You just published you first book. You’ve sold a few copies. You earn a royalty of $3 per sale.
Now you’re celebrating by shopping for a new toaster. The one you like costs $18.
But you don’t see an $18 price tag. No. You’re thinking: “I’d have to sell 6 books to pay for that toaster.”
So you get out your cell phone, go online, and check your royalty report. You’ve only sold 3 books all day. Wow. At this rate, it will take two whole days of sales to pay for that toaster.
Next you’re in the mood for a cup of coffee. You head over to the coffee shop. It costs $3 for the coffee you want.
They make the cup of coffee in a few seconds. What does it have? Beans, water, sugar, caffeine? You slaved over a book for months, and much more work and time getting it published. Yet one book equates to one cup of coffee. That hardly seems fair!
When you get home, you see that you just sold 5 books. You’re so excited! With the 3 you’d already sold, that covers the toaster and the coffee, with a little change to spare.
That’s when you discover the flat tire. The nail went through the side, so it has to be replaced. How much will that cost? 40 books. There goes a week’s worth of sales.
Fortunately, sales pick up. You sell a few hundred books that month.
Then your washing machine goes out. It costs 20 books just to get a repairman down to your house, then another 80 books to get it fixed.
Your wife wants a new necklace. Rack up another 150 books.
Car payment: 125 books per month.
Mortgage: 700 books per month.
Take the family out to dinner: 20 books. Another 4 books just for the tip! And 2 more books for tax!
So you dig 26 books out of your trunk and bring them to the waitress. Call it even? What if I sign them?
— Chris McMullen