Is Talking Money Still Taboo? Too Bad If So…
There’s nothing like doing end of year accounts to make me remember just how much I dislike sitting in front of a computer to input numbers and not words. I was a terrible maths student much preferring the company of books and art over algebra and fractions. I’ve always thought that my brain just isn’t wired for numbers, but give me a bunch of letters and I’ll happily spin a wordy yarn. For me words are fun, numbers a frightful nightmare.
Being self-employed does mean I can’t escape the responsibility of plodding through my annual bookkeeping chores. It’s long seemed the only drawback of not having an employer. So I have to face my nemesis every now and then, knuckle down and cobble things into some kind of semblance of order for my accountant.
This year it’s been interesting timing as at the same time that I’ve been bored rigid by spreadsheets, I’ve followed a Twitter debate about the harsh economics of the publishing industry and earnings of writers. Some of the figures have been eye-opening and not in a good way. Like this from renowned children’s author Nicola Davies who has over 50 books to her name
Just in case anyone is wondering how bad discounting is for authors. One title of mine sold over 13,000 copies in 6 months and earned me just over 800 quid plus VAT.
— Nicola Davies (@nicolakidsbooks) April 17, 2018
I make that 0.06p per book! Shocking.
Or this tweet from artist and writer Jackie Morris
One of my books once sold over 240 000 copies and earned me about £400.
Got to love those high discount people who can only manage to make huge profits if author’s royalties are cut. ( Not)
Book in question was bears Bears and More Bears.
— Jackie Morris (@JackieMorrisArt) May 4, 2018
These are people who create original, much-loved books and yet receive less than stale crumbs in remuneration.
This is the reality of today’s publishing industry and high discounting. This from Nicola shows another concern,
Also there are organisations who buy up kids books at huge discount then sell through schools etc – authors ripped off and knowledgeable Indy booksellers undercut. Overall means a drop in diversity of what gets published. Bad for everyone https://t.co/dSZx8zCiEC
— Nicola Davies (@nicolakidsbooks) April 18, 2018
And award winning novelist and poet Mimi Theebo, which Jackie answers in her previous tweet shows the figures:
Yes, that’s right. One of my books sold over 125,148 copies. And has earned me less than 4K. pic.twitter.com/h2ul03uEXT
— 📚 Mimi Thebo 📚 (@MimiThebo) May 1, 2018
For a bit of context with my own books, the print run of the two I had control over, Saving One More and Saving Maya was 1000 and neither is anywhere close to selling out! If I wasn’t such a dullard when it comes to accounting I’d be able to tell you what each book has earned me, but you probably get the idea seeing the numbers above. Combined they’ve probably paid for a few days food for the dogs!
What I can say as it’s all fresh from my recent bookkeeping is that Saving Susie-Belle earned me £58.74 in royalties last year. I’ve never written any book thinking I’d get rich and I guess I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to pay the bills through other work over the years. Money is not a motivator for me. Despite what a few snide and frankly weird people believe, I do not make money from the suffering of my dogs – yep, I’ve been accused of that more than once (including from more than one breeder aka puppy farmer who make thousands of pounds every year from their dogs). No, for me my books have always been about the message and education of puppy buyers which I hope my books contribute to. Good job really as I like to be positive about how I spend my days and if I was doing it for the money I’d have stopped at book one!
But there is a problem which might come to pass which I’m going to put out there now. Saving Susie-Belle needs to prove itself to the publisher that it’s a book worth keeping in print. It has to sell if it’s to avoid becoming that sad, abandoned creature, an out-of-print book.
So please buy a copy if you can find a few pounds to support a good cause, and by cause I don’t mean my bank balance. I’m hoping it’s abundantly clear that you’d have to buy one heck of a lot of books to make much difference there. No, the difference you can really make is by getting the book into libraries. If you already have it on your shelf, or kindle, please buy a copy to donate to a library. Library books are the most effective way to reach many readers over time. Books sit on library shelves for years. Susie-Belle’s story could be out circulating for years to come if you can help by donating a copy to a library or two or three.
When we look at the average price of a magazine which quickly gets discarded, spending a few pounds on a book for a library is a great action which will ripple on for years to come. And it’ll help to prevent Susie-Belle’s story from ending as an out-of-print book – what a dismal thought to ponder for my special girl’s life-affirming journey.
You can buy my books from your local book store, just ask them to get you a copy in if it’s not on the shelf. Or, online here’s a link offering free shipping: