Books Magazine

Swoon - You May When You Read the Contract

By Lexi Revellian @LexiRevellian

SW♥♥N will be launched next spring by MacMillan Children's Publishing. It sounds a bit like a YA version of Authonomy; writers will load their unpublished novels, and other members will vote on them. The inducement is that MacMillan may publish successful books. 

Anyone like me who has experience of Authonomy will view this project with a jaundiced eye. Writers are a desperate lot, and many will do anything for a chance of publication. This means it is very easy to attract them to a site run by an established publisher, and very difficult to stop them gaming the system. Another problem is that editors think they know better than readers, and tend not to put much faith in the wisdom of crowds, even when that is what they set out to do. Plus these sites are time-sinks, using energy that would be better spent writing or self-publishing.

For the 'lucky' chosen authors, this is what they will get:

Once a manuscript is chosen by the community and the SW♥♥N Reads publishing team, the author will receive a $10,000 advance and a standard royalty-based publishing contract for world rights, including the following royalty rates:

  • Hardcover – 10% of list price
  • Trade Paperback – 6% of list price
  • Paper Over Board – 8% of list price
  • Mass Market Paperback – 6% of list price
  • E-book – 25% of amount received
  • Graphic Book – 6% of list price
  • Electronic Graphic Book – 10% of amount received
  • Audio – 10% of amount received
  • Digital Audio – 20% of amount received
  • Multimedia/Gaming – 10% of amount received
So other people will take between 90% and 94% of the profits of each print book, leaving 6 - 10% for the author. For ebooks, which cost nothing at point of sale, the publisher takes three quarters of the 'amount received'. They will own world rights, and modern publishing contracts take the rights for a very, very long time.

Stingy and mean are words that come to mind. Exploitative, that's another. It's depressing to think that plenty of writers will view this as an opportunity.

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