Note: Contract terms have not been finalized at this time, but these are in the ballpark.
POV Press will register the copyright for all books and will have exclusive rights for five years, although authors can request rights reversion after one year if the book is not selling well. We will send the original proof of copyright to the authors because, frankly, it’s just incredibly cool and affirming to hold that piece of paper in your own two hands. It somehow makes it real in a way nothing else does.
Why so long? Because POV Press is still a business and needs to turn a profit. At the low royalty rate POV Press has set, most books simply won’t earn enough for POV Press in one or two years to make it worth the time we put in. If an author prefers to give up a greater share of royalties in exchange for a shorter term, we are more than happy to have that discussion.
In addition, we want to grow careers, not just single books. Trad publishers focus their marketing efforts on their newest books. Of course POV Press will actively promote new publications, but we will spend more effort working on author platforms, social media, and other efforts that allow authors to promote all their books, not just the most recent one.
Once authors regain control of their copyright, they cannot sell them to another publisher for a period of three years. If POV has spent monies that have not been recouped yet, such as on copyright registration and ISBNs, the author will need to repay those monies before they can regain copyright. In addition, POV Press will return copyright for books officially designated “out-of-print” (OOP) to the author.
The terms for regaining copyright will be in the author’s contract, very clearly stated.
It is generally considerably more difficult to regain copyright from trad publishers.
This means the author may only self-publish that work for a period of three years upon regaining their contract. If they sign with another publisher for that work in under three years, they must provide financial compensation (e.g., a portion of royalties) to POV Press. They also cannot sign over any rights to those works if they sign for another work. (In other words, a contract can’t be for rights to the new book Oh the Joy of Trad Publishing and their backlist, which may or may not specify titles.)
This is because POV Press has put time and money into the book with the expectation of financial return. It is reasonable for POV to expect compensation after taking the time to edit and polish a book, and assist in creating a professional cover and author platform.
Finally, POV Press only has the book-related copyrights. You want to create a line of plush toys? It’s all you! Authors can sell television rights, film rights, billboard rights, plush toy and key chain rights—all without the approval of POV, although POV does receive 1% of the profit if the author sells film or television rights.
In short, we make it easy for you to regain copyright for your own use, but we need protected from nurturing books to the brink of success with little financial return, then having a big publisher grab it and reap the rewards of our hard work and faith in you. We also need the exclusive rights for long enough to nurture the book, and your career, to success.
Authors retain a lot more creative control. POV Press will help spot plot holes, logical inconsistencies, and that sort of thing, but if you feel strongly that your main character needs to be a pot-smoking transgender monkey grinder, well, OK then. As long as it’s a good story, no one will insist that you change that to make it more “marketable.”
With that said, there is one dystopian trilogy I love. There is a sex scene at the end of the first book. Without that one scene (in three books), the series could be marketed to teens as well as adults. With that scene, it can be considered NA (New Adult, which is to say older teens) but not YA (Young Adult). That one scene, which could be removed and the content alluded to another way, removes the entire trilogy from a very hot market.
In that particular case, we would argue the case long and hard with the author. To be perfectly frank, a single, easily removed, sex scene is possibly the only instance in which we would insist on removing a scene for the simple reason that it has such an effect on marketing and potential profitability.
If the author has a truly compelling reason for including it in full, as opposed to alluding to it without any graphic details, then stay it shall. But if there is no truly compelling reason for graphic details, and the book could otherwise be marketed to a significantly larger audience, that could be a deal breaker.
Trad publishers undeniably have tons of experience and knowledge, but they also have a bottom line they have to meet. Indies can write and publish books with small, niche audiences and do very well with that. It’s simply a different model.
Cold, hard cash. As stated previously, POV Press takes 20% of the authors royalties. If you have an Amazon Kindle book at the 70% royalty rate, POV will end up with 14% of the total royalties (20% of your royalties) and Amazon will have 30%, leaving you with 56%. This is substantially more than you would receive with a trad publisher.
Trad publishers typically take 85-95% of total royalties. They have office spaces, big city salaries, and lots of other expenses (like acquisition and marketing departments) to cover.
POV Press doesn’t offer author royalties. Authors earn what they earn, and they are also responsible for having a cover designed. (Yes, we’ll help – but we don’t have a design staff at this point, and there are tons of online resources.) The one caveat is that the first $100 in royalties will go to POV Press to offset the costs of ISBNs, copyright registration, and other basic set-up and business-end expenses.
Trad publishers offer nice “advance” checks for books before they are ever printed, much less sold, but authors must “earn out” their advance before they ever see a royalty check, and many books do not do this. In addition, trad publishers focus their marketing efforts on new releases. POV needs our authors to be earning on their backlist as well as current releases every bit as much as the authors do.
Royalties will be paid out monthly, per standard POD practices, one month behind when Amazon, Smashwords, etc. pays POV Press. This allows us the time to correctly process everything. The standard POD practice is essentially that authors are paid monthly when there is $10 or more accrued that is due to them if they are paid electronically, or $100 or more if they need a check cut and mailed to them, and that is what POV Press will do.
Trad publishers vary, but twice a year is standard for royalty payouts. They are most often sent in June and December.