SoA to recommend authors seek higher digital royalties

<p>The Society of Authors&#39; plans to increase its recommendations for e-royalties to make them &quot;more favourable&quot; for writers. But the proposals have already been called &quot;unrealistic&quot; by publishers.</p><p>Currently the society&#39;s guide for e-books says authors &quot;should receive at least 25% [royalties], preferably 35%, rising at an agreed level of sales. Some publishers offer 50% of net receipts, most others offer 15% to 25%. Resist anything less than that.&quot;</p><p>But general secretary Mark Le Fanu said the society was reviewing its general stance on e-books, and that 25% was not &quot;good enough&quot; in cases where the publisher was selling the book through a third party. &quot;This figure will certainly not be revised downwards. We are looking at revising it upwards,&quot; he said, although he declined to specify what figure would be recommended. He added: &quot;If e-book sales match or overtake print sales, we certainly think there should be a steeply rising scale for author royalties, as they have in ordinary books. We think the scale should be more favourable to the author.&quot;</p><p>Le Fanu said publishers were being &quot;extremely elusive&quot; about the economics of digital publishing, which made it hard to &quot;establish more facts&quot;. But he argued that once the initial investment in a digital programme had been made, the cost of creating and selling an e-book would be &quot;tiny&quot;.&nbsp; <br />But a publisher who did not wish to be identified said that authors were &quot;being completely unrealistic&quot;. &quot;They just don&#39;t understand the margins we are working to,&quot; the publisher said. &quot;There has to be a realistic approach to this. Even if the digital product becomes the primary edition, it&#39;s still unrealistic.&quot;</p><p>Pan Macmillan digital director Sara Lloyd said it was &quot;premature &#8232;. . . to look at a revision to the rate at this stage in the market&#39;s evolution, but of course we will discuss authors&#39; concerns and questions openly with them&quot;. But she added that digital royalty rates should not be looked at in isolation. &quot;When we work out the economics we look at the overall model, including print, and what will work for the business.&quot; Henry Volans, head of Faber Digital, said: &quot;One of the main things as I see it is to allow the market to develop and not be hung up about royalty rates&mdash;that is much less important than getting on and publishing.&quot;</p><p>David Roth-Ey, director of digital business development at HarperCollins, said the publisher&#39;s royalty structure was &quot;very fair&quot;, as it works on an &quot;even-handed&quot; flat rate system. He added: &quot;It is one we will be looking at reviewing in time to come, but we&#39;re in line with rates that are paid by other publishers. We offer generous royalty rates&mdash;I don&#39;t think we are cheating anyone.&quot;&nbsp; </p>