RARA-AVIS: Re: Noir then, Noir now

From: hardcasecrime (editor@hardcasecrime.com)
Date: 28 Jun 2009

  • Next message: rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com: "RARA-AVIS: File - reading-list.txt"

    > Charles, it's not quite as bleak as that, at least
    > not for all publishers and all deals. Of course
    > not all contracts/deals are going to be the
    > same, but publishers can still make money
    > selling foreign rights, audio rights, mass
    > paperback rights, etc., which can allow them
    > to make a profit even on those books where
    > they're selling under 10,000 copies.

    This assumes that a publisher GETS audio, foreign, and multiple-format rights. The example I gave, where the pre-production up-front cost is only $10,000 in total (including copy-editing, typesetting, cover art, graphic design, and everything), doesn't include much for an advance for the author -- and if you don't pay the author much of an advance, you generally don't get broad rights. (Hard Case Crime, for instance, pays legitimate but modest advances, and we never get audio rights, never get foreign rights, and only get mass market rights, not mass market *and* hardcover.) Of course, if you exclusively publish first-time authors who are glad for any contract they can get (and if you aren't overburdened by a sense of ethical behavior), maybe you'll be able to get them to sign away tons of rights for no matter how small an advance; same thing, maybe, if you publish authors later in their career who've been dropped by their previous publisher and are having trouble finding another. But I, at least, wouldn't feel comfortable taking (what I see as) unfair advantage of people in that position.

    And even if you do get those rights...most books never make it to audio
    (that field is even more obsessed with a "big names only" mentality than book publishing is, thanks to dramatically more limited shelf space -- you'll see a Dan Brown or a Vince Flynn on audio, but not a Dave Zeltserman or a Richard Aleas), and though the situation with foreign rights is definitely better than with audio, it's gotten worse of late
    (and it's a lot of work to get a few hundred dollars here and a few hundred there from Romania and Hungary to go with the few thousand you might get -- if you're lucky -- from Germany and France).

    I'm not saying it can't be done, or that it can't make the difference between losing money on a book and turning a profit, but...if you talk to people in the publishing business, you'll generally find people generally do think it's as bleak as all that. (Okay, maybe not QUITE as bleak as I'm painting it. But hell, I'm a noir writer. Painting things as supremely bleak is what I do.)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 28 Jun 2009 EDT