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bear by san

December 2021



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writing patience

hey, hold my beer and watch this!

It's royalty statement season for two of my publishers, which means that I get to see how well or poorly books were doing around Christmastime last year. (Yeah, the wheels of publishing grind slow. The grand tradition of the 4-5 months delayed royalty statement was established long ago, and computers certainly haven't speeded anything up. Nor are they likely to, when publishers can still make a few pennies on the float.)

My Roc statements come so early in the biannual period I tend to forget I've gotten them by the time the others arrive--I think I had the statements for Whiskey & Water and Blood & Iron in February. (No, they haven't sold through the advance yet, but I think the MMPB for B&I will put it over the top, if it sells okay.)

So yesterday, I got my Tor statement, and it looks (If I am reading this thing right*, because every publisher also has a different format for the darned things) it looks like A Companion to Wolves (by Sarah Monette, and some chick who is obviously clinging to Sarah's coat-tails for all she's worth) sold through the advance, and then some, in its first three months of life. No money is forthcoming yet, because of this thing called "reserve against returns," which is the publisher holding on to the money until they are sure that the books won't come back. (It takes fewer copies of a hardcover to sell through a reserve, because the per-piece royalty is higher.)

To give you an idea of how long it sometimes takes, Bantam Spectra was still holding a reserve against returns on Scardown and Worldwired, published in 2005 (though they have released the reserve on Hammered), the last time I checked--remember what I said about making a few pennies on the float? Anyway, I don't have my Spectra statements yet, so they may have released that as of this period. Since Worldwired just went back for another 2000 copies (that's either the third printing or the fourth; I've lost track. I think it's the third.) I'm reasonably certain they will have to give me some more money eventually.

Moral: don't count on living on your royalties.

Other Moral: Suprise!buttsecks sells. Or maybe feminist critique of fluffy companion animal fantasy sells. Or maybe both.

*I'm still trying to figure out how many copies this says are in print, though, so don't count on my math too much.

Speaking of mass market paperbacks and A Companion to Wolves, Amazon is telling me that the MMPB of A Companion to Wolves will be available in July, not October as previously expected.

So it looks to be a happening May/June/July/August in Ebearland, what with the trade paperback of New Amsterdam available! now! and the last two episodes of Shadow Unit: Season 1 in the hopper, and the MMPB of Blood & Iron coming early next month, and the trades of Ink & Steel and Hell & Earth in July and August, respectively. After that, there will be a brief pause before All the Windwracked Stars at the end of October, in hardcover, from Tor.

Also, I've had a couple of conversations with my editor and agent about Chill, and now that I seem to be able to write again, we're going to try to get it finished in time to keep the current publication date of January 2009. Which means I have to have a draft by the middle of August, and we need to be done with the revisions by September 15. This will work out, as it means I will have the dratted thing done before Viable Paradise. (Which is where I am spending my birthday this year. Go team me!)

So really, okay. I can see why people say I'm prolific. But honestly, if you spend seven or eight hours a day writing fiction, this is what happens.

And speaking of which, this would be me avoiding working on "The Red in the Sky is Our Blood." So I should pony up and go do that, neh?


Hah! I thought the Wolfie book would do well. Congrats. And i think the music business is better than publishing, at least the record flacks get you high while they are ripping you off... snarkedy-snark-snark

Here's hoping the warchovski brothers or frank miller read "Dust." ;-)

Did you know that Miller is going to do "The Spirit?" I'm all tingly at the thought
Frank Miller's misogyny makes him pretty much unreadable to me, in the post Dark Knight period. Good lord. Could that man appear to hate women more?
For me, at least, it was the critique more than the surprise!buttsex, because I am ordinarily pretty dead-set in my "no animal books" rule but CtW broke it fantastically.

Poor substitute teachers say YAY to MMPBs, and a slightly more financially irresponsible YAY to more new books.
Well, thank you.

I like to think I write animals pretty okay. *g*

Re: dry informational comment

Oh, I'm perfectly cognizant that books come back, stripped or as whole copies. I like to think I was explaining, rather than complaining, above.
<reads no further than the title of the post>

<fears for Bear's safety>

(OK, I lie, I read the whole thing, and found it interesting and educational even, but I did have a really bad moment at the beginning...)
Hee. Sometimes, cvillette rubs off on me.
So basically, if you get into the business of selling books, you should hope for a good advance and then make it last as long as possible? This is shattering news for those of us who imagined receiving fat royalty checks every week. XD

Also: surprise buttsecks? I. am. so. there.

Alas. We eat a lot of ramen in my business.
A couple of things.

First, reserve against returns should be "for no longer than three royalty periods." If that's not in your current contracts, it should be negotiated into later ones. I can't remember if you have an agent, but either way it's a reasonable thing to ask for and most publishers will give it.

Second, my employer, John Wiley & Sons (nonfiction only) offers a hard (some might use less evenhanded words) contract, but does one thing I think is superb, and should be possible for any publisher in 2008. Our authors have access to a 24/7 password protected author royalty site that not only has soft copies of your previous royalty statements but also sales records updated by month and royalty forecasts, which cuts down on a lot of every-six-month fretting. (If an author's payments go to an agent, then the agent, rather than the author, has the access; it's organized by payee, so the author would otherwise be able to see what all the other agency clients are getting.) Mention it to publishing people whenever you can; I'd love to see it spread through the industry.
ooo! Now *that's* shiny.
> sold through the advance, and then some, in its first three months of life.

Oh, you shining stars. (I loved the book. But it's great to know that other people did too.)
...Bantam Spectra was still holding a reserve against returns on Scardown and Worldwired, published in 2005...

Thank you for a much needed reality check. *sigh*
I've read a lot of both of your works, but mostly from the library or from MMPB, because until recently I was a poor student (or a poor artist or...)

I'm almost ashamed to note that A Companion to Wolves is the first thing I've bought in hardcover right after it came out. It's good to know I'm not the only one, though. }:D
We like all readers, even poor ones.

As a self-supporting artist, I feel your pain on "poor."

mmm chocolate cake for lunch...

I can see now why there's such excitement for pushing foreign sales.

Sale early, eat often.
Wow - that royalty business is complicated. And s - l - o - w .

Interesting observation on the buttsecks. The only book to score higher than 6 out of 10 in my book group was the only one to feature some. However, correlation doesn't equal causation . . .
Correlation does not equal causation. But statistical links are suggestive. ;-)