the Growth Of Alternate Publishing Options
by Rachel Deahl
In a week that saw Barnes & Noble announce a new selfpublishing unit, one small deal that had the publishing industry paying attention was J.A. Konrath’s decision to do his next book, Shaken, with Amazon’s publishing arm, AmazonEncore. Reports quickly surfaced that Konrath would be making a roughly 70% return on the list price of his forthcoming e-book–$2.10 off a $2.99 Kindle edition. While a rep from Amazon confirmed that royalty does not apply to Konrath’s deal with AmazonEncore, the deal still had some in the industry saying the move signaled a “game changer” for corporate publishing. Since Konrath is presumably getting a high digital royalty rate on Shaken, many wondered whether the big six should be quaking in their proverbial New York City boots.
Readers as patrons in the digital age
by Elinor Mills
A few months ago someone sent me a link to a short story a friend of his had written and posted online. I made the mistake of glancing at it while at work and then got so absorbed I couldn’t stop reading until I was done. The story, Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store, was so interesting and well written, I just wanted more.
Google book project far from settled
by James Temple
As the deadline draws near for authors and publishers to opt out of a proposed legal settlement allowing Google Inc. to forge ahead with plans to scan millions of books, more opponents of the landmark deal are stepping forward, and the local literary world is growing more perplexed.
Nonfiction Words of Wisdom from Agent Ted Weinstein
by Chuck Sambuchino
On Wednesday, Ted Weinstein was one of the four literary agents who participated in our “Ask the Agents” panel at the conference. Ted, who specializes in nonfiction books, was full of wisdom on the panel. Below, you can find four especially nice tidbits from him.
Blago blitz ‘like watching a train wreck’
BLAGO BOOK? | Literary agents don’t see publishers beating on ex-gov’s door after seeing him ‘literally destroy’ himself on TV
Chicago Sun Times, February 7, 2009
by Jordan Wilson
He has done the national TV rounds — twice. Is a book deal next for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich?
Agent Advice: Ted Weinstein of Ted Weinstein Literary
by Chuck Sambuchino
“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Ted Weinstein of Ted Weinstein Literary) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents and script agents who talk with Guide to Literary Agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else. This series has more than 170 interviews so far with reps from great literary agencies. This collection of interviews is a great place to start if you are just starting your research on literary agents.
How To Get Your Book Published: Writing a book proposal
Dallas Morning News, June 24, 2008
All those daunting numbers probably made it seem as if your odds of becoming a published author are only slightly more likely than your odds of seeing the 1,000,000,000 Euro Lottery Winnings promised you by that guy in Nigeria.
What’s a would-be writer to do?
California Love: Agents Don’t Need to Live in NYC. They’ve Got E-mail (and Great Weather)
by Laura Hazard Owen
Ah, the life of a California literary agent. Client meetings on the terrace overlooking the cliffs, the sound of aquamarine waves crashing on sparkling white sand as a lovely soundtrack to the discussion of character development. Later on, a quick spin in the cute red hybrid convertible over to a movie studio or five, promising manuscripts optioned, big sunglasses worn throughout. All in an afternoon’s work.
That’s just what it’s right, like? No? Well. We must have been watching too many old OC episodes. Better talk to some real California agents (and one from Seattle!).
Another fake memoir dupes publishers
By Stacey Vanek Smith
TESS VIGELAND: You might have heard about that memoir “Love and Consequences” — the one written by Margaret Jones, about growing up in a foster home in South Central Los Angeles. Only her name is actually Margaret Seltzer and the memoir is actually a work of fiction.
If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It wasn’t that long ago that publishers recalled James Frey’s fake memoir, “A Million Little Pieces.”
We asked Stacey Vanek Smith to look into the price of publishing lies.
Pynchon book will sell itself
by Lisa Napoli
[CORRECTION: Thomas Pynchon was incorrectly cited as a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist in this story. He was recommended for a Pulitzer in 1974 for his book “Gravity’s Rainbow,” but did not win.]
TEXT OF STORY
SCOTT JAGOW: Tomorrow, novelist Thomas Pynchon comes out with his first book in nine years. Pynchon is famously media shy. Lisa Napoli has more.
Seeking readers via ‘book trailer’ / Publisher tries out movie-style preview to market new title
by Justin Berton
In his quest to bring literature to the masses, Jeffrey Lependorf turned to an unlikely ally: YouTube.
