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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

I’m going to be going through the website over the next couple of weeks and cleaning up bad links, broken links, and may possibly redo the theme completely. I’m also working on a schedule for the website, not too much cause, hey, I have a busy life. I’ll also be trying to fix tags (my last few posts I didn’t tag at all) and other stuff.

Elemental Truth.  Ok so the serial is still ongoing. I am currently working on the next couple chapters which have had to be completely rewritten. I do love this story, and since life seems to be slowing to a managable rush, I’m trying to refocus energy in that direction.

 

NANOWRIMO  I have always loved NaNo, some years it’s been an impossibility. This year might be one of those years. The biggest reason is that, if things work out right, I’ll be returning to school in nov. I’m not sure school and nano will work. We’ll see. Either way, I’ve been so exhausted for so long, I may just stand on the sidelines and cheer everyone on.

 

Have a great week, and hopefully things will be back on a schedule next week.

 

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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

This post was inspired in great part by Kristine Rusch’s post Story Demands.

For years I had this dream of publishing the Zander books traditionally. I pictured them on a bookshelf in a bookstore, I would even go to waldenbooks and find where my name was and kinda scoot the books around so there would be room for them. >.>  Ever do that? :P

As brick and morter bookstores vanished (where I lived we only had chain bookstores, tehre were NO small indipendent ones) so too went the dreams of seeing the books in bookstores, and when I decided to self pub, there was a period slight mourning. I’d never ever see them in print. Ever.

Ok so that was dramatic, now I’m planning on putting out print editions eventually but for the n00b self pubber a couple years ago (a couple YEARS??? O.M.G!) it was a drastic thought, I wasn’t sure I’d ever do print copies at all.

But there were a lot of things that hung on. Sure I was going to self pub, but I was clinging to a lot of the traditional thought processes and that included how I was putting a story together and the wordcount caps.

As you can see, if you take a glance at my offerings, I have shorts up. Nothing large. A lot of reasons for this, many of them are legitimate time and RL issues (I have had some life upsets over the past year and a half that have impacted writing and publishing), but there are other reasons, a lot of them have to do with the fear issue. Fear of failure, fear of imperfection, fear of ridicule, fear of something I can’t quite put my finger on.

Larger project = heftier formatting = greater chance of typos = imperfection

And everyone has seen the ridicule self pubbers have garnered from others if they have typos and imperfections in their self edited* projects.

But then again, look at the ‘traditional’ published authors who ALSO get ridiculed. It doesn’t seem to matter who you are, if you put out something in the public eye there is going to be someone, somewhere who is going to hate it and make fun of it. Period.

I can list off numerous people who have ignored this and continued on. From musicians, to actors, writers, directors, and so on.

I can also point out people who have thrown in the towel, hundreds, thousands even, who have given up, gotten bitter, and continued on in their little lives, because somebody didn’t like what they did/said/produced so they stomped off in a hissy fit. Or just went *poof*.

Smaller projects, while still subject to dreaded typos, are less time consuming on formatting and easier to typo check (in theory). They are safer. Again in theory.

**takes a deep breath**

The projects that really move me are my big ones. The monstrocities. The doorstoppers. The ones that I got duped into believing years ago would never sell. The huge epic ones I was told that agents weren’t representing them because publishing companies aren’t going to buy them.

I’m not even going to breach the George R.R. Martin thing, I really am not. :P

So the things I learned as a nOOb writer, trying to break into the business included;

  • don’t make your first book part of a trilogy, pubbers don’t want to risk investing on an unknown whose work might not even sell.
  • Don’t make your first book larger than 90k. agents won’t shop it around because pubbers won’t buy it. Typesetting issues and cost and whatnot.
  • General fantasy and Epic fantasy no longer sell. That ship sailed in the 90s, don’t write it. UF and vampires are the ‘thing’. And romance.
  • Sex. If in doubt, toss sex on the page. The more your characters get laid, the greater chance you have of selling your book or bagging an agent, and the more explicit, the better. (I swear to dog I heard this from multiple sources!)

Now obviously these are wrong. I’m not going to tell you how to ‘bag an agent’ mainly because I don’t feel the need for one. There are other places you can go to locate that information, here is not one of those places.

But this was my understanding, among others which I am still discovering (some of these are so deep rooted I have a hard time defining what they are!) as I go along.

Last night I finished the rough draft of Bastard Prince. In came in at 52k with several placeholders in the beginning for battles and such that I need to plan out a bit better to fill in. There are some threads I need to lay, and flesh out, some plotholes which make it look like a colander (I think I could drive a jet plane through some of them XD) but it is, for lack of a better word, done.

I also pulled up what I have of bks 2 & 3 and got a good idea of what I need to do to finish them. And I saw what the myths of the trad pubbing had done to my story, and how it had tweaked with my head.

I had this story, you see. And it’s a life story. It’s Zander’s story, and it geeks me right the hell out. He’s got an intense one, with highs and lows, with loves and hates, joys and sorrows. Friendships and betrayals and all of it moves through a greater story which pushes the world he lives in to the brink, and eventually, possibly, over. And it’s important.

But to make it fit, to appease who I thought needed to be appeased to get it to the people I wanted to share it with, I came close to murdering it. One of the most important foundational parts of the story, book two (which needs a name) rings in at 16k right now with a lot of [this happens here] type of place holders.  Why? Because I was going to skim over it. I was thinking, oh this is the romance part, the slow-down part. This is the part people are going to yawn through. I can do flashbacks.

You see, even though I decided I was going to self pub it, I was still stuck thinking I was writing one book. I was locked into thinking that I needed to keep it small. I was trying to squeeze all of this huge, epic story into 90k. 17 (or was it 19?) years of world shaking events into 90k.

I sat in on a few conversations with some friends at FM as I mentioned in some posts over here, and my brain kinda rebelled, and melted and threw a full on tantrum (really, brain? REALLY?) but in the end it was like a sign from dog.

I sat down and did the outlines for books 1 – 3 and knew that this was right. This is the story I’m trying to tell. And it’s all important. And 90k just isn’t enough room to tell it all. And that led me to think about Crossroads (which is the grande finale to the Zander story). Which scares me because that is a friggen monster story and brain started doing the flailing again because brain realized that I KNEW, finally, that I didn’t have to stick to the old formulas anymore, and when it stopped its flailing and started calming down, it started thinking about the things I tossed as irrelevant to the story because of that whole 90k/bag-an-agent-go-trad thing. Things that were relevant. Things that need to be there.  I realize now that  Crossroads will be two books (I *might* divide it three ways, I’m not sure yet).

DC – stop laughing. I can hear you. Even now, through the screen I can HEAR you laughing. Stop it NOW. -.-

**clears throat**

The FM crowd, they make fun of me. My plotbunnies breed.

And you know what really bothers me? How much I have let myself be held back by traditional publishing myths. I have a lot of stories to write. I have a lot of stories to tell. Many of them, oh so many of them in Zander’s world. Zander isn’t the only character in his world that I adore. There’s Auron, Michael, Kale, Shaderunner, Rune, Tayek, Nyhavi, Tienovey(though there is a lot of Tien in Zander’s story) Ivonnova (still trying to decide on the spelling there), Caladorn, Eric(name change imminent), Brent, Uralko and so on. But without Zander’s tale, I just can’t tell the others. His is the foundation. Why? Ask brain, I just write ;)

How much further, would I have been if I had realized sooner that I didn’t have to keep it under a certain size?

You know what really makes me wonder? What other things are going to come up that are holding me back in little ways?

I can say this, (hours after I wrote all that up there)  I started reading ZBK1 today (I know I just finished it yesterday) and I found myself loving it. Just loving it. It’s rough, it needs work, and I see where I need to tweak things and I found some typos I need to fix. But I love it.

I love the words I finished working on yesterday. I don’t hate them. Another myth bites the dust.


This is why I took Angela James Before You Hit Send workshop. Seriously, worth every penny I spent on it, and if she puts it out in a book form I’m so buying it. Awesome, awesome workshop.

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Holy Crap

Aug. 21st, 2013 06:06 pm
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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

Where has the summer gone?  That was a rhetorical question, no need to actually answer LOL.

So I’ve thinking. Lots of thinking, and I realized I need to sit down and re-plan everything. From next projects, to releases, to covers, even to this website. It all needs an overhaul. I feel like I need to ‘Go back to the beginning’  and re-learn everything. There have been changes to the self pubbing world and I need to catch up.

I have many projects, some would say too many, and my writing tapered off a bit over the past year because of that dreaded real life thing. Last post I listed off my To-Do list.  So here it is again:

~Get the Inside the Author’s Mind collection together. By sept 1st running out of time on this. have a couple more stories to go write up for it. may push the date back to the 15th.
~Write up SOMETHING for the FM Anthology; By Aug 15  Still working on this. I have idea, just getting it down. Yes the deadline passed. It whistled loudly as it went by. **sigh**
~Finish Zander BK1 (before Oct?)
~Finish The Fallen
~Finish editing E1 and start putting it up either here and/or Wattpad. Still debating this one. On one hand I think it would be really cool, on the other…. i dunno.
~Write Zander bk2
~Finish E2
~Write up the Zombie christmas thing before christmas THIS year :P
~Write up E3 – E7
~Write Zander bk 3-5
~Write CoB series
~Don’t forget the Friday Flash stuff
~Breathe

Adding:
~Overhaul covers do a typo check in works already up (I’m paranoid)
~Re-organize website & blogging schedule

I need to rethink summers. In this house, with as many kids as I have, writing just doesn’t happen. I think next summer I’ll just go on hiatus for the summer. Stressing about writing on top of everything else… it just isn’t a good situation.

There’s more, but I’m drawing a blank. Hope yall are doing well. School starts next monday. I’m a mite bit excited. :P

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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

So I’ve been slack on getting these written. That whole summer thing I mentioned a few weeks ago, yeah, that’s in full swing. ANYWAYS, here is another Inside the Author’s Mind installment. I giggled through this one and hope I’m not the only one who enjoys it. The last one is over here.

 

Where’d the Muse Go?

