Fair deal for authors? You judge…

Interesting little exchange on LinkedIn over the last few days, between me and a “publisher” that was advertising for writers. (Since when have decent publishers had to advertise for authors?)

Here’s what was said:

Keith Brooke • I haven’t checked the rates, other than in the thread above, but 10% royalty for ebooks is appalling! It’s way below minimum rates recommended here in the UK by the Society of Authors, and is below what most publishers are paying.

inspired-words .co.uk • Hi Keith,

Please check all of the above threads, as we feel we explain more about our business methods within them.
You will see that we take more of a realistic approach to the difficult publishing market we all exist in.

Best wishes

Inspired Words team

Keith Brooke • Sorry, but I have seen the above thread (not sure about the plural – where are the other threads…?). And I stand by the observation that a 10% royalty is appalling and way below industry standards. The Society of Authors describes 15-25% as miserly and unjustifiable: http://www.teleread.com/ebooks/society-of-authors-uk-slams-ebook-royalties-again/ – so what makes 10% a fair deal?

inspired-words .co.uk • Hi Brooke,

What we strongly disagree with, are publishing houses that charge authors just to read their manuscripts, to then reject said works.
We also object to the unreasonably long time it takes some houses to publish their works, however we understand that at times there are logistical reasons to how each publisher reach their decisions on where to charge and where to pay, what to do and when.
We may not always understand them, but we respect them and their right to operate as they see necessary.

Best wishes

Inspired Words team

Keith Brooke • Erm… I certainly wouldn’t argue that “publishing houses” that charge authors are acceptable in any way, but I’m not sure why you’ve thrown that red herring into the discussion.

I’ve still to see a single argument that justifies paying so far below the industry standard, though – in effect, if you pay the authors that little then the authors are paying you to publish their work: if we say that the industry standard is 25%, then your authors are paying you more than half of that on every sale.

I’d still warn any author who was serious about their work to steer clear of any deal like this.

And by the way, my first name isn’t Brooke.

inspired-words .co.uk • Hi Keith Brooke,

Our apologies, we did not mean to confuse your original issue with us, and being an e-book publisher yourself, can see that this is something that you are clearly passionate about.We also see that you are relatively new to the market yourself, establishing your business just last year.
When asking an author to steer clear of us, we assume it would be toward your own organisation.
We are also wondering why the books that you have written are more expensive to the UK market than the US?
Everybody has their own reasons for operating in the way that they do.
Good luck with your endeavours.

Best wishes

Inspired Words team

Keith Brooke • Stop putting words in my mouth.

No, your assumption is wrong: when I advise people to steer clear of publishers who offer such a poor deal it’s because it’s a poor deal. As simple as that. I don’t need to try to steer your potential authors towards my business, thank you very much.

Simple answer to your next question: VAT. I’d have thought you would have been able to work that out.

And for any authors reading this, I’d suggest they do two things: have a look at the inspired-words website and look at the quality of the work (the typos, the artwork). And then have a look at the Society of Authors website for guidance on the publishing business. I don’t think you need to look any further than that.

Here’s a quote from their website:

 “To Revolt is a Peoples Right”
sic (from one of their “books”)

And another:

‎”We endeavour to prevent the futures, great poets and novelists from falling into obscurity, and seek to bring them to the World’s market for all our sakes.”

Yay for them!

For the record, this outfit offers their authors “10% royalties on full, book length publications to the author after the first 50 units sold, this covers our costs.”

Really: go and have a look at their website. (Surely they can’t object to me sending traffic their way? Or, to put it in their terms: Surly they cant object to me sending traffic there way?

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About Keith Brooke and infinity plus

Keith Brooke is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and other strange stuff, and editor and reviewer of same. He is also the publisher at infinity plus, an independent imprint publishing books by leading genre fiction authors. View all posts by Keith Brooke and infinity plus

9 responses to “Fair deal for authors? You judge…

  • keithbrooke

    If it wasn’t so comical, I’d really object to their claim that my objection to their terms is all a ploy so I can steal their potential authors…

  • Martin

    Brilliant. The first thing that struck me was the poor grammar in the first response; which only worsened as the exchange progressed.

  • Madelyn Wright

    Wow. There is _nothing_ good about their website. I’m surprised they were capable of holding a discussion with you at all!

  • Dom Turner

    Deer Brooke,

    I think, that your beeing very unfare to, them; there cogent argumenting cleerly explains, why, the 10% is fare – its you’re fault fore beeing a rye-val, publisher. And also, I, ca’nt see anythings, rong, with there grammer.

    (I love the idea that you’re after their potential authors! I’m guessing that any ‘author’ who looks at their terms and website and who still submits to them would probably be too… interesting… for Infinity Plus).

  • keithbrooke

    And the debate rumbles on over on LinkedIn, with others joining in to criticise Inspired-words. Rather than copy it all here, I’ll just add what I hope is my final comment from there:

    • Interesting discussion. It seems to me that inspired-words have chosen publishers with bad practices as a benchmark: “we’re not as bad as the guys who charge reading fees etc”. As Jeremy points out, though, serious publishers don’t charge fees – they’re not in the business of making money by charging authors; so that’s a false benchmark. Serious publishers pay authors fair rates for their work, produce good products and sell enough copies to cover their costs.

    It’s a shame that the response to this thread was to get huffy and defensive (and to try to attack me), when it could have been a good discussion of publishing models that work. There are people on this group – including me – who have been involved in professional publishing for decades and would happily contribute to such a discussion if the tone wasn’t so defensive. Inspired-words have some laudable aims, but from an author’s perspective the model they’ve used sucks big-time. It really should be possible for even a small, unknown publisher to be viable without covering its risks at the author’s expense – and there are lots of good examples out there of imprints doing exactly that.

    • keithbrooke

      And several days later, still the argument persists, with inspired-words just digging themselves deeper and deeper. Now another contributor has really laid into them, threatening them with Preditors and Editors. It’s a shame: my best guess is that these people are a bunch of ill-informed, inexperienced, but well-meaning self-publishers who really don’t have a clue. When they start advertising for authors and making wild promises about what they offer, though, they’ve moved out of the self-publishing arena and into one that demands a bit more scrutiny.

  • James Everington

    10%? Jesus.

    Maybe given their haphazard approach to typo correction, they actually meant 100%?

  • keithbrooke

    …and finally the self-proclaimed “100% transparent” inspired-words have deleted the whole thread from LinkedIn. Hmmm…

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