The end of last month was marked by an experience that not many people will have undergone: you see, I received a royalty cheque. Or rather, and electronic deposit was made to my bank account. I’m pretty sure that most of you are unaware of the fact that some time ago I turned my first 75 blog posts into an e-book available from Amazon.com. It was a logical progression from taking the blog public and required remarkably little effort on my part. All I had to do was copy and paste the blogs into Word, tidy up the formatting and correct some small errors. I also added an explanatory paragraph to each post in order to provide some context for new readers, and, I have to admit, in order to increase the page count to something approaching respectability. This done, all that was required was for me to follow the instructions provided by Amazon, hit “Accept” and wait for the cash to roll in.
You may wonder what sort of life I lead as a published author. Perhaps you imagine me sitting in my leather wing-back chair in my wood paneled study typing posts as I look out across the perfectly manicured parkland that surrounds the baroque edifice that is Singledad Towers. No doubt you imagine I spend my off time playing croquet with J.K. Rowling, Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie before retiring for drinks on the deck of a beachfront villa. Where that it were so.
You all know that I have a day job (post to come), so I ain’t fooling nobody. Much as I would love to be able to support myself purely from my ability to string words together in a coherent, um, thingy, the reality is somewhat different. You see, the royalties amounted to a whopping $1.05. Yup, you read that correctly. Not even enough to buy a cup of coffee.
I can see that none of you is even remotely surprised by this. Let’s be honest, only a few friends even know that the book exists, and most of them have absolutely no interest in buying it. The payment equates to exactly one sale, for which, lest you imagine otherwise, I am very grateful. My appreciation, to you, J.T. I hope you enjoyed getting up to speed. I know exactly who bought the book: let me explain.
A couple of months ago a school friend moved to the area and I was one of three people who helped him unpack the van. Afterwards, as the others had prior commitments, he and I retired to a local pub in order to catch up, as we’d not seen each other for quite some time. During our chat I mentioned the e-book and he told me that as he hadn’t read my earliest posts, he would use some of the money in his Amazon account to purchase a copy. That $1.05 is the result of his purchase.
I’m not complaining. At no point did I expect to make real money from the e-book, and seeing as most of the 10,000 books published in the U.S. every year go unread, I’m doing better than most, although when I consider the amount earned ( this isn’t my first cheque) compared to the amount of time involved compiling the book, let alone writing the posts, the hourly rate is so low as to be invisible. I wonder if Andy Weir went through this. As you know, “The Martian” started as an episodic e-book, which through reader feedback he was able to parlay into a hard copy novel and then a movie. Bully for him. Seriously. He took a great idea, corrected the science and turned out one of the most enjoyable novels of recent years. I don’t see that happening in my case. I doubt very much if some bored producer from Netflix is going to stumble up on my e-book and decide it would be perfect material on which to base a T.V. show. Even if she or he did, would it be a comedy, a tragedy or a farce? Who knows, it could even end up as the next “Wolf Lake”. I guess, to paraphrase Mr. Weir’s eponymous hero, ” I’m going to have to literature the shit out of this”.