Some years ago I read a collection of essays, each written by well-known authors, on the subject: Why I Write. Among the many reasons these authors gave for writing (including self-expression, exploration, or even fun), only one had the audacity to mention money. "Actually," he wrote, "every writer hopes to make some money from his or her work."
Indeed. The only problem is . . . most books (90% that are published) don't make money for the publishing firm or the author. Only a select few actually turn a profit.
This is true of most of my titles. I write 'em, but don't make much (or sometimes anything) from 'em.
However, a few weeks back I became suspicious of one of my book titles after noting the sales records from my editor and following the Amazon.com sales graphs. The book should have produced some royalties, I reasoned. And so I called the publisher to inquire.
Amazingly, I learned that the sales records for my book were a mess. Not only was the book listed under two separate titles, but the sales charts and royalty agreements were not even contractually consistent. After much pursuance and repeated efforts, however, the publisher agreed that, by golly, they did owe me some cash.
Not much cash . . . but cash, nonetheless. And this after months had passed from the time the check should have been cut.
Ahhh . . . such is the fine life of a mid-list writer. But it only goes to show . . . a writer must be his/her own advocate, keep detailed records, and must be ever vigilant with contracts. The kings and queens of publishing don't watch over the subjects . . . and a writer must often be willing to joust with authority.
I've got those royalties now (and can give them away). But first, a milkshake perhaps. Or a hamburger. That's about all I can afford with my windfall.