A royalty statement should be simple to understand, right? “Show me my sales and my royalty rate, perform a simple mathematical calculation, and — boom! There’s my royalty check!” But how often have you looked at your publisher’s royalty statement and muttered, “I have no idea where these numbers are coming from,” and spent hours trying to understand the calculations? Or perhaps you’ve become so frustrated that you simply gave up, took the royalty check out of the envelope, cashed it, and threw the rest of the statement in the recycling bin, reassuring yourself that the amount must be correct if it’s this complicated.
During the 2017 TAA Conference session, “Wanna Get Away? Maybe Now You Can: Parting with Your Publisher,” intellectual property attorney Stephen E. Gillen, a partner at Wood, Herron & Evans, said that one event that can open the door to parting with your publisher is when your textbook goes out of print.
When and how your textbook goes out of print is governed by your contract, said Gillen, which means it’s best to think about these situations in the early stages of negotiating your publishing contract. “They [your publisher] are probably going to be more inclined to make changes in that language in the beginning than they would be somewhere along the way,” he said.
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Stephen E. Gillen, author of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide, says the first-time textbook author definitely has leverage in contract negotiations, and can negotiate changes in the standard publishing agreement.
An advance is a pre-payment of royalties to be earned upon the publication of your textbook. It will be recouped out of the royalties first accrued from the commercial exploitation of your work. It is not incoming for publishers to agree to advance from 50% to 100% of expected royalties on projected first year sales. The advance may or may not be refundable if your manuscript is rejected and your contract is cancelled.
A grant, conversely, is a payment intended to cover some or al of the out-of-pocket costs of research and/or manuscript preparation. It is generally not recouped out of accrued royalties, and like the advance, may or may not be refundable in the event the manuscript is rejected.
Whether you are interested in learning how to use social media to promote your writing, enhancing your approach to visuals, creating instructional media on a budget, writing and developing a college textbook, or creating ancillary materials and companion websites, TAA’s spring webinar series for textbook and academic authors has you covered. Join us as various industry experts share their expertise on academic and textbook writing topics. Sign-up early to reserve your spot! Not a TAA member? Learn more about member benefits and join today.