(c) 2013 Necia Phoenix

The Author stood at the doorway to Muse’s office and sighed. Empty. It was deafeningly empty. Author sighed again and went over to the desk, trying to decide what to do. She wanted to work on the next project. But she needed Muse to help her with it. And Muse, was very clearly not there. Author frowned, trying to remember the last time she’d seen or talked to her. Phone call. That’s right, there was a call about something. Author scowled at the empty room, trying to remember what the call was about.

“IE sent her on vacation.” A voice said behind her.

Author turned.It was one of the Redshirts. He was bruised, bandaged from head to toe, and leaning on a cane. Author winched and forced a smile, trying to remember his name. Cole, that’s right, the one Muse asked her not to kill. Well, not in this story. Author smothered a cackle. There were always other stories to write, and situations to kill off Redshirts.

“I beg your pardon?” She tried to focus on what he’d said.

“IE sent her on vacation so you could finish the book without more shinys.” He shrugged.

“Did she say where?”

Cole shook his head and frowned. “Muse was really excited about it, though. Might want to ask IE, if you can get IE to tell you.” He turned and limped out of the room.

Author frowned. Muse hadn’t wanted him to be killed off. Perhaps, she’d spare him indefinitely. She glanced over the room sighed again and left.

 

IE; Internal Editor, also known as Number 1 and lately; the-damn-thing-that-won’t-shut-up, sat at the desk happily red penning the newly finished story. Author watched it for a moment, trying to gather herself. It looked like a child of two or three. Hair flopped over large eyes. Author had never assigned a gender to it. It simply was. And it had held her stalled on her latest project for years. It took being tied and trunked for Author to finally finish that project.

“Ok, IE, where’d you send her?” Author rested hands on hips. IE barely glanced her way, but smirked.

“Away. She’ll be gone a while. Long enough for you to work on the edits.”

Author screamed. She couldn’t help it. After all she’d just spent months plowing away at ONE story. She glared at IE, took a deep breath and screamed again. She wanted, no she craved something new, something different. Something…flashy, something shiny! IE stared at her with huge, overlarge eyes. It sat back in the chair and took a deep breath.

“I…I sent her to Daydream Paradise Beach.” It whispered. “On the Train of Thought.”

Author stared, aware that other story bits were peeking around the corner of the door to stare, wide eyed, into her office. Plot elements, Story Arcs, a couple redshirts, a main character and lined up in the doorway, noses twitching, were an assortment of plotbunnies. Author glared at them and they scattered faster than she’d seen them scatter before. She made a quiet note of it, for the next time the plots began to plod along. They could move faster, she’d seen them do it!

“I see.” Author shuffled through the paperwork on her desk looking for her phone. “You sent my Muse to a beach.” She found the phone, flipping it open and tapped in the number to the Train of Thought Vacation Offices.

“Well, I figured you needed some peace and,”

“You send a Muse to a tropical resort.” Author pinned a dark look at IE as the phone rang. “How in the hell are we going to cover the shipping costs for bringing back all her plotbunnies?”

IE looked horrified. “I hadn’t thought of that.” It whispered.

Author didn’t think it had. Muse had a very prolific imagination. The last time she went on vacation…when she returned Author had to hire contractors to widen the waiting room. Vacations were dangerous things in the hands of a Muse. She was about to remind IE of that when the operator picked up.

“Hi, yes, I need to book a single round trip to Daydream Paradise Beach. Yes of course! Immediately!” Author listened, scowled and pulled out her wallet. She glared at IE. “You owe me, BIG time for this one!”

IE ducked it’s head down, but said nothing. Author ignored it, turned and headed to her room to pack. She’d take her bathing suit, might as well catch some sun while looking for Muse. And a few extra plotbunny cages. Just in case.

###

Here is  the Forward Motion Flash Friday blog which lists other folks who do Flash Friday posts. :)


 

If you’d like to see other installments of the Inside the Author’s Mind series, they are available on Smashwords where, for the month of July, they’re free.*
Linked below; The coupon code is SSW50

The Shiny - With coupon is free
Redshirts - With coupon is free
Muse Interrupted - With coupon is free

Other Titles

The Magic Maker - With coupon is 50% off; $1.50
Playing For The Dead - With coupon is free
Help Never Came - With coupon is 50% off; $1.75
River Of Souls - With coupon is free

*They’re also available over at B&N, Amazon and Kobo, but they’re not free-with-coupon over there right now.

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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

My hubs only has one day off a week That was yesterday. So as everyone else is moving towards the weekend we’re just starting our new workweek. Blarg. That sums it up pretty well. So. Writing.

I’m currently (as in, in the other window) working on the final two installments of Inside The Author’s Mind, they’re going to be small, they average under 1k, so if I can get them done they’ll be up for Flash Fiction friday later today and next friday *crossing fingers*. Once those are done I’m hoping to compile them into a collection to have up in Sept. If they’re large enough I’ll see about putting together print versions. It may take some doing though, for the ISPNs. I’m considering a kickstarter or something like that to fund getting the ISPN numbers from Bowker. Or just tossing a donate button at the bottom of the page. We shall see.

If anyone has been paying attention to the bars on the **checks other tab** right side of the page, I’ve been puttering away at the first Zander book. I’m about 1/4 of the way through it and I think it’s coming along fairly well. I was thinking over the series itself and it struck me that there are going to be 4, possibly 5, in the whole series. The first three are the Northern Empire books and the last one(two) would be the grande finale/wrap up of that situation. So. 5 in the Zander series. **twitches**

I do need to come up with new titles for them…

I AM still working on getting E1 edited so I can serialize it. Which I’m still planning on doing. What the heck, right? It may be September (ahhh that month again) before I start serializing it. Or maye OCt. Not sure if I can swing it in Aug though. I may do a teaser chapter to see what people think.

Ok, in other pubbing news, Smashwords is holding a coupon special for the month of July. I’ve signed up all my titles for it. Linked below; The coupon code is SSW50

The Shiny – With coupon is free
Redshirts - With coupon is free
Muse Interrupted - With coupon is free
The Magic Maker – With coupon is 50% off; $1.50
Playing For The Dead - With coupon is free
Help Never Came - With coupon is 50% off; $1.75
River Of Souls - With coupon is free

In Aug I’m going to be compiling them into collections for a September release, and possibly pulling down the single titles. I’m undecided on this atm. We’ll see. I’m also working on some new covers (in my *haha* spare time)  and plan on going through the current titles for a typo hunt. Just a typo hunt/grammar fix, no story changes.

Anyways, time to wrap this up and finish the flash fiction stuff. Have a great weekend folks!

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Changes

Apr. 25th, 2013 05:30 pm
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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

I’m going to be tweaking with things on the website. While I do like this theme I want a bit of a change. So bear with me as I fiddle with stuff.

I’ve added a page/section called Serial Stories. I’m prepping a finished project for serialization, which will probably launch in May or June, I’m not sure exactly when but it’ll be near the beginning of summer.

Ohohohoh AND

I finished The Fallen!!! **does crazy dance**

That said, it’s draft 1, it’s rough and thin. Skeletal almost. It needs a good read through, scrub and expanding. But It’s going to sit for a week or three first. I have other projects I need to attack, outline and plan. I use the term outline loosely.

Outlining for me usually means listing together some scenes, and thoughts on what is going to go in the story. I use the term ‘scene listing’ and ‘outlining’ interchangeably but in all honesty it’s not really outlining, not as most people imagine it.

Anyways, time to catch up on the housework that fell behind while I was trying to finish The Fallen. 

 

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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

the post supposed to post yesterday posted today. My OCD is having issues with this.

 

 

Bastard Prince
am down to the last little bit, wordcountwise, and I am certain it is going to shoot far beyond 90k

68298 / 90000
(75.89%)

soooooo close!!!!

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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

I have this space operaish idea and this piece of fiction is set on the ship Nausica.  Hope you enjoy it;

Flash Fiction Friday #3

© 2012 Necia Phoenix

“Catch it!” Amber screamed. She and Jake dove after the flash of bright green and pink that vanished behind the boxes in the hold. They moved boxes and bags, trying to be careful but not lose sight of the rare and expensive snake.

“Where’d it go?” Jake demanded after they’d cleared the corner. They stared at each other in horror. It was gone.

Amber looked around, heart pounding. “It’s got to be in here, somewhere.” Linz, the captain of the ship, was going to kill her. Slaughter her. No live cargo. That was the rule. And Amber broke the rule. For a snake. Linz hated snakes. Not even an exotic, bio-engineered snake that glowed under a black light would be allowed.

“She’s going to kill me.” Amber whispered.

“Lets not jump too conclusions. Lynz isn’t that bad.”

“Bullshit.” Amber whispered.

“Think. The doors are closed, we put the mesh over the vents, where else could it have gone?” Jake appeared to be about as panicked as she felt.

They’d rearranged the cargo hold in a panic, looking for the creature when they realized it got loose.

“We have to find it.” Amber whispered.

“I know.” Jake pulled a flat com unit and slid his finger across the screen. Lights flickered and he lifted it up, turning in a slow circle. “Huh.”

“What?”

“No heat signature.”

“Oh no.”

“Check the crates, make sure it didn’t get into one, and..”

“Are you looking for something?” A deep voice asked. Amber cringed, glancing over her shoulder. Second in Command, Gabriel, stood just inside the door.

“Shit, get out of the doorway, let the doors close before it gets loose!” Even as Amber spoke, she saw the flash of green slide between Gabriel’s feet, out the hold door, and into the hallway beyond. Jake was moving all ready, swearing as he went.

“There it goes!”

“What the hell was that?” Gabriel eyed Amber.

“Gabe, my project,” she faltered. “We have to catch it before Linz does.” She pushed past him. Jake was halfway to the control room. He stopped at the doorway, looking back at Amber.

“Linz is downside for another hour.” Gabe leaned the wall, arms crossed. “If you find it before she gets back, I might not mention this in my report.”

Jake jabbed the control panel, sliding through the doorway before the door finished opening.

“You gonna help us look?” Amber asked Gabe.

He grinned at her. “Nope. It’s your project.”

“Jerk.” She muttered, and followed Jake inside.

“He’s an ass.” Jake whispered. They crouched, looking under the large command desk and sidebar table.

“”As long as he doesn’t tell Lynz, I don’t care. Where the hell did it go?”

Jake pulled the scanner again and searched. “Not here. Vents. Crap. Two uncovered vents here,” he pointed. “And here.”

