Wednesday, June 29, 2011

News Flash: UNLOCKED hits USA Today and NYT Bestseller List!

Status: Giddy with excitment!

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? nothing at the moment

I usually get the weekly NYT list around 6 in the evening but alas, it didn't hit my inbox until 9:30 tonight but whoa, a huge surprise was waiting for me.

HUGE CONGRATS Courtney Milan!

You, my dear, are now officially a New York Times Bestselling author as well. Today, not only did your novella UNLOCKED hit the USA Today list coming in at #36, you also hit the NYT eBook bestseller list coming in at #6.

And sheesh, right during RWA 2011. That's timing. I couldn't be more thrilled for you.

Speaking of 25% Of Net Receipts

Status: Gotta hit the shower and the ground running. RWA, day 2.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? NEVER THERE by Cake

An update from blog entry 8-4-2011:

In good news, we've now gone through all our Random House statements from the spring with a fine tooth comb and I'm delighted to report that RH is not doing a wholesale change to their electronic book royalty rate on existing contracts; there was simply an error that was resolved promptly. Contracts that have the royalty rate of 25% of retail will still have 25% of retail. Now, I have heard that they want to change any 15% of retail to 25% of net (which is actually to an author's advantage) but I have not personally seen that so as far as I'm concerned, that's simply a rumor for now.

Since we’ve been speaking of 25% of net receipts and it would have been easy to miss, if you publish with Random House, you might want to take a look at your April statements again.

Random House decided they were arbitrarily just going to use the 25% of net receipts to calculate their authors’ eBook royalties in this last accounting round—regardless of what is stated in the contracts. There was no mention of it to agents or letter circulated to authors--that I know of anyway. I’m assuming some folks just weren’t going to notice?

Now for some authors, this may be an improvement over what they were getting, depends on what is in the contract. However, for probably the majority, Random House used to pay 25% of RETAIL price that would then drop to 15% of RETAIL price after the title earned out. (and yes I’m capitalizing the word “retail” for a reason).

We had so much fun yesterday doing math, I can’t resist doing more today.

Let’s say you have a mass market paperback priced at $7.99. (we might as well use the same type of figures as yesterday):

25% of RETAIL of 7.99 = 1.99 of royalty per sale to the author.

Oh how I loved Random House back in the day….

Now, if RH switches to 25% of net receipts and because they did, as a company, switch to the Agency Model in March 2011, the math would look like this:

7.99 – 2.39 (which is the 30% to the distributor such as Amazon) = 5.60 to the publisher

25% of net receipts of 5.60 = 1.40 of royalty per sale to the author

Yep, the author just lost 59 cents per sale. Add that up over X number of sales and that's a lot of dough.

However, if an author’s title has already earned out and they are now at the 15% of RETAIL price, it’s actually a better royalty to switch to 25% of net receipts.

15% of 7.99 = 1.19

Since the author would get $1.40 calculating the other way, then it might be worth considering (but make sure RH is not doing any other deductions beyond what they are paying to the distributor).

This concludes your moment of math. We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Doing The Math on Harlequin’s Move to 25% of Net Receipts but on Wholesale Model

Status: It’s official. RWA in New York has just begun. Most awkward moment today? Sitting on a panel that also had editors and being asked the question: what is a fair electronic royalty rate. Grin.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? BAILAMOS by Enrique Iglasias

Last Thursday, Harlequin sent out a press release announcing that for single title romances on their list, they would be switching to 25% of net receipts starting Jan. 1. 2012.

But before you begin celebrating that finally Harlequin is getting in line with the other major publishers, take a moment to look at the fine print or in this case, what isn’t there. What Harlequin didn’t mention in their press release is that as a Publisher, they are currently not on the agency model with their digital distributors—Apple iBookstore being the one exception.

So in short, this move to 25% of net is def. better than the paltry 6 or 8% of retail that they were offering but it’s not necessarily equal to what Publishers pay via the Agency Model.

Here’s why. Let’s do some math boy and girls.

Let’s say your single title Harlequin royalty rate is 8% of retail and the retail price for your romance novel is $7.99.

8% of 7.99 = 0.64 of royalty per sale to the author

That’s the baseline. Now let’s look at what 25% of net receipts from Harlequin looks like on the wholesale model.

$7.99 is the retail price but because Harlequin sells wholesale, they give (on average) a 50% discount to the seller. That would look like this:

7.99 – 3.99 (discount) = 4.00 of net receipts to Harlequin

25% of 4.00 = $1.00 of royalty per sale to the author

Well, that’s definitely better than 64 cents given previously!

