Author Topic: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan  (Read 7793 times)  

Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #125 on: June 08, 2017, 07:52:23 PM »
Fwiw Michael, my print-only deal last year was with a big 5, so there is likely still some leeway depending on imprint and editor etc.

Yeah, huge congrats on your print-only deal. I have one of those as well, but I had to go to an indie print to get one. I'm also in the VERY early stages of talking with Kensington about another one. I suspect your ebook sales are MUCH better than mine, and you sell in a more category than "epic fantasy"  (especially if you are the "B" I think you are). I have pretty good "print + ebook sales" but when looking at "just ebooks" I'm not even making the top 100 kindle fantasy author list (although I tend to be in the mid-30's for the "fantasy books" list that includes hardcovers, paperbacks, ebooks, and audio.

If you don't mind I'd like to send you a PM so we can talk more. I'm always interested in learning what various authors are able to.

In any case, certainly imprint and editor are going to have a lot to do with it. I'm just thrilled to hear there's been a recent print only deal as I thought those had pretty much dried up.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #126 on: June 08, 2017, 07:58:22 PM »
Good to see you back around these parts, Michael! Thanks for taking the time.
I get that, and I appreciate your candor and transparency. Hopefully I'll be lucky enough to wind up in shoes like yours someday, and I hope we can compare notes at a con if it comes to that. Drinks on future me!

I do hope for you, and all authors, similar success. We need more authors earning a good living. And as for the drinks...Nope...won't have it. Drinks are definitely on me!!
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Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #127 on: June 08, 2017, 08:03:42 PM »
You are welcome.  Are you a member of the DCWrite2Publish group?  I hope you'll be coming to the two seminars on Saturday (one on contracts one on money and publishing).  if you haven't heard those before they are two of the best ones Robin does...and for anyone in the D.C. area - they are 100% free. They are held at the Arlington Public Library and they will be running from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm this Saturday.

I am indeed a member and have been so for years. :) I was at one of the events in March. I'll miss the two this weekend but will be back for more. I'll make sure to say hi next time. Thanks to you and Robin for continuing to offer the learning opportunities.

Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #128 on: June 08, 2017, 08:05:05 PM »
Thanks for explaining everything, Michael.

The big question for non-hybrid Indies then is...does self-publishing with audible (I think it's a 7 year commitment now) screw up the potential for landing a deal with a publisher (or even generating any interest)? Audible appears to be a fantastic distribution channel.

You are very welcome. I do think doing a ACX deal would seriously jeopardize your chances at a big-five traditional deal. It probably isn't an issue with independent publishers, but I suspect the big-five will be "across the board" on their demand for audio - and they may be already.

Should we hold off or jump in? Is mainstream publishing even still looking at Indies, or are those deals so few and far between as to be meaningless? I think these are headaches we'd all like to have, but I think most of us would rather not shoot ourselves in the foot right out of the gate either.

Wish I knew.  The landscape, I'm sure, is much different than when I shifted from self to hybrid. I must confess I've not been "watching the deals" like I did in 2009 - 2011.  People on this forum probably have better intelligence than I do on that front. So, if a traditional deal is important to you - be VERY carful with your audio rights. But...as we see in my case, if the audio deal is lucrative enough, you don't NEED a traditional deal. That doesn't stop someone from WANTING one, though. And I can totally understand making a decision to take "less money" to get the credentials that come with being a big-five publisher. Each person is going to be different and will weigh certain aspects higher than others. So while there isn't a single "universal right answer" there probably is one for each individual author. The important thing...and the reason I posted in the first place is to be educated of all the moving pieces so you can make an informed decision.  I wish you well.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #129 on: June 08, 2017, 08:06:42 PM »
While I'm familiar with Michael's name, I'm new to his transparency (and patience).

His responses in this thread are heroic.

Michael, thanks for showing us how the sausage gets made.

You are very welcome. If you ever have any questions, don't hesitate to send me an email. (michael(dot)sullivan(dot)dc(at)gmail(dot)com.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #130 on: June 08, 2017, 08:08:18 PM »
I am indeed a member and have been so for years. :) I was at one of the events in March. I'll miss the two this weekend but will be back for more. I'll make sure to say hi next time. Thanks to you and Robin for continuing to offer the learning opportunities.

Well good for you! It's a great opportunity. Robin knows her stuff and is generous with sharing it at those sessions. Sorry to hear you'll miss Saturday's sessions, but glad you'll be back int he future.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #131 on: June 08, 2017, 08:09:53 PM »
What have we learned boys and girls? You never know who is watching.

