Can my publisher really do that? Common author questions and answers from industry pros

At TAA’s 2019 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference, industry insider Sean Wakely and royalty auditor Juli Saitz addressed some common questions authors have about what prerogatives publishers have in respect to publication decisions, calculating royalty payments, marketing, and rights, with hypothetical examples from their point of view.

Here are the questions and answers from that session, divided into five parts:

Cengage authors begin to receive royalty statements under Cengage Unlimited plan

While some Cengage authors are still waiting for their first royalty statements under the company’s new Cengage Unlimited plan, which, launched in August 2018, offers students access to its database of textbooks and other online content for a flat fee, several have received their statements and shared how the new plan has affected their royalties.

TAA President and Cengage author Mike Kennamer said royalties from CU were included on the most recent statement for one of his three Cengage titles.

Your royalties: The devil is in the details

Are you confused trying to determine how your royalty statement matches your publishing agreement? Do you feel like your royalty check is less than expected? According to Juli Saitz, CPA, Senior Managing Director, Ankura Consulting Group during her recent webinar, “the devil is in the details”.

To better understand how your royalties should be calculated, there are several items you may want to look for in your contract – beyond the basic royalty figures – including clauses on: electronic derivatives, subsidiary rights, custom work, packages, and tiering.

Reflections on negotiating a contract 4: Royalties

My previous posts have been concerned with the large number of different issues in my contract as well as the general question of what ability I had to negotiate/renegotiate with my publisher who has a ton of leverage compared to me, a relative unknown. This post follows that basic theme, but looks specifically at the question of royalties.

One of the first things I’ll mention is the variety of different royalty clauses. To start, there were the basic book formats: hardback, paperback, and e-book. Following these were another dozen or so clauses, split into “rights and royalties” and “subsidiary rights and royalties,” which included things like international rights, audio and video rights, book club uses, use of excerpts and more. 

Reflections on negotiating a contract 3: Emotionally loaded details

This is more of my neophyte reflections on negotiating a contract. My previous post looked at the many different issues covered by a contract and the basic difficulty of handling so many issues. This post on focuses on some of the more emotionally charged clauses.

For me, part of the stress of contracts is that they force you to think about extreme cases because it’s easy to get emotionally charged while thinking about extreme issues. For example, there are clauses related to future editions and to the publisher’s rights for future editions. Future editions are an “extreme case” because they only become an issue if the book does extremely well.