“It could be anywhere in the ship.” Amber slowly stood, defeated.

Jake gritted his teeth and left the room. Amber followed him. What the hell was she going to do? She’d spent a pretty penny for that snake. Almost two whole paychecks. If Lynz found it…

“Can the computers do a full scan of the ship for heat sigs?” Jake asked Gabe.

“It can, but there might not be enough time to make the adjustments.” Gabe was already moving towards the bridge. Amber had to half run to keep up with him. Leigh and Kurt were both on duty when they entered the bridge.

“Kurt I need you to do a full heat signatures scan of the ship. Amber’s project got loose.” Gabe said going over to his station.

“What kind of project?”

“Just do the scan Kurt.” Amber said. Kurt shot her a disgusted look, but his hands flew over the controls. On the small viewing panel next to him, the schematics of the ship flashed by, level by level, with the heat sigs of the crew in bright reddish orange. On the last one, the officers quarters, a pale white mark pulsed.

“That’s the captain’s quarters.” Kurt looked up at Gabe “What is that?”

“Trouble.”

“Even more, Captain’s signal is coming through.” Leigh announced, tone amused.

Gabe nodded towards the view-screen. It flared to life, Linz’s face dominated the room.

“Gabe, I need you station-side.” Linz said. Amber caught sight of two men behind her, heads together and talking.

“Problems?”

“Guy named George says he knew mom.” Lynz glanced over her shoulder. “I need an assessment of these guys.”

Gabe nodded. “I’ll be there shortly.”

“Be ready to ship off when we get back. I have a feeling things may get a bit exciting.”

“Aye.”

The screen went black, and Amber took off. She rushed out the door, down the steps and hall to the officer’s quarters. Her hands trembled as she worked the access code. She was maintenance, had the clearance. The door slid open and she crept into Linz’s tidy room. Larger than the standard rooms, the Captain’s quarters came equipped with a bathing chamber and observation window over the bed; sheer luxury. And curled up on Linz’s large, fancy pillows was the snake.

Amber hurried over to the creature. It’s got to be a girl. She likes luxury. Amber thought as she picked the snake up, whispering to her. She didn’t try to slither away as Amber carried her to the door. Gabe stepped into the doorway with crossed arms, and a scowl.

“Captain ain’t back yet.” She said, trying her best little girl voice.

“You’ll have half an hour to get that thing in your quarters, and get the holds fixed and ready to go.”

“Consider it done.” Jake said, patting the taller man as he dashed down the hall.

“Gabe,” Amber hesitated.

“Make sure it can’t escape, again. Understood?” He didn’t wait for an answer, he, turned and left.

Amber slipped from the captain’s quarters, secured the door and regarded her pet with a smile. “So now, back to what we were discussing, what am I going to name you?”

 

###

Go here to enjoy other flash fiction pieces! :D  There is some great stuff over there.

Have a great weekend folks!!

 

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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

I had this rant on elitism in writing, all planned out, was going to go into detail, however I seem to have come down with respiratory infection that is just NAAAASTY, knocked me on my backside. I can deal with sore throats, headaches and body aches, but gushy gunk in the lungs…ewww just order me a new set of lungs and I’ll be just peachy, k?

I am plodding away, my plans for September were mostly rearranged. Still working on Zander, still have smaller projects to write, still need to scale back because I seem to have taken a bite too much. Again. :P

I owe comments, I will get to you guys, I apologize.

Any ideas on topics? Guest posts? Suggestions or ideas welcome.

I was going to try to insert a youtube vid, but it isn’t working. Oh well. **waves**

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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

I don’t talk about it much here, but I have a bunch of spawn. Yesterday, one of those spawn dumped a 44oz of pepsi on my laptop. **sigh**

Thank dog for dropbox. I do have my important stuff backed-up and am using my desktop while I wait the suggested 72 hours for the laptop to dry. Hubby says I go to extremes to get new computers >.> I swear I don’t!

~*~

Smashwords is having a sale this month and I went ahead and put all of my stuff on discount, a couple things are free, others are discounted. My author page at Smashwords is over here.

One of my favorite books, Night of the Aurora by J.A. Marlow is being offered for FREE and it is a fun ride through the wilds of Alaska. I just adore this book. I mean, come on, Aliens and Alaska and a failed sled dog named Darnit, who would want to miss out on that? :D  so go here and check out the series, really there’s nothing to lose. And Darnit is worth it! :D

Whats next on the line-up? Well I’m looking at projects finished and projects to finish and feeling very satisfied. Right now I’m finishing the end re-write of Elemental Truth, then there will be the tighten up proofing, etc. I think I should be able to release it this month, but we’ll see how life goes. I do have a few novelettes I refer to as my Island Fluff Stuff. At least one of them  could be tightened and pubbed by the end of next month, but I’m waffling on that one for some reason.

Happy Fourth of July, to those who are in the USA. Have fun and be safe!

necia_phoenix: (Default)

Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

Zombiething, whose true name is Help Never Came  has been sent off for the masses to enjoy, or hate, whichever they prefer. It is one of my favorite stories, even if it is so not what I usually write.

 

 

Life in the post-zombie-apocalypse is full of nasty surprises and many unsolved mysteries, such as old diaries and teddy bears. After saving some fellow survivors Chris and his team find themselves stuck on the wrong side of the river with surging hordes of Zombies moving faster than normal. Worse yet, home base isn’t answering their calls.

 it is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and XinXii

I feel really good, having gotten this finally out there. Time to finish the E1 edits.

I’ll update this post once the B&N and XinXii go live.

~*~

Over the past few months I have been fighting the negative whispers and self doubt. Perfectionism raised it’s head and everything I’ve been working on has been tainted by this little voice whispering in my head that I’m no good.

I hope I have gotten past it. I think I have. I feel better than I have in a long time.

necia_phoenix: (Default)

Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

Apparently someone didn’t like what Kris Rusch posted yesterday about missing royalties. Her websites. yes plural, are down. One, it could be random. Two…ehhh. More than two? I’d say this is an attack and given the nature of her posts, it makes me think that maybe someone wants her to stop posting. Which I don’t think is going to happen.

 

Here is her mirrored link  http://kriswrites.livejournal.com/ however according to PG, his antivirus software told him there was malware in the coding, so instead I’ll do what he and several other did, copy and paste her post here, in essential hosting the information which I feel is very important.

Kris –  Hope it all gets sorted out soon.

 

Kris posted this on the FB and so I thought i’d pass it along:

Site update: Still down. Have a major security firm trying to solve the problems. If they work out, I’ll recommend them to folks. 

It looks like the trolls who usually attack me are *not* behind this one. (I have been dealing with such trolls for months now.) This probably is a Russian malware as folks said in posts below, attracted to the heavy Thursday traffic. The malware is now moving to all of my other pen name websites, eating through them like crazy.

So if you’ve clicked on *any* of my websites (pen names, etc) since Thursday am, make sure you run your anti-virus software to make sure your system hasn’t been infected. And don’t go near my sites until I send out an all-clear. Dean’s sites are fine. No worries there. Thanks!

Beginning of post:

Welcome to one of my other websites. This one is for my mystery persona Paladin, from my Spade/Paladin short stories. She has a website in the stories, and I thought it would be cool to have the website online. It’s currently the least active of my sites, so I figured it was perfect for what I needed today.

Someone hacked my website. Ye Olde Website Guru and I are repairing the damage but it will take some time. The hacker timed the hack to coincide with the posting of my Business Rusch column. Since the hack happened 12 hours after I originally posted the column, I’m assuming that the hacker doesn’t like what I wrote, and is trying to shut me down. Aaaaah. Poor hacker. Can’t argue on logic, merits, or with words, so must use brute force to make his/her/its point. Poor thing.

Since someone didn’t want you to see this post, I figure I’d better get it up ASAP. Obviously there’s something here someone objects to–which makes it a bit more valuable than usual.

Here’s the post, which I am reloading from my word file, so that I don’t embed any malicious code here. I’m even leaving off the atrocious artwork (which we’re redesigning) just to make sure nothing got corrupted from there.

The post directs you to a few links from my website. Obviously, those are inactive at the moment. Sorry about that. I hope you get something out of this post.

I’m also shutting off comments here, just to prevent another short-term hack. Also, I don’t want to transfer them over. If you have comments, send them via e-mail and when the site comes back up, I’ll post them. Mark them “comment” in the header of the e-mail. Thanks!

The Business Rusch: Royalty Statement Update 2012

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the fact that my e-book royalties from a couple of my traditional publishers looked wrong. Significantly wrong. After I posted that blog, dozens of writers contacted me with similar information. More disturbingly, some of these writers had evidence that their paper book royalties were also significantly wrong.

Writers contacted their writers’ organizations. Agents got the news. Everyone in the industry, it seemed, read those blogs, and many of the writers/agents/organizations vowed to do something. And some of them did.

I hoped to do an update within a few weeks after the initial post. I thought my update would come no later than summer of 2011.

I had no idea the update would take a year, and what I can tell you is—

Bupkis. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

That doesn’t mean that nothing happened. I personally spoke to the heads of two different writers’ organizations who promised to look into this. I spoke to half a dozen attorneys active in the publishing field who were, as I mentioned in those posts, unsurprised. I spoke to a lot of agents, via e-mail and in person, and I spoke to even more writers.

The writers have kept me informed. It seems, from the information I’m still getting, that nothing has changed. The publishers that last year used a formula to calculate e-book royalties (rather than report actual sales) still use the formula to calculate e-book royalties this year.

I just got one such royalty statement in April from one of those companies and my e-book sales from them for six months were a laughable ten per novel. My worst selling e-books, with awful covers, have sold more than that. Significantly more.

To this day, writers continue to notify their writers’ organizations, and if those organizations are doing anything, no one has bothered to tell me. Not that they have to. I’m only a member of one writers’ organizations, and I know for fact that one is doing nothing.

But the heads of the organizations I spoke to haven’t kept me apprised. I see nothing in the industry news about writers’ organizations approaching/auditing/dealing with the problems with royalty statements. Sometimes these things take place behind the scenes, and I understand that. So, if your organization is taking action, please do let me know so that I can update the folks here.