Someone sent me a link ;-)

Seriously I don't mind the negativity - although I do mind when people don't know full details of a situation and try to smear the name of a woman who I love dearly and has done A LOT to help authors -- even at sacrificing her own interests while doing so.
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Offline This_Way_Down

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #132 on: June 08, 2017, 08:24:57 PM »
Someone sent me a link ;-)

Seriously I don't mind the negativity - although I do mind when people don't know full details of a situation and try to smear the name of a woman who I love dearly and has done A LOT to help authors -- even at sacrificing her own interests while doing so.
I love Robin. Both of you have helped so many aspiring authors - myself included. People should educate themselves on a situation before they open their mouth. 

Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #133 on: June 08, 2017, 08:28:28 PM »
I love Robin. Both of you have helped so many aspiring authors - myself included. People should educate themselves on a situation before they open their mouth. 

Glad to hear we've been of help. Robin's work for authors has been really astounding. She's reviewed contracts, given free seminars, and even formatted ebooks for people who had reverted rights and didn't know how to get an ebook made. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  She really goes the extra mile and is a huge author advocate.
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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #134 on: June 09, 2017, 06:45:50 AM »
The only 40% royalty that I'm familiar with is when an author self-publishes with ACX AND assumes 100% of the production costs AND agrees to exclusive distribution with Audible. Most authors can't afford the $10,000 or so upfront costs so they take a deal where they split the costs with the audio producer and that takes them to 20%.

I wanted to jump in on this one particular point from a couple of pages ago. A quote of $10,000+ for upfront costs is kind of high. The most I've paid for a novel is about $4K. That's for over 100,000 words. I think it's fair to say I didn't trade off on quality, given the sales I've seen from Audible.

Also, in another post someone mentioned the 7 year thing with ACX. To my understanding, that only applies in a royalty split.

Offline J.A. Sutherland

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #135 on: June 09, 2017, 07:36:56 AM »
I wanted to jump in on this one particular point from a couple of pages ago. A quote of $10,000+ for upfront costs is kind of high. The most I've paid for a novel is about $4K. That's for over 100,000 words. I think it's fair to say I didn't trade off on quality, given the sales I've seen from Audible.

Also, in another post someone mentioned the 7 year thing with ACX. To my understanding, that only applies in a royalty split.

I concur.

Things wind up, roughly, one finished hour for 10k words, so $10,000 would be pretty high production costs -- $1000/hour for 100k words or $500/hour for 200k words. Roughly.

There are many excellent narrators working for a fraction of that.

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Offline This_Way_Down

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #136 on: June 09, 2017, 07:48:40 AM »
I concur.

Things wind up, roughly, one finished hour for 10k words, so $10,000 would be pretty high production costs -- $1000/hour for 100k words or $500/hour for 200k words. Roughly.

There are many excellent narrators working for a fraction of that.
You seriously don't want to mess around with the narration. There is a good reason top narrators make good money. They can make all the difference between a hit and a flop. A good narrator will bring even a mediocre story to life. Fans of audio books know the difference and their number is growing.

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #137 on: June 09, 2017, 08:30:34 AM »
You seriously don't want to mess around with the narration. There is a good reason top narrators make good money. They can make all the difference between a hit and a flop. A good narrator will bring even a mediocre story to life. Fans of audio books know the difference and their number is growing.

Right and what we're saying is it's possible to pay less than $10,000-- significantly less-- and do very well. I ended up with an Audible Daily Deal on a book with a $250 PFH narrator. I'm talking from experience, not speculation.

Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #138 on: June 09, 2017, 08:34:09 AM »
I wanted to jump in on this one particular point from a couple of pages ago. A quote of $10,000+ for upfront costs is kind of high. The most I've paid for a novel is about $4K. That's for over 100,000 words. I think it's fair to say I didn't trade off on quality, given the sales I've seen from Audible.

$4K is a great price good for you. Did you use a SAG-AFTRA member? My narrator is one and that is why my price may be higher.  They have a provision that you have to pay into the member's retirement fund so when you combine their wage, retirement, studio rental, and editing/master fees it gets up there. Yeah, you can do it cheaper (with non-union members and with people recording with "in-home studios" some of them are quite good. When I self-publish I generally use the same tools that my traditional publishers uses (editors, narrators, studios, etc) which is probably me paying more than I could get away with but it gives me a sense of comfort.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #139 on: June 09, 2017, 08:36:56 AM »
There are many excellent narrators working for a fraction of that.

Oh, I'm sure there are. But I already have a narrator that's been used for all my other fantasy titles and my fans would string me up by my toes if I got rid of Tim Gerard Reynolds. So, yeah, my prices may be higher than what others can get and I should have mentioned that.  Same with ebook production. When self-published I recommend people try to keep their budget at $1,000 or less, but I routinely spend $3,500 (because of multiple editors and one of the best cover design artists in the business -- so yeah, my costs are higher than I would expect most people to shell out.
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #140 on: June 09, 2017, 08:38:29 AM »
You seriously don't want to mess around with the narration. There is a good reason top narrators make good money. They can make all the difference between a hit and a flop. A good narrator will bring even a mediocre story to life. Fans of audio books know the difference and their number is growing.

