A writer’s expectation

Last week, Google announced its second-quarter earnings (short story: clicks up, revenue per click down), but the thing that caught my eye was related coverage of the firm's earnings call.

At GigaOm, Janko Roettgers reported Google's claim that "thousands of YouTube partners now make six figures a year". Following its past practice, the company didn't put much meat on those bones, leaving me wondering if "thousands" is a lot, about right or just not relevant.

The ambiguity made the comments on Roettgers' article more interesting. In particular, "carlso2" laments the number as discouragingly small, adding:

"This thing should be viewed thru glasses like the app-store model. There is no reason content creators shouldn’t getting 70% of the proceeds that viewing / ads generate. Using Google’s network to play a video should be in line with these other renumeration models."

In February, I wrote a post that talked about an "unintended consequence" of agency pricing: opening up a profitable middle ground for self-published authors. Traditional eBook royalty rates are as much as 50 percentage points lower than what publishers get under agency. With the marginal cost of the good (an eBook) effectively zero, any author can ask if a publisher provides enough value to justify the difference.

Cloud-based publishing has increased talk of publishers as platforms, akin to the role that some houses have played in the past as distributors of record. The historical argument has been that "we've built the infrastructure; come join us and we'll both be better off."

If publishers really do become platforms, though, I wonder if they'll have to contend with a writer's expectation that the terms should parallel agency (and other content creation models). A business accustomed to getting 50% or even 70% of the revenue might be hard-pressed to live with a 30% share.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.