The Guild recently warned that Heuer Publishing was offering just that! Taking 60% for themselves...
NOTICE REGARDING HEUER PUBLISHING
The Business Affairs Department has recently been asked to review the Heuer Publishing contract. In a typical publishing agreement, a publisher receives a 10% commission for licensing stock performances (i.e., non-1st Class professional) and 20% for licensing amateur performances. Some smaller publishers have been known to take commissions of as much as 25%-50% in certain niche amateur markets. However, Heuer Publishing currently requests a 60% commission for ALL stage performances, including professional productions, as well as all movie/television licenses, and other licenses it may negotiate. This is entirely unprecedented in the marketplace. The Guild, therefore, will exclude Heuer from print Resource Directories and email updates and, effectively immediately, will remove it from the online Resource Directory. For more recent information on standard publishing provisions, see “Sharing Your Sweet Success: Commission Agreements” by Ashley Kelly, available online and in the September/October 2007 Guildworks Section of The Dramatist.
I appreciate the passion with which you responed; your points, as those of Proboscisbunny, point to an issue I daresay a lot of writers on this forum confront but perhaps are reticent to discuss. It would be interesting to see a ranking of publishers and what they typically offer.
i believe that playscripts & brooklyn give a 60-40 split (60 being the author's percent). baker's gives a 70-30 split (70 being the author's) for amateur productions & 80-20 for professional productions. baker's also offers an advance on royalties upon signing.
also, keep in mind that playscripts requires that the script be registered for a copyright and the playwright must pay the fee of $55 (it's deducted from royalties).
it's interesting to note that baker's charges less per performance than playscripts but because they give a slightly higher percent to the playwright, it works out about the same.
playscripts takes over a year to make a decision (even if they already publish your work). you can get them to move faster if you let them know another publisher is interested. baker's, brooklyn & eldredge have a quicker response time.
UPDATE ON HEUER PUBLISHING: A CHANGE FOR THE WORSE
The Business Affairs Department was asked to review another Heuer Publishing Contract this week. Instead of becoming more reflective of industry standards, the current contract requests that the Author “irrevocably sells, grants, conveys, assigns, and sets over to [Heuer], all of Author’s right, title and interest in and to the play . . . including the copyrights and renewals and/or extensions thereof for all territories of the world and for all languages, in perpetuity.” In plain English, this means that the playwright is being required to assign the copyright in the play to Heuer Publishing, which is not acceptable practice in the publishing industry, and is not a necessary action in order for Heuer to effectively publish and license the work. Playwrights should not be asked or expected to sign such agreements. This development in the Heuer contract confirms for us our decision, announced to you in the April 3, 2008 Dramatists Guild e-Flash, to exclude Heuer publishing from our Resource Directory and all updates and emails. Until such time as they change their contracts, the only information we will provide on Heuer Publishing hereafter is an ongoing warning of their substandard practices.
This whole thing is very scary. I have two ten minute plays published with Heuer and I will definitely be wary of their contracts in the future. Off the top of my head, I am not certain what my royalty split is, so when I unearth my contract from moving, I'll have to take a lot. i sure hope I didn't get screwed. :|
As a new and previously unpublished playwright, the neophyte is in an awkward position when everyone has taken a pass on your work and your only offer is sub-standard at best. I found myself in that position with my first contract, which was offered with an earnings cap because I was new and previously unpublished. Ironically, that play has been a cash cow for the publisher.
I wonder if it still standard practice by the small publishing houses to offer a new, previously unpublished writer a cap or a 40/60 deal? In other words, I am wondering how much leverage Guild input has with respect to the new writer. A writer always has the option of saying "no," but when every publisher has turned down your first play, and the only one who says "yes" makes you a crummy take it or leave offer, how many writers take the offer because they need to get their foot in the door?
I am not questioning whether or not the guild values new writers. I am interested in knowing if there are still publishers offering new writers (no publication history) take it or leave deals, irrespective of guild membership. If so, it would be nice to know who those publishers are. In no way am I being critical of the guild.