Monday, August 26, 2013

Jack Daniels Franchise and the 8 Hour Ebook Challenge

Color me impressed.

Earlier this month I blogged about franchising my intellectual property. In short:

1. Reaching out to new writers by having them do a Jack Daniels short story, teaming Jack up with a character from their series.

2. The writer writes the story, without input from me. If my wife likes it (she's my first reader and knows my universe better than I do), I'll do the rewrite and editing, pay for the cover art and proofing and formatting, and then publish the story through my agent, Jane Dystel. Jane will pay us monthly and provide royalty statements. She'll also seek out interest in audio and foreign rights.

The author and I split the profits 50/50, and then do the same thing with a novel (novels sell much better than shorts.)

3. If my wife doesn't like the story, the writer can self-publish it without me, changing the names of my characters. So Jack Daniels would become some other female cop, and the writer would have full rights to the story.

So far I've accepted seven short stories. I'm doing some rewriting/polishing on each, but overall I'm thrilled at the level of quality I'm getting. The goal is to get all of these live in September.

I'll soon be posting a copy of the collaboration agreement, with terms along these lines:

The copyright for the Work is shared equally.

We each own the rights to the characters we've created.

All rights and royalties for the Work are split 50/50, minus my agent's cut. She gets 10% for ebooks, and in exchange she does all of the uploading to ebook websites (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes) and also pays monthly and issues combined royalty statements. My agent is NOT the publisher. She's acting as a manager/accountant here.

If both me and my co-author agree, my agent can shop around the work to foreign and audio publishers. Neither can sell any subsidiary rights without the other's approval. And both authors must agree which venues the ebooks are published in (but I'm happy to let my co-author decide if they'd prefer Amazon KDP Select exclusivity or all ebook platforms--I don't care one way or the other.)

I pay for the expenses to publish (cover art, formatting, proofing, editing). I don't recoup these expenses. Meaning they are sunk costs I cover, and my co-author doesn't have to pay them back.

If, at any time, either party wants out of the contract, they can end it by submitting a written request. Then the book will be unpublished within 10 business days, and all rights will revert to the co-author for their original version (not the version I added to/edited/rewrote) provided the names of my characters are changed or removed. If there are outstanding subsidiary rights (say we sold a five year term to Germany) those will have to be honored per those contracts. But otherwise, if either of us wants to end it, we can end it.

My goal here isn't to screw anyone. It's to give a hand up to those looking for a wider readership and some extra money, and to make money on my intellectual property in a fair way.

I don't believe this fits the definition of joint authorship, but rather the efforts of two authors temporarily combined so long as both agree to continue working together. Once one of the parties wants out, the story will revert to the co-author as long as my characters are removed or my characters' names changed. Example, if you wrote a Jack Daniels story, and I reject it or you want out of the deal, just change her name to something else and you can publish it yourself. I'll have no claim to it. So I'd only share rights to the story if my characters are in it. Once they aren't, rights return to my co-author for the original version they've written (minus my editing/additions).

It's basically a risk-free way to piggyback on my name recognition and help your series character find a larger audience by teaming them up with my series character.

If I like the short story, the writer has the option to do a novel featuring Jack Daniels (or any of my IP characters/settings--for example, a sequel or spin-off to Afraid or Origin.) My short stories earn a few hundred dollars a month. My novels earn thousands of dollars a month. Novels are where the money is.

If anyone wants to submit a Jack Daniels story, reread the original blog post for how to do so

Which brings me to the 8 Hour Book Challenge from last blog post.

Holy cow. Over 70 people have beaten the challenge and emailed me. Congrats to all who did it, and I'm pleased to have inspired so many.

As promised, I'm going to post links to all the winners in an upcoming blog. Here's what I need from you in order to do this. Follow these directions EXACTLY or I won't post your link.

1. Email me the header 8 HOUR WINNER in all capital letters.
2. In the email include the Amazon link, a five sentence book description, and the price
3. Attach a jpg of the cover art.
4. Do this by midnight, August 29.

On August 30, I will post a blog featuring everyone who followed the above instructions. You might consider making your ebook free on that date in KDP Select, because the more freebies there are, the more traffic the post will get, and the more downloads you'll get.

I'm not doing any handholding on this. I appreciate that a lot of people have already sent me links, but I'm not going to send emails to 70 people asking for cover art and descriptions. This is already going to take me a few hours to put together, which is waaay more time than I expected to put into this. Who knew you guys could write so damn fast?

Anyway, congrats to all the ebook challenge winners, and to all my future collaborators.