I received my royalty statement on Saturday from my publisher (Midnight Ink) via my agent. (Finally). As royalty statements go it was reasonably straightforward. It was not accompanied by a check. That may or may not be coming in the near and/or distant future.
Here's what I mean. This royalty statement was for one book, The Devil's Pitchfork, my first book with MI, and the book came out October 2006. The royalty period that this statement was for runs from July 2006 through the end of December 2006. (And then you get the statement 3 or 4 or 5 months later and the money whenever). Therefore, any books that we might have sold after January first won't be accounted for until, well, whenever the next statements comes out. And that's sometime, uh, later; probably sometime in September.
Here's the deal. The next book, The Serpent's Kiss, comes out July 1, 2007. Therefore, sales for Serpent won't be on the royalty check/statement that comes in September either, because that's for the period January 1, 2007 through June 30, 2007. Monies for that, assuming there are any, will come... later.
Here's the deal part 2. I was paid an advance for both of those books. It wasn't astounding. Before I can get royalties, I have to have sold enough books to have paid off that advance. We actually probably have sold enough of The Devil's Pitchfork to pay off the advance, so, whenever we actually flow through to the proper royalty period, I should get some royalty money.
More of the deal part 3. Except, interestingly, I have sold French language rights for The Devil's Pitchfork. Because of my contract with MI, 50% goes to the publisher and 50% goes to me. (Don't nag me about this, I don't want to discuss it). The French language rights, I'm happy to say, were twice what MI paid me for the advance. In other words, the French language rights have paid off my advance for The Devil's Pitchfork, which means that we should automatically be into royalties... whenever they get accounted toward the sales and translated into a check, which is submitted to my agent, which then comes to me, and...
By the way, there are at least two other foreign language rights deals pending for both The Devil's Pitchfork and The Serpent's Kiss, but I can't really give any specifics because, a) I don't know any specifics, and b) my publisher seems to want to treat the details of foreign language rights deals like state secrets until the checks clear. (Don't nag me about this, I don't know why).
Anyway, the point is that there is an ebb and flow to the money aspects of publishing. As Rockefeller was known to have said when asked what the stock market would do, "It will fluctuate." Fluctuate, I sometimes think, is a euphemism for "be unreliable."
As a fulltime freelance writer, I pay a lot of attention to the tides of money. I have bills to pay--mortgage, car payment, insurance, and yes, that oh so important business Visa bill that pay for so much of the marketing/promotion for the novels. Multiple revenue streams is good, or at least, one good, large reliable revenue stream is good.
Last year I sent out about 200 invoices. This year, so far, about 10. I'm having a better year financially this year than last (which was pretty damned good, knock wood) but my business has changed. Now I'm doing fewer projects (often large projects) for more money. It's a toss-up if it's better. It can be a little disconcerting to get half of your yearly in come in the first three months of the year, and requires a significant amount of fiscal thought and responsibility.
What's my point? Well, sometimes novelists (aspiring or otherwise) think, "If I only get that big deal I'll be all set."
Hmmm. I'm no longer sure what a "big deal" is. It would take more to dazzle me than it used to, but hey, I'm willing to be dazzled. Come on, dazzle me.
I was just informed Friday that the publication date for the third Derek Stillwater novel, Angels Falling, which was originally scheduled for a February 2008 publication date, has been moved back to May 2008. What that will do to the tentative pub date of the 4th book, The Valley of Shadows, which is--as far as I know--scheduled for November 2008, is totally unknown to me, and, I wouldn't be surprised to find, to my publisher.
See what I mean? Hard to plan your finances around a moving target.
I pulled together some math for the would-be aspiring novelist. Congratulations, you've just gotten a $100,000 book deal. Here's what's likely to happen.
You'll get $33,333 on signing the contract. Your agent gets 15%. The government gets, approximatley, 28%. So what you'll have in your pocket is about $19,000. Then, depending on what your contract says, you'll get the next third when you turn in the first 100 pages. That could be very quickly, or, just as likely, you send it to your publisher, they read it at their leisure, they agree it's okay (or don't and ask for a rewrite) and submit an invoice to the comptroller who deals with these things the 15th of every month and they got it on the 16th, then they'll eventually cut the check and send it to your agent who is on vacation, or loses it, or it never get there at all, then he or she sits on it for a few days until they can get to the bank, then they send you your chunk, and you take out the taxes and put the rest in your... well, probably in your checking account, because you've got bills to pay, and your publicist wants some money to set up signings for you, and and the printer wants $500 to make up postcards, and there's going to be $1000 postage and the plane tickets to ThrillerFest are $380 and the hotel is $200 a night and you've got to eat and the entrance fee is...
Ahem. And you've got to complete the remaining 300 manuscript pages and get your publisher to sign off on it and they've got to cut the check, and wow, where did all that money go, it's all gone, I need another contract, I need another advance, my publisher's list is crowded they want to postpone the publication date for the second book by four months and...
Well. It's pretty cool. It just takes some getting used to.