Let’s talk cash. The practicalities of obtaining the fruits of your labour. If you’re looking at making writing your living, it’s a big step away from regular monthly income.
I had planned to write an angry whinge about Amazon today, but on Wednesday they changed their policy of issuing paper cheques in dollars to UK writers! For the past few months I’ve been trekking down to the bank. You can’t just sling a foreign-currency cheque at the cashier like you can a sterling one; not at my bank, anyway. The poor staff member has to go and find their book-in-quadruplicate and take reams of information from me before filing it all away in various places, and I go home to await a postal notification that the funds have been exchanged and cleared.
Now you can go back into your Amazon KDP account settings and set it to EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). They’ve also dropped the threshold for payment from $100 to $10, which will help many people.
Amazon pay 45 days, roughly, after the end of the month in which you hit the threshold. So you can’t chuck up an ebook and expect cash to roll in that week. Still, they pay better than Smashwords, who use Paypal to deliver quarterly royalties. If you use Smashwords for distribution, you will also see an annoying lag between sales on other outlets such as Sony, the reporting of the sale, and even when the sale’s reported you won’t see the cash for some time.
Kobo pay monthly once you hit £100, again a month after the threshold is reached. I’ve only just reached that – I sell so little there – and am awaiting the cash.
Similarly, Draft2Digital pay monthly but their threshold is $10 – they are new and I haven’t had a full month with them yet.
Any of you who’ve had books in print are probably hurling abuse at me right now, especially at my complaints that Smashwords pays quarterly. Print royalties, of course, come in yearly or twice yearly.
How long is a piece of string? Twice as long as half its length, of course. Which is exactly the time it takes for a magazine to pay you.
The People’s Friend, which takes heart-warming fiction, is well-known for paying on acceptance. I don’t know any other periodical that does. Some magazines that I write for will pay after I’ve submitted the work, but before publication – that’s nice. I tend to submit an invoice at the same time as the completed article in those cases.
Other magazines pay on (which means after) publication, which is all very well, but publication can take a long time. An editor might say “it’s in July” but things change. Stories come in. Topics shift.
Some magazines ask you to submit an invoice. Others send a Commissioning Order or Purchase Order, which you use to create an invoice. Others again send you paperwork to complete to “put you on the system as a supplier”.
1. Tracking. You must track your submissions, acceptances, invoices and payments received or else you’ll be in a hopeless mess – and out of pocket.
2. Confidence. Ask. There is a fear amongst beginning writers – hell, I still have the fear! – of appearing naïve, innocent, amateur or gauche. You’re keen to give the impression of being a professional, safe pair of hands, and you don