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There’s been a lot of talk in the writing community about the new Random House imprints Hydra, Flirt, Alibi, and the revamped Loveswept. When these imprints were announced in late 2012, there was a lot of scepticism and saber rattling; was a powerhouse publisher trying to take advantage of Indie authors?  What would authors gain from this arrangement?  Was this only a step away from the dreaded vanity press?

Personally, I saw these imprints as an exciting opportunity.  I still do, and if I had a manuscript that might fit at any of them, I would consider submitting it.  (I don’t, so I am speaking without a horse in this race).  Yes, Random House was probably hoping to ride some of the New Adult wave that has been largely propelled by indie authors; so?  They are, after all, in the publishing business; I would be more annoyed if they watched a growing trend and ignored it to continue doing business in the old way.  Ebooks are exploding, and the publishing industry is in a state of flux.  It’s an exciting time to be a writer, but a frightening time, too; the old standbys and ways of doing things aren’t exactly crumbling, but they are changing, and authors suddenly have a lot of choices about how to best distribute their work.  It’s thrilling, but from a business standpoint, potentially frightening.

Even so, reports in the writing community indicated that these new imprints might not be ideal for authors.  There were whispers about bad contracts (however you may define that idea), and many authors snubbed these new imprints.

Because of a lot of legitimate concerns in the writing community, Random House has announced a change to their initial contract offer for these digital imprints, and they have also publicized some of the terms of the contracts, so writers can now decide for themselves if this is a good option.  What’s striking to me is the addition of this choice: authors will “now be able to choose from two models–the original profit share deal or a more traditional advance plus royalty deal.” (PW Article)

Okay.  Let’s look at that.  If you choose the profit share model, how will your “profits” be defined?

According to an article from Publisher’s Weekly, authors and the imprint

“will split profits 50-50 from the first copy sold. The term “profit” will be defined as net sales revenue minus deductions as follows: For print editions, deductions will include actual costs directly attributable to production and shipping of the book; for digital editions, Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt will cover the cost of production. For both print and digital editions, Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt will cover all marketing costs connected with general, category- or imprint-wide marketing programs. Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt will also cover costs of marketing activities undertaken specifically on behalf of the book up to $10,000.”

They’ve also added what I like to think of as a “get out of jail free card”, allowing the author to request the return of her copyright if sales numbers fall below a certain level.

Take a minute to read through the entire article, but from where I sit, this doesn’t look too bad.

Would I sub a new work to one of these four imprints?

Yes.

Do I have anything to send right now?

No.

Every author has to make his or her own decisions about what’s right for his or her work.

I tell my writing students that wherever you submit your manuscript (whether it’s to an agent or a publish, or you choose to self-publish) had better be the place that you are one hundred percent sure you want that book to be.  Sure, there are stories of people who climb to different places of success through self publishing and indie publishing, but the place you put your manuscript needs to be the place you want it to stay.  Don’t look at any path to publication as a stepping stone.  Only submit to publishers/agents/editors you want to work with, and make your choices carefully. 

There are infinite possibilities for authors right now, and that’s awesome, but don’t go into this without carefully researching and considering your options.

Which path will you choose?

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