C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

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Writers: What are you worth?

At last week’s Writer’s Union of Canada conference in Toronto, an author asked the head of ECW Press: “Why should authors should get a royalty of 25% (of net) when they could get 70%  publishing on their own digitally?”

Good question. 

The question rose from a discussion of ECW’s new ebook imprint. The replies from the panel were interesting. First there was the assertion of the value of editorial input, an advance of $500 and a promotion budget of $800. Production cost was $1600. So, the publisher’s risk up front was $2,900. The ebook price was set at $9.95 (though Amazon dropped the price to $7.96.)

The publisher emphasized his risk, saying that most of these ebooks haven’t been runaway successes and, because they are solely digital, it’s difficult (or impossible) to get them reviewed in traditional venues. The Globe & Mail refuses to review ebooks, even though ECW is a traditional publisher. (Insert your own joke about the fragility of newspapers’  relevance here.)

By now, my objections to these answers are pretty obvious: 70% is more, the publisher’s price point is too high for the competition, hire your own editor (edit and hire a graphic designer for less than $1600 and format it yourself), $800 for promotion* , $500 advance and giving up e-rights  frankly doesn’t make me swoon.

Am I missing something here? And, as a writer, what about your risk? What about all your time and energy invested as a writer? It takes much more of your finite resources to produce a book out of nothing than it does to shepherd it through to publication. Right?

What do you think? I welcome your comments.

Next post: Promoting your book. 

Filed under: DIY, ebooks, publishing, self-publishing, Writing Conferences, , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. Certainly doesn’t sound like a great deal to me. To be honest, for that amount from the publisher, I’d rather pay out the same amount in costs and keep more of the income. MUCH more…

  2. Pavarti says:

    I’m so with you. In fact I think the question isn’t What Are You Worth anymore but What Are You Buying! I am the consumer now, what can the publishing company offer me I can’t do myself. I can do the editor promotion thing, what do they offer me? Do they have more contacts? Do they understand the market better? To me it’s a question of purchase point.

    For paper books publishers still have the golden ticket of getting you in bookstores. I can see how it may make sense to go with a publisher for that, but for ebooks they just don’t have anything that I’m willing to buy!

    Personally I’m not willing to do it for paper books either, but that’s a whole other conversation.


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