My First Royalty Statement (Spoiler Alert: I Earned Out)

I’m kind of a nerd for spreadsheets in general, but I received one this past week that was the best spreadsheet ever: my first royalty statement. I’d been thinking about this one for a while and it had less to do with the money aspect and more to do with the sales aspect of it. It’s probably not healthy, but I needed some kind of tangible proof that what I had done, that the effort everyone involved in this book put forth, had been worth it. And it was.

I suspected this was the case and all along Jason told me he was happy with how things were going, but it wasn’t until I saw it in black and white on that spreadsheet that I could breathe a sigh of relief. The phrase “royalty due” was not only an indicator that a check was on the way, it was validation that enough people had bought my book – my baby, the thing I put my heart and soul into – to earn out the advance and then some.

Sure, it was a modest advance, but more than most new publishers are paying and regardless of advance amount, the sales number was pretty respectable. I immediately could name off five well-respected first novels from bigger and more established publishers that sold fewer copies in their lifetime than MURDER BOY sold in it’s first three months. This isn’t to brag, it’s to say thank you to everyone who helped me along the way and help make sure that when luck and fate turned their charmed eyes toward me, there was a book there ready to exploit that good luck and karma. Jason may have paid a modest advance, but he gave me and this book a level of effort commensurate with a six figure book deal.

The even better news is there is still more opportunity out there to capitalize on for the next book. MURDER BOY achieved respectable sales numbers with absolutely no trade reviews, no early Barnes and Noble shelf space, and a release date that was moved around a bit due to the gobsmacking good luck of being able to sign at two of the best indie mystery book stores in the business. There’s a chance we can do even better with the next book. And this is just the sort of inspiration I needed at just the right time.

For a while the thought of doubling my promo efforts for the next book and doubling my street efforts exhausted and depressed me because I had no way of gauging how much more I needed or how effective my initial efforts had been. This statement showed me that what I had done worked and that I likely had room to grow for the next book. That’s some huge motivation right there. Now I have a new first quarter number I’m aiming for with RIOT LOAD and I can’t wait until next year when I’m writing a new post detailing how that turned out.

A final note of interest on this whole thing is the oddity of selling way more print copies than ebook copies. Since MURDER BOY had been originally slotted as a digital original and I made the bulk of my name on various digital platforms, I expected it to be the other way around. I hesitate to draw any larger industry conclusions from that, but in my world I think it means people wanted to support me with a physical object they could have signed or give away or prop up a table leg with.

So thanks again to Jason Pinter for a great cover, one of the best cover copy lines ever, and a keen editorial eye, thanks to everyone at Murder by the Book and Poisoned Pen for letting me crash their parties, and thanks to the authors who took the time to put their reputations on the line and blurb the book and, mostly, thank you to everyone who bought a copy for themselves or a friend. I love you all.