Is the Writers Union Living in the Past?

Sometimes little birds speak to me at this blog.  The latest nugget that dropped in my lap concerns the Writers Union of Canada, a great organization that provides its members with contract advice and more.

What surprised me is that apparently the Writers Union believes a 17% royalty on the retail price of an e-book is a fair royalty, even though the author will only net $1.70 on a $9.99 novel.

Now what I don’t get is that any author who indie publishes their novel on Amazon at $9.99 will get the 70% royalty on the retail price, which means we’re talking about $6.99 per copy sold.

How can the Writers Union think that $1.70 on the retail price is fair compared to $6.99?  I understand that a publisher doing a print run is adding a lot of value to an author’s novel by getting the paper copy out into the Walmarts and Targets of North America.  That’s actually good advertising for an e-book, and I can agree that the publisher should earn a nice cut of the e-book sales as a result, but I would suggest that the author should at least receive 40% of the retail price, so $4 bucks on a $9.99 novel.  That still leaves the publisher picking up $3 bucks a copy, and they don’t have to hire a truck driver or pay for ink each time an e-copy sells.

I know I’m just dickering about numbers here, but the spread is big, which is why I’m shaking my head in disbelief at the Writers Union.

I tried to confirm this stand at the Writers Union website, but my search only produced some out-of-date warnings about e-book publishers offering only 10% of net.  I’m not a member so I can’t ask advice myself.

My source, however, is very reliable.

So I’m left to wonder: when will the Writers Union change their tune?  Because they will.  They can’t live in the past.  Their members won’t let them.

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Mike is the author of the 1000 Souls series that includes: Sacrifice the Living, Generation Apocalypse, and Heretics Fall. Warning: they contain violence, adventure, fast-paced action and hopeless love.

3 comments, add yours.

Ronald S. Barrios

Wow, this was news to me. I’ve never heard of the Writer’s Union. You’re absolutely right about the royalties publishing on amazon. I have a mystery on there that I published last year and have another coming out in a couple of months and I wouldn’t change a thing. They even have great royalties when you publish on Kindle. In fact I’m kind of wondering how the Writer’s Union can remain in business taking the percentages that they do. Maybe the better question is, why are writers joining the Writer’s Union?

Just my opionion,



    From all I’ve heard the Writers Union does provide a great deal of support to members, but I think they’re having trouble dealing with this new world. For instance, writers like John Locke and Amanda Hocking would not have been eligible for membership in the Writers Union last year because they had no traditionally published novels. It’s a weird world when writers selling thousands of novels a month aren’t considered authors by the writers union.
    BTW: thanks for the comments.

      Ronald S. Barrios

      I agree it is a little sad when authors who have sales behind their names aren’t recognized by associations like the writers union. But that’s the very reason we need change. In my opinion it shouldn’t be organizations who bestow the title of ‘Author’ on a person. We all work hard at what we do. Personally I don’t look for nor do I care about the praise or recognition of an organization. I wait to see what ‘Readers’ say because that’s who I write for, ‘Readers’.


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