Lependorf, executive director of the Literary Ventures Fund in New York, recently invested $10,000 to help promote a French memoir on the verge of being published. Instead of the usual press releases or book tours, his money was used to create a short video about the book that was distributed on the popular online video site that attracts an estimated 20 million visitors per month.
You can get your money back IF . . .
by Ashley Milne-Tyte
KAI RYSSDAL: The book was called “A Million Little Pieces.” Might better have been “A Million Big Fat Lies.” It was billed as James Frey’s memoir. But back at the beginning of the year Frey confessed to having made up large chunks of the story. He did a mea culpa on Oprah and then we all forgot about him. Most of us, anyway. But some of the people who had shelled out good money for what they thought was nonfiction sued. They said Random House, the publisher, had committed fraud. Today, a tentative settlement. Frey and Random House will refund almost $2.5 million, if certain conditions are met. Ashley Milne-Tyte has the details from New York.
What Are Book Editors Looking for?
Chronicle of Higher Education, July 21, 2006
By Dedi Felman
As an editor for a major publishing company, I am occasionally asked to give talks on what editors are “looking for” in books. It’s always struck me as a curious question. It presumes that we know what we are looking for; that blessed with foresight, we anticipate the Next Big Thing and then instigate a full-bore search for the perfect prepackaged book and author.
MIND YOUR BUSINESS / Getting your book out takes more than just finding a publisher
by Ilana DeBare
Q: I am nearly done writing a self-help book about personal health, and I would like to get it published and sold. What is the best way to proceed from here? Should I self-publish and distribute on the Internet or try to find an agent or publishing house?
— Aspiring Author
Interview: Ted Weinstein
Most parents aren’t exactly proud when their child announces that he or she works on adult media. Ted Weinstein has navigated this difficult territory time and time again. True, the pronouncement is doubtlessly made easier because he works in adult non-fiction literature. SFist has long been obsessed with the literati and the glitterati. Since we struggle gaining access to them, we are proud to bring you the next best thing—their agent.
Ted Weinstein is a fierce proponent of the Bay Area’s literature scene. He is also good at getting the authors he represents to finish their manuscripts. His methods are a trade secret, but let’s just say both carrots and sticks are used. And he was kind enough to submit to an SFist interview.
Will Fiorina Tell All in New Book?
San Jose Mercury News, Aug. 24, 2005
by Therese Poletti
Carly Fiorina, who rose to the top tier of corporate America before she was ousted as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, has signed a deal to write a book for Penguin Group to be published in autumn 2006.
Penguin said the book will combine a memoir of Fiorina’s career so far with her views on a variety of issues, including what makes a leader, how women can thrive in business and how technology will continue to reshape the world.
Absolute Write Interview
Interview with Ted Weinstein by Jenna Glatzer
Ted Weinstein is a San Francisco literary agent with broad experience on both the business and editorial sides of publishing. Also a widely-published author, Ted has been the music critic for NPR’s All Things Considered and a commentator for the San Francisco Chronicle, Bay Guardian, SF Weekly and Might Magazine.
Why did you decide to become a literary agent?
Books are back, and their pages are filled with politics, biography, and history
Boston Globe, 1/1/2004
By David Mehegan, Globe Staff
Like a battleship, book publishing doesn’t turn on a dime, so the old year’s trends don’t usually determine a new year’s books. However, conversations with literary agents, who are always trying to sniff out what publishers want, turn up a few trends in publishing that may affect our reading in 2004 and beyond.
Closing Books on Dot-Coms
Fallen upstart geniuses of the “new economy” are writing memoirs, trying to distance themselves from huge equity losses.
Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2002
Christine Frey, Times Staff Writer
Like a modern-day Dickens, Stephan Paternot witnessed the best and worst of times.
A year after graduating from Cornell in 1996, the co-founder of Web site Theglobe.com was worth nearly $100 million. His company’s stock set a Wall Street record when it jumped 606% in its first day of public trading. At 24, he became emblematic of the cocky boy geniuses using the World Wide Web to change the rules of business, media and life itself.
WritersMarket.com Agent Q&A
Here’s Ted Weinstein to Answer Some More Reader Questions
It feels like I’ve tried to get an agent forever. Only, I never seem to come close to getting one. I’ve queried at least a dozen agents, with no success to show for it. Why should I even care if I have an agent? For all the rejection I receive, what makes an agent worth the hard work?