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The Truth Behind Your Royalty Agreement

Good Evening Everyone!  I know I usually post on Mondays, but I wanted to post this week while this was fresh in my mind and I had the time – just in case Monday was as crazy this week as it was last week!

So, I have been excited about how my book sales have been going and I’ve been tracking both my inventory and my sales and donations.  I was anxiously waiting to receive my first royalty check from my publisher for several reasons: first, I wanted to see how many copies of my book I had sold last year in the two months after it was released; and second, I wanted to see how much I made.  My royalty agreement was a 50% split with the publisher so I was estimating what I should make.  I want to preface this post by saying that I’m a very thorough, detail-oriented person (translation:  I am OCD a lot of times) and when I agreed to my contract with my publisher, I not only read the whole thing, I had questions that I wanted answers to before I moved forward with them.  With that being said, I was not expecting what I received as my first royalty check:  $25.66 for selling 37 copies of my book!  This works out to about $0.62 per book that I am receiving – with a retail price of $8.99 each.

The first thing I want to impress upon any other first-time authors out there either going the self-publishing route or working with a publishing house:  ask for specifics when it comes to your money even if you think you understand!  The misleading wording in my contract stated I would receive 50% “of the amount received by the publisher”.  This was evidently supposed to tell me that the amount received could be a lot less than the actual retail price.  It turns out that my publisher gives a 55% discount for books sold through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com – something I WAS NOT AWARE OF!  I thought I understood the wording, but it was not 100% clear!

The second thing I want to suggest:  ask open-ended questions.  I now would always ask “What do I not know about the royalties that is important to know?”  It sounds kind of dumb, and I feel like you shouldn’t have to ask a question like this, but it’s true when they say that you don’t know what you don’t know!  How would I have known to ask about a discounted rate being offered if it wasn’t referred to directly in the contract?  I was later told that “there’s a detailed breakdown of the discounts on the website” – but why would I look on the website for that when I have my contract and no one informed me that there might be more detailed information surrounding the royalties agreement?!?

I have to say that this all continues to be a learning experience and I am using this experience for good and trying not to dwell on the negative.  It is motivating me to either find an agent or try to get picked up by a publishing house now instead of waiting until the end of the year.  But I have to admit that it makes me sad – I chose Inspiring Voices as my publisher because they are affiliated with Guidepost, a well-known Christian company.  I figured that they would have integrity and honesty and I wouldn’t have to worry about someone trying to rip me off.  Lesson learned – even in the Christian Community, I guess some will still try to mislead and take advantage to make an extra buck or two.

I hope that this doesn’t dissuade anyone from trying to go the self-publishing route – that isn’t my intent at all!!  I really wanted to write this to try to make other first-time authors aware so that they don’t suffer the same problem that I had.  I hope you all have a great week, and I’ll see you next week!!

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