First Cup of Coffee – August 9, 2022

Some more figures of what some authors are NOT making in traditional publishing, along with thoughts on agents – how to tell the good ones from bad (and there ARE good ones!), red flags, and how the business works.




Transcript
00:03.63
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Delicious. Ah today is Tuesday August Ninth Eight Nine sounds like a good date to me. Um, yeah, so I’m wondering. What I have to say today some mornings oh look if you’re on video. You’ll have an Isabel sighting in the background Isabel’s out here in the secret garden with me is it. She pretty. She’s a blue smoke Maine coon cat I love how she’s got that. Faintest hint of blue to her fur. So yeah, she’s feeling sprightly this morning. She’s the the queen the main Coon Queen cat she’s sixteen sixteen and a half now and she loves going out and messing around in the garden. So um, yeah, you know some mornings I come out here I have my notes some mornings I have lots of thoughts in my head other mornings I’m sort of like a a nice mellow blank today’s a nice mellow blank I’m feeling. Nicely relaxed. Got more stuff done yesterday kind of catching up on my list. Ah I’ve noticed how the lists have been creeping into the books. Ah, they always have so I suppose that’s just like one of my things. But I notice that they are in the covenant of thorns books they’re in the bonds of magic books. Not so much the one I’m writing not so much in shadow wizard but I got my two k on shadow wizard yesterday I got it in. Reasonable amount of time. Got it early in the day so that was great. Um I’m let’s see doing pretty well I think um, little shy of 48,000 words which I know.

02:31.97
jeffekennedy
That’s like I’m past midpoint I still have half the book to go but it’s feeling downhillish at this point I’m also reading a book I’m really enjoying ah and I’m hoping that I will be able to recommend it to you? ah. I need to get back on putting reviews on good reads Amazon book bub. Ah I kind of fell off of doing it I don’t know why I don’t know maybe I just sort of ran out of time but I would like to get back into doing that. Because I’ve read several good books lately and I say them on here but I feel like that’s fairly transient so I would like to go ahead and get that going again. Um I did have some um reaction to yesterday’s podcast a few different people asked me if they had heard correctly when I said that um and and it’s it’s really ebooks. That I’m talking about where an author can earn $3 a book $5 a book maybe depending on the price point. Um whereas yes from trash ah print books. We don’t earn nearly so much from ah and they’re already. They’re so expensive to produce. That’s the thing about being a self-published author is the print books are expensive because we can’t do it in bulk. We don’t have access to a printing press the the pod cost is fairly high. Ah, the like Amazon or Ingram delivery cost is fairly high so we are not able to get as much of a percentage from those not without pricing the book even higher and I think none of us wants to do that. It already feels like a. Egregious to charge you know like $18 for a trade paperback. But even when that happens a lot of times like I’m only making ¢50 on the book or something like that. It’s um, it’s fence service. It’s having print books is because. Some of you still want print books which is fine. That’s no problem at all. It’s just um, where you where you make the bulk of your income is on the ebooks if we didn’t have those we probably wouldn’t be able to do it. We wouldn’t be able to make sell enough books to make an income to live on.

05:11.57
jeffekennedy
But but yes, um, for tread publishing whether it’s print or ebook a dollar per book. Maybe that’s that’s good If you’re getting that much a lot of people are not getting that much and um. Yeah, it’s just a. It’s the way it is. It’s just a sucky cut. Um.

05:40.44
jeffekennedy
Um, yeah, it’s you know they they hold all the cards basically and you know and even then you know you’re almost certainly paying you know 15% of that then to your agent. So. That that could come before or after the dollar a book but you know a dollar goes down to ¢85. It’s um, unless you’re selling a whole lot of books. It’s just hard to make money to live on in trad. And so it goes and I’ve recently learned of a major publisher. Not one of the big 5 or big 4 um, it’s sounding like the merger is going to be improved. People are sad about it. But. And our current um climate of corporations running the country. It seemed almost inevitable running the world. Maybe so yeah, a lot of writers were lamenting it yesterday on social media. Isabel’s down next to me here. Isabel’s not concerned. She says cats don’t worry about acquisitions and mergers know course Pat cats are also arguably parasites is that right. She says as long as the cat food keeps coming. You know that’s why I write the books is to feed the cats. Yes yes, Minerva Spencer says that Isabel has a smoker’s meow. Ah she does kind of she. Um, she’s totally deaf now. So she has to be very loud to be assured that she is meowing and it’s hell on the vocal chords. Yeah, so um, so yeah, those are the breaks. What was I saying about the oh this other publisher. So. So those are the big ones and that’s why we say the big but then there are other like midsize presses or smaller presses. So you know like there other ones are like source books Kensington um. Oh I think the mosquito candles making me sneeze.

