Monday, May 09, 2005

Conf. 41 Royalty Reality

No. of new Royalty Statements in Post: 2

Oops, time for a reality check. Forget the Amazon rankings that suddenly zoom up to 2,000 then back down to 50,000 in the next hour, forget the monitoring of books out of local bookshop and checking the library computer for stock movement, this is the bottom line.

The royalty statement: the authorly dream of the twice-yearly summing-up with cheque attached for doing bugger all except 'having written' isn't such a bunch of cherries.

Under the Amount Due column my bottom lines are:

£-1,069.07 for book 1

and

£-1,926.90 for book 2

sounds a bit like my bank statement. My editor's long, long silence begins to make sense.

The sales of book 1 in year 1 were 5,300
In year 2 20,080

Total: 25,380

The sales of book 2 in year 1 were 3,084
In year 2, 1,692

Total: 3,392

Was book 2 THAT bad??

Well, no, it wasn't that. Whilst I could go around (as I just did there) and say my first novel sold over 25,000 copies and be legal, the truth is the huge difference in numbers is because 20,000 of Book 1 were sold to a remainders store. This isn't as depressing as it first sounded to me when my agent rang me with the cheery news that the publishers wanted to remainder my first novel. Surely the phone call every author dreads (and, for sure, I did go around for a few days going I'm pulp). This is because there weren't 20,000 copies festering away in the warehouse. The first print run was for 7,500 copies. Finito. What happens is those cheapie bookstores you see in the high street selling books at big discounts do a reprint deal with the publisher. They do a reprint at bargain basement price (I see I earned £440.00 for those 20,000 copies). And, as my agent explained, this early on in my career (ha!) another 20,000 books out there was no bad thing. I also got another 20 free copies and noted they'd changed the lettering from red embossed to gold embossed.

So, that's it. Book 2 had 1 export sale this year (earning £0.36) (that must have been D in Tenerife, then, thanks D). And I haven't given up hope on them entirely, the first foreign editions come out in Russia this August, and so am waiting eagerly by the letterbox for those.

Actually, these figures aren't too bad for first novels with zero promotion budgets. It's really, really hard to get facts and figures out of authors, they're more cagey about print runs than advances. From what I can gather the average paperback first print run for a new author is 4,000 - 5,000. These zoom up considerably if you get the supermarket endorsement; which, with this type of fiction, is what my publishers were hoping for and sadly didn't happen. As with everything else these days, Tesco rules.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

11 comments:

Trace said...

Thanks so much for that post and for being so honest about the numbers. Us aspiring authors know nothing about what we'd be getting into when and if we are ever published. It's important to know the unvarnished truth about what happens.

Overshop said...

There go my fantasies about writing a book and getting rich!

Lewis Perdue said...

One of the equally sad things is when you make a lot of money and the publisher goes bankrupt ... or reserves something liker 90% of what you're owed as a "reserve against returns."

skete2@yahoo.de said...

Wow! Thanks for publishing these numbers - very sobering to say the least.

I'm here via Lee Goldberg's journal where we're talking about fanfic quite regularly. What struck me when I saw your sales numbers is that I have more readers than you, although I'm by far not a really popular ff-author.

When Cassandra Claire's, writer of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter fanfiction, first book of three will come out in 2006 she can be sure to sell about 20,000 copies right away as that is round about how many readers she's got who devour her installments of Draco Veritas on a regular basis.

We never tallked about it at Lee's, but: can FF be a means of advertising for aspiring writers?

good_benito said...

good_benito@hotmail.com

You might be interested to know that I found my way here via a link from one of Warren Ellis' info feeds. So, a decent comic book author's read you. And a person going into publishing from the house's side, well... Sadly, I was already aware of this reality. We'll do what we can.

Amanda Mann said...

Thank you for all these comments. I'm thrilled at my entry into the blog community via such a seriously cool group of people. Many thanks for letting me know those links skete2 and good_benito.
Sadly, as Lewis Perdue comments, there are many gremlins out there waiting to trip you up when you start to get published, not least the bank account going belly-up. But the highs make it worth it. The best is someone coming up and saying 'hey I read your book and loved it!' out of the blue, it's priceless. I had a drink with an NHS nurse last night, that put everything into perspective.

skete2@yahoo.com said...

I just searched for you on amazon.co.uk under Amanda Mann, but couldn't find you. Do you use a pseudonym? What are the titles of your books? I wanted to give them a try. That order from Germany would be me, then... :-)

kete

Amanda Mann said...

That's really lovely Skete2, thank you. Though it pains me to deflect you away from my work, I'm keeping myself anon for now. This is so I can speak freely about my dealings with the publishing industry as I go for my third book deal without slitting my throat in the process. I hope it'll all be smooth and wonderful, but past experience tells me otherwise. As soon as I'm through the next stage, or taking that bus driver's course, I'll put the books up with pleasure.

R. Francis Smith said...

American genre novelist Jim Butcher used to (say, when he had a few paperback novels out) have to repeatedly remind his readers that, while they might really, really like his books, that didn't make him a wealthy author, and that, indeed, he could've pulled more down at the time by spending the same number of hours in a fast food kitchen.

-R

skete2@yahoo.de said...

Thank you Amanda. Although I would have liked to read your books, I can understand your reasons for remaining anonymous at the moment. Good luck with the next book deal and hopefully you'll sell at lot of copies!

Anonymous said...

Cassandra Claire