I love the first week of October, and not just because it begins with my birthday. No, I love it because it's when royalty statements arrive.
For the most part writers are paid twice a year--the first week of April and the first week of October. The April check is for books sold during the previous July through December, and the October check is for books sold during the previous January through June. There are other royalty payment systems, but this is the standard one.
This week I received two packages of royalty statements. One of them was two pages long and resulted in a net royalty of 17 cents. That's right--17 cents. But it's okay. That statement was for a story I wrote for the anthology 666: The Number of the Beast. I know, the title is excellent, right? And it's a great collection of horror/supernatural fiction for young adults. You should totally get it.
My story is called "Ever After." It's about a girl who discovers that her favorite author's fantasy books are so good because she writes them with the blood of--. Well, you'll have to read it to find out. It's published under the name Isobel Bird, which some of you know is the name I used when I wrote the Circle of Three series a number of years ago.
Anyway, I get something like one-millionth of one cent for each copy of the collection that's sold. You know, because I'm splitting the royalties with the other seventeen authors, including Joyce Carol Oates, Bentley Little, P.D. Cacek, and Ellen Schreiber. So that 17 cents really represents about 17 million copies sold.
Okay, it doesn't. But it sold pretty well. And Joyce Carol Oates and I get royalties from the same book, which is all kinds of cool.
The second royalty statement I received this week was for some books I wrote about fifteen years ago and that are now out of print. The statement itself was 130 pages. The check was for $215.37.
The statement was longer than some of the books. Why? Because these books ended up being printed in seven thousand languages. Okay, they weren't. But they were printed in a couple. And each one has several different electronic versions. All of these different versions get their own statement page, so it adds up. Still, that's a lot of pages, and when you average it out I got about $1.65 per page.
The world over, writers are opening their October royalty statements, hopeful that they'll receive enough to retire on, or at least to finance a week in France or whatever it is they dream of. And I'm sure this is a jolly week for some of them. Stephenie Meyer, for instance. I bet her royalty statement is as thick as nine phone books. She probably gets so excited when she sees her check that she has to put a cool washrag on her forehead to calm herself down.
Others of us, not so much. My $215.54 won't get me to France. I suppose I could get to L.A. on that, but after airfare I wouldn't have much left for food and, you know, strip clubs and blow. Not that I was planning on buying anything with the money anyway. It's going toward the electricity bill and dog food. But a guy can dream.