More Thoughts on Royalties

(These may just be the same thoughts I’ve had about royalties.)

I’ve said here and elsewhere before that if I can afford to buy us burritos from my quarterly royalties, I consider the quarter a success. Spouse and I are having burritos tonight, so the 2nd quarter of 2021 is successful.

I have a high degree of trust in my indie publisher, Falstaff Books. This isn’t only because they are nice people. In part, it’s because they seem like honest people, who set reasonable expectations at the beginning of the process of the Copper Road trilogy. For instance, I knew that most hardcopy sales would come from convention sales, so 2020 was no surprise and the first two quarters of 2021 weren’t big surprises either.

I also trust them because they have a royalty statement that I can read and understand. They break out sales and royalties by work. They list convention sales, hardcopy sales, ebook sales and the number of pages read on Kindle Unlimited, which is why I assume 5 people read Aluminum Leaves on KU, while one person only read 14 pages of Copper Road before stopping.

(Note: I have zero way of knowing if that person read that far, decided they liked it, and bought/ordered a hardcopy or a regular Kindle sale. Frankly though, KU is a better deal, so I doubt that’s what happened.)

Once they’ve broken out the sales, the statement shows the proceeds, and the percentage due me as the author, with a column that is totaled at the bottom. Very transparent.

Here’s the downside to trusting my publisher; I pretty much have to, because there are zero backup systems in place where I can realistically check my sales. My books aren’t in bookstores unless they are consigned by me, so Bookscan doesn’t help. Amazon shows where your book is, in rank order, in given Kindle categories. Up until very recently, that was all I had. Since then I discovered a Kindle sales calculator. I’ve been trying it out, but it’s early in the month, and it defaults to a One Day setting, so again, not that useful. And since Amazon compares each book to every other book, including new ones that come into the system, I don’t understand the formula that calculator uses.

I hope I can get more information when Comeuppance Served Cold comes out, because it will have a national distribution, which should (or… might?) show up on Bookscan.

This does not mean I am powerless as an author. In every contract I’ve signed I’ve had the ability to order (and pay for) an audit if I question the royalties or sales figures. I don’t know how I would know though. I mean, if your book is on the New York Times Best Seller List for thirteen weeks and your royalties are only enough to buy burritos, you might want to start looking for auditors, but otherwise…? It’s a mystery.

I keep learning though. I’ll look around for a more flexible Kindle sales calculator. I’ll scroll through Writer Twitter to see what they have to say about ways to determine if your book is selling. And I’ll keep posting what I learn, because why not?

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