Yesterday, author Courtney Milan announced she'll be self-pubbing her next title, which is 3rd in a series thus far published by HQN. The reason? Because HQN, like so many "big" publishers, only pays 8% of cover price on ebooks to its authors. 8%? That's, like.... really lame. Said author tried to negotiate, and when HQN didn't compromise, she refused to contract the next title. Yay for her. She's got a following, and she's planning to do everything right with the book--hiring out cover art, editing, getting print distribution through Ingram's (I might mention I about choked on my cocoa when I read how long HQN retains rights on its books)... Yep. I think she'll do just fine. I also think she won't be the last author to decide those royalty rates are hooey and they can do this on their own (or, really, they could move the book to a smaller pub and not have to worry about editing or cover art. True, they still have to "share" their royalties, but without any upfront cost or legwork, it's a consideration.).
I think certain big-name publishers have long been the be-all and end-all, big fantasy for many romance authors... and those particular publishers may suffer a rough tumble in the coming months. Unless they change their Scroogey ways, they may find themselves contracting only newbie authors--the very ones they currently stick in their slush piles for years on end.
As digital sales claim more market share, authors will recognize the impact of that 8% on their bottom line. And hey, New York? Just because most of us romance writers are women, doesn't mean we have no business sense. We know when we're getting screwed.
Romance is sexy!