Thursday, March 22, 2007


This week I received a message from an author asking her fans not to buy her books from a certain publisher, because that publisher wasn’t paying her royalties.

As a writer who dreams of publication, this is a scary notion, that when I do get published, there is a chance I won’t get my royalties.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this problem. Last year a few authors took their publisher to court because of the same problems.

What is up with these publishers?

Should writers boycott these publishers who don’t pay royalties?

Why do you think publishers are withholding royalties?

What can a writer do when they find out they are?

SORMAG would like to know your opinion on this issue.


Dwan Abrams said...

Wow! That's rough. As a published author, I haven't been faced with not receiving checks. However, a lot of authors may not be aware of the many issues publishers face behind the scenes.

First of all, bookstores buy very few copies on a store by store basis. They typically only stock the books with major marketing dollars behind them.

Secondly, book return rates exceed 70% in many categories. For most authors, every 7 out of 10 books are returned. Ouch!

Thirdly, bookstores take up to 90 days to pay for the books. To get around it, bookstores will often return the remaining stock within 90 days.

Lastly, I don't think the authors should interfere with the sales of their books. It only hurts the author in the end. When it's time to negotiate a new contract or renegotiate an old one, the bottom line is all that matters.

LaShaunda said...


Thanks for this information. I had never heard of the bookstores sending books back until I joined RWA. That was shocking to me.

I didn't know you could return a book to the bookstore until a few years ago. I would never dream of returning a book, but many people do.

Anonymous said...

Over the last several years the stories of authors not receiving their royalties or their fair share of royalties is increasing.

I do understand the issue of returns that can have an impact on the accuracy of sales. That said, I don't believe an author should be in the position of having to force the publisher's hand in terms of receiving payment.

As authors it is our responsibility to keep as close a track on our finances as we possibly can. There are entities that will do audits of companies in order to minimize loss in revenue to the author. It may seem ungrateful of the author (biting the hand that feeds you), but if you believe you're being malnurished due to slow, improper or lack of feeding (receiving royalties) then you need to take care of your business.

I don't feel that publishers set out to hoodwink their clients, but sometimes things happen. It is your responsibility to minimize/eradicate these things from happening to you.

Linda Beed!

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