So yesterday I received my first ever royalty statement as an author for my debut novel The Damned. When it arrived, it rather took me by surprise. It might sound odd, but I had forgotten that all this writing and pressure and pain and guilt and imagination (or lack of it) is for a reason, besides simply entertaining people, and that's to try and make a living - or not, as the case might be.
I write this blog from a position of ignorance, which is often where I like to begin my blogs and arguments. This is, after all, only my first statement and there are millions of writers out there who've received these lovely little letters through the post year in year out. But as I have your attention this far, let me tell you what to expect from these packages of lifeblood for the writer, from my limited experience anyway.
You'll probably get a royalty statement, and hopefully payment, twice a year, and they will be calculated from a preset date on the publisher's publication and/or tax calendar. This means that your first royalty statement might only cover a very small period of time, but from your second statement on, you'll be awarded for the full six months. My first statements covers only the first six weeks, which makes me even more chuffed to have sold as many copies of The Damned as I have done, according to my statement.
There is a period, usually three months, between the end of your sales period and payment, where sales figures and monies are gathered and then paid. This means that whilst your sales period might finish at the end of June, for example, you don't get paid until the end of September / beginning of October.
Your statement will be broken down into titles and formats of those titles. So I have two on my statement, (because The Hunted is a free giveaway); The Damned Trade Paperback and The Damned Ebook. Next year, I'll have a lot more because The Fallen is coming out, plus lots of other formats of The Damned.
Finally, each book format will be will be broken down into different royalty percentages lines, depending on target numbers reached, as well as additional lines for export sales, language sales, etc.
Each line will be presented as the number of sales for that unit, the price of each unit, the percentage you get per unit per sale and the total price for that total line. If you've not made enough to pay off your advance, your statement will show a negative value. If you've paid off your advance, you're in the money - no matter how small.
So, I have arrived, albeit in a very small way. We're off, and whilst we're not exactly running, we're finding our legs, toddling down the path towards the horizon filled with long summer holidays, free drinks at the bar and early retirement - or more likely a nice week in Tenerife every spring.
But whatever does come to be, these sixth monthly letters will now tease my gut with anticipation for the rest of my life, as every October and April and hear the letter box slam and reach down to I pick them off the doormat.