Not a “Proper” Book

The first thing I did upon receiving my publishing contract was to join the Society of Authors. Their website states that if you have a contract, you can join as an Associate Member, and the Society will get their solicitors to peruse your contract and offer advice on its legitimacy. Once your book is published, you can then join as a full member.

The contract vetting service was immensely helpful, and as an Associate Member I am able to attend the Society’s AGM. However, my second year of membership now approaches, and although my book is now out I am not able to upgrade to full membership. The rules state that e-books, self-published books and POD books are not eligible for full membership.

When my horror book was released, I also looked at joining the Horror Writers’ Association, which is an international organisation for professional horror writers. I am not eligible to join, however. Their rules state that in order to be eligible an author must have sold a book to a publisher for “professional rates” – which they define as a mininum advance and a minimum rate of royalties. Although I qualify with the royalties, I do not qualify with the advance. Most e-publishers – and indeed an increasing number of independent print publishers – do not pay advances.

Now that my crime book is also to be published as an e-book, I wondered whether the Crime Writers’ Association would include me as a member. The guidelines on their website only specify that one is eligible to join once one has had a crime novel published. However, further investigation revealed that I will not be eligible to join until I have had a “proper” print book published. Again, e-books don’t count.

Thus I have come to realise there exists a great deal of suspicion and ignorance about e-books in the publishing world. Most of this stems from people not understanding what e-books are about. It is true there are a lot of self-published e-books around, and self-published books have never been considered to be “proper” publications. But the number of legitimate e-publishers is growing, and a lot of people in the publishing world seem to be lumping all e-books under the “self-published” banner, without really understanding that the process of publication for an e-book with a legitimate e-publisher involves a rigorous editing process, and the author gets royalties as a percentage of the sale price every time the e-book is purchased, in just the same way as they would a print book.

Getting the book contract was one dream fulfilled. My dream of becoming a full member of a “professional” writing association remains, sadly, out of reach for the time being. Until, perhaps, the publishing industry decides to embrace e-authors as “proper” writers. Or I become so well known as a writer I have the “big players” queuing up to give me contracts and fat advances.

Hmm. Not sure at this stage which one is more likely. I think I see a flying pig…

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1 comment so far

  1. Daveg on

    That’s interesting. I can understand why this attitude to e-books was sensible maybe even just a year ago but in the light of statements from companies like Amazon that ebook sales will soon outstrip print editions these societies have some catching up to do if they want to stay relevant and representative.

    Royalties and advance is a different thing – they’re there to represent authors rights and getting paid properly is one of them. In general ebook royalties are scandalously low compared to print.


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