BEDA · Eternal Sights; Spotted Mind

BEDA #17: What I would love to see in the Local Literary Arts Scene

So as promised, things I would like to see emerge in our local publishing businesses:

1) Ban/ Discourage waiving moral rights

From what I know, moral rights secure the author’s integrity to their work. And from what I know, stories of authors being asked to waive their moral rights here is downright scary.

It’s a very straight question of, “What is it about the integrity of the author’s work, your bread and butter for the matter, that requires the author to give it up?”

Signing away rights in perpetuity not only restricts the author’s career and exposure (which is something you, as publishers, SHOULD NOT want), it also restricts the publication’s promotion, and in turn, revenue.

While I see the need to get revenue for the survival of the publisher as well, I still find that restricting everything to ensure exclusivity without making full use of the exclusivity is counter-productive and will result in vicious cycles where “no one is reading your stuff!”

2) Appreciation of creative talent

If you publish fiction, then it’ll be safe to say that the content that the authors within your publishing house is your bread and butter, your paycheck, if you will. It will be nice to show more outward support and promotion (local and international), instead of getting them to fend for themselves.

3) Royalties

Let’s face it: Everyone needs to pay bills. At the same time, everyone is different – some are better authors full-time, some are great authors with a day job all the same. At the end of the day, YOU, as publishers, have shown that you trust their work to be marketable and sellable. Nothing wrong with that right? Now here’s my question:

What’s with the royalty rates?

After snooping around, what I’ve gathered is that the average royalty rate for traditionally published authors seems to hover around 7.5% to 15% of book sales, depending on the nature and material of the book. So I really don’t understand the reason behind the 4.5% and 5% royalty rates on top of restrictions.

Can someone please explain this to me?

And of course, there’s the talk of “Advances” which seems to be rarely given here. So I’ll leave that debate for a later post.

Of course, this list is non-exhaustive, and it’s probably because we focus too much on being like the giants we forget how the giants came to be and glossed over emerging and small to medium markets. Like I’ve said before, one does not simply take an Arts Business and run it like a regular business.

I’m not just raising these issues because I don’t see things happening for many authors with “no coverage” but if you want Singapore to flourish in the Arts Scene, you have to start cultivating the Arts Scene, and that includes respecting and accepting the fact that artist HAVE A RIGHT to be full-time and HAVE TO PAY BILLS as well.

Not all artists come from wealthy backgrounds and neither should they be expected to be.

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