Its the only way that's fair to the author - and we're still making a fair amount of money for the work we've provided.
One final note: we’re now accepting submissions for Journeys of Wonder, Volume 4 which will likely release sometime in the next few months (depending on my work schedule – I’m starting an editing gig on the FXX series The League next week, which demands a lot of time). Details can be found on our submissions page.
Joe sez: Back in 2009 I coined the term Estributor as a person or company who helped authors self-publish. Unlike a publisher (vanity or otherwise), an estributor takes a flat fee or a royalty percentage, and keeps their rights.
That's key in this new marketplace. Whoever owns the rights, wins. Which is something Ian is doing right with Fuzzbomb--letting the author keep the rights.
If you sign with an estributor or publisher, make it clear who owns the rights. If they do, know for what length of time.
The length of time should NEVER be "term of copyright".If I ever did sign a legacy deal again it would be for "walk away money"--an advance so large it's worth me never having the rights returned. In my case, I wouldn't sell a book for term of copyright for less than a million. Because a copyright lasts for 70 years beyond my death, and even a mediocre title can make good money.
Do the math. Let's say I live until I'm 83. That's forty more years, plus seventy for copyright, so 110 years.
My poorest selling novel is DISTURB, which sells about 250 copies a month for roughly $700. In 110 years, that's $924,000 at the current 70% royalty rate, assuming steady sales.
I'd sell DISTURB for a million, because that's more than I think it will make, and I'm not going to be spending any money after I'm dead.
WHISKEY SOUR, however, sells 9000 copies a month. At that rate, it will make 11 million dollars before I reach the age of 83. In 110 years, that's 32 million dollars, assuming steady sales.
So do I want to give a term of copyright to some legacy publisher for a million when it can earn me and my heirs 32 million in the same period of time?
It's becoming increasingly difficult to measure the worth of rights. No one knows what the future holds. But whoever holds their rights, holds the future.
Don't give up your rights for anything less than extraordinary, lest you want to kick yourself a few years from now. Ebooks are becoming a global market. That's a lot of potential customers. Customers that you can reach while earning 70% royalties.
This is something my peers and I think about a lot. All signs point toward the future being lucrative. But is it smart to trade future money for upfront money? Is it better to retain your rights and make 70% in slowly growing foreign markets (or even the US market) or sell those rights and make 25% or less (and a good change those rights will never earn out or be reverted) in order to get a big advance?
Our solution is to put a time limit on rights.I've signed some foreign deals for 7-10 year terms, then the rights revert. This way I can make some advance money now on markets I'm not ready to enter yet (do I want to spend $5k to translate a title into Korean?).