When I was a young girl, I never thought about how writers got paid. I didn’t care. I wanted to be a writer, but I lived with my parents and they handled all the sticky financial details. Why should I worry?
Somewhere between moving out and having a family, I learned what it meant to be financially secure, to be stable and pay bills on time. I’m the household financier, actually. I found that I liked paying the bills and keeping track of the stacks. It was all functional.
Now, however, becoming an author has thrown me into the murky depths of intellectual property, royalties, and other things that go bump in the night. I had no idea where to turn. You can find fifty thousand books on writing by writers, but you can’t find one about the publishing and financial side. It’s in the best interest of the publishing house to keep those details quiet, so that they can keep their proprietary place in history.
No wonder publishers hate Amazon. They’re up front with everything. 30% of each sale goes to Amazon, and 70% goes to the author. You can find that up front on their website. Now, Amazon’s not going to give you an advance. That’s still in the realm of publishers. But that may be what is holding old school publishers back. An advance is a projection of anticipated sales. There is some formula that exists, that helps project an author’s sales.
I am not a mathematician, but I have been an app developer, and I know when a company makes projections on things they’ve never done before, the numbers are approximately as accurate as a five year old child who doesn’t want to get in trouble. When you have data, say, a previous title that sold, it is much more likely that the advance will be accurate, or at least within tolerable limits.
In other words, whose system is prejudiced to the known quantity? Publishing houses. Whose system wins no matter who is published? Amazon’s.
It is true, right now there is more poor work being churned out because of the simplicity and lack of quality checking that Amazon provides. I have read some bad stories because they were cheap and in my genre. On the other hand, I’ve read some really bad books that were on the New York Best Seller’s list. Much like the show, So You Think You Can Dance, the point isn’t about America’s best book, it’s about America’s favorite book. Fifty Shades of Gray, anyone?
This will be a learning experience for everyone involved. I’m still worried about getting my checks, but honestly the worry is a pale thing beside how my book is going to do. Not for the financial gain, but for the terrifying reality that my work is out there, in the world, being read and hopefully enjoyed by a lot of people, who will then want to read my next work.
If I can succeed with that, then I truly will be richer than the Queen of England.