Authors should receive extra discount, says Milnes-Smith

<p>Author contracts need updating to reflect the fact that writers are taking an increasingly active role in promoting their books, Philippa Milnes-Smith, president of the Association of Authors Agents, has said.</p><p>Milnes-Smith said that contracts, which have historically precluded supplying books to authors for resale, are in need of a revamp. &quot;If an author can make significant sales on his/her behalf should this not be actively facilitated?&quot; she said.</p><p>She also questioned the level of discount given to authors, saying: &quot;It used to be the case that authors received favourable discount terms on author copies&mdash;i.e. terms above standard trade discounts. But while publishers have extended further discounts to trade customers they largely haven&#39;t done so to authors, with the result that many authors now get worse discount terms than most customers.&quot;</p><p>Mark Le Fanu, general secretary of the Society of Authors, said the issue was one where practice had &quot;crept away&quot; from the contract. &quot;Authors these days should be free to sell copies and in practice they do&mdash;it&#39;s good for the publishers. Once upon a time they were a bit worried about offending booksellers but publishers are so promiscuous about who they sell to nowadays.&quot; However, he said he was &quot;happy&quot; with current discount levels, which are 50% as standard for trade books, although there are publishers which offer only 35%. &quot;Of course one would like 80%,&quot; he added.</p><p>A prominent author, who preferred not to be named, said: &quot;If a discount percentage is enshrined in the contract for &#39;direct author sales&#39;, it should be along the lines of &#39;at least x%&#39; so there&#39;s still room for some negotiation (for the author&#39;s benefit) should market forces change.&quot;</p>