That's my feeling as well...and for me, my narrator is already established with my books and I couldn't walk away from him. Does he cost more, yeah. Is he worth it? Every dime and then some!
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Online GeneDoucette

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #141 on: June 09, 2017, 08:39:59 AM »
$4K is a great price good for you. Did you use a SAG-AFTRA member? My narrator is one and that is why my price may be higher.  They have a provision that you have to pay into the member's retirement fund so when you combine their wage, retirement, studio rental, and editing/master fees it gets up there. Yeah, you can do it cheaper (with non-union members and with people recording with "in-home studios" some of them are quite good. When I self-publish I generally use the same tools that my traditional publishers uses (editors, narrators, studios, etc) which is probably me paying more than I could get away with but it gives me a sense of comfort.

I didn't. and your point is certainly well-taken. There IS a soft middle there, between amateurish and full-on studio work. My first narrator used an in-home studio. I'm working with one now at $400 PFH who is partnered with the owner of a recording studio, so the finished product is professionally edited and polished. There are options, certainly. And the 40% is pretty nice.

Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #142 on: June 09, 2017, 08:41:25 AM »
Also, in another post someone mentioned the 7 year thing with ACX. To my understanding, that only applies in a royalty split.

Nope.  Not true.  (This has come up before, but I'll quote from the terms again just so people see it again.)  Also, I have books with Authors Republic and they too have a seven year term in their contract because they use ACX for part of their distribution, although that contract appears to be negotiable.

This is from the Audiobook License and Distribution Agreement:

2a.IF YOU INDICATE ON ACX THAT YOU ARE GRANTING AUDIBLE EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS IN THE AUDIOBOOK, THE FOLLOWING TERMS APPLY:

You grant Audible the exclusive license to use, reproduce, display, market, sell and distribute the Audiobook throughout the Territory in all formats now known or hereafter invented from the date you accept this Agreement until the date that is 7 years from such date (such 7 year period, the "Initial Distribution Period")....

2b. IF YOU ELECT TO GRANT AUDIBLE NON-EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS IN THE AUDIOBOOK, THE FOLLOWING TERM APPLIES:

You grant Audible the non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, display, market, sell and distribute the Audiobook throughout the Territory in all formats now known or hereafter invented from the date you accept this Agreement until the date that is 7 years from such date (such 7 year period, the "Initial Distribution Period")....



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Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #143 on: June 09, 2017, 08:45:26 AM »
Did you use a SAG-AFTRA member?/quote]

Just as an FYI, per ACX, SAG-AFTRA members have to charge a minimum of $225 per finished hour.  (And that's a final, complete, ready-to-go product)  So you could potentially have a 100,000-word novel narrated by a SAG-AFTRA member and only pay $2,500 for it.


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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #144 on: June 09, 2017, 08:46:17 AM »
Nope.  Not true.  (This has come up before, but I'll quote from the terms again just so people see it again.)  Also, I have books with Authors Republic and they too have a seven year term in their contract because they use ACX for part of their distribution, although that contract appears to be negotiable.

This is from the Audiobook License and Distribution Agreement:

2a.IF YOU INDICATE ON ACX THAT YOU ARE GRANTING AUDIBLE EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS IN THE AUDIOBOOK, THE FOLLOWING TERMS APPLY:

You grant Audible the exclusive license to use, reproduce, display, market, sell and distribute the Audiobook throughout the Territory in all formats now known or hereafter invented from the date you accept this Agreement until the date that is 7 years from such date (such 7 year period, the "Initial Distribution Period")....

2b. IF YOU ELECT TO GRANT AUDIBLE NON-EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS IN THE AUDIOBOOK, THE FOLLOWING TERM APPLIES:

You grant Audible the non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, display, market, sell and distribute the Audiobook throughout the Territory in all formats now known or hereafter invented from the date you accept this Agreement until the date that is 7 years from such date (such 7 year period, the "Initial Distribution Period")....

I stand corrected. And thanks! That's helpful.

Offline This_Way_Down

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Re: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways - from Michael J Sullivan
« Reply #145 on: June 09, 2017, 09:42:04 AM »
That's my feeling as well...and for me, my narrator is already established with my books and I couldn't walk away from him. Does he cost more, yeah. Is he worth it? Every dime and then some!
Luckily, I struck gold twice with two narrators over three series. Both are incredible. I have never enjoyed reading my own work. But it was amazing to listen to it read by a skilled narrator. I've always thought his talent was far superior to the material I provided. As soon as I hit play, it was like listening to a story I've never head before.