But the whole reason why Big 5 Publishers moved to the net receipts royalty rate is because of the agency model. In this configuration, the Publisher gives 30% to the distributor and receives 70% as net receipts. So it would look like this:

30% of 7.99 = 2.39 to the distributor

Now deduct that commission:
7.99 – 2.39 = 5.60 of net receipts to publisher

If author gets 25% of net receipts on agency model, that would be:

25% net receipts of 5.60 = 1.40 of royalty per sale to the author.

Not quite the same.

Now keep in mind that the above calculations are not taking into consideration any other deductions a Publisher on Agency Model might possibly be taking before calculating the author’s share. So that is a possible factor to consider.

But in general, Harlequin’s move to 25% of net is not, on the surface, the same as what other houses are offering.

And from what I’m hearing via chat in the blogosphere, the other Harlequin royalty rate of 15% of net to series authors (which was also announced in a separate press release) is going over about as well as a lead balloon.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Your Moment Of Chutney

Status: It’s raining. Again!

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? ROSANNA by Toto

Yesterday, Brian headed home to Denver with Chutney in tow. The poor man has had nothing but bad luck with air travel and yesterday was no exception. Brian and Chutney’s plane was delayed by almost 5 hours.

Security lines were also a mess. Over an hour to get back into the gate area if Brian exited the terminal. In short, the two of them were stuck between a rock and a hard place.

And here’s where Southwest Airlines gets my vote for best airline ever.

Although you can’t quite make out Chutney (as she’s behind that gray ladder), here is the shot Brian took of the cluster of southwest employees trying to get Chutney to go to the bathroom out on the tarmac before boarding the plane.

Needless to say, Chutney was too freaked out but kudos to the employees of Southwest for going the distance. They really tried!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Riding the Cultural Zeitgeist?

Status: I only own an umbrella for when I’m in New York. So ready for the perpetually sunny skies of Denver.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? MYSTERY by Anita Baker

Even though we agents and editors have seen this phenomenon repeat itself for years, it still strangely takes us by surprise.

Sometimes a theme or a type of story will hit the cultural zeitgeist and suddenly we will see a slew of submissions that have very similar story ideas.

And I’m not talking about obvious trends. For example, in Young Adult, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that paranormal romance has been “hot” for a while (thank you Twilight). Then the Hunger Games took off and dystopia became the new trend. As titles released in that, the latest is now SF or speculative fiction.

These are popular trends.

This is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about storylines that suddenly start popping up that are potentially outside of these trends but for some reason, the stories all hit our submission inboxes around the same time.

For example, over the last 6 months, there have been a lot of queries and sample pages for fairy tale retellings (and this started happening before Little Red Riding Hood and Beastly hit the screen).

I was out to lunch with a children’s editor yesterday and for him, he had suddenly started seeing a ton of submissions that were what he called “man vs machine a la Terminator-style.”

The submissions came from different agents/agencies and yet all had very similar settings and main storylines. And this isn’t actually a rare occurrence. As an agent, I’ve seen this happen any number of times in my career.

So, there is something percolating in the cultural zeitgeist where any number of totally different authors who don’t know each other will have eerily similar story ideas for their novels.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Groan Worthy

Status: The subway is getting a little steamy in terms of humidity these past few days.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? CONNECTED by Stereo MC’s

Several years ago, way before tags were available on blogger, I did a really popular post on openings to avoid when writing fantasy novels.

Last week, I went to lunch with an editor from Tor and LOL, we got to brainstorming other “great” openings. So I’ve got a few to add to the list. Now I wanted to link to that previous entry but darn of I can find it! If anyone has it handy, post in the comments and I’ll embed the link. (Update: here's the link! Thank you blog readers for finding this entry way back in year 2006!)

From what I remember of the previous list, we saw a lot of fantasy novels with main characters gathering herbs in the forest. Who knew what a popular past time that was? Openings with battle scenes where the reader had no connection to the characters was another big winner.

Sure, any masterful writer can grab any of these “openings” and do them justice but for us mere mortals, they tend to be groan worthy.

The latest contenders:

1. Man sitting on steed in pouring rain.

2. Woman standing on high wall looking out into the distance at something

3. The city chase scene

4. Aftermath of a battle

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Romance Anyone?

Status: Whose bright idea was it to schedule meetings from 9 in the morning until 9 in the evening? Oh wait, that was my fault.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? I DON’T WANNA FIGHT by Tina Turner.

First off, if you are a Denverite and you have not had a chance to vote for Jamie Ford’s HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET to be the One Book One Denver choice, please pop on today as June 15 is the last day to vote!!

Pretty please. *grin*

As all of you know, I’m here in New York for the whole month of June meeting with a variety of editors. This week, I’ve had a chance to talk with 4 editors who work in the romance and women’s fiction field.

For wm’s fic, it’s still the order of the day to find an upmarket literary voice with a story that has a great hook.