08:14.67
jeffekennedy
Who I tried to pause and then at impa. Sorry let me scoot this away I was clever this time and came out and lit the candle before I got out here and gave it a little while to drive the mosquitoes away that seems to be the effective method. So how? yeah like Tachyon there used to be other ones you don’t like skyhorse and all these others anyway, those are not the great big ones. That people mean when they’re talking about the big houses Isabel’s checking out that candle now. Yeah stinky here now she’s sleeping leaving in a huff we haven’t had um cat wrangling. On the podcast in a while. So um, so yeah I recently learned of another publisher that’s not 1 of the biggies. But that’s well known, especially in romance publishing that is offering a terrible percentage on ebooks and. 1 of my friends at Apollycon who has a very successful series told me that last year and she was sad about it that she made about $1400 in the whole year and I told somebody else this and they were like. That author but her books are doing amazing and I was like yeah um and her agent says that she doesn’t really understand the contract. Um, when my friend asked about well shouldn’t I be getting. Royalties for like the audio books or the foreign rights and stuff that our agent was like oh well I don’t know um and and I said to her friend I said that’s a really bad sign you know and it’s like. I love that people come to me for advice but I think sometimes people regret coming to me for advice because and you should all know this I’m happy to talk to you like at conventions or you know over drinks are many things I will say to in person that I will not say on the podcast. But. You know if if you do ask me for advice I’m I’m going to give it to you pretty straight and I told her you’ve got to leave this agent if your agent doesn’t understand your contract then this is a problem. It’s a problem.

10:56.41
jeffekennedy
Red flag and she says oh I know but you know she’s stuck with me. She took me when no one else would and you know I owe her and you guys I hear this story so many times and in its. Hard I know it’s hard because we love our agents. We do feel that um, it’s like the first love we. We are grateful to them and they it does feel like they took a chance of us when no one else would. And I definitely felt that way about my first agent and I don’t know why if I would have left her if she hadn’t gone into like a total spiral and left the agency and went to an agency where I couldn’t sign the contract. Um. I don’t know what I would have done I’m glad I didn’t have to make that choice leaving my second agent was a really hard choice even though I was terribly disappointed in him and I had gone through a couple of um, like performance improvement plans with with him. Which is that’s why yeah so I spoke too soon on the mosquitos that one went right for my nose. Um, that’s my corporate America coming out but it’s like okay you know I’m not happy with how this is working and so we’d come up with these things that you know for him to do. And then he didn’t do those things I was working with the senior agent in the firm. That’s the other thing about this from that I’m talking about is that her agent just has her own agency. There’s not even a senior agent to go to and so which is the first advice I would give is is if you are. Maybe not the first but still if you are unhappy with what your agent is doing or if you’re wondering if you should be managing expectations in some way you go to the senior agent at the agency and say here’s what I want and this is not what’s happening. And you know what do you recommend and and the senior agent in mine was very receptive but my agent still didn’t still didn’t do it and and break and that breakup felt like it felt like a divorce. It really did it was um, hugely emotional. My friends got sick of listening to me but it had to be done and and I feel like I’m still seeing echoes of of the ways in which he messed up my career.

13:48.74
jeffekennedy
Um, and and it’s very true and I’m sort of going off on this whole agent tangent I didn’t mean to but it’s probably worth revisiting. You know the the old adage that a bad agent is worse than no agent at all is really true and I feel like spending several years with my bad agent. And still seeing effects. But I’m still digging out of that and I love my current agent Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost literary agency who is unfortunately not taking more clients I I even asked her at Apollycon when ah. Because I was thinking maybe I could get my friend to move over to her if I could get my friend to give up this loyalty to this terrible agent and I I feel very comfortable calling this agent terrible if your agent says they don’t understand the contract I mean that’s literally their job. So I asked Sarah oh are you still not taking new clients or I said are you taking new clients and she actually physically flinched. She’s like and she said she’s just not able to keep up with all of her current clients and she’s still sort of digging out of that pandemic hole on that as well. so unfortunately and me someday but um so yeah why is my friend only making $1400 a year. She got paid twice in you know every six months and she said it was about $700 each time. And yeah yeah I mean she’s not gonna be out on the streets because she has a salaried spouse which is great but it’s disheartening when you have a very successful series. I mean I’m not kidding when I say this is a successful series. It’s it’s gotten amazing reviews and it’s very well known and how is she only getting this much money. Ah, it’s it’s criminal really. So. Um, I’m never going to be 1 of those people and there’s one in particular I can think of who like in in SFWA on discord and so forth or the forums every single time someone says something about an agent. This guy has to pop up and. Do a blast against how horrible agents are and ah it’s just like dude but he’s also I don’t know um, unpleasant in his opinions in many ways.

16:35.88
jeffekennedy
So I don’t think that all agents are terrible I think that agents are very helpful to a career particularly if you’re dealing with things like print and foreign rights and I don’t believe that hiring a lawyer is the same thing but um, but there. There are bad agents out there and they they gave give the good agents a bad name and so there it is um otherwise let’s see what’s going on I I feel like this is this is exciting news for me and not important to anything else. But I got my nails done yesterday and we may have gotten I’m trying to show you. It’s kind of better there. We go. Ah, we may have gotten a green that I really like since this is why birthday month and green is my favorite color I was trying to get a good green and. For some reason. It’s really hard to find a good green nail polish so much good green in nature. Not so much. It must be really hard to reproduce a green pigment because it’s hard to find good greens and clothing too. So I’m very happy with my green nails small things. Right? Ah, yeah, so I went long yesterday. So I think it’s okay to go shorter today I will um yeah, talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

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