The attorneys I spoke to are handling cases, but most of those cases are individual cases. An attorney represents a single writer with a complaint about royalties. Several of those cases got settled out of court. Others are still pending or are “in review.” I keep hearing noises about class actions, but so far, I haven’t seen any of them, nor has anyone notified me.

The agents disappointed me the most. Dean personally called an agent friend of ours whose agency handles two of the biggest stars in the writing firmament. That agent (having previously read my blog) promised the agency was aware of the problem and was “handling it.”

Two weeks later, I got an e-mail from a writer with that agency asking me if I knew about the new e-book addendum to all of her contracts that the agency had sent out. The agency had sent the addendum with a “sign immediately” letter. I hadn’t heard any of this. I asked to see the letter and the addendum.

This writer was disturbed that the addendum was generic. It had arrived on her desk—get this—without her name or the name of the book typed in. She was supposed to fill out the contract number, the book’s title, her name, and all that pertinent information.

I had her send me her original contracts, which she did. The addendum destroyed her excellent e-book rights in that contract, substituting better terms for the publisher. Said publisher handled both of that agency’s bright writing stars.

So I contacted other friends with that agency. They had all received the addendum. Most had just signed the addendum without comparing it to the original contract, trusting their agent who was (after all) supposed to protect them.

Wrong-o. The agency, it turned out, had made a deal with the publisher. The publisher would correct the royalties for the big names if agency sent out the addendum to every contract it had negotiated with that contract. The publisher and the agency both knew that not all writers would sign the addendum, but the publisher (and probably the agency) also knew that a good percentage of the writers would sign without reading it.

In other words, the publisher took the money it was originally paying to small fish and paid it to the big fish—with the small fish’s permission.

Yes, I’m furious about this, but not at the publisher. I’m mad at the authors who signed, but mostly, I’m mad at the agency that made this deal. This agency had a chance to make a good decision for all of its clients. Instead, it opted to make a good deal for only its big names.

Do I know for a fact that this is what happened? Yeah, I do. Can I prove it? No. Which is why I won’t tell you the name of the agency, nor the name of the bestsellers involved. (Who, I’m sure, have no idea what was done in their names.)

On a business level what the agency did makes sense. The agency pocketed millions in future commissions without costing itself a dime on the other side, since most of the writers who signed the addendum probably hadn’t earned out their advances, and probably never would.

On an ethical level it pisses me off. You’ll note that my language about agents has gotten harsher over the past year, and this single incident had something to do with it. Other incidents later added fuel to the fire, but they’re not relevant here. I’ll deal with them in a future post.

Yes, there are good agents in the world. Some work for unethical agencies. Some work for themselves. I still work with an agent who is also a lawyer, and is probably more ethical than I am.

But there are yahoos in the agenting business who make the slimy used car salesmen from 1970s films look like action heroes. But, as I said, that’s a future post.

I have a lot of information from writers, most of which is in private correspondence, none of which I can share, that leads me to believe that this particular agency isn’t the only one that used my blog on royalty statements to benefit their bestsellers and hurt their midlist writers. But again, I can’t prove it.

So I’m sad to report that nothing has changed from last year on the royalty statement front.

Except…

The reason I was so excited about the Department of Justice lawsuit against the five publishers wasn’t because of the anti-trust issues (which do exist on a variety of levels in publishing, in my opinion), but because the DOJ accountants will dig, and dig, and dig into the records of these traditional publishers, particularly one company named in the suit that’s got truly egregious business practices.

Those practices will change, if only because the DOJ’s forensic accountants will request information that the current accounting systems in most publishing houses do not track. The accounting system in all five of these houses will get overhauled, and brought into the 21st century, and that will benefit writers. It will be an accidental benefit, but it will occur.

The audits alone will unearth a lot of problems. I know that some writers were skeptical that the auditors would look for problems in the royalty statements, but all that shows is a lack of understanding of how forensic accounting works. In the weeks since the DOJ suit, I’ve contacted several accountants, including two forensic accountants, and they all agree that every pebble, every grain of sand, will be inspected because the best way to hide funds in an accounting audit is to move them to a part of the accounting system not being audited.

So when an organization like the DOJ audits, they get a blanket warrant to look at all of the accounting, not just the files in question. Yes, that’s a massive task. Yes, it will take years. But the change is gonna come.

From the outside.

Those of you in Europe might be seeing some of that change as well, since similar lawsuits are going on in Europe.

I do know that several writers from European countries, New Zealand, and Australia have written to me about similar problems in their royalty statements. The unifying factor in those statements is the companies involved. Again, you’d recognize the names because they’ve been in the news lately…dealing with lawsuits.

Ironically for me, those two blog posts benefitted me greatly. I had been struggling to get my rights back from one publisher (who is the biggest problem publisher), and the week I posted the blog, I got contacted by my former editor there, who told me that my rights would come back to me ASAP. Because, the former editor told me (as a friend), things had changed since Thursday (the day I post my blog), and I would get everything I needed.

In other words, let’s get the troublemaker out of the house now. Fine with me.

Later, I discovered some problems with a former agency. I pointed out the problems in a letter, and those problems got solved immediately. I have several friends who’ve been dealing with similar things from that agency, and they can’t even get a return e-mail. I know that the quick response I got is because of this blog.

I also know that many writers used the blog posts from last year to negotiate more accountability from their publishers for future royalties. That’s a real plus. Whether or not it happens is another matter because I noted something else in this round of royalty statements.

Actually, that’s not fair. My agent caught it first. I need to give credit where credit is due, and since so many folks believe I bash agents, let me say again that my current agent is quite good, quite sharp, and quite ethical.

My agent noticed that the royalty statements from one of my publishers were basket accounted on the statement itself. Which is odd, considering there is no clause in any of the contracts I have with that company that allows for basket accounting.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with basket accounting, this is what it means:

A writer signs a contract with Publisher A for three books. The contract is a three-book contract. One contract, three books. Got that?

Okay, a contract with a basket-accounting clause allows the publisher to put all three books in the same accounting “basket” as if the books are one entity. So let’s say that book one does poorly, book two does better, and book three blows out of the water.

If book three earns royalties, those royalties go toward paying off the advances on books one and two.

Like this:

Advance for book one: $10,000

Advance for book two: $10,000

Advance for book three: $10,000

Book one only earned back $5,000 toward its advance. Book two only earned $6,000 toward its advance.

Book three earned $12,000—paying off its advance, with a $2,000 profit.

In a standard contract without basket accounting, the writer would have received the $2,000 as a royalty payment.

But with basket accounting, the writer receives nothing. That accounting looks like this:

Advance on contract 1: $30,000

Earnings on contract 1: $23,000

Amount still owed before the advance earns out: $7,000

Instead of getting $2,000, the writer looks at the contract and realizes she still has $7,000 before earning out.

Without basket accounting, she would have to earn $5,000 to earn out Book 1, and $4,000 to earn out Book 2, but Book 3 would be paying her cold hard cash.

Got the difference?

Now, let’s go back to my royalty statement. It covered three books. All three books had three different one-book contracts, signed years apart. You can’t have basket accounting without a basket (or more than one book), but I checked to see if sneaky lawyers had inserted a clause that I missed which allowed the publisher to basket account any books with that publisher that the publisher chose.

Nope.

I got a royalty statement with all of my advances basket accounted because…well, because. The royalty statement doesn’t follow the contract(s) at all.

Accounting error? No. These books had be added separately. Accounting program error (meaning once my name was added, did the program automatically basket account)? Maybe.

But I’ve suspected for nearly three years now that this company (not one of the big traditional publishers, but a smaller [still large] company) has been having serious financial problems. The company has played all kinds of games with my checks, with payments, with fulfilling promises that cost money.

This is just another one of those problems.

My agent caught it because he reads royalty statements. He mentioned it when he forwarded the statements. I would have caught it as well because I read royalty statements. Every single one. And I compare them to the previous statement. And often, I compare them to the contract.

Is this “error” a function of the modern publishing environment? No, not like e-book royalties, which we’ll get back to in a moment. I’m sure publishers have played this kind of trick since time immemorial. Royalty statements are fascinating for what they don’t say rather than for what they say.

For example, on this particular (messed up) royalty statement, e-books are listed as one item, without any identification. The e-books should be listed separately (according to ISBN) because Amazon has its own edition, as does Apple, as does B&N. Just like publishers must track the hardcover, trade paper, and mass market editions under different ISBNs, they should track e-books the same way.

The publisher that made the “error” with my books had no identifying number, and only one line for e-books. Does that mean that this figure included all e-books, from the Amazon edition to the B&N edition to the Apple edition? Or is this publisher, which has trouble getting its books on various sites (go figure), is only tracking Amazon? From the numbers, it would seem so. Because the numbers are somewhat lower than books in the same series that I have on Amazon, but nowhere near the numbers of the books in the same series if you add in Apple and B&N.

I can’t track this because the royalty statement has given me no way to track it. I would have to run an audit on the company. I’m not sure I want to do that because it would take my time, and I’m moving forward.

That’s the dilemma for writers. Do we take on our publishers individually? Because—for the most part—our agents aren’t doing it. The big agencies, the ones who actually have the clout and the numbers to defend their clients, are doing what they can for their big clients and leaving the rest in the dust.

Writers’ organizations seem to be silent on this. And honestly, it’s tough for an organization to take on a massive audit. It’s tough financially and it’s tough politically. I know one writer who headed a writer’s organization a few decades ago. She spearheaded an audit of major publishers, and it cost her her writing career. Not many heads of organizations have the stomach for that.

As for intellectual property attorneys (or any attorney for that matter), very few handle class actions. Most handle cases individually for individual clients. I know of several writers who’ve gone to attorneys and have gotten settlements from publishers. The problem here is that these settlements only benefit one writer, who often must sign a confidentiality agreement so he can’t even talk about what benefit he got from that agreement.

One company that I know of has revamped its royalty statements. They appear to be clearer. The original novel that I have with that company isn’t selling real well as an e-book, and that makes complete sense since the e-book costs damn near $20. (Ridiculous.) The other books that I have with that company, collaborations and tie-ins, seem to be accurately reported, although I have no way to know. I do appreciate that this company has now separated out every single e-book venue into its own category (B&N, Amazon, Apple) via ISBN, and I can actually see the sales breakdown.

