Please note: there is not a single royal wedding-type link in here. Fear not.
Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes that she found major discrepancies in the ebook sales reported in her royalty statements and is calling for writers to check their royalty statement ebook sales figures against any self-published works or against Bookscan, and to alert writers organizations to demand audits of publishing houses whose royalty statements are inconsistent.
…traditional publishers are not indulging in a criminal act. They’re doing the best they can out of necessity. They see no reason to spend precious dollars revamping their accounting systems to accommodate e-publishing when those dollars can be used elsewhere in the company. Especially when an accounting change will cost them money, and might lead to payouts that will hurt quarterly profits for months to come.
It’s up to writers—and writers organizations—to force publishers to allocate those scarce dollars to develop systems for accurate e-book accounting.
If you are a traditionally published author, do not—I repeat, do not—write a blistering letter to your publisher accusing him of stealing your money. Instead, contact any writers organization you belong to and point that organization to this blog.
What needs to happen is this: writers organizations need to band together and order group audits of e-book sales on behalf of their traditionally published authors. One organization cannot handle the cost of this group accounting alone. It’s better to have all of the writers organizations work in concert here.
A group audit of all the traditional publishers in various publishing divisions will force an accounting change—and that’s all we need. But we need it before e-books become the dominant way that books are sold.
If you’re a traditionally published author who has also produced some self-published e-books and you want to do more than contact your organization, do this:
1. Look over all of your royalty statements. Compare your indie e-book sales to your traditionally published e-book sales. Make sure your comparison is for the same time period. For example, do not compare January 2011 sales to January 2010.
2. Compare similar books. It’s best if you have books in the same series, some indie published and some traditionally published. If you don’t have series books, then compare books in the same genre only. Comparing romance sales to science fiction sales will not work because romance novels always outsell sf novels.
3. If you see a discrepancy, report that—with the numbers—to your writers organization. Be clear in the letter you send to your organization as to what level of involvement you want in this issue. Are you only there to provide background information? Will you take part in a group audit? Will you work on this project?
Then, in her Royalty Statements Update, Rusch details how many are both surprised and not at all surprised at her allegations. She reiterated her call to action as well:
I urged writers to notify their writers organizations about this problem, not because I want writers to sue the publishers, although I’m certain some individual writers will. I urged writers to notify their writers organizations because I want a large enough group of writers to demand an audit of their own royalty statements to cause an upheaval in Big Six accounting departments.
If one or two writers request audits, then those writers will benefit from the mistakes they find. If a hundred, two hundred, or a thousand writers per publishing house request an audit of their individual royalty statements, then that’s a large enough number to get the corporation’s attention, and to force changes in the traditionally publishing accounting practices.
These links went around The Twitter, and I’m curious as to how many authors sat down with royalty statements and looked again and a second time.
Good news from North Carolina: One book donation drive to fund a local library netted 15,000 books in just the first day. The overall sale looks to be huge – maybe worth driving south for, you know, if you’re me.
Thank you to Jennifer for the link.
Romance author Edith Layton, who passed away in 2009, is going to be featured in an upcoming book entitled My Mom: Style Icon.
And finally… TEDDY PIG SMASH. After running a section of a book published by Christine Phoenix through Copyscape, Teddy Pig found a whole lotta cut & pastin’ going on. I never understand how people have the time to take another author’s words and switch the name and prose around, but Phoenix seems to really really REALLY like JL Langley.
Damn hell if that doesn’t stink royally. Nice going, Teddy Pig. Ms. Phoenix, I wish diarrhea upon you.