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Automating Royalty Payments to Authors: Is it Worth It?

Ever since automation was first introduced to the royalty management process, the benefits have been obvious. By replacing laborious manual tasks throughout the lifecycle with Royalty Tracker, the entire process has become speedier, less risky, less stressful and fully transparent. Automation doesn’t suit all areas of publishing, but in royalties it undoubtedly makes businesses leaner and more agile.

But while most Royalty Tracker users have simplified most stages of the process, the final part – the payment of authors – remains notably non-automated for many publishers. Taking this final step can deliver many benefits, like a reduction in the time spent processing payments and an avoidance of the risk of human error that can occur when payment data is transferred from Royalty Tracker to accounting systems.

So could automated payments be the missing part of the jigsaw in royalty management? Before pursuing it further, we appreciate that—as with all aspects of royalties—automation won’t suit everyone. For smaller publishers with a handful of titles, doing the job manually shouldn’t be too onerous. For newer companies on tight budgets, the costs associated with setting up automated payouts may outweigh the savings to be had.

Automation should never be done just for the sake of it, or just because the technology is there. As MetaComet President David Marlin says: “Rather than shoot for payout automation just because you can, look at the ROI. How much effort will be saved , and what pressures can it ease? It’s a straight forward business decision that should be focused on the bottom line.”

What does automation look like? It’s a simple two-step process to get payment data into your accounting system:

  1. Follow your standard royalty period-end process, by closing the royalty period and approving statements.
  2. Transmit payment information to your accounting system. This is where setup costs typically come, and most accounting systems will need some minimal configuration – but Royalty Tracker can pretty easily transmit the data.

There is an intermediate approach that provides most of the benefit and little to no setup cost: generate a report in Royalty Tracker and import it into the accounting system. You the user in effect act as the network, doing the data transmission. For publishers using QuickBooks, this is a particularly valuable approach. Royalty Tracker can generate the report as a native QuickBooks file that can be imported directly into QuickBooks as invoices.

Once the information is in your accounting system, you can take automation even further through electronic payments. These payments through ACH, EFT and other third parties are becoming more common: the Federal Reserve reports that ACH transfers are growing by 5% a year, while checks are falling by 3%. Publishers who suggest that authors switch from checks to electronic transfers may well find they are pushing at an open door.

 

Electronic payments then dovetail nicely with MetaComet’s AuthorPortal.com by providing online access to royalty statements that can be coordinated with the payments. This can improve author relations and reduce the number of follow-up queries that publishers have to deal with once statements have been prepared. For any queries it can’t solve, Royalty Tracker’s browser is often all that publishers need, providing easy access to detailed sales data, calculations and previous statements and payouts. Replacing checks with electronic transfers also eases common frustrations associated with payouts, like invalid or outdated mailing addresses, minimising the manual work of researching why things didn’t tie up.

Here are just five of the big business wins of payout automation.

1 More time. Cutting the labour involved in royalty payout and author care frees staff up to do more profitable work.

2 Lower costs. Eliminating the costs of generating checks, stationery and postage can quickly pay off on the bottom line.

3 Improved confidence. Automation cuts the chance of human error in royalty payments, including incorrect amounts and recipients

4 Happier authors. Swift, accurate royalty statements and payouts keep authors satisfied, motivated and more likely to recommend you to others.

5 A future-proofed business. Automating all stages of royalty management means your business can grow more smoothly and save the need for painful retro-fitting.

MetaComet is here to tell you more about payout automation and add it to your royalty management. Reach out to us anytime.





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MetaComet Systems, Inc., Computer Software Publishers & Developers, South Hadley, MA