If you published a book with a commercial publisher in 2006, congratulations!
We are five days into 2007 and I imagine you are checking the mailbox for your reward--a royalty check.
Well, not so fast.
Once a book is published, the details of the business of publishing grow fuzzy for most authors.
So, here is a refresher.
1. Go back and look at your book contract. Typically, publishers pay royalties twice each year. Find out specifically when the royalty period closes and when the statements are issued.
2. Are you royalties to be paid on the list price of your book or the net? List price means, for example, if your book is in hardcover and the the price is $25. and your royalty is 10%, you will earn $2.50 per book sold.
If your royalty is paid on the net, the royalty is calculated on the discount the publisher gives to the wholesaler or retailer. For example, let's say the publisher's discount is 50% off the list price. That means your royalty is calculated on $12.50. At 10%, you will earn $1.25 per book sold.
3. Remember your advance against royalties? Well, the publisher recoups the entire advance before you receive any royalty.
4. Reserves. Most publishing contracts have a reserve clause that allows them to withhold a portion of your royalty against future returns. Typically, this clause does not come into play unless your book's marketing campaign was geared to the best seller lists.
5. Read your royalty statement carefully. For most mere mortals, reading a royalty statement requires an Ph.D. in econometrics. The statement lists all of the different revenue streams for your book. It is a reflection of the royalty section in your contract. Several discounts may apply to your book sales. When in doubt, call the royalty department for an explanation not your editor.
If you have an agent, he or she will probably send a letter with your statement explaining the calculations. If not, ask. That's part of the service the agent provides to the client.
Best wishes for a prosperous 2007!