In Publishing Perspectives, novelist and book marketing expert M. J. Rose declares, “Publishers must change the way authors are paid.” Her point is that now publishers expect authors to do most of the work of marketing their books but the pay rate is still the same.
She writes, “Accordingly, it’s blatantly and patently unfair for us to invest in our own books and then wait for our advances to earn out based on the same royalties rates we’ve always gotten. Be it $2,000 or $20,000, the money we invest should be discounted from the advances we’re paid, allowing us to earn royalties faster based on an honest up-front expenditure by the publisher. And, it goes without saying, we should be be getting a higher royalty rate. After all, we’re doing more than writing our books, we’re business partners as well.”
The challenge here is that the authors who have the clout to insist on this are the ones who don’t need it—the publishers do put a lot of marketing money behind their star authors. Therefore it’s going to have to be a grassroots movement, supported by fair smaller publishers. The thing working in our favor as authors is that now we have an alternative in the form of various types of self-publishing. Increasingly, authors may ask, “If we’re going to do all the marketing work and spend our own money on marketing, why not go the self-publishing route, distribute online only, and keep all of the profits instead of getting 10% to 20% of a publisher’s net?”
(for information on how to market your book, see "Your Writing Coach," published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon and other online and offline retailers.)