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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > March 2017 > Royalty REVENUE


Royalty statements can be confusing and complicated. Simon Whaley explains how to make sense of them.

February and March are exciting times for writers. Across the country, publishers’ accounts departments are dispatching royalty statements and initiating payments. It’s a time when writers either delight over the positive boost their bank account will see, or are frustrated over the poor sales and lack of funds. It’s also time for a lot of head scratching because, as many writers soon discover when they receive their first royalty statement, these printouts aren’t always the easiest of documents to interpret.

When it comes to the business of writing, it’s vital we understand these reports. Not only do they tell us how many of our books have sold, they should also explain the royalty rates received for each transaction, identify any subsidiary rights income, and include the best bit of all: how much money we’ll receive.

But royalty statements can also be devilishly difficult documents to interpret. They have to take into account advance payments already banked by the author, and deal with returns, or the potential for returns, from book retailers. Some of my royalty statements have had me scratching my head for several hours. And I’m not the only one.

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About Writing Magazine

Make this the month you make your dreams real and start becoming a writer in the Get Serious issue, with advice on: • How a change of attitude will help you, and the wider world, take your writing seriously • How to stay motivated past the difficult mid-novel slump • Money matters: Are you charging enough for your freelance writing? PLUS How to make sense of your royalty statements Cover star Jake Arnott tells us about finding the stories and characters that society overlooks and we explore the style and technique of forensic crime superstar Patricia Cornwell Get your work out there with opportunities to get published and competitions with more than £60,000 total prize money in 20 packed pages of Writers' News. All this plus our definitive guide to writing festivals, courses and other events for 2017