Author Terrill Lee Lankford Declines Deal Because Of 25% Royalties

After six months of negotiating, Author Terrill Lee Lankford has walked away from a deal with a major publishing house because of eBook rights to one of his past titles. The publisher offered a 25% royalty, which shocked Lankford. The author asked the publisher how they justified the rate, to which the response was, “The number has been handed to me.”

Lankford’s agent justified the deal with the fact that the publisher was offering a “sizable advance,” but it still didn’t seem worth it to the author. He blogged: “What this “sizable advance” now looks like to me is a very expensive loan. I have been watching the e-book revolution carefully for the last two years and it is clear to me that by 2012 everything we have thought about traditional publishing will be history. The bookstores know this. The publishers know this. And some of the writers know this. But I have a feeling not everyone has gotten the memo yet.”

The author’s guild has a similar argument in a blog this week, in which they do the math explaining why a 25% royalty rate is a big loss to authors. Lankford did his own math and didn’t like how the numbers added up. Here is more from his blog: “Let’s say Amazon sold the Kindle edition of a writer’s book at $10 per copy. Amazon takes $3, leaving the publisher with $7. Their take would be $5.25, leaving the writer with $1.75. (In my case I then have to cut in my agent and attorneys for an additional 20%, so my take would be $1.40.) So the “publisher” makes $5.25 per copy and the writer makes between $1.40-$1.75 per copy. And this is all with very little tangible expenses, other than the accountants to keep the money all straight.”

Via Sarah Weinman.