I am the literary executor of my father's estate. A relative has started work on producing a (probably very) limited non-professional edition of my father's 1938-45 war diary. I need to strike a royalty agreement with her, so that in the extremely unlikely event of this edition becoming a bestseller, I have duly and diligently carried out my duties and obligations under the will.
I propose to strike a reasonable commercial royalty rate, but with a provision that it doesn't kick in until at least all her costs have been covered and something well over, say $10,000, has been received, which in my opinion is far beyond the bounds of probability.
But I'm wondering what exactly that royalty rate should be.
The labour on her part is considerable, as it involves transcribing tens of thousands of words of highly illegible handwriting, scanning photographs and newspaper clippings, executing typography and graphic design, and getting it printed and bound somehow.
On the other hand the text is not her property, and indeed it was possibly with some surprise that she learnt she could only copyright the edition, not the original text, which must bear its own copyright notice. And I have my obligations to the Probate Division of the Supreme Court and the residuary legatees.
So I'm looking for suggestions.
EDIT I am not looking for suggestions about how to deal with a literary estate. I am not the publisher. I am not carrying any risk or investing anything in the project. I am in the position of an author with a pre-existing text here, and I am asking what royalty rate I should be aiming at, in line with reasonable commercial practice, and given that my relative is not Scribners or Macmillan. I am thinking anywhere between 15%, which is what I get from Addison Wesley and Springer, and 40-50% given that the publisher won't have a large investment in stock or advertising.