I've been a bit muted lately, burning the midnight keyboard. Well, the reason is fairly uncomfortable - I have to try to earn a living, and I get paid in US dollars. Like most writers (I've seen occasional scathing comments about 'greedy authors' re the price of Australian books. For the record: from that paperback you just paid an eyewatering amount for... I got 64 cents, US cents - 63 Australian cents right now) we don't make much money. While I enjoy writing and work rather hard at it, it's a fairly marginal profession. Breaking even for us, even though we live very frugally, requires three things. Firstly, that I get paid reasonably promptly as I am the kind that stresses about money and battles to be productive when I am worrying about how to pay the bills, and the cushion is not large. As anyone who has ever been involved will tell you, publishing is always very slow about paying turn-in or royalties. You're looking at 2-5 months, and royalties only start after a full 6 month reporting period - meaning you can only see that money as much as 13-14 months after the book. The crowd I have mostly published with are quite good about being prompt on initial signing money (about 1/4- 1/3 of what a book will earn). So the first point is always rather doubtful. It goes with the territory, and that's the way it is. The second factor is a slight premium on being paid in US $ when the currency exchange is in my favour. It's not, right now (needless to say, nothing has got any cheaper, though). This also doesn't look like it'll change in short order. It could be worse, I could be in South Africa where galloping inflation on medical, insurance and unavoidables like electricity and municipal rates were killing us, which, when you add that to what amounts to income deflation, ain't pretty. In times when the local currency was stable or getting weaker... I at least didn't lose money while I waited to be paid. The third factor is keeping it all ticking over - if you're in a cycle where, yes, they're late, royalties are 18 months late, but it doesn't matter that much because you're getting paid at regular intervals, although it's money not from the book you've turned in but the one before, and royalties from the one two back. I really have to write two, to two and half books a year to earn a bit less than Tassie average wage -- and I'm not at the bottom of the sales scale... I've just been glad to be able to do something I love and we're just careful with money and get by. But it's hard, constant work - which got royally screwed up by the GFC and then us emigrating and all the drama associated with that and my mum's death. I'm behind. What's worse is the new contracts... just aren't. We have a two year hiatus there, and I'm down 3 books under contract, one of which I am busy with. Several things are hanging in the wings, but none have finalised.
And then finally things have all come together in bit of a perfect thump. I finally got the turn in money for the last book - July I think.(now fair enough, it's a co-authored book, and it's not just me they were waiting on) But instead of paying electronically as usual, as they're supposed to... I got a cheque. Which I gave to the bank. Who called to say... two months to clear a foreign cheque over a certain value. As you may be aware the currency situation between when I turned this in and now already means a pay cut of 20%. By the time this finalises? Who knows. But it's not going to be good. So between the bank and the slow paying, the exchange rate, and the hiatus in my production and contracts, things are not at their best.
I'm battler, and not a quitter. I can do nothing to make publishing in general change the ways of the last two centuries. I'd be a fool to waste my time trying. I registered a complaint with the bank, and they changed their tune slightly to 6 weeks. I can do nothing about the exchange rate. So I'm working on the only angle I can: I got onto Eric (my co-author) and Mike (my agent) and we're working on finalising ANY of the outstanding deals. Eric is looking at another (the final) Karres book, which has been agreed to in principle, just not signed yet. Mike is following up on STARDOGS - which is finished and they've been hanging onto, and the possibility of a prequel to SLOW TRAIN TO ARCTURUS. I'm pushing to finish the Steampunk YA thing Mike thinks he has a buyer for, and DOG AND DRAGON, for which I can at least get into the wait for turn-in queue. I'm also looking at other avenues. I've a collection of shorts coming out as an e-book on Kindle and other formats, I've got SAVE THE DRAGONS sitting in the US with Baen (one of those deals we're waiting on). I'd like it come out in print (I owe people people copies when it does), but if they don't move soon -- I'll do that as Kindle/ ebook too. (where, BTW I get between 50-60% of the cover price, depending where people buy it, as opposed 8% of the US paperback price for paperbacks).
But the reality is, unless some of these (and not just one) come through very soon, and the exchange rate does not go any further South for me... I need to find another job (if I can find one, hopefully on the island), and write as and when I can.
Alas, poor writer, I knew him well.
Ah well. Back to swimming up the undertow.
Nil carborundum illegitimi.
But if I am a little more terse than usual, and the sense of humour is a bit sparse, you'll understand.