In other words, a good story well told…

In romance, there’s a bit more uncertainty. Editors really don’t have a clear picture on what might work for a debut. Will it be paranormal? Historical Romance? I was hoping Historical Westerns would make a come back (as I do have a soft spot in my heart for them) but editors weren’t showing a lot of enthusiasm.

Now contemporary Western (or set in Texas) seems to be working okay. And yet sales, in general, for contemporary romance is soft.

All I’m really getting is that whatever the novel is, the author needs a powerful and strong voice. If she has that, the rest will hopefully follow.

In other words, romance writers, I got nothin’ to share here. Should make for some interesting spotlights at RWA!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Do Cheap Backlist eBooks Poach Frontlist Sales?

Status: Best moment in NYC today? Walking over to Central Park and seeing a dude that looked remarkably like Will Smith asking folks if they wanted to do park bike rentals. And in this town, it really could have been him and people didn’t notice. It was a remarkable double…

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? REAL LOVE by The Doobie Brothers

Today a fellow agent and I were having a discussion about eBook pricing. What should backlist romance titles be priced at and does that poach sales for the current release?

Obviously there are a variety of opinions on this subject but here is mine.

I don't personally believe that a lower eBook price for a backlist title poaches from a current title. I think the romance reader is more likely to then buy both if the backlist title is reasonably priced.

In terms of pricing, most authors are seeing good movement when a backlist title is priced between the $2.99 and $3.99 price range. Higher than that and the sales are flat.

And speaking of reduced pricing for backlist titles, this is a perfect segue albeit for women’s fiction. Need a cheap summer read? HarperCollins is letting you get a taste of NLA client Kristina Riggle for $0.99

Yep, less than a buck. And it’s across all platforms. Here are links for just a few:




Sadly Google eBookstore (that does sales for independent bookstores) didn't have their version up although they were included in the promotion.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Calling All Denverites

Status: It was already in the 90s by 9 a.m. this morning. Poor Chutney was not happy with her walk in Central Park.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? SHE BOP by Cyndi Lauper

Even though I have a healthy ego in regards to my agenting, I really do think that this a once-in-a-career opportunity.

I found out this week that Jamie Ford’s Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet is in the running for One Book One Denver!

Always the last to know….

But I’m so excited at the possibility I can barely sleep. I really don’t know if I’ll ever have another book in the running (although one never knows what the future will bring)!

As many of you know, Jamie is not a Coloradoan but his wife is and her family still lives here. They visit Colorado often so even though he’s not a local author per se, he’s an honorary or sometimes local. Either way, he is a writer of the West.

So what is this blog post about? I need your help! The title is in the running but I need Denverites to vote.

Here’s how it works. You go to the voting website here. Of course they are going to want you to register (sorry about that!) because they are collecting info for Denver Events eMailing list. You can always unsubscribe later

Then you’ll see the three titles and I won’t mince words. The competition is tough. I personally enjoyed The Art Of Racing In The Rain and my book club is scheduled to read The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks in just a few short months. I’m not disparaging these titles at all but I still want HOTEL to win!!

It’s a little confusing on the site but voters are suppose to vote on each title by ranking them with the number of stars that applies to your rating of the work.

So, it’s not a matter of the book with the most votes win but the book with the most votes and the highest ranking of stars wins. I hope that makes sense…

If HOTEL does win, trust me, Jamie will be coming to town for a variety of One Book One Denver events. NLA will hold a party and all Denverites are invited!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The New Buzz Word: Speculative

Status: Dashing out to next meeting in 30 minutes and sheesh, it’s hotter than blazes in New York City today. I’m melting. It’s suppose to be a high of 99 tomorrow. I may stick an ice cube in my bra. That's probably TMI.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? I’M MELTING IN THE SUN by INXS (I couldn’t resist putting this title on!)

It’s official. I’ve had three meetings with three different editors at three different children’s publishing houses.

The new hot thing is “speculative” fiction.

I guess we don’t want to call it science fiction, futuristic, and definitely not dystopian. LOL.

Speculative is SF though.

For some editors, they don’t want a huge science focus or an emphasis on technology (as is a bit more traditional in adult SF). They want it based more concretely in an Earth or contemporary society anchor.

One editor actually said screw that. Bring on the next Ender’s Game (and I say Heck Yes to that! I totally want to see that book).

Editors also want:

Horror—not gore but scary as in I Know What You did Last Summer

Psych Thriller

Jodi Picoult with hot topic but for the teen set

Literary but with a hook

Editors are seeing a lot of mysteries with a romantic elements. So far, that doesn’t feel overly appealing to them. Of course it only takes one to break that mold and then every editor will want one.

We know how that goes.