So that’s a positive (I think). Some of the smaller companies have accurate statements as well—or at least, statements that match or improve upon the sales figures I’m seeing on indie projects.

This is all a long answer to a very simple question: What’s happened on the royalty statement front in the past year?

A lot less than I had hoped.

So here’s what you traditionally published writers can do. Track your royalty statements. Compare them to your contracts. Make sure the companies are reporting what they should be reporting.

If you’re combining indie and traditional, like I am, make sure the numbers are in the same ballpark. Make sure your traditional Amazon numbers are around the same numbers you get for your indie titles. If they aren’t, look at one thing first: Price. I expect sales to be much lower on that ridiculous $20 e-book. If your e-books through your traditional publisher are $15 or more, then sales will be down. If the e-books from your traditional publisher are priced around $10 or less, then they should be somewhat close in sales to your indie titles. (Or, if traditional publishers are doing the promotion they claim to do, the sales should be better.)

What to do if they’re not close at all? I have no idea. I still think there’s a benefit to contacting your writers’ organizations. Maybe if the organization keeps getting reports of badly done royalty statements, someone will take action.

If you want to hire an attorney or an auditor, remember doing that will cost both time and money. If you’re a bestseller, you might want to consider it. If you’re a midlist writer, it’s probably not worth the time and effort you’ll put in.

But do yourself a favor. Read those royalty statements. If you think they’re bad, then don’t sign a new contract with that publisher. Go somewhere else with your next book.

I wish I could give you better advice. I wish the big agencies actually tried to use their clout for good instead of their own personal profits. I wish the writers’ organizations had done something.

As usual, it’s up to individual writers.

Don’t let anyone screw you. You might not be able to fight the bad accounting on past books, but make sure you don’t allow it to happen on future books.

That means that you negotiate good contracts, you make sure your royalty statements match those contracts, and you don’t sign with a company that puts out royalty statements that don’t reflect your book deal.

I’m quite happy that I walked away from the publisher I mentioned above years ago. I did so because I didn’t like the treatment I got from the financial and production side. The editor was—as editors often are—great. Everything else at the company sucked.

The royalty statement was just confirmation of a good decision for me.

I hope you make good decisions going forward.

Remember: read your royalty statements.

Good luck.

I need to thank everyone who commented, e-mailed, donated, and called because of last week’s post. When I wrote it, all I meant to do was discuss how we all go through tough times and how we, as writers, need to recognize when we’ve hit a wall. It seems I hit a nerve. I forget sometimes that most writers work in a complete vacuum, with no writer friends, no one except family, who much as they care, don’t always understand.

So if you haven’t read last week’s post, take a peek [link]. More importantly, look at the comments for great advice and some wonderful sharing. I appreciate them—and how much they expanded, added, and improved what I had to say. Thanks for that, everyone.

The donate button is below. As always, if you’ve received anything of value from this post or previous posts, please leave a tip on the way out.

Thanks!

Click Here to Go To PayPal.

“The Business Rusch: “Royalty Statement Update 2012,” copyright © 2012 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

 

 

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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

Apparently someone didn’t like what Kris Rusch posted yesterday about missing royalties. Her websites. yes plural, are down. One, it could be random. Two…ehhh. More than two? I’d say this is an attack and given the nature of her posts, it makes me think that maybe someone wants her to stop posting. Which I don’t think is going to happen.

 

Here is her mirrored link  http://kriswrites.livejournal.com/ however according to PG, his antivirus software told him there was malware in the coding, so instead I’ll do what he and several other did, copy and paste her post here, in essential hosting the information which I feel is very important.

Kris –  Hope it all gets sorted out soon.

Beginning of post:

Welcome to one of my other websites. This one is for my mystery persona Paladin, from my Spade/Paladin short stories. She has a website in the stories, and I thought it would be cool to have the website online. It’s currently the least active of my sites, so I figured it was perfect for what I needed today.

Someone hacked my website. Ye Olde Website Guru and I are repairing the damage but it will take some time. The hacker timed the hack to coincide with the posting of my Business Rusch column. Since the hack happened 12 hours after I originally posted the column, I’m assuming that the hacker doesn’t like what I wrote, and is trying to shut me down. Aaaaah. Poor hacker. Can’t argue on logic, merits, or with words, so must use brute force to make his/her/its point. Poor thing.

Since someone didn’t want you to see this post, I figure I’d better get it up ASAP. Obviously there’s something here someone objects to–which makes it a bit more valuable than usual.

Here’s the post, which I am reloading from my word file, so that I don’t embed any malicious code here. I’m even leaving off the atrocious artwork (which we’re redesigning) just to make sure nothing got corrupted from there.

The post directs you to a few links from my website. Obviously, those are inactive at the moment. Sorry about that. I hope you get something out of this post.

I’m also shutting off comments here, just to prevent another short-term hack. Also, I don’t want to transfer them over. If you have comments, send them via e-mail and when the site comes back up, I’ll post them. Mark them “comment” in the header of the e-mail. Thanks!

The Business Rusch: Royalty Statement Update 2012

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the fact that my e-book royalties from a couple of my traditional publishers looked wrong. Significantly wrong. After I posted that blog, dozens of writers contacted me with similar information. More disturbingly, some of these writers had evidence that their paper book royalties were also significantly wrong.

Writers contacted their writers’ organizations. Agents got the news. Everyone in the industry, it seemed, read those blogs, and many of the writers/agents/organizations vowed to do something. And some of them did.

I hoped to do an update within a few weeks after the initial post. I thought my update would come no later than summer of 2011.

I had no idea the update would take a year, and what I can tell you is—

Bupkis. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

That doesn’t mean that nothing happened. I personally spoke to the heads of two different writers’ organizations who promised to look into this. I spoke to half a dozen attorneys active in the publishing field who were, as I mentioned in those posts, unsurprised. I spoke to a lot of agents, via e-mail and in person, and I spoke to even more writers.

The writers have kept me informed. It seems, from the information I’m still getting, that nothing has changed. The publishers that last year used a formula to calculate e-book royalties (rather than report actual sales) still use the formula to calculate e-book royalties this year.

I just got one such royalty statement in April from one of those companies and my e-book sales from them for six months were a laughable ten per novel. My worst selling e-books, with awful covers, have sold more than that. Significantly more.

To this day, writers continue to notify their writers’ organizations, and if those organizations are doing anything, no one has bothered to tell me. Not that they have to. I’m only a member of one writers’ organizations, and I know for fact that one is doing nothing.

But the heads of the organizations I spoke to haven’t kept me apprised. I see nothing in the industry news about writers’ organizations approaching/auditing/dealing with the problems with royalty statements. Sometimes these things take place behind the scenes, and I understand that. So, if your organization is taking action, please do let me know so that I can update the folks here.

The attorneys I spoke to are handling cases, but most of those cases are individual cases. An attorney represents a single writer with a complaint about royalties. Several of those cases got settled out of court. Others are still pending or are “in review.” I keep hearing noises about class actions, but so far, I haven’t seen any of them, nor has anyone notified me.

The agents disappointed me the most. Dean personally called an agent friend of ours whose agency handles two of the biggest stars in the writing firmament. That agent (having previously read my blog) promised the agency was aware of the problem and was “handling it.”

Two weeks later, I got an e-mail from a writer with that agency asking me if I knew about the new e-book addendum to all of her contracts that the agency had sent out. The agency had sent the addendum with a “sign immediately” letter. I hadn’t heard any of this. I asked to see the letter and the addendum.

This writer was disturbed that the addendum was generic. It had arrived on her desk—get this—without her name or the name of the book typed in. She was supposed to fill out the contract number, the book’s title, her name, and all that pertinent information.

I had her send me her original contracts, which she did. The addendum destroyed her excellent e-book rights in that contract, substituting better terms for the publisher. Said publisher handled both of that agency’s bright writing stars.

So I contacted other friends with that agency. They had all received the addendum. Most had just signed the addendum without comparing it to the original contract, trusting their agent who was (after all) supposed to protect them.

Wrong-o. The agency, it turned out, had made a deal with the publisher. The publisher would correct the royalties for the big names if agency sent out the addendum to every contract it had negotiated with that contract. The publisher and the agency both knew that not all writers would sign the addendum, but the publisher (and probably the agency) also knew that a good percentage of the writers would sign without reading it.

In other words, the publisher took the money it was originally paying to small fish and paid it to the big fish—with the small fish’s permission.

Yes, I’m furious about this, but not at the publisher. I’m mad at the authors who signed, but mostly, I’m mad at the agency that made this deal. This agency had a chance to make a good decision for all of its clients. Instead, it opted to make a good deal for only its big names.

Do I know for a fact that this is what happened? Yeah, I do. Can I prove it? No. Which is why I won’t tell you the name of the agency, nor the name of the bestsellers involved. (Who, I’m sure, have no idea what was done in their names.)

On a business level what the agency did makes sense. The agency pocketed millions in future commissions without costing itself a dime on the other side, since most of the writers who signed the addendum probably hadn’t earned out their advances, and probably never would.

On an ethical level it pisses me off. You’ll note that my language about agents has gotten harsher over the past year, and this single incident had something to do with it. Other incidents later added fuel to the fire, but they’re not relevant here. I’ll deal with them in a future post.

Yes, there are good agents in the world. Some work for unethical agencies. Some work for themselves. I still work with an agent who is also a lawyer, and is probably more ethical than I am.

But there are yahoos in the agenting business who make the slimy used car salesmen from 1970s films look like action heroes. But, as I said, that’s a future post.

I have a lot of information from writers, most of which is in private correspondence, none of which I can share, that leads me to believe that this particular agency isn’t the only one that used my blog on royalty statements to benefit their bestsellers and hurt their midlist writers. But again, I can’t prove it.

So I’m sad to report that nothing has changed from last year on the royalty statement front.

Except…

The reason I was so excited about the Department of Justice lawsuit against the five publishers wasn’t because of the anti-trust issues (which do exist on a variety of levels in publishing, in my opinion), but because the DOJ accountants will dig, and dig, and dig into the records of these traditional publishers, particularly one company named in the suit that’s got truly egregious business practices.

