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November 05, 2005

Fun With Royalties and other Book News

Yesterday's mail brought royalty statements for Old Man's War through June of 2005 (yes, there's a bit of a time lag involved), and it was pretty good news. Not only has Old Man's War earned out its advance, it's also earned out the advance of The Android's Dream, the book that was the other part of the two-book deal I got when I shacked up with Tor (The Ghost Brigades is on its own separate contract), and has earned a bit more beside that. This is good news because:

1. It means that the trade and mass-market paperback editions of Old Man's War will be pure gravy, in terms of royalties;

2. It means I start earning royalties on The Android's Dream from the very first book sold;

3. It means I start being paid royalties sooner. The way the contract was structured, royalties wouldn't be paid until the advances for both novels were recouped, so if OMW had only earned out its own advance, I wouldn't be getting a check until when/if Android's Dream earned out its advance as well (you may ask: why agree to such a thing? Answer: because I didn't figure it would be an issue one way or another. Yay! I was right!).

4. It means Tor is definitely making money off me, and relatively early, which is a happy thing for the selling of future books, particularly to them.

So am I rolling in sweet, sweet royalty money? No. Three words: "Reserves Against Returns." Which is to say Tor holds back some money every statement period to make sure they're not whacked by returns of the book; the money held in reserve is typically refunded in the next statement period. By that time they'll have stopped selling the hardcover to get the trade paperback in the stores, so we should have a nearly complete accounting of how many hardbacks were sold and how many were returned. This is probably where Tor's thing of multiple-but-relatively small printings will be useful; I don't imagine there will be too many returns overall, and that's not a bad thing.

In all, not a bad place for a first-time author to be. As an aside, I'd note that if you actually wanted a copy of the hardcover of OMW, now would be a good time to get it, since as noted it's going to be withdrawn from sale when the trade version comes out. This is particularly imperative for folks who like the Donato cover, since the trade version (and any future mass-market version) will feature the John Harris cover.

Other book news: Subterranean Press informs me that Agent to the Stars has sold 1200 copies so far, which is a very healthy number for a small-press limited edition. The run was of 1500 copies, so that means 300 are left. I'm hoping these get nabbed by the end of the year, so I'll be forced to fork over $350 to the Child's Play charity, as previously promised, on top of the 10% of the cover price Subterranean has already pledged to Child's Play. You can get them at the link above or off of Amazon.

Also, Barnes & Noble is featuring The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies as a Recommended Gift for the holidays. Naturally, I couldn't agree more.  

That's the book news I have for you today.  


Posted by john at November 5, 2005 02:53 PM

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Justine Larbalestier | November 5, 2005 06:29 PM


That's the beauty of low advances, you earn out WAY faster. Actually, just earning out is a big deal, most books don't.

Dean | November 5, 2005 06:54 PM

From what I understand of the book business, that's actually pretty damn good news. I'd be very pleased with myself if I were you.

Chelsea | November 5, 2005 11:55 PM

that's freakin' great news. I'm happy you've done it already.

now you can upgrade your clones!

cherie priest | November 6, 2005 03:57 PM

I call you a lucky bastard, but I do so with love! Congratulations, and that's wonderful news. May I be so lucky to get such a grand statement one of these days.

Also, last week I dibbed OMW for the Subterranean newsletter, for a segment about "what writers are reading." If Bill ends up not using it, I'll just post it on my page and up and up at amazon. Good stuff -- high fives, and all that. You deserve every bit of it ;-)

shana | November 6, 2005 07:15 PM

congratulations! you should be proud.

Karl | November 7, 2005 03:24 PM

Picked up the Old Man from the library so I'll finally get to read it. (2 copies at the Greater Victoria Public Library, BC, Canada.)

Michael Bernstein | November 19, 2005 03:50 PM

Hi John. I thought you might be interested to know that copy #547 of 'Agent to the Stars' has found a home at the Whitney branch of the Las Vegas Clark County Library District, where I spotted it after reading Cory's plug on Boing-Boing.

I didn't even know that our library buys limited editions! Someone over there knows what they're doing.

A capsule review: I loved it! It made me laugh out loud in a couple of spots, which is pretty rare. Tom had just the right tincture of self-loathing to make him work as a character, although I was a bit surprized at the end that no-one turned out to be a villian and had to be eliminated.

I did have one suspension of disbelief moment when Joshua/Ralph's head went blobby and transparent in the hospital. There was no indication prior to that moment that a Yherajk could control it's appearance at all beyond it's shape. In fact you made the point earlier that Ralph's toungue was looking 'anemic' because Joshua had taken over his blood-supply, which would indicate a Yherajk couldn't even control it's color, much less opacity and texture, certainly not to the point of simulating hair and skin.

Another surprise: The Krahulik cover (which is excellent, by the way) threw me off for a while, as I thought that Tom Stein was going to hit on the lower-risk (and longer-term) strategy of the Yherajk funding a CG children's show featuring characters shaped like something they could easily emulate. Something like the old animated show 'Barbapappa', maybe.

However, that was the only such moment, and it passed pretty quickly.

I really enjoyed reading it, and will seek out more of your work in the future.

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