Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I was trying to tweet from the panel as it was happening live, but there was not a viable wireless signal in the room. So, continuing here.

Author Susan Cheever was (to my ears) a voice of reason throughout the evening. “Things like royalty percentages are going to be settled in court, through negotiation. What I think we should be looking at is the fact that we’re in a whirlwind…we’re in a time that’s as revolutionary as the invention of the printing press. Is this going to change the way I write? If I know that my books are going to be digitized and made available chapter by chapter, then do I WRITE chapter by chapter? Thinking about these things now may at least keep us ahead of this breaking wave."

The consensus seems to be that the "going" royalty rate for eBooks is going to be 25% of net proceeds from ebook sales. i.e. 25% of proceeds that publishers receive (gross proceeds less returns)

Although nothing could be resolved in the room, it was a good evening for airing all sides, with moderator Michael Cader (publishersmarketplace.com) summing the evening as follows: The underpinning of trust among longtime partners is eroding as we explore this new business. Bad news for most authors is that your advance is going down… Publishers are worried about the dozen agents whom Amazon flew out to Seattle, feel like they need to explain their real costs to the agents……Agents would like to keep legacy rights with legacy publisher, but that doesn’t leave them with any leverage to negotiate…The traditional publisher/author/agent relationship is eroding – everyone has retreated to their trenches.

This is not as big an issue for children's writers yet, because the eBook readers aren't in color. It is looming on the horizon, though, likely within two years. Sorry the adult writers have to bear the brunt, but glad they're leading the way in getting this figured out (while the publishers build the digital infrastructure they need for this new world).

I agree with Jane Friedman and Susan Cheever, who both adamantly believe that these are exciting times!

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