A recent statement from UK's Society of Authors warns writers to take care in this fast-changing time. The recent announcement from Macmillan about selling enhanced ebooks brings yet another issue to the table. The UK Society of Authors recommends that authors be very explicit about what rights they are giving to a publisher regarding the type of ebooks the publisher has rights to. They advise that a complete and separate contract be drawn up for "enhanced ebooks". They also advise writers to push for big royalty increases on such products.
According to them: When a book has become well-established, it may be reasonable for the author's share to rise to as much as 75%. On other forms of electronic access – e.g. rental and pay-per-view - authors should receive at least 50%, preferably nearer 85%, of the publisher's receipts.
They also suggest writers allow a limited time frame for the rights to publishers regarding electronic media. They suggest 20-30 years. It is obvious technology is changing the way books can and will be sold. We can't know what the future holds and signing a vague contract that alludes to "electronic rights" without a strict definition of that term could cost us a lot of money. As I write this, I fear I hear my own money dripping away thanks to the contracts I've signed with such vague definitions.
They also suggest that somewhere in the contract writers should get the right to review royalties for ebooks, possibly every two years, and have them adjusted to "match those then prevailing in the trade".
This is fantastic guidance for all of us. Let's be armed and ready for the new publishing world that awaits us.