I’m back from RWA in New York and still a bit jet-lagged. Here are some initial thoughts and observations.
I heard a lot of people tell stories about encountering rudeness. If you’re ever at the Times Square Coldstone, for God’s sake DO NOT GO INSIDE. The tale of hostility encountered over the simple act of buying ice cream chilled my blood. Good Lord. Ice Cream should be a happy experience. I guess you walk out of that store happy that you escaped with your life.
I myself was in a cab hurtling toward my destination — this was nothing new, by the way. I have been in cabs in San Francisco and I assure you, San Francisco traffic can make New York traffic look like Sunday morning at 7:00 am. — Anyway, my driver suddenly pulls over to the curb and stops and I’m thinking, hey! there’s no one in front of us, why the heck are you stopping instead of seeing how quick you can punch it to 70? He bought a hot dog. Two of them. On my dime. Which if he’d asked would have been totally cool with me. But he didn’t.
To counterbalance the tales of rudeness, in the Times Square Walgreen’s where I was buying band-aids, the line was long, the store was crowded and there were youngsters in the line. And the clerk charmed those kids to pieces. You could watch them all fall in love with her and her New York accent and every kid in that line couldn’t wait until she talked to them. She was wonderful.
So there. I choose to remember her the best.
Also, the staff in the Starbucks on the first floor (not the one on the 8th floor) were really nice AND they were organized about how to take orders and keep things moving. The staff at the 8th floor Starbucks was the complete opposite.
Most people seemed to think the mood was substantially more optimistic than last year. I do think that’s so. My own mood was . . . hard to explain. Ups and downs, but unlike any other time in my writing career, the down bits were accompanied by my conviction that I have real and substantial alternatives. This was bolstered by the fact that the 2nd installment of my ePub direct deposits (representing the first full month of sales) went in while I was at conference and $9,000+ felt damn cheerful and substantial to me.
I have never, ever before had conversations with editors, agents and other publishing professionals where the potential for “No” didn’t also bring with it the specter of an ending career. But that’s the case right now. Not that there was no angst, there always is. But the truth is, the world has changed and savvy writers can now diversify their careers in ways that detach them from traditional publishing. A writer who can do both is in a good place and, for the first time ever, that applies to the mid-list author.
Rumors and Speculation
There were lots of rumors most of which had to do with Harlequin’s recent contract changes. It seems that the rumor about a non-complete in the contracts is false. However, I remain concerned that the math I’ve seen pretends that the overhead is limited. Harlequin, it seems, uses a distributor. See this Dear Author post.
Series: on a $5 book, a series author receiving 6% of cover would earn royalty of 30 cents per copy; at 15% of net receipts, she’ll earn 37.5 cents per copy ($5 x 50% discount to distributor = net receipts of $2.50. 15% of $2.50 is 37.5 cents).
Single Titles: on an $8 book, a single title author receiving 10% of cover would earn royalty of 80 cents per copy; at 25% of net receipts, she’ll earn $1.00 per copy ($8 x 50% discount to distributor = net receipts of $4.00. 25% of $4.00 is $1.00).
The net receipts calculation is transparent and we are comfortable moving to a net receipts model for digital sales.
Emphasis added. The above math assumes the only cost is that 50% to the distributor. But is it? I don’t have any contracts with Harlequin, but one of my contracts has this language regarding things that are deducted before arriving at net:
Taxes, handling or processing fees, customer refunds… commissions or fees payable to third parties (such as web hosters and digital rights management providers). . .
It’s pretty easy to imagine that 7.5 cent (30 cents vs. 37.5 cents) increase for series and the $0.20 increase (80 cents vs. 100 cents) for single title being eroded by things like the above expenses. I remain skeptical and continue to believe that 25% of net is not competitive enough in the current environment. See above in re my self-pub income for the month of June.
There were representatives there from Amazon and iBooks. Last year, to my knowledge, there weren’t. The guy from Amazon ran out of cards. Think about that.
I don’t have much I can share yet. Sorry. However, you can expect to hear news fairly soon.