Thursday, June 19, 2008

Royalties & Reality

Many authors’ dreams of making writing their full time gig. I know I do. To be able to support myself solely through my writing is my ultimate goal. Only I need money to do that. The only way to earn enough money to write full time is to get multiple book contracts, and sell lots and lots of books, which is easier said than done.

There is no real way for an author to tell how many books they’re selling. You can ask your editor but they don’t have access to all the sales data. Amazon rankings mean nothing as do Ingram sales and demand numbers. So, you’re stuck fantasizing about your books selling like hot cakes, while waiting for something you get in the mail twice a year to give you an idea of how well your books are truly selling. . . your royalty statement. Of course they should be renamed Royal Pain in the Ass.

Nothing snaps you back to reality like getting a royalty statement. Forget the fact that they’re about as easy to understand as hieroglyphics. Usually, the big numbers you’ve fantasized about turn out to be just that, a fantasy. Add the tiny royalty check you got, or didn’t get, to the mix and those full time writing dreams go up in smoke.

But royalty statements can also be very informative. For instance, my first book, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, released in ’05 and released in mass market in ’06, remains my biggest seller despite the fact that I haven’t been actively promoting it for two years. You’d think that my newer books would be selling better as they’re more likely to still be in stores. According to the royalty statement I just got on Monday, in the last six months my first book outsold my new book by double the copies. Why? It’s a mystery to me.

So, now it’s back to writing, promoting, and of course, fantasizing. December brings yet another royalty statement, and another taste of reality.



Rhonda McKnight said...

I know some author friends who just got their first royalty checks and while sales were good, of course nobody could even think about quitting a job. I'm glad to have those friendships and read post like this that keep me smiling at my 9 to 5 gig.

angela henry said...


Hi! Yes, I know how they feel. I can't even think about quitting my day job yet. Maybe one day ; ).


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