Because there have been some assertions from various writers that the No-Advance, High-Royalty model utilized by Castalia House and other independent publishers is somehow unethical or presents an unfair deal for writers, we asked one of our authors if we could compare the results of his recently released book to the conventional models utilized by the traditional publishers. The current professional word rate for short fiction is $0.05 per word, as per the SFWA.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) periodically reviews the criteria used to determine which markets will qualify new members for SFWA membership. Based on a market analysis conducted by Board members reviewing the effects of inflation on author payment, the Board has voted to adjust the standard payment for markets that will be recognized for professional short fiction. On July 1, 2014, SFWA’s rate for qualifying short fiction will rise from five cents per word to six cents per word. It has been nine years since the rate was last increased, rising from three to five cents per word in 2004.
– SFWA, November 26, 2013
In speaking with two major publishers, Castalia House has learned that the advance for a first novel has fallen to as little as $2,500, which is barely above the amount required by SFWA for a professional sale that permits an author to qualify for membership. The precise wording is: “One Paid Sale of a prose fiction book to a Qualifying Professional Market, for which the author has been paid $2000 or more.”
On February 21st, 2014, Castalia House published Big Boys Don’t Cry, a novella of 20,000 words, by Tom Kratman. Eleven days later, on March 4th, Mr. Kratman’s royalties already surpassed the amount he would have received from a major publisher or publication for a work of professional short fiction. In less than two weeks, he is already more than two-thirds of the way to qualify for SFWA membership as per the “prose fiction book” requirement. We estimate that by the time his book has been on the market for six months, he will have earned more than most SFWA members receive from their advances that never earn out, and more importantly, he will still be collecting royalties at that same accelerated rate.
This cannot be reasonably described as “unethical” or unfair treatment of the author. This is, precisely to the contrary, an arrangement that is of great advantage to any author who has actually demonstrated an ability to sell books. The only authors it disadvantages are those who do not expect anyone to buy the books they are writing and are hoping for a performance-free windfall from a publisher.
Nor is Mr. Kratman a singular exception. Castalia House released another book on February 23, 2014, a novel of 62,500 words. In only 12 days, QUANTUM MORTIS The Programmed Mind is halfway to meeting the “prose fiction requirement” requirement and more than a third of the way to reaching the professional short fiction word rate.
If you are an established author with a good track record, we encourage you to contact us and allow us to show you the difference between how your books have done for you under the traditional model versus how they would have performed under our model.