“The Author shall receive a 60% net royalty on all sales of printed copies of the Work that the Publisher receives. The net royalty for each book sold is after printing costs. YouWriteOn will set the retail price. Author royalties are not paid on copies of the book bought by the Authors themselves.”So, the authors won’t earn any royalties on copies they buy for themselves. That wouldn’t be too bad if they got a nice big discount on those copies: but the contract makes no provision for any author discounts at all, despite such discounts being a standard requirement in most publishing contracts.
This probably won’t concern the writers who only want to sell the odd copy to friends and family members: they can just direct everyone to YouWriteOn’s website, where they can order the books for themselves.
The people who should be most worried are the writers who want to sell more than just a handful of their books, and especially those who want to sell them through bookshops—which is where the majority of all books sold are sold.
When those writers make their sales visits to bookshops, they’ll need to have copies of their books on hand to show to the buyers. If the buyers want to buy copies there and then, the writer will have to supply them with those full-price, undiscounted, royalty-free books—but the bookshops will demand a discount, which means that the writers will lose money on every single copy that they sell.
They could ask the buyers to order the books direct from the wholesalers (Waterstones will only order self-published titles from Gardners, others may vary): but there’s a problem there, too. While it’s sometimes possible to get smaller bookshops to accept smaller discounts they’re rarely able to take anything below 40% off the retail price, while Waterstones usually requires a minimum discount of 57.5%. And there just isn’t that much money left in the pot after those nebulous “printing costs”, and the writers’ 60% royalties, have been paid.
Which leaves online sales. But again, online booksellers demand discounts, and where is that going to come from? Once you take away those “printing costs”, the writers’ 60%, and YouWriteOn’s 40%, there’s not enough left to cover the book sellers’ discounts. Not even if YouWriteOn gives up all of its 40% share.
Which means that these books are only really going to sell through YouWriteOn’s own website. And the last time I heard, that wasn’t very high up on the list of places that most readers go to when they’re looking for a good read.