Author Barry Eisler shocked the publishing world when he walked away from a $500,000 deal with St. Martin’s Press so that he could self-e-publish his next John Rain novel.
Now Eisler’s tacked the other way, signing with Amazon’s new mystery/thriller imprint Thomas and Mercer. Eisler says the advance was comparable to St. Martin’s except that the e-book royalties are significantly better. T&M will publish both print and digital versions.
Publishers are going to have to accept that offering authors a 25% royalty on e-books just isn’t going to cut it when they can get 70% from Amazon–especially when e-books never go out of print, so the contract could last until the novel goes into the public domain.
I’ve heard the argument that publishers simply can’t make enough to cover their overheads on e-publishing, and I sympathize, but times have changed. Publishers are going to have to find a way to lower their costs, because it’s not just John Locke’s 99 cent novels (or my anthology, or my novel) that will sink them. They’re going to start losing talent as well.
It’s getting interesting out there. We have agents like Richard Curtis now filling the roll of e-publisher, and retailers like Amazon launching print and e-pub imprints of genres like romance and mystery. It’s a strange new world when an author’s agent or his retailer can become his publisher.
What’s next? That’s the interesting part. Chaos. Opportunity.