At the London Book Fair, I had the chance to interview Brian DeFiore, President of DeFiore and Company, a New York literary agency founded in 1999. Prior to founding the agency, he was the Senior VP and Publisher of the Villard Books division of Random House, and was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Hyperion, Disney’s book publishing division. I asked him whether it was fair that large publishers, under the agency model, only paid standard royalties of 25% of the net ebook sales to the authors.
DeFiore said that big publishers add tremendous value in marketing and distribution, helping the cream rise to the top. Additionally, they incur expenses which authors don’t always take into account – including efforts to stop piracy and to build up their own infrastructure.
But despite these costs which publishers incur, deFiore notes that they’re saving buckets full of money on not having to print or ship books – savings which range from the production department to the warehouse – and the authors simply are not being credited for those savings.
And while the price of ebooks generally is lower than hardcover, the publisher’s contribution on every sale of an ebook has remained equivalent to that of a hardcover, whereas the author’s share has dropped by about 1/3.
And that, DeFiore says, is unfair.
The math, btw: an ebook which retails at $13 will net $9.10 (after a retailer like Amazon takes their cut) – which means that, instead of the $9.10 you’d make with BookBaby, you’d make about $2.27 per sale with a large publisher (25% of the $9.10).
Another agent I know agrees and wrote a great blog post about it.
- Brian Felsen, President, BookBaby