Friday, September 07, 2007

The New Math


My sisters were in elementary when Georgia revised its mathematics curriculum, and everyone called it “the new math.” Okay, that has been a long time, and I don’t remember what was new about it. Mom didn’t like it much; I do recall that. She had trouble helping with homework. and yes, my mother did help with homework.

Higher mathematics was never my forte, but I have generally been competent with practical math. I balance the checkbook, manage the budget, and can figure my grades if the electronic gradebook suddenly goes sicko. However, I can’t figure out how my current publisher decides how much to pay me. Oh, I have a contract, but what it states doesn’t jive with what is on the statements.

There isn’t much money from Booklocker, my original self-pub outfit, but the process is straightforward and the paltry sums paid are consistent. On those rare occasions when someone purchases a copy of The Gift Horse from Amazon, I get a small percentage of the sale, $2.39 to be exact. (Aside: For that bit of income, folks like “my old pal” Cheryl get to post flaming reviews on Amazon.) If that same book is purchased from Booklocker, I get $5.58, or if the reader buys an eBook, I get half the purchase price, since eBooks have lower inherent costs. While I haven’t made much money with Booklocker, I haven’t lost any either.

During the first six months of 2007, WCP reported two copies of Trinity on Tylos sold via Amazon. My contract states that I get 7.5% of print sales, which is not as good as Booklocker, but is not an unusual percentage. However, when that customer pays $17.95 at Amazon, I only get 7.5% of $3.82 (29 cents), not the cover price. Oh, wait, that was last quarter; this quarter I got 7.5% of $6.22 (48 cents) per print copy sold via Amazon. I don’t understand it. Nor do I understand why royalties for a $5.99 eBook are stated as 30% of $2.55 (68 cents) for a Fictionwise eBook sale in 2007, but sales per title from that vendor were only 18 cents per download in 2006. Mom was much better at math than I am, but I’ll bet she would not have understood this “new math” either.

According to that practical math that I do understand, six months of royalties for Trinity on Tylos (however WCP figures them) pays the about the same as teaching for eight minutes at my part-time technical college job.

I do enjoy writing, and I can’t imagine not writing. This entry is not about disliking writing or publishing, but perhaps it will give perspective on the question,“When is your next book coming out?” The answer is, I might consider trying again, just as soon as I understand this new math.

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