In May 2012, author Ann Voss Peterson guest posted on JA (Joe) Konrath's A Newbies Guide to Publishing Blog. Her post, titled Harelquin Fail, revealed that she earned 11 cents of a $4.50 cover price, so in other words, she earned 2.4% per every copy sold.
Simple math tells us that the book, if sold at $4.50 cover price at the time of release, would have earned Harlequin approximately $805,756.60, while Ms. Peterson earned $20,375.22 (as of the blog post's date).
So, out of close to a million dollars in sales, Ann Voss Peterson earned a little over $20,000.00, and SHE's the one that wrote the book? Hmm.
Something seemed so not right and really off about this, and even more so, now that a class action suit has been brought against Harlequin (please see Joe Konrath's Harlequin Fail Part 2).
I'm no lawyer, however my understanding of Joe's post is that Harlequin sub-licensed e-book rights to a Harlequin-owned company for low rates, thus resulting in Harlequin maintaining a majority of sales earned, via the combined earnings of their other company and their own e-book sales agreement, while paying authors a ridiculously low percentage for sales.
Since I read Ms. Peterson's initial post, I've asked myself, "Would I, could I, hand my books over to someone else to produce and sell them for 11 Cents per copy?"
As badly as I wanted to be published and in the time-frame her book was initially released, you betcha! As long as I remember, I've wanted to write books for publication, so I'm sure that back then I would have signed that contract, swallowing that triple-barbed hook deep, and more likely, as I tried to sling the hook out about now, would be gasping for air and bleeding profusely from the gills (if I had them, of course).
Now, today, with the surge of Independent Publishing and E-Book Self-Publishing possibilities, "No way in Hades, ma'am."
JA Konrath and others have paved the way. For the last three years, while working way too much overtime, I've read and researched what has worked for them and what to do, and in a few cases, what NOT to do (an entirely different blog post for another day).
Will I get it "right," right away? Doubtful.
Building a backlist of books to publish will take quite some time, but eventually, right or not, I'm determined to get it, without assistant from an epic-fail publisher like Harlequin.