APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2001-02 > 0983124741
From: "Willow Bend Books" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Copyrights
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 13:12:21 -0500
One of the pitfalls of being a genealogical author is having to deal with
printers and publishers. Printers are easier to deal with because it is just
a question of money and if you make a mistake you can always move on to
another printer for the next book. There are lots of printers and the real
issue us just being aware of the right questions that need to be answered
before the ink hits the page.
A publisher is the person who pays to have something printed. You go to a
publisher because you can't afford to do it yourself, you don't want to be
bothered with marketing and fulfillment, or your ego demands that your work
carries the imprint of a large respectable publishing house [please insert
laughter here]. Of course it could be a combination of all three.
There are three ways that copyright can be dealt with by a publisher.
1) leave it with the author
2) share it with the author
3) steal it from the author, excuse me, make relinquishment of copyright a
condition of publishing.
The pitfalls of leaving it with an author, given that the publisher as
acquired all rights (in print and electronic) are few, if the author has by
contract limited the term of the right to publish. Being an author myself,
when I designed the Willow Bend Books publishing contracts, I made sure that
the copyright remained with the author, that the right to publish only
existed for five years and that if I failed to keep the book in print the
publishing rights would revert back to the author (the catch in the contract
is that the author has to notify me that the book is out of print and that
from that point I have six months to get it back into print.) In today's
market the pitfall of assigning electronic rights is what the publisher will
do with those rights. The combination of in print and CD rights can be quite
nice for an author. But how the recent decision of one CD publisher to now
put all of their titles up as a subscription service and no longer produce
CDs (this is heresy and received third-hand so please take it as such, but
it provides a good example of a possibility) is scary for authors. Somehow I
envision a shrinkage in royalty checks.
I always recommend that the copyright remain wholly with the author or with
the person who has paid to have the work accomplished.
Sharing a copyright with a publishing company create what I call a two kings
of Sparta situation. Sharing a copyright with anyone creates this situation.
There can only be one person or entity in control of a copyright. In the
situation of author vs. publisher (which is what it will become) keeping the
book in print is the major issue. Who will win. The publisher.
Giving a copyright to a publisher is just stupid. At least in the situation
where the only compensation is the royalty payment for what is printed. You
might chose to attempt to sell your right (rather than give it away) to a
publisher for a fee and then you walk away. Not a normal course of events
but it does happen. It is similar to hiring someone to create a work and the
commissioner of the work getting the copyright. You determine what it all
was worth and just move on to the next project.
In today's market, with the exception of general reference works, print runs
rarely exceed 1,000 copies at a time. At the high end of 500 to 1000 copies
are the hardback books and there is considerable exposure on the part of a
publisher since he will probably be selling the work for five to ten years,
before the next printing (if there is a next printing). Generally, for
perfect bound books the printrun is 100 to 300 copies, usually 100. A book
that sells for $20.00 costs $5.00 to $7.00 to produce so that works out to
an exposure of 100 copies x $5.00 or $500 or $700 depending. Excuse me. What
kind of exposure is that to have to worry about.
The pitfalls of the giving your rights to a work away are numerous. Probably
the most important is that it is no longer your work.
My recommendation is to find a publisher who respects you as a author,
allows you to retain your ownership of the work, limits the term of his
right to publish, and provides the opportunity for you to regain your
publishing rights if he fails to keep the work in print. I also recommend
that electronic rights be considered seriously and that one distinguishes
between publishing on physical media and the internet in the contract.
Before someone decides what money hungry folks publishers are after seeing
the production to retail cost ratio let me share the breakdown as I see it.
25% book printing
5% book pre-press (what you do after the author gives you a camera ready
manuscript in regards to cataloging, ISBN assignment, cover art, title and
title reverse and Bowker submission)
15% royalty (10% for content; 5% for index)
40% dealer discount (you need dealers to sell your work for you)
5% marketing and advertising
10% overhead, G&A, inventory holding costs, and whatever else.
Profit for a publisher exists in several places. 1) books that they sell
directly to the customer, behaving as a dealer; 2) the ability to reduce any
of the above costs (like loving the author who provides a cover with the
camera ready artwork); 3) using the 100 print run per copy cost to calculate
the retail price when you printed 200 or 300 copies; 4) prayer.
One of the other issues that an author has to be careful of is the royalty
Some publisher calculate royalty based on sales price. Meaning that the
$20.00 when sold to a person generations in a 10% royalty situation a $2.00
royalty. But when sold to a library at a 10% discount only creates a $1.80
and when sold to a dealer creates only a $1.20 royalty. Ouch. Make sure that
your contract provides for a royalty based on the suggested retail price. So
that regardless of who purchases the book and at what discount your royalty
is always the same, in this case $2.00.
Hope this helps someone.
Craig R. Scott, CGRS
Willow Bend Books
65 East Main Street
Westminster, MD 21157-5026
----- Original Message -----
From: "Connie Bradbury" <>
Sent: Friday, February 23, 2001 4:36 PM
Subject: [APG] Copyrights
> I am a co-author of a book currently in publication (being printed as I
type). The co-author and I own the copyright. I received a letter telling
me they (the publisher) wants to be on the copyright "to protect their
investment." That in itself if another story all together!
> We have a contract that very clearly states that they have exclusive right
to publish. We, as authors, can't even sneeze without the publisher
> I have looked at several publications by APG members and I see some where
the copyright is owned entirely by the publisher then some where the
copyright is owned by the individual.
> Is there a certain protocol here? We applied for the copyright before we
found a publisher, if that makes any difference.
> I will appreciate your input.
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