Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nuts & Bolts: Royalty Statements: Lack Of Detail

STATUS: Interestingly enough, I’ve got more film interest for one of my clients. This will be the fourth of fifth deal we’ve done in this year alone. Go film!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HOLDING BACK THE YEARS by Simply Red

Just this month I received a royalty statement that only had the following info on it:

Total copies in print
Copies printed during period
Copies shipped during period
Total copies paid during the reporting period [note: because royalties are based on net—not retail price—which is sometimes true for smaller independent houses)
Total copies returned during the reporting period
Net amount earned during period.

That’s it. That’s all that is on the statement.

So right off, we have some legwork we are going to have to do in order to review this statement. Lots of info missing.

Not to mention, I’m going to have to create a whole separate excel spreadsheet so I can track earn-out. On this royalty statement, the advance paid isn’t listed. So it’s going to be up to the agency to track it so we know when the title has earned out because that info isn’t on the statement.

Also a problem? All sales are lumped together in “total copies paid during the reporting period.” That means there is no break-down of format (as in hardcover, trade paperback, electronic). We didn’t grant translation, audio, or other rights so that won’t be an issue (as we’ll sell separately) but I want to know how many of those sales are eBooks. This statement won’t remotely tell me that. And let’s not even get started about high discount, special sales, export, etc.

Do you see what else is missing? No mention of reserves held. Now maybe this publisher isn’t holding any but I won’t know that unless I ask. Some publishers do hold a reserve but don’t list that info on the statement. If that’s the case, we’ll have to make a note to always ask separately.

And the list goes on. For me, less is not more.