That’s what the The Bookseller is saying today.  According to the article agents are expecting that escalators will become standard rather than an exception.

An escalator clause means the royalty rate changes according to the level of sales. One leading agent said: “A number of publishers in the UK and the US are now offering escalating royalties [on e-books] . . . I want to work totally with publishers but I think they should at least be open to an escalating royalty rate on e-books.”

He said offering an escalator would be a way of bridging the gap between the royalty rate offered by established publishers, and the often higher rate offered by some specialist digital publishers. He added: “As the sales start to become significant, following the US, it is now becoming a real issue as UK publishers are very keen to publish in digital and increase sales.”

However, the article goes on to say that none of the major publishers are currently offering escalators.  More in the article.


  1. Many places have been doing this in their print contracts for decades…no big change for us. Once risk is recouped, things SHOULD be more equitable. Authors should get a bigger chunk as things pan out, but publishers still deserve a piece of the pie as a dividend on the initial investment.

  2. Interesting Nathan. I get the feeling that the ridiculous level of secrecy between publishers and agents and authors over the last 50 years has contributed to a lot of very bad contracts being entered into. Is that a correct conclusion ?

  3. Oh, I’m sure there are enough bad contracts to go around for everyone involved: agents, authors, publishers. I don’t work in the contract side of things, I just know that if you dig a little deeper than the Big 6, you will find a plethora of varying business models that small and mid-size publishers have been honing for a long time. What is the “end of the world!” for the top of the food chain is just normal fare for everybody else who has been trained to be nimble and adaptive.

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