I posted a version of this in my Facebook Group and thought I would echo it here.
This is in response to a reader’s question in my Facebook group about whether or not it’s better to purchase a book from Amazon or the Dreamspinner portal and there are… layers of discussion here so I’m just going to keep it as simple as possible and still ramble on enough to bore people to death 😀
This is not up for debate. This is my own decision and mine alone. Everyone has the right to make their own choices and definitely should do so. And I wish them well in that. This is my understanding of the situation and how I feel about things. Results may vary.
Okay, let me talk about Dreamspinner.
You all are more than welcome to ask questions but this is pretty much my definitive stance. 😀
And for anyone with a dissenting opinion is more than welcome to post their opinion on their own news feeds but I’m not going to be debating the topic here. I won’t even respond to debate. I’ll delete the comment and then have a discussion with the member about remaining with the space. Agitation on this matter is not conducive and I don’t want to deal with it.
It’s sad I’ve got to say that but the truth is, these past few weeks have been hellish because somehow it’s become okay to attack authors who choose to stand with Dreamspinner during this business flux and I don’t want to bring that here. I’ve had enough of that on my newsfeed and in my DMs as well as my name being flung about in author groups for some reason. I have no intention of bringing that kind of shit into this group for all of you to deal with. This is not that space.
With those caveats in place, *grins*
Dreamspinner’s had several issues hit at the same time. The cash flow problem affects the infrastructure account where things like editors, mass market paperbacks, design and salaries are paid out of. They ran lean there to pay for expansion into other markets. It was a risk and a good one. It pays for translations and pushing our books into more mainstream locations like Costco, Target and Walmart. Hard to believe but yeah, my books are on sale at those locations. Some in mass market but also as ebooks on their websites.
While that account ran lean, two things happened to the escrowed mutual fund account the royalties go into. First, the third party vendors were late in payment after issuing their royalty reports so that meant the money wasn’t put in there by the people who owed DSP money and to make matters worse, the accounting software designed to calculate royalties went totally screwy. This meant in order to pay out the royalties to authors, the money had to be there and every line item of each book had to be manually verified. Elizabeth’s doing that herself because it’s her company and she feels its on her. She’s assumed full responsibility for those numbers.
People are being paid out. And everyone who is late being paid gets interest on their money when payment is made. I believe it’s a 28% interest. I’ll have to go look.
We get a lot of communication from Dreamspinner in the form of newsletters and a forum where people can ask questions, as well as being able to email directly. Dreamspinner is operating as normal during this time.
Now, where to buy your books? Honestly, we make the most money when you buy from Dreamspinner directly. Why? Because there’s no third party to slice into the royalties.
To give you an idea of how varied the calculations are, this is how our base contracts are written:
In compensation for this grant of rights, the PUBLISHER hereby agrees to pay AUTHOR the following Royalty Commissions:
(a) 40% of Net monies received by PUBLISHER from the sale of the first 1000 copies of all digital text editions of the WORK.
50% of Net monies received by PUBLISHER from the sale of 1001 copies to 2000 copies of all digital text editions of the WORK.
60% of Net monies received by PUBLISHER after the sale of the first 2000 copies of all digital text editions of the WORK.
(b) 30% of Net monies received by PUBLISHER from the sale of all bound printed editions of the WORK.
(c) 40% of Net monies received by PUBLISHER from the sale of audio editions of the WORK.
(d) 30% of Net monies received by PUBLISHER from the sale of the illustrated editions of the WORK.
(e) 70% of the Net monies received by Publisher from the disposition of sublicenses granted pursuant to Section I, paragraph (b), sublicense of foreign language rights
Now, notice that says NET monies. What that means regarding Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc. is that they take their percentage off the money they get. So, instead of giving us 100% of the money for a book, they might give us 75% or even just 35%. Now with Amazon, Dreamspinner has been recognized as a medium sized press and is rolled into a different category but that doesn’t mean DSP gets more of a percentage, it means that if Amazon drops the book to 99 cents, they are still going to pay out the full price royalties (minus their percentage).
If you purchase your books at Dreamspinner, Harmony Ink or DSP Publications, all of the money goes to the escrow fund. Flat out all. No one else is taking anything out of it and when it comes time to pay out royalties, it’s divided up according to the contract terms. So if you buy a book for $6.99 at DSP, the author will get a minimum of $2.80 for that book. The rest of that money goes to Dreamspinner to pay for everything they do; like editing and all of that.