Those practices will change, if only because the DOJ’s forensic accountants will request information that the current accounting systems in most publishing houses do not track. The accounting system in all five of these houses will get overhauled, and brought into the 21st century, and that will benefit writers. It will be an accidental benefit, but it will occur.

The audits alone will unearth a lot of problems. I know that some writers were skeptical that the auditors would look for problems in the royalty statements, but all that shows is a lack of understanding of how forensic accounting works. In the weeks since the DOJ suit, I’ve contacted several accountants, including two forensic accountants, and they all agree that every pebble, every grain of sand, will be inspected because the best way to hide funds in an accounting audit is to move them to a part of the accounting system not being audited.

So when an organization like the DOJ audits, they get a blanket warrant to look at all of the accounting, not just the files in question. Yes, that’s a massive task. Yes, it will take years. But the change is gonna come.

From the outside.

Those of you in Europe might be seeing some of that change as well, since similar lawsuits are going on in Europe.

I do know that several writers from European countries, New Zealand, and Australia have written to me about similar problems in their royalty statements. The unifying factor in those statements is the companies involved. Again, you’d recognize the names because they’ve been in the news lately…dealing with lawsuits.

Ironically for me, those two blog posts benefitted me greatly. I had been struggling to get my rights back from one publisher (who is the biggest problem publisher), and the week I posted the blog, I got contacted by my former editor there, who told me that my rights would come back to me ASAP. Because, the former editor told me (as a friend), things had changed since Thursday (the day I post my blog), and I would get everything I needed.

In other words, let’s get the troublemaker out of the house now. Fine with me.

Later, I discovered some problems with a former agency. I pointed out the problems in a letter, and those problems got solved immediately. I have several friends who’ve been dealing with similar things from that agency, and they can’t even get a return e-mail. I know that the quick response I got is because of this blog.

I also know that many writers used the blog posts from last year to negotiate more accountability from their publishers for future royalties. That’s a real plus. Whether or not it happens is another matter because I noted something else in this round of royalty statements.

Actually, that’s not fair. My agent caught it first. I need to give credit where credit is due, and since so many folks believe I bash agents, let me say again that my current agent is quite good, quite sharp, and quite ethical.

My agent noticed that the royalty statements from one of my publishers were basket accounted on the statement itself. Which is odd, considering there is no clause in any of the contracts I have with that company that allows for basket accounting.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with basket accounting, this is what it means:

A writer signs a contract with Publisher A for three books. The contract is a three-book contract. One contract, three books. Got that?

Okay, a contract with a basket-accounting clause allows the publisher to put all three books in the same accounting “basket” as if the books are one entity. So let’s say that book one does poorly, book two does better, and book three blows out of the water.

If book three earns royalties, those royalties go toward paying off the advances on books one and two.

Like this:

Advance for book one: $10,000

Advance for book two: $10,000

Advance for book three: $10,000

Book one only earned back $5,000 toward its advance. Book two only earned $6,000 toward its advance.

Book three earned $12,000—paying off its advance, with a $2,000 profit.

In a standard contract without basket accounting, the writer would have received the $2,000 as a royalty payment.

But with basket accounting, the writer receives nothing. That accounting looks like this:

Advance on contract 1: $30,000

Earnings on contract 1: $23,000

Amount still owed before the advance earns out: $7,000

Instead of getting $2,000, the writer looks at the contract and realizes she still has $7,000 before earning out.

Without basket accounting, she would have to earn $5,000 to earn out Book 1, and $4,000 to earn out Book 2, but Book 3 would be paying her cold hard cash.

Got the difference?

Now, let’s go back to my royalty statement. It covered three books. All three books had three different one-book contracts, signed years apart. You can’t have basket accounting without a basket (or more than one book), but I checked to see if sneaky lawyers had inserted a clause that I missed which allowed the publisher to basket account any books with that publisher that the publisher chose.

Nope.

I got a royalty statement with all of my advances basket accounted because…well, because. The royalty statement doesn’t follow the contract(s) at all.

Accounting error? No. These books had be added separately. Accounting program error (meaning once my name was added, did the program automatically basket account)? Maybe.

But I’ve suspected for nearly three years now that this company (not one of the big traditional publishers, but a smaller [still large] company) has been having serious financial problems. The company has played all kinds of games with my checks, with payments, with fulfilling promises that cost money.

This is just another one of those problems.

My agent caught it because he reads royalty statements. He mentioned it when he forwarded the statements. I would have caught it as well because I read royalty statements. Every single one. And I compare them to the previous statement. And often, I compare them to the contract.

Is this “error” a function of the modern publishing environment? No, not like e-book royalties, which we’ll get back to in a moment. I’m sure publishers have played this kind of trick since time immemorial. Royalty statements are fascinating for what they don’t say rather than for what they say.

For example, on this particular (messed up) royalty statement, e-books are listed as one item, without any identification. The e-books should be listed separately (according to ISBN) because Amazon has its own edition, as does Apple, as does B&N. Just like publishers must track the hardcover, trade paper, and mass market editions under different ISBNs, they should track e-books the same way.

The publisher that made the “error” with my books had no identifying number, and only one line for e-books. Does that mean that this figure included all e-books, from the Amazon edition to the B&N edition to the Apple edition? Or is this publisher, which has trouble getting its books on various sites (go figure), is only tracking Amazon? From the numbers, it would seem so. Because the numbers are somewhat lower than books in the same series that I have on Amazon, but nowhere near the numbers of the books in the same series if you add in Apple and B&N.

I can’t track this because the royalty statement has given me no way to track it. I would have to run an audit on the company. I’m not sure I want to do that because it would take my time, and I’m moving forward.

That’s the dilemma for writers. Do we take on our publishers individually? Because—for the most part—our agents aren’t doing it. The big agencies, the ones who actually have the clout and the numbers to defend their clients, are doing what they can for their big clients and leaving the rest in the dust.

Writers’ organizations seem to be silent on this. And honestly, it’s tough for an organization to take on a massive audit. It’s tough financially and it’s tough politically. I know one writer who headed a writer’s organization a few decades ago. She spearheaded an audit of major publishers, and it cost her her writing career. Not many heads of organizations have the stomach for that.

As for intellectual property attorneys (or any attorney for that matter), very few handle class actions. Most handle cases individually for individual clients. I know of several writers who’ve gone to attorneys and have gotten settlements from publishers. The problem here is that these settlements only benefit one writer, who often must sign a confidentiality agreement so he can’t even talk about what benefit he got from that agreement.

One company that I know of has revamped its royalty statements. They appear to be clearer. The original novel that I have with that company isn’t selling real well as an e-book, and that makes complete sense since the e-book costs damn near $20. (Ridiculous.) The other books that I have with that company, collaborations and tie-ins, seem to be accurately reported, although I have no way to know. I do appreciate that this company has now separated out every single e-book venue into its own category (B&N, Amazon, Apple) via ISBN, and I can actually see the sales breakdown.

So that’s a positive (I think). Some of the smaller companies have accurate statements as well—or at least, statements that match or improve upon the sales figures I’m seeing on indie projects.

This is all a long answer to a very simple question: What’s happened on the royalty statement front in the past year?

A lot less than I had hoped.

So here’s what you traditionally published writers can do. Track your royalty statements. Compare them to your contracts. Make sure the companies are reporting what they should be reporting.

If you’re combining indie and traditional, like I am, make sure the numbers are in the same ballpark. Make sure your traditional Amazon numbers are around the same numbers you get for your indie titles. If they aren’t, look at one thing first: Price. I expect sales to be much lower on that ridiculous $20 e-book. If your e-books through your traditional publisher are $15 or more, then sales will be down. If the e-books from your traditional publisher are priced around $10 or less, then they should be somewhat close in sales to your indie titles. (Or, if traditional publishers are doing the promotion they claim to do, the sales should be better.)

What to do if they’re not close at all? I have no idea. I still think there’s a benefit to contacting your writers’ organizations. Maybe if the organization keeps getting reports of badly done royalty statements, someone will take action.

If you want to hire an attorney or an auditor, remember doing that will cost both time and money. If you’re a bestseller, you might want to consider it. If you’re a midlist writer, it’s probably not worth the time and effort you’ll put in.

But do yourself a favor. Read those royalty statements. If you think they’re bad, then don’t sign a new contract with that publisher. Go somewhere else with your next book.

I wish I could give you better advice. I wish the big agencies actually tried to use their clout for good instead of their own personal profits. I wish the writers’ organizations had done something.

As usual, it’s up to individual writers.

Don’t let anyone screw you. You might not be able to fight the bad accounting on past books, but make sure you don’t allow it to happen on future books.

That means that you negotiate good contracts, you make sure your royalty statements match those contracts, and you don’t sign with a company that puts out royalty statements that don’t reflect your book deal.

I’m quite happy that I walked away from the publisher I mentioned above years ago. I did so because I didn’t like the treatment I got from the financial and production side. The editor was—as editors often are—great. Everything else at the company sucked.

The royalty statement was just confirmation of a good decision for me.

I hope you make good decisions going forward.

Remember: read your royalty statements.

Good luck.

I need to thank everyone who commented, e-mailed, donated, and called because of last week’s post. When I wrote it, all I meant to do was discuss how we all go through tough times and how we, as writers, need to recognize when we’ve hit a wall. It seems I hit a nerve. I forget sometimes that most writers work in a complete vacuum, with no writer friends, no one except family, who much as they care, don’t always understand.

So if you haven’t read last week’s post, take a peek [link]. More importantly, look at the comments for great advice and some wonderful sharing. I appreciate them—and how much they expanded, added, and improved what I had to say. Thanks for that, everyone.

The donate button is below. As always, if you’ve received anything of value from this post or previous posts, please leave a tip on the way out.

Thanks!

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“The Business Rusch: “Royalty Statement Update 2012,” copyright © 2012 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

 

 

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Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

Apparently someone didn’t like what Kris Rusch posted yesterday about missing royalties. Her websites. yes plural, are down.One, it could be random, two…ehhh more than two, this is an attack and given the nature of her it makes me think that maybe someone wants her to stop posting.

 

Here is her mirrored link  http://kriswrites.livejournal.com/ however according to PG, his antivirus software told him there was malware in the coding, so instead I’ll do what he and several other did, copy and paste her post here, in essential hosting the information which I feel is very important.

