To E or not to E?
(Because this post has become a bit longer than I’d intended, I’ll divide it in half, with the first part All About Laurie, and the more important bit tomorrow.)
Twice a year, publishers send their authors a royalty statement (and, with luck, a check to go with it.) These are daunting documents, page after page of columns designed primarily to intimidate the author into not worrying her pretty little head about what it all means. And because they’re comprehensive statements, with columns that reflect earnings back to the beginnings of time for each book, much of what they say is meaningless. Do I really need the figures every six months for the To Play the Fool hardback, which hasn’t been available since 1997?
However, as you can imagine, the addition of columns for eBooks some years back has made for some interesting reflections on the nation’s changing interests. Which amounts basically to: The eBook is here to stay.
From time to time, well-meaning readers have asked me which earns me more, a print book or an eBook. And although my answer tends to be, They’re pretty much the same, since I’d rather people make their choice by what they like rather than what they think it places in my wallet, there’s another question that I personally find even more interesting, concerning bookstores.
By way of a quick (hah!) answer to the readers’ question, I’ll say that the author’s royalties on a $25 hardback like Pirate King are in the neighborhood of $3.75 (they were $2.50 for the first 5,000 sold; $3.13 for the second 5,000.) Royalties for the Pirate King eBook, priced at $12.99, are slightly lower, at $3.25, will drop (to $1.95) as soon as I earn out the advance Random House gave me, then go lower if (when) they reduce the price of the eBook.
On the other hand, royalties for a $15 trade paperback such as The Beekeeper’s Apprentice are $1.13, whereas for its $9.99 eBook I get $1.50.
These figures don’t begin to touch on the questions of deep-discounting (when the publisher sells at a greater-than-standard discount to big-volume outlets, and narrows the author’s percentage accordingly) or Rights sales (Do I get royalties from large-print and Mystery Guild sales, or a flat rights sale?) and audio books (which have both rights and royalties) and how one publisher’s eBook royalties are 15% while others are considerably more generous.
You see why I tend not to answer the question of relative earnings?
However, believe it or not, this blog post is not All About Me.
What I started writing about with this post was the question of eBook sales in Independent bookstores. And I will post more fully on that tomorrow.