Our commitment to authors is:
- to enable authors to deliver an amazing reading experience to readers;
- to turn an author’s manuscript into a professionally produced book;
- to publish titles in electronic and print editions;
- to offer a fair royalty to the author;
- to pay an advance of royalties on formal acceptance of the manuscript;
- to undertake marketing of the published title, however we will expect the author to participate in marketing activities;
- to offer our books for sale at a price that is fair to both reader and author.
Our objective is to work with authors as partners to establish a relationship that is fair to both parties. We have standard Agreements with our authors, to ensure fairness for all, but we will consider a particular author’s circumstances where appropriate.
We would normally be looking for exclusive worldwide English language first publication rights to a title for five (5) years. The details will be set out in the Author’s Agreement.
Our experienced editorial staff will work with the author to ensure that the published version of their manuscript meets the high standards expected by our readers. They will only make changes to the text with the author’s approval in order to arrive at a publishable version. However if, ultimately, the editorial staff believe that changes are required which the author is not prepared to accept, we may decide not to accept the manuscript.
We have adopted a digital-first approach, which means that we would be considering a title for initial publication in an electronic edition (Kindle and ePub formats) with the intention to publish a print edition, typically one to three months later, using Print on Demand (POD) services.
A reasonable list price for a book depends on the format (and to some extent on the genre and the previous success of the author) and production costs (such as printing costs for a print edition). We set the list price for our titles, which may change as a result of market forces, regulation/taxation (in the UK printed books and eBooks are currently zero-rated for VAT while in other territories they may be subject to VAT or sales tax) or in response to other events. The list price for an electronic edition will be lower than for a print edition.
Costs can vary considerably depending on the format of a book. Similarly, discounts expected by wholesalers, distributors and retailers are dependent on the format. As a result, in line with most publishers, we offer different royalty rates for each format. Details will be included in the Author’s Agreement, but in general royalty rates for electronic editions are significantly higher than for print editions. Royalties are paid biannually (usually calculated in June and December) and authors receive a statement identifying the royalties earned by sales for each of their titles.
In line with most publishers our royalties are based on net receipt rather than list price – this has become inevitable as some (especially online) retailers demand a very high discount. We believe this is the most transparent and mutually fair way to determine royalties.
If royalties were instead based on list price we would have to set the royalty rate sufficiently low enough to allow for the highest discount that any retailer/wholesaler may demand whereas, based on net receipt, the royalty rate is a reasonable rate based on what we actually receive from the retailer.
An advance is just that: an advance payment of royalties that are expected. Once we have formally accepted a publishable version of a manuscript (i.e. after the editing and proofreading stages are complete and the agreed final version of the manuscript is deemed publishable by the editorial staff) we will pay the author an advance of royalties. The author will then not receive any further royalties until more have been earned than have already been advanced. If the book doesn’t earn as much in royalties as the advance, the author won’t have to give any back but obviously won’t be receiving any more!
So, for example, if an author has received an advance of £500 and their book earns £600 of royalties in the first six months, then they will subsequently receive a royalty cheque for £100; if their book only ever earns £400 of royalties they won’t receive a royalty cheque, but they won’t have to give back £100.
Book marketing is a joint effort between the author and the publisher; many new authors are surprised at how much of their time is spent in participating in marketing activities, from events such as book signings to interacting with their readers online. General industry experience has shown that authors who maintain direct involvement with their readership achieve better sales, so we would expect our authors to have a blog, contribute to social media, participate in discussion threads for readers etc., over and above any events that we organise.