Kris –  Hope it all gets sorted out soon.

Beginning of post:

Welcome to one of my other websites. This one is for my mystery persona Paladin, from my Spade/Paladin short stories. She has a website in the stories, and I thought it would be cool to have the website online. It’s currently the least active of my sites, so I figured it was perfect for what I needed today.

Someone hacked my website. Ye Olde Website Guru and I are repairing the damage but it will take some time. The hacker timed the hack to coincide with the posting of my Business Rusch column. Since the hack happened 12 hours after I originally posted the column, I’m assuming that the hacker doesn’t like what I wrote, and is trying to shut me down. Aaaaah. Poor hacker. Can’t argue on logic, merits, or with words, so must use brute force to make his/her/its point. Poor thing.

Since someone didn’t want you to see this post, I figure I’d better get it up ASAP. Obviously there’s something here someone objects to–which makes it a bit more valuable than usual.

Here’s the post, which I am reloading from my word file, so that I don’t embed any malicious code here. I’m even leaving off the atrocious artwork (which we’re redesigning) just to make sure nothing got corrupted from there.

The post directs you to a few links from my website. Obviously, those are inactive at the moment. Sorry about that. I hope you get something out of this post.

I’m also shutting off comments here, just to prevent another short-term hack. Also, I don’t want to transfer them over. If you have comments, send them via e-mail and when the site comes back up, I’ll post them. Mark them “comment” in the header of the e-mail. Thanks!

The Business Rusch: Royalty Statement Update 2012

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the fact that my e-book royalties from a couple of my traditional publishers looked wrong. Significantly wrong. After I posted that blog, dozens of writers contacted me with similar information. More disturbingly, some of these writers had evidence that their paper book royalties were also significantly wrong.

Writers contacted their writers’ organizations. Agents got the news. Everyone in the industry, it seemed, read those blogs, and many of the writers/agents/organizations vowed to do something. And some of them did.

I hoped to do an update within a few weeks after the initial post. I thought my update would come no later than summer of 2011.

I had no idea the update would take a year, and what I can tell you is—

Bupkis. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

That doesn’t mean that nothing happened. I personally spoke to the heads of two different writers’ organizations who promised to look into this. I spoke to half a dozen attorneys active in the publishing field who were, as I mentioned in those posts, unsurprised. I spoke to a lot of agents, via e-mail and in person, and I spoke to even more writers.

The writers have kept me informed. It seems, from the information I’m still getting, that nothing has changed. The publishers that last year used a formula to calculate e-book royalties (rather than report actual sales) still use the formula to calculate e-book royalties this year.

I just got one such royalty statement in April from one of those companies and my e-book sales from them for six months were a laughable ten per novel. My worst selling e-books, with awful covers, have sold more than that. Significantly more.

To this day, writers continue to notify their writers’ organizations, and if those organizations are doing anything, no one has bothered to tell me. Not that they have to. I’m only a member of one writers’ organizations, and I know for fact that one is doing nothing.

But the heads of the organizations I spoke to haven’t kept me apprised. I see nothing in the industry news about writers’ organizations approaching/auditing/dealing with the problems with royalty statements. Sometimes these things take place behind the scenes, and I understand that. So, if your organization is taking action, please do let me know so that I can update the folks here.

The attorneys I spoke to are handling cases, but most of those cases are individual cases. An attorney represents a single writer with a complaint about royalties. Several of those cases got settled out of court. Others are still pending or are “in review.” I keep hearing noises about class actions, but so far, I haven’t seen any of them, nor has anyone notified me.

The agents disappointed me the most. Dean personally called an agent friend of ours whose agency handles two of the biggest stars in the writing firmament. That agent (having previously read my blog) promised the agency was aware of the problem and was “handling it.”

Two weeks later, I got an e-mail from a writer with that agency asking me if I knew about the new e-book addendum to all of her contracts that the agency had sent out. The agency had sent the addendum with a “sign immediately” letter. I hadn’t heard any of this. I asked to see the letter and the addendum.

This writer was disturbed that the addendum was generic. It had arrived on her desk—get this—without her name or the name of the book typed in. She was supposed to fill out the contract number, the book’s title, her name, and all that pertinent information.

I had her send me her original contracts, which she did. The addendum destroyed her excellent e-book rights in that contract, substituting better terms for the publisher. Said publisher handled both of that agency’s bright writing stars.

So I contacted other friends with that agency. They had all received the addendum. Most had just signed the addendum without comparing it to the original contract, trusting their agent who was (after all) supposed to protect them.

Wrong-o. The agency, it turned out, had made a deal with the publisher. The publisher would correct the royalties for the big names if agency sent out the addendum to every contract it had negotiated with that contract. The publisher and the agency both knew that not all writers would sign the addendum, but the publisher (and probably the agency) also knew that a good percentage of the writers would sign without reading it.

In other words, the publisher took the money it was originally paying to small fish and paid it to the big fish—with the small fish’s permission.

Yes, I’m furious about this, but not at the publisher. I’m mad at the authors who signed, but mostly, I’m mad at the agency that made this deal. This agency had a chance to make a good decision for all of its clients. Instead, it opted to make a good deal for only its big names.

Do I know for a fact that this is what happened? Yeah, I do. Can I prove it? No. Which is why I won’t tell you the name of the agency, nor the name of the bestsellers involved. (Who, I’m sure, have no idea what was done in their names.)

On a business level what the agency did makes sense. The agency pocketed millions in future commissions without costing itself a dime on the other side, since most of the writers who signed the addendum probably hadn’t earned out their advances, and probably never would.

On an ethical level it pisses me off. You’ll note that my language about agents has gotten harsher over the past year, and this single incident had something to do with it. Other incidents later added fuel to the fire, but they’re not relevant here. I’ll deal with them in a future post.

Yes, there are good agents in the world. Some work for unethical agencies. Some work for themselves. I still work with an agent who is also a lawyer, and is probably more ethical than I am.

But there are yahoos in the agenting business who make the slimy used car salesmen from 1970s films look like action heroes. But, as I said, that’s a future post.

I have a lot of information from writers, most of which is in private correspondence, none of which I can share, that leads me to believe that this particular agency isn’t the only one that used my blog on royalty statements to benefit their bestsellers and hurt their midlist writers. But again, I can’t prove it.

So I’m sad to report that nothing has changed from last year on the royalty statement front.

Except…

The reason I was so excited about the Department of Justice lawsuit against the five publishers wasn’t because of the anti-trust issues (which do exist on a variety of levels in publishing, in my opinion), but because the DOJ accountants will dig, and dig, and dig into the records of these traditional publishers, particularly one company named in the suit that’s got truly egregious business practices.

Those practices will change, if only because the DOJ’s forensic accountants will request information that the current accounting systems in most publishing houses do not track. The accounting system in all five of these houses will get overhauled, and brought into the 21st century, and that will benefit writers. It will be an accidental benefit, but it will occur.

The audits alone will unearth a lot of problems. I know that some writers were skeptical that the auditors would look for problems in the royalty statements, but all that shows is a lack of understanding of how forensic accounting works. In the weeks since the DOJ suit, I’ve contacted several accountants, including two forensic accountants, and they all agree that every pebble, every grain of sand, will be inspected because the best way to hide funds in an accounting audit is to move them to a part of the accounting system not being audited.

So when an organization like the DOJ audits, they get a blanket warrant to look at all of the accounting, not just the files in question. Yes, that’s a massive task. Yes, it will take years. But the change is gonna come.

From the outside.

Those of you in Europe might be seeing some of that change as well, since similar lawsuits are going on in Europe.

I do know that several writers from European countries, New Zealand, and Australia have written to me about similar problems in their royalty statements. The unifying factor in those statements is the companies involved. Again, you’d recognize the names because they’ve been in the news lately…dealing with lawsuits.

Ironically for me, those two blog posts benefitted me greatly. I had been struggling to get my rights back from one publisher (who is the biggest problem publisher), and the week I posted the blog, I got contacted by my former editor there, who told me that my rights would come back to me ASAP. Because, the former editor told me (as a friend), things had changed since Thursday (the day I post my blog), and I would get everything I needed.

In other words, let’s get the troublemaker out of the house now. Fine with me.

Later, I discovered some problems with a former agency. I pointed out the problems in a letter, and those problems got solved immediately. I have several friends who’ve been dealing with similar things from that agency, and they can’t even get a return e-mail. I know that the quick response I got is because of this blog.

I also know that many writers used the blog posts from last year to negotiate more accountability from their publishers for future royalties. That’s a real plus. Whether or not it happens is another matter because I noted something else in this round of royalty statements.

Actually, that’s not fair. My agent caught it first. I need to give credit where credit is due, and since so many folks believe I bash agents, let me say again that my current agent is quite good, quite sharp, and quite ethical.

My agent noticed that the royalty statements from one of my publishers were basket accounted on the statement itself. Which is odd, considering there is no clause in any of the contracts I have with that company that allows for basket accounting.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with basket accounting, this is what it means:

A writer signs a contract with Publisher A for three books. The contract is a three-book contract. One contract, three books. Got that?

Okay, a contract with a basket-accounting clause allows the publisher to put all three books in the same accounting “basket” as if the books are one entity. So let’s say that book one does poorly, book two does better, and book three blows out of the water.

If book three earns royalties, those royalties go toward paying off the advances on books one and two.

Like this:

Advance for book one: $10,000

Advance for book two: $10,000

Advance for book three: $10,000

Book one only earned back $5,000 toward its advance. Book two only earned $6,000 toward its advance.

Book three earned $12,000—paying off its advance, with a $2,000 profit.

In a standard contract without basket accounting, the writer would have received the $2,000 as a royalty payment.

But with basket accounting, the writer receives nothing. That accounting looks like this:

Advance on contract 1: $30,000

Earnings on contract 1: $23,000

Amount still owed before the advance earns out: $7,000

Instead of getting $2,000, the writer looks at the contract and realizes she still has $7,000 before earning out.

Without basket accounting, she would have to earn $5,000 to earn out Book 1, and $4,000 to earn out Book 2, but Book 3 would be paying her cold hard cash.

Got the difference?