If you purchase that book from Amazon, they take… let’s say 35%… $2.45 off the top, leaving us with $4.54 to split up. That means the author makes a minimum of $1.80.
The reason the percentages for different types of works… translations, audiobooks, etc… are different is because it costs more to produce those items due to third party involvement and other things. Mind you, this is on top of what Dreamspinner has already invested in the book in editing, marketing, cover design, formatting and other misc stuff.
Self-pubbing… if done right… still costs money. If Done Right. A good author will pay for a top editor who will challenge timeline errors and consistency mistakes as well as provide a structural edit. It isn’t just about fixing commas and hyphens. Same with a cover. You need a cover that is done well and represents your brand. These things cost money and you need to pay for them in order to provide quality work.
In my case, I don’t want to manage or contract those infrastructure things because honestly, I don’t have the time or patience. Okay, mostly the time. Someone else I does them for me and I’m very happy to have input over those things but I’m not having to drive that project from beginning to end. My senior editor and the Dreamspinner staff does that for me.
I can’t speak for other authors and I won’t. My opinion is that there are some people who are stirring up trouble for some reason only known to their dark spots in their soul while there are other people who are worried about their livelihoods and unfortunately, become victims to the stirrers at times because nothing breeds fear like stoking panic in a crowd. For the people who are worried, I get that and I understand that. It’s frightening and probably just one more thing on top of a heap of things they’ve got going on. It’s not like I can say… don’t worry because I can’t. That’s pretty much the same thing as people who stir stuff up. I’m not in any position to tell anyone not to worry and to do so would be counterproductive. I can only lay out my position and say; I have faith and trust in Dreamspinner and shall continue to hold that line unless something along the lines of financial apocalypse happens in which case I’ll review how I feel and probably still stand with them.
Because I trust Elizabeth North.
I work very hard at trying to produce books that entertain while at the same time, hopefully provide a bridge for LGBTQ characters to enter the “mainstream” consciousness. For too long, LGBTQ protagonists have been off the page and the book shelves. There was a massive purge of those characters from mainstream bookshelves in the 90s by the Big Five. Many authors writing LGBTQ characters had their contracts yanked or told they would finish out that one book and that’s it. Some of these characters were retconned from bisexual to being straight for some reason; Mercedes Lackey’s Bard series featuring Eric Banyon was one of them. I’m not sure why but I was disappointed about it and still am. But maybe she always meant to go in that direction but my gut says no. But I don’t know. I can’t speak to that.
Even the series that featured a gay character had to go through tremendous amount of pain and suffering and usually died. I can’t speak to the why of gay character deaths but we all know it was rampant. No one got happy endings. (Okay, Gael Baudino’s Gossamer Axe did as did Lynn Flewlling’s Nightrunner series and man did that make me happy but it’s rare.)
Those deaths and the lack of LGBTQ characters angers me and saddens me. And I want better for our LGBTQ siblings. For myself.
Elizabeth North gave me that platform. It’s not an easy platform to stand on. As an author I have to tell a story and hopefully make it good enough for you, the reader, to want to come back to those characters while at the same time, keep my voice and storytelling totally mine. Are my books for everyone? Nope. But that’s okay. I can only do my best and put stuff out there.
There is no guarantee of success. That’s a given. Someone could write the most fantastic book but very few people will read it, especially if no one knows it’s out there. Or they might DNF it because it’s poorly edited or pass over it because the cover looks like it was done in MS Paint by a three year old. We are fickle creatures as readers. I know this. I DNFed a book about a mechanic because he was working on a 58 Ford Mustang.
Ford didn’t come out with the Mustang until 1964.
Shit like this matters.
So… that’s where I am. That’s where I stand. Keep in mind, this is MY choice. Other people do and SHOULD have the right to review everything on hand to them and make a business decision regarding their partnership with Dreamspinner. I’m not sticking my head in the sand or ignoring any warning signs or looking for diamonds in the sky. I’m making a conscious decision to not only retain my partnership but also speak of support in the face of others (including some who are not with DSP) condemning them for one thing or another.
I’m fine with my decision. I know what the risks are but I also know what the rewards will be. It’s not just loyalty to Elizabeth and the company but also a trust in the vision Dreamspinner has for its authors. I’ve shared that vision since day one… for LGBTQ characters to sit side by side with other books on the “mainstream” shelves in libraries, bookstores and retail spaces without judgement and without apologies.
No matter what happens, that’s always been my goal. And I have no intention of stopping now.
I hope you are all with me on this.