Ian K. Ellard: Profit-Sharing Authors

Image - iStockphoto: YuLiang11
Image – iStockphoto: YuLiang11

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson
Issues on the Ether: Profit-Sharing Authors

[su_dropcap size=”4″]I[/su_dropcap]f you remember what it was like back in the day – yes, John, back when my author picture was taken. We just have a bit more control now, and a bit more choice. So, ladies and gentlemen, I know normally someone would interject here and propose a toast to me. But let’s not be so silly. Let’s toast each other.

Ian K. Ellard
Ian K. Ellard

When London’s Ian K. Ellard won the first future-of-the-book-business essay competition run by The Bookseller, “The Toast“ ran on The FutureBook site the day before the US Thanksgiving. On one side of the pond, we were all buckling our brains into cockle hats. On the other side, our publishing industry associates were trying to get last-minute business bits done with us before “we gather(ed) together to ask the Lord’s blessing.”

In short, “The Toast” got past some folks’cin-cin.

And when our #EtherIssue live discussion last week on self-publishing challenges (summarized below) became such a boisterous, rich exchange of views, it occurred to me that we should return to Ellard’s piece for a singularly perceptive concept that might interest entrepreneurial authors.

My brand manager, Carabina Buckles. Carabina, you helped me find my message. You found the Me in me, and that’s the Me that goes into every banner ad. If that’s not worth a modest percentage of net receipts, I don’t know what is. Thank you.

What Ellard does in his wryly entertaining essay is imagine a moment in 2022 when he’s thanking the folks we sometimes call “author services” personnel—as his partners. Real partners. Monetized partners. Each with a cut of the action.

Ellard has an especially apt perch from which to swing this concept. He’s the communications manager at the UK’s Faber Academy at Bloomsbury House in London. This is probably the grandparent of publisher-based training programs. Its courses — all serious stuff (including an online edition of the flagship “Writing a Novel” course that lasts seven months) — are offered without any guarantee of interest by the independent mainstay Faber and Faber.

To be sure, in fact, that no conflict of interest occurred when the essay jury encountered Ellard’s essay (I’d met him, myself, at a Future-of-Foyles bookstore event), he submitted it anonymously.

I asked him to clarify the scenario his essay treats with full glasses and a toastmaster’s touch.

“The essay,” he said, “imagines a world where advances are rare, and the bulk of book publishing is done on a revenue-share basis. The way it works at the moment, an author starts with 100-percent stake in their book, and sells that stake, often 100 percent of it, to a publishing house for an advance. That used to be a good deal–publishers offered the only route to market, and were prepared to pay a wholesale price for the product. But now that barrier has come down, the author has more options for bringing their product to customers—they decide how to spend their 100 percent.”

Read the full post: PublishingPerspectives.com


Leave a Reply