Now, let’s go back to my royalty statement. It covered three books. All three books had three different one-book contracts, signed years apart. You can’t have basket accounting without a basket (or more than one book), but I checked to see if sneaky lawyers had inserted a clause that I missed which allowed the publisher to basket account any books with that publisher that the publisher chose.

Nope.

I got a royalty statement with all of my advances basket accounted because…well, because. The royalty statement doesn’t follow the contract(s) at all.

Accounting error? No. These books had be added separately. Accounting program error (meaning once my name was added, did the program automatically basket account)? Maybe.

But I’ve suspected for nearly three years now that this company (not one of the big traditional publishers, but a smaller [still large] company) has been having serious financial problems. The company has played all kinds of games with my checks, with payments, with fulfilling promises that cost money.

This is just another one of those problems.

My agent caught it because he reads royalty statements. He mentioned it when he forwarded the statements. I would have caught it as well because I read royalty statements. Every single one. And I compare them to the previous statement. And often, I compare them to the contract.

Is this “error” a function of the modern publishing environment? No, not like e-book royalties, which we’ll get back to in a moment. I’m sure publishers have played this kind of trick since time immemorial. Royalty statements are fascinating for what they don’t say rather than for what they say.

For example, on this particular (messed up) royalty statement, e-books are listed as one item, without any identification. The e-books should be listed separately (according to ISBN) because Amazon has its own edition, as does Apple, as does B&N. Just like publishers must track the hardcover, trade paper, and mass market editions under different ISBNs, they should track e-books the same way.

The publisher that made the “error” with my books had no identifying number, and only one line for e-books. Does that mean that this figure included all e-books, from the Amazon edition to the B&N edition to the Apple edition? Or is this publisher, which has trouble getting its books on various sites (go figure), is only tracking Amazon? From the numbers, it would seem so. Because the numbers are somewhat lower than books in the same series that I have on Amazon, but nowhere near the numbers of the books in the same series if you add in Apple and B&N.

I can’t track this because the royalty statement has given me no way to track it. I would have to run an audit on the company. I’m not sure I want to do that because it would take my time, and I’m moving forward.

That’s the dilemma for writers. Do we take on our publishers individually? Because—for the most part—our agents aren’t doing it. The big agencies, the ones who actually have the clout and the numbers to defend their clients, are doing what they can for their big clients and leaving the rest in the dust.

Writers’ organizations seem to be silent on this. And honestly, it’s tough for an organization to take on a massive audit. It’s tough financially and it’s tough politically. I know one writer who headed a writer’s organization a few decades ago. She spearheaded an audit of major publishers, and it cost her her writing career. Not many heads of organizations have the stomach for that.

As for intellectual property attorneys (or any attorney for that matter), very few handle class actions. Most handle cases individually for individual clients. I know of several writers who’ve gone to attorneys and have gotten settlements from publishers. The problem here is that these settlements only benefit one writer, who often must sign a confidentiality agreement so he can’t even talk about what benefit he got from that agreement.

One company that I know of has revamped its royalty statements. They appear to be clearer. The original novel that I have with that company isn’t selling real well as an e-book, and that makes complete sense since the e-book costs damn near $20. (Ridiculous.) The other books that I have with that company, collaborations and tie-ins, seem to be accurately reported, although I have no way to know. I do appreciate that this company has now separated out every single e-book venue into its own category (B&N, Amazon, Apple) via ISBN, and I can actually see the sales breakdown.

So that’s a positive (I think). Some of the smaller companies have accurate statements as well—or at least, statements that match or improve upon the sales figures I’m seeing on indie projects.

This is all a long answer to a very simple question: What’s happened on the royalty statement front in the past year?

A lot less than I had hoped.

So here’s what you traditionally published writers can do. Track your royalty statements. Compare them to your contracts. Make sure the companies are reporting what they should be reporting.

If you’re combining indie and traditional, like I am, make sure the numbers are in the same ballpark. Make sure your traditional Amazon numbers are around the same numbers you get for your indie titles. If they aren’t, look at one thing first: Price. I expect sales to be much lower on that ridiculous $20 e-book. If your e-books through your traditional publisher are $15 or more, then sales will be down. If the e-books from your traditional publisher are priced around $10 or less, then they should be somewhat close in sales to your indie titles. (Or, if traditional publishers are doing the promotion they claim to do, the sales should be better.)

What to do if they’re not close at all? I have no idea. I still think there’s a benefit to contacting your writers’ organizations. Maybe if the organization keeps getting reports of badly done royalty statements, someone will take action.

If you want to hire an attorney or an auditor, remember doing that will cost both time and money. If you’re a bestseller, you might want to consider it. If you’re a midlist writer, it’s probably not worth the time and effort you’ll put in.

But do yourself a favor. Read those royalty statements. If you think they’re bad, then don’t sign a new contract with that publisher. Go somewhere else with your next book.

I wish I could give you better advice. I wish the big agencies actually tried to use their clout for good instead of their own personal profits. I wish the writers’ organizations had done something.

As usual, it’s up to individual writers.

Don’t let anyone screw you. You might not be able to fight the bad accounting on past books, but make sure you don’t allow it to happen on future books.

That means that you negotiate good contracts, you make sure your royalty statements match those contracts, and you don’t sign with a company that puts out royalty statements that don’t reflect your book deal.

I’m quite happy that I walked away from the publisher I mentioned above years ago. I did so because I didn’t like the treatment I got from the financial and production side. The editor was—as editors often are—great. Everything else at the company sucked.

The royalty statement was just confirmation of a good decision for me.

I hope you make good decisions going forward.

Remember: read your royalty statements.

Good luck.

I need to thank everyone who commented, e-mailed, donated, and called because of last week’s post. When I wrote it, all I meant to do was discuss how we all go through tough times and how we, as writers, need to recognize when we’ve hit a wall. It seems I hit a nerve. I forget sometimes that most writers work in a complete vacuum, with no writer friends, no one except family, who much as they care, don’t always understand.

So if you haven’t read last week’s post, take a peek [link]. More importantly, look at the comments for great advice and some wonderful sharing. I appreciate them—and how much they expanded, added, and improved what I had to say. Thanks for that, everyone.

The donate button is below. As always, if you’ve received anything of value from this post or previous posts, please leave a tip on the way out.

Thanks!

Click Here to Go To PayPal.

“The Business Rusch: “Royalty Statement Update 2012,” copyright © 2012 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

 

 

necia_phoenix: (Default)

Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

I’m trying to decide on a cover for this #zombiething. I think I know the title, but the cover is aggravating me. So here are a few versions, input always welcome.

 

  

 

Trying to get the setup to have these side by side, doesn’t seem to be working.

So that’s what I am doing right now, I REALLY like the top one, but the teddy bear is too dark. The white teddy in the second one doesn’t look right, the third one is close to what I envisioned for this project’s cover, but I keep going back to the first one thinking but, but, but…

Anyways, there’s a new post up by J.A. Marlow on ebook pricing over here, well worth the read. Dean Wesley Smith also has an updated post on ebook pricing over here. I will admit, I have few thoughts on the matter at the moment. I need to sit down and really do a in depth read and think about it.

Agent Rachelle Gardner posted 6 Reasons Authors Self-Publish, which is not a bashing post, which I was happy to see. Kudos to her for that!  The comments are also very interesting and enlightning. Check it out. :)

 

This move has been brutal on me and I’m just barely getting back on track, please forgive me.

I’m still writing, still happy with self publishing. Just very, very; distracted. 

Anyways, any suggestions on the covers are more than welcome.

necia_phoenix: (Default)

Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

Her job is to send ideas to the Author, however, not everyone appreciates new ideas and Muse is told to curb her idea gathering. But can you really tell a Muse to stop?

 Another one of the Inside the Author’s Mind series. It is available at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and XinXii

I did that yesterday, taking a break from writing. Sometimes it is good to just take a breather, I’ve been going at a crazy pace since October. With the new year right around the corner it is time to evaluate what next year’s plan is. Put together a publishing schedule and figure out what my writing goals are.

Next year is going to be a bit crazy, at least the first part of the year will be. We are planning a cross-country move within the first three months or so of 2012, and for that time frame I will be offline while we get settled. How long will that take? I do not know. So much of it is in the air it is making me quite frustrated because I simply don’t know.

That said, in the last half of THIS year I have written a tremendous amount. I have pubbed 5 things, and if I can get a handle on this Zombie thing I may have a 6th story published by the 1st or shortly after. So I think I’ll do goals in short quarterly steps. The rest of this year will be to finish the zombie thing and Bastard Prince and possibly work on the outline for Crossroads

So;

  • Jan thru April if I can finish editing E1 and get it to betas before the move, maybe start edit pass 1 on Bastard Prince, I’ll feel like I have accomplished something for the first part of the year. I would like to get the outline for the Epic Fantasy story idea done.
  • May thru Aug should be a fairly good writing time, depending of course. Finishing and publishing E1, finishing edit pass 1 of BP and possibly start of Crossroads or start on Crown of Bones. Or both.
  • Sept thru Dec we have NaNo prep. What am I going to do for nano? I don’t know.
Mind you that these plans are always subject to change depending on my RL situation and what plotbunnies attack me throughout the year. Not to mention these are my BIG projects and don’t cover the myriad of little projects I have planned. If I deviate, I deviate.
Today’s plan; I want to try to wrap up the Zombie thing. So far it is still a short, for now. Then get back to Zander.
Recent Reads:
Night of the Aurora by J.A. Marlow
It is a freebee over at Amazon (though I don’t know how long that will last). Set in Alaska (one of my dream destinations, if I wasn’t married and had kids I would so go move to Alaska) there are hints of a haunted tourist lodge, an amazing and lively array of characters who left me laughing so hard I was almost crying, a failed sled dog and the beautiful aurora overhead. Oh and did I mention hidden aliens and a train breaking down in the middle of nowhere? This is the first book of the series and absolutely brilliant. I mean come on, Aliens in Alaska! How cool is that?  If you want to give someone a great gift this year, this would totally be a good one. I’m actually considering sending my nieces and nephews a copy. Good clean fun, great reading and a good pace.

Ok Time to get to work. Take care all.

necia_phoenix: (Default)

Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.

I am still here, writing away. I apologize for being silent. Life gets busy here. :P

 

Currently working on a cover for another project and waiting for the beta report. :P

Any particular topic you might want to see me ramble about?

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