Pub Rants

Royalty Statement Time

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STATUS: A new company has moved into the office suite next door and they are holding a wine & cheese party in about 10 minutes (who could resist?). I have to say I’m intrigued by the company. They work with corporations and architects to purchase art for lobbies, office decoration, etc. Sounds a bit cool I must say.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WAR OF MAN by Neil Young

Statements come in Feb/Aug, March/Sept, April/Oct, May/Nov, June/December. We can pretty much count on at least one statement to arrive for just about every month of the year. Feb/Aug and April/Oct being the most common royalty periods.

I spent today reviewing royalty statements—which can make you cross-eyed by the end of the day as publishing houses like to cram a lot of information onto one sheet.

So what exactly does this entail?

Several steps to be exact. We have a large excel spreadsheet that tracks each project and when we can expect statements. A reminder in our Time & Chaos program also pops up with links to our cheat sheets (which is the royalty structure of a publishing contract at a glance).

If it’s a first time statement, one just needs to verify that everything is correct on the sheet. The advanced paid, the royalty structure, and whether the sales match approximately to what we have down for the initial print run and any sales numbers gathered throughout the year.

If there has been a previous statement, then we do a comparison, track the sales we have listed in our notes to what is on the statements, as well as following up to make sure that if a subsidiary right has been sold or a book club sold into, then the advance and record of that is on the statement as well. The cheat sheets are invaluable for this.

Then there are the issues that might arise and so would need conversations with the royalty department. For example, one of our statements (before the book was released) had a deduction of $2 on it so now the author owes more than the advance against royalties.

Obviously that’s not right and needs to be corrected and a new statement generated.

If there are real discrepancies, then a closer, more intense review is in order. Many agents (if they don’t have an in-house person) will work with a royalty review service that has expertise in doing a closer audit of the statements (for a percentage fee of the recoverable—which the agent pays—not the author).

And yes, incorrect royalty statements can happen frequently so an agent needs to be diligent with the record keeping about each project.

Here’s the fun part of the week. Several authors have just earned out beyond their advances so they get “surprise” money in the mail and smiles all around.

11 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    If I were one of your clients I wouldn’t want you disclosing this kind of information. When I get money is my business, not the blogosphere’s. Anyone who reads this blog can now surmise that the people on your client roster are getting paid this week. I’m just saying.

  2. Marion Gropen said:

    Anonymous at 4:54 — EVERYONE in publishing knows when royalties are paid, and an anyone outside it can find out in about 10 minutes of searching.

    It’s really not a violation of anyone’s privacy. Really.

  3. Merry Monteleone said:


    “Statements come in Feb/Aug, March/Sept, April/Oct, May/Nov, June/December”

    Anyone in the blogosphere can only surmise that authors who have earned out their advance might be receiving royalties in any of the above ten months… I don’t think that’s too much information to disclose on a blog. No specific author or work was mentioned and no monetary amount was disclosed.

  4. Anonymous said:

    Harper Collins has just announced that one of their imprints will no longer pay any advances. They’re planning on promoting these books on the internet so they won’t pay for bookstores’ prime shelf space, either. It’s in the Wall Street Journal.

    Sign of the times?

  5. Anonymous said:

    shrieking harridans. anon#1 was not rude. anon#1 has a valid point. kristin publishes her client list and hawks their wares on her webpage- as she should, as a business person with a vested interest in her clients’ success- and discussing how they are paid could be considered by an invasion of their privacy. you all jumped poor, innocent anon#1 with no reason. shame on you. apologize to the nice anon, who only stated a humble, mild opinion.

    if i were a douche, i’d be over to linnea’s blog with impertinent questions like, ‘did you get your check yet? did your advance get paid out? how much was your royalty check for?’

    there is such a thing as privacy. respect it.

  6. Deb said:

    I wish Harper Collins new venture every success. Small presses do these things all the time and get paltry sales to show for it. What makes people think they can do the same thing over and over and hope for a different result?