I bet your agent owns a summer home in upstate New York.
FACT: Book store clerks at Barnes & Noble make more money per year than most published authors.
Why is this?
I went to Barnes & Noble and bought my first novel. My publisher required that the first edition be in hardback, so it cost me $23 (before taxes).
Then I walked to the Starbucks inside the same Barnes & Noble to see what I could buy for $23. I bought:
Large Mint Mocha Frappuccino,
Sweet Blueberry Scone,
Reese's Peanut Butter Cookie,
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie,
Premium Orange Nantucket Nectar,
Stuffed Pizza Pretzel,
Italian Wedding Soup,
Lemon Raspberry Square,
multigrain bagel with cream cheese,
and, for dessert, an Ultimate Chocolate Brownie.
I still had some change left over to tip the barista, who, incidentally, is paid more than me, and gets benefits.
As author, how much do I get from that sale? My contract, written by my publisher and agent, says I get (at best) 8% of the sale price. After my agent takes 15% of that, plus his usual expenses, I end up with just about exactly $1.50 (before taxes). I asked the Starbucks barista what I could buy for a buck fifty.
I was a nickel short of a small espresso.
By now you should be asking yourself: Why does the publishing system get to stuff its face with several giant meals, a half dozen desserts, plus a tip every time a reader buys your book, and you, the author, has to bum a nickel to buy a small espresso?
There's a better way. It's called Numina Press, dedicated to the proposition that every time a reader pays for your words, the author should get a sandwich.
At Randy's Sandwich Shop in Monterey, California, where I go for my writer's retreat, I get my favorite Specialty Sandwich, a hoagie, which is roast beef, ham, salami, American cheese, Swiss cheese, pickles, peppers, lettuce, and mayonnaise on a French roll for 4 bucks, plus a 50 cent tip.
My new novel goes straight to quality paperback for $16. For every sale with Numina, I get more than $4.50.
How do they manage this? Print-on-demand technology, which is revolutionizing the industry.
Traditional publishing had to print, say, 10,000 books in a big factory, store them in warehouses, truck them to bookstores, which might sell, say, 5,000, then the publisher had pay to ship them back.
Maverick print-on-demand publishers don't print the book until the reader orders it, at which point it is printed in 5 minutes on the cute new Espresso Book Machines and mailed straight to the reader at a fraction of the price. This way, it costs the publisher a lot less, the writer makes a lot more, and the reader doesn't pay for the publisher to pig out.
Numina's New Rule: The reader pays enough to buy a music CD. The author gets a sandwich. Fair?
Who's with me?