UPDATE: I neglected to include the link to The Bookseller whose original reporting I quote below. The link is now included!
As if the signs were not clear enough that the world of trade publishing is changed forever, Ed Victor comes along and proves it pretty definitely. It’s not the scale, which is modest, more it is the fact that this kind of operation is but one of many sure to crop up over the next few years. They makes sense, they will no doubt bring in more money for agents and authors and they are fine ideas.
From an author’s perspective I wonder on the 50/50 split of proceeds though. For one, the new operation will be by far best business at an agency in terms of margin (after all, once the digitization costs are repaid the money coming in will be almost entirely profit). What’s more, Victor makes clear no extra staff will be recruited and agencies don’t have the overheads a publisher does. Given that and given the likely emergence of a 50/50 split with publishers, why would an author settle for 50/50 with their agent?
In any case, fascinating move:
The agency is not taking on any new staff, but will work with digital production company Acorn to create and distribute the content in the correct format. The agency has also retained J K Rowling’s joint publicist Mark Hutchinson to market the titles through social media sites.
The titles will all be available on online booksellers including Amazon.co.uk and the iBookstore, with Victor confirming he intends to adopt the agency model. He said: “I think it will all be on the agency model, we’ll give up 30%, then we will give up another percentage to Acorn”. The POD side will be through Gardners, with print carried out by Antony Rowe.
He said net receipts will be divided on a 50/50 basis between author and agency, once production costs have been recouped out of the first receipts. This is in contrast to the 25% royalty rate understood to be offered by most major publishers.
Victor described the lines separating different roles within the industry as being “blurred”, and, looking ahead, comparing publishers and agents’ ability to compete in a changing industry, he said: “I’m certainly lighter on my feet and maybe that’s the answer for the future.”