So what the hell is silly ol' Nancy talking about, hmm?
Well, between this post on Dean Wesley Smith's site, and this post on J. Daniel Sawyer's site, you'll know exactly what I'm getting at. And it ain't pretty. (I could segue into some agents setting up as publishers, but I'll digress at this point...)
Back when I regularly posted on the Absolute Write Water Cooler, one of the things I learned from the pro writers there was the gross versus net debate on publishing contracts.
In a word: Gross.
Why? Go read the D. W. Smith post (it's shorter), and I'll wait...Okay? Okay. When hubby and I ran a small homebrew supply shop back in the 1990s, we needed to subtract out all expenses to come up with a profit (yes: we made small profits for the short period of time it was a going concern :-)).
This is the same idea with arriving at the net price. The net price is figured after expenses. (Duh, right? Stay with me, dear readers. :-)) In the supply shop example, we had to take into account the goods we bought, the rent on the store, the electricity, etc. Except that it seems in publishing, and other creative arenas, expenses can mean just about anything. Look at Mr. Sawyer's post, near the end, where he describes a contract he recently saw for 60% royalties (nice, right?) on net - after a shitload of things are taken into account, like office supplies, travel, ad nauseum. (Seriously. Nauseous.)
Why would anybody agree to these terms? I'll tell you, because I used to think the same way: 1) we've been told this is how business is done, and 2) we'll do anything to have our stuff published. I'm not trying to be superior here or anything; far from it. I can be sucked into anything just like anyone else. (Ask my husband, especially just recently.)
Two things to leave you with.
Back in the early 1950s, Jimmy Stewart became one of the first (if not the first) actors to get a percentage of his films based on gross profit. It was a risk for him, but he (wisely) figured that since he and his films were popular, he'd make a boatload of money that way. He was right.
In one Three Stooges (stay with me :-)) short, the boys win a ton of money in the lottery. They immediately go out and buy fancy clothes, tons of champagne, and set up digs at a fancy hotel. Later in the episode, a telegram arrives, listing all the taxes and dubious fees that were taken out of their winnings - dear readers, they owed the government money!
Be careful out there.
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