The Author’s Guild has issued a formal letter asking for significant changes to “standard” publishing contracts. Read the entire letter here: https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/guilds-letter-to-publishers-calls-for-real-change-to-book-contracts/
There are some valid points here. Our publishing house already provides contracts that allow for 50% of Ebook revenue. However, the Author’s Guild’s claim that “without serious contract reform the professional author will become an endangered species…” is a bit humorous and is blind to the facts on the ground. The facts are that the professional author IS being squeezed, but not by the publishers that are being addressed by this letter. They are being squeezed by the vast onslaught of DIY publishing firms and the many self-published authors that treat the book/ebook as a commodity and price them as such. They are being squeezed by the very members of their own guild that refuse to believe that pricing their product near zero or giving away their content, in order to drive traffic to their websites, impacts pricing and market conditions and builds in a price expectancy for content that is unsustainable in a “professional” atmosphere.
The squeeze is real and all involved in the publishing industry are feeling it. But the squeeze is not primarily the result of predatory contracts by the publishers. Those contracts should be among the least of the Author’s Guild’s concerns.
Here is the AAP’s response. Which I believe to be appropriate. (Disclaimer: We are a member of the AAP)
“We are surprised and somewhat dismayed that the Author’s Guild is using an ‘open letter to members of the Association of American Publishers’ to publicly promote its campaign to address what it calls ‘unfair terms in publishing contracts.’ AAP often works closely with the Guild on public policy matters concerning freedom of speech and copyright, and the Guild is well aware that contracts between authors and publishers are considered ‘business matters’ that are outside the scope of AAP’s work as a trade association and left to the sole discretion of individual AAP members because they could potentially raise antitrust and other market competition concerns. AAP has never proposed any kind of standard or model terms for author-publisher contracts, and generally has no role in connection with the business arrangements between individual authors and publishers. We hope that the prominent mention of AAP in the Guild’s open letter to publishers, in which it was joined by members of the Authors Coalition and the International Authors Forum, will not mislead anyone to expect or believe otherwise.”
– Allan Adler, General Counsel and Vice President, Government Affairs, AAP