Derivative rights are. quite simply, the rights to your story once it is adapted into another form. The most classic example of this is when a books/story is “adapted” into a screenplay and then a movie. Most of the movies in theaters today were adapted from a screenplay which was adapted from an author’ s book at one point. If the author was not careful when he/she originally entered into an agreement with book’s publisher, the derivative rights may be lost or limited. For that reason, it is critical that authors always ensure that their agreement with a publisher leaves full derivative rights solely with the author. Below is a typical clause that properly leaves all derivative rights with the author. It is pulled, with permission, from a standard Page Publishing agreement:
Royalties Derived from Derivative Works: Any derivative works of Author’s original Work (screenplays, motion picture/TV scripts, etc.) shall be the sole and exclusive property of Author. Any royalties or monetary compensation resulting therefrom during the term of this Agreement shall be the sole property of Author with Publisher having no claim thereto.
Thus, it is very important that any publishing agreement you enter into have such a clause which specifically leaves all derivative rights with you, the author.
As of today, ePub sales (digital versions of a book for devices like the Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle or the B&N Nook) account for greater than 50% of all book sales. These are generally accepted industry statistics and are verified by the sales results at Page Publishing. While this may not be great for people in the printing industry, it is great for authors. If you recall, the royalty/fee split to authors and publishers when a print edition is sold through Ingram is very minimal- a dollar or two at the most. This is because Ingram will only distribute books if the author/publisher sells them to Ingram at a 55% discount off of the retail price. This means that a $20 book will generate only $9 in revenue from Ingram. After deducting the print costs, only five or six dollars remain.
For eBooks on the other hand, it is a much different story. The largest sellers of eBooks- Amazon and Apple- take only a 30% commission from the sale and leave the entire remainder for the author/publisher. Thus, a $20 eBook sale results in $14 in profit! It is thus easy to see why authors and publishers love eBook sales.
Many people who believe that they are better “authors” than you will mock you for your willingness to invest in your own book. They will say things like “the money should flow to the author, not from the author” or that “a real author never has to pay to publish his/her work.” We believe that no one should ever have to pay for health insurance or for food when they are hungry, but unfortunately this is not the way the real world works. There are only a handful (4 or 5) of major publishers left in the United States, and if you are extremely lucky and well-known, they might publish your book with no cost to you. These publishers are not in the business of taking risks however, and if they are not confident that your book will be profitable, they will not consider publishing you. This timidness has been compounded lately by the fact that several of them have taken huge risks- and lost- on some high profile authors who it seemed were sure to sell books (Hillary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo).
Thus, if you want to see your book get published, you will need to participate in the investment required. There is nothing wrong with this, despite what some self-proclaimed “authors” may say. Whether you use a vanity press, a self-publisher or some hybrid thereof like Page Publishing, , there is nothing wrong with paying professionals to do those things you likely can’t handle on your own (designing your book cover, typesetting your book, editing it, distributing it, etc.). In fact, it is common sense if you really think about it- if you believe your work is quality and has potential, then why would you not be willing to invest in it yourself? Most successful business people had an idea which they thought had merit, and they invested in their idea to become successful. Thus if you believe in yourself, believe in your book, and want to get it published, don’t hesitate to have a little “skin in the game” and put your money to use to see your dream realized in the form of the the publication of your book. This is as awesome privilege that not many people get to experience. Once you have done all of the hard work in writing your book, take that last and final step and see to it that it gets published- even if you have to spend a few dollars to do so. Don’t just sit around waiting for some savior to come and do all of the work for you for free, because it will not likely happen. Make every page count during your journey through the publishing process!
There are a variety of self-publishers out there, all with varying fee structures and packages. Some have what appear to be very low costs but take a large percentage of royalties, while others require a very high up-front investment and a lower percentage of royalties. Whichever path looks right for you, be sure to have clarity as to exactly what is included in the services your are purchasing. Many so called self-publishers will hook the unsuspecting author in with apparently low costs to get started, only to later spring the news on the author that editing or some other service the author thought he/she had purchased is needed and will cost a large additional fee. Another item to be wary of is the publishing company that holds hostage the work they perform for you. One very unscrupulous company out there has language hidden in their contract whereby the unsuspecting author is required to pay an additional fee of over $1000 in order to obtain digital files of their own book! These unfortunate authors usually learn this upon trying to part ways with the publisher and move to another publisher (because of the horrible experience they had with the first publisher)- a last and final insult added to injury. Thus it is critical that you are contractually assured the rights to not only your book but to any materials prepared by your publisher that are related to your book (high-resolution PDF page files for publishing, cover art, etc.). Publishers like this try to “low ball” you initially with an appealing fee to get started, but then they will gouge you down the road with add-on fees and by holding your work hostage.
Also be wary of low fee structures that brag about the low cost that the publisher will extend to you when you order copies of your own book from the publisher. These publishers are not really publishers at all, but rather they are printers masquerading as publishers. A real publisher, like Page Publishing of New York City, does not own a printing facility and has no interest in printing books and selling them back to the author. A real publisher’s only interest is in selling the author’s book to the public at large, for the benefit of the author and the publisher. Don’t be fooled by a printer in disguise who holds themselves out as a “publisher” and advises you to buy large quantities of your own book so that you can sell them at book signings, church groups, flea markets, etc. The whole point of being a published author and working with a publishing house- aside form the pride that goes along with it- is for you to not have to engage in actually selling your book yourself- that is the publisher’s job!
Most authors might not realize it, but when it comes to hard-copy editions of a book, publishers do not sell books directly to book stores. Instead, publishers work through an intermediary distributor/wholesaler. There are really only two such wholesalers in the entire United States- Ingram (the largest) and Baker & Taylor. When a bookstore wishes to stock a book on its shelves, it orders that book through the wholesaler who then in turn obtains the book from the publisher. For example, if Page Publishing is your publisher and a particular book stores wishes to stock 50 copies of your book on its shelves, it would place the order through Ingram who would purchase the book from Page Publishing at a wholesale discount- typically 55% off the retail price. Thus if your book is retailing for $19.95, Ingram would buy the book from your publisher for $8.98 and then sell it to the bookstore at a markup of 10% to 20% above that. As the author, you and your publisher are really only concerned with the price received form Ingram- it does not matter to you how much Ingram sells the book to a bookstore for, nor does it matter how much that bookstore sells the book to the public for. Your revenue is $8.98 before printing costs and commission or royalty to the publisher. Assuming a cost of $2.00 for printing and 20 cents to the publisher, your profit on this hard-copy book would be $6.78.
This is a common question asked by new authors- should I publish my book in only ePub format or should I go the extra mile and publish a print edition as well? The answer is most definitely that you should print both editions if possible. While it is true that roughly 50% of all books sales now take place in digital format (i.e. downloaded to iPads, Nooks, Kindles, etc.) and this is an astounding number, it still means that the other 50% of all book sales take place in the print realm. Why would anyone knowingly forsake 50% of their potential client base? Some authors do because they are so persuaded by cheap-and-easy publishers who do not have the ability to distribute book sin print, and thus they urge the simpler (and cheaper) route of ePub only distribution.
A true full-service publisher, like Page Publishing of New York City, will have an established print distribution network, and should be an authorized/approved publisher with Ingram or Baker & Taylor (the two leading book wholesalers in the United States). Don’t be fooled into accepting print distribution through Amazon alone. Amazon is great and they move a large number of print books- probably more so than retail book stores- book you still need retail books store distribution as well. Remember- your book deserves as much exposure and distribution as possible. Demand it all!