Charges to receive our money - a post for authors

So, something happened this week.

If you are here as a reader you may want to skip this post, but if you are an author it may be worth checking your royalty statements very carefully.

For one reason or another, too complicated to go into, hubs was entering data from a publisher onto our accounts this week. The amounts on the reports didn't match what we received, and red flags immediately flew.

This is what happened with Silver and as soon as money becomes an issue I am hot on sorting the issue out.

So I counted up the money that we were missing, it came to around $44, which, lets face it, isn't a HUGE pile of money. But, given how I price my books, this equals 20 odd books that I haven't received money for.

I immediately contacted the publisher, and I am not here to point fingers at who it was, but their response was swift and considered - I respected them for that at least.

Apparently, the difference was because we were in the UK, and they are in *another* country and that we were being charged the cost of *sending us the money*. Apparently we, the authors, carry the costs of transferring money. The implication being that is the *cost of doing business with an overseas publisher*.

Uhm. No.

I signed a contract with the publisher to receive 50% of income. My understanding is that they were to keep 50% of money I made to cover art, editing, etc, with the rest being *their profit*.

Suddenly, with the fees, this is becoming 48%. WTF. That is MY money that is being lost.

The publisher agreed to refund the fees, but is adamant that *this is the way it is done*. I disagreed and they took my comments on board but I am not sure it would change anything in the way they work. As I said to them, nowhere in the contract does it state anything about fees for conversion from their currency to UK pounds, or about any fees actually. I expect the 50% of the money you make from me, not 50% less fees.

I pointed out that I wasn't trying to be difficult, but that they were the only publisher I have ever worked with that did this.

I believe it's an apalling practice to take fees out of money I earned. Also, as a publisher (Love Lane Books), with several overseas authors, we wouldn't dream of them having to take a cut into their earnings for fees.

Their argument that I *chose* to work with an overseas publisher is one that does not fly with me. This is an international business, not an insular country one. Needless to say, not only am I apalled, but I am not writing for the publisher again.

Has this happened to you?


19 comments

  1. That just sounds wrong!

    As an editor in Australia, I have to use Paypal to get my money. They charge a percentage for me to get my money. It sucks. But in the case of Paypal, I'm not sure what to do about it.

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    1. When someone sends you money YOU Have earned. When they have contracted YOU to do work for THEM, you should NOT have to take on any fees. These aren't *Paypal* fees we should be paying, this is the publisher sending you money and saying *No we wont pay, let the author pay*. Bad form I think... :(

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    2. Yes, make sure you claim the total income, then offset the fees as an expense for tax. So you're paying the same tax. But it's a cashflow matter for many authors. I personally think it's the publisher's responsibility in choosing to publish authors based internationally. One author in one country should not receive less than another in another country. The contract is inevitably the same!!

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    3. When you send an invoice you get charged a fee through Paypal when you receive the money but you should just be able to claim it on tax

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  2. OMG this is an eye opener. I am in the Philippines and usually, when the monies are sent, I cannot withdraw until it reaches a certain ceiling. First ceiling is when I can withdraw but if below XXX amount, they charge me 7% from the dollar price, not the peso which is waaaaaay huge in difference. Then the higher ceiling is when I can withdraw but am not charged by PayPal. Sounds good until I go to my bank and they immediately charge me for withdrawing from my PayPal account. The banks here stamp a third ceiling where they HAVE to charge me 3% of original dollar amount. The charges vary from bank to bank but I am FORTUNATE my bank only charges so low. If this is happening to you and you are in UK, how much do I have left? I am not good with numbers but my logic says, I am left with almost nothing?

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    1. This sucks too :( though that sounds more like Paypal's rules for withdrawing funds, rather than anything the publisher does, or can affect. We're meant to be an internatioonal world, aren't we? but everyone seems to want their cut along the way *sigh*.

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  3. Wow that is so wrong. I am not an author but it makes no sense to me either. Seriously, why it should cost any money is a mystery but if it does, the publisher should take it out of their percentage. Jmo of course..what do I know?

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    1. You have a gut instinct the same as me... x

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  4. Can I ask how it was transferred? To your bank account? Paypal? International cheque? I receive my international funds from my publisher through Paypal. It costs me in exchange rate to convert.

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    1. Paypal, and it should NOT cost us a thing. The charges are in the publisher costs, it's a business cost. They want us to write from them, they're happy to enter into a contract they should honor it. Nods... :)

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  5. I've suffered this with one publisher, too. I'm in the UK, the publisher is in the US, but it wasn't anything to do with *my* Paypal, because my account runs both USD and GBP. I can accept the same USD as another US author earning the same rate of royalties. But Paypal charges the sender a fee for sending funds overseas, and that was being deducted from my royalties, rather than the publisher making sure I got my total amount.

    Only 1 publisher has ever done this to me. All the others I've worked with have absorbed the fees at source, and sent me the total amount in USD.

    Then anything after that - withdrawing the funds / converting them to GBP - I understand is my own choice.

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    1. Exactly. We have no issues with the exchange rate part of it, inevitably it all evens out as ERs fluctuate so much from month to month... it's the actual mechanism for sending of my money that is the sticking point.

      They should try transferwise, that is how we pay our authors, and needless to say we don't charge our authors a single penny in fees, that is what our cut of sales is for... :)

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  6. Nowadays when I pay other authors I absorb the fee. However, back in paper-book days, when business was done by check, when a foreign publisher sent me a check, my bank charged me a fee to deposit it. Usually more than $20 per. (After the bank went into a tizzy because they'd never seen a foreign check before.) So my impression actually is "this is how it's done." Publishers disperse moneys and don't "owe" me the PayPal conversion fees. If they do pay them, it's a courtesy.

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    1. What gets me i think, is that this isn't how it's done by the majority. DSP, TB, none of them charge me to get my own money. I guess at the end of the day, I will vote with my feet... LOL.

      I don't consider it a courtesy not to take my money for their costs. I consider it rude... mutters to self.

      :)

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  7. The first story I had published was in a US anthology. For a few years I received royalty checks, none of which was over about 12 US Dollars. But it cost a lot more than that to pay them into my ( foreign) account, so I ended up keeping them as 'souvenirs'. I'm currently having issues with payment for some freelance work, as the amount credited to my account is about 20% less than the amount I invoiced, due to bank charges. I could save up the work and put in an invoice less frequently, to lessen the impact of the charges, but the company doesn't want to work that way.

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  8. In any case, these fees should be stated IN THE CONTRACT. I guess that outside-the-borders authors need to have a standard list of questions about these issues before contracts are signed, and ask to have them spelled out before signing.

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  9. This isn't for authors but insurance companies are doing this to drs sending then virtual credit cards so the doc has to pay merchant fees to get their own money. It's ridiculous and just another example of big companies finding any way they can to screw the very people who keep them in business.

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