As anybody who’s been anywhere near a ‘regular’ publishing house will attest, there is such a thing as a royalty ceiling, and it is rarely a very comfortable ceiling. Unless you’re a dwarf. Without legs. Around 10% if you’re considered an ‘important’ author, or if you’re very venerable etc. More like 5% if you’re only one of those things, or neither.
It’s an issue of overheads – the other percents account for a thousand thousand English Lit graduates’ wages, and the commercial publishing sector’s low rates are therefore a bit justifiable, if not exactly just. At Silkworms, though, we reckon there’s another way. Probably because we don’t got no overheads, really.
No, on those rare but important occasions we decide to commission a book we intend to sell, our thought process goes a little something like this: can’t offer advances. Enjoy what we do. Want to show how thrilled we are to have you. Have two, three, four, maybe even FIVE GODDAMN TIMES what you’d get anywhere else. Honestly. We can’t offer a 50% royalty every time, but we’ll certainly think about it.
We call this madness BOOKFAIRTRADE, because it might be a pun. A composite pun. A cun. It’s an issue of partnership: Silkworms’ publishing project wants to make lifelong collaborators (not to mention lifelong friends) out of you, and we understand the importance of making that clear from the start. Same applies to contributions to collections and anthologies: we’ll give you the sort of royalty that an author would get anywhere else for a novel, in return for a single piece.
I say madness – actually, we don’t think this is remotely mad. We consider it appropriate, coherent, as it should be. We imagine our writers will agree.