RARA-AVIS: book buying advice from professional writers re royalties

From: patrick lee (dermdocsx2@gmail.com)
Date: 09 Oct 2010

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    A couple of writers who I read and admire are Tom Piccirilli and Duane Swierczynski, both of whom I think have been discussed on this list. I emailed them both about royalties for physical books vs ebooks. Both graciously answered and Tom gave me permission to print his answer; I am still waiting for permission from Duane.

    My email: Tom, Pat Lee here, big fan of The Cold Spot, Last Deep Breath, Shadow Season, etc. I have a quick question: I have a Kindle but I still buy lots of regular hardcovers and paperbacks; would you, as a published author, do better, royalty-wise, from me buying one of your books as an e-book/Kindle, or do you do better with the purchase of an actual book? I feel that it probably makes no difference to some guys like Dan Brown whether I buy an ebook or real book, but I want to do the best for authors like yourself to whom I am loyal and whose books I really enjoy. I have purchased Short Ride to Nowhere as a Kindle book and I know David Morrell's latest book, The Naked Edge, is a Kindle exclusive. Any advice you can give would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Tom's answer: Hi Pat:
     It's a big question, and the answer varies. I'm putting up and promoting my own titles on Kindle--thus far there are 3 of them, Short Ride, The Fever Kill, and Fuckin' Lie Down Already--so I make more off of those since all the royalties go into my pocket. When it comes to physical titles, I think for the time being that buying paperbacks will help the author better. When a paperback doesn't sell, it is destroyed and the cover returned to the publisher. These returns go against an author's royalties, meaning he's responsible for the losses and has them applied against his sales. So, it's always better to sell the physical copies, even if the royalty rate might be a little higher on an e-book. Thanks for the interest and for caring enough to ask-- best, Tom Pic

    I would be interested in hearing input from other of our professional writers on this list, e.g. Messrs. Crider, Ardai, Zeltserman, Corbett, etc.

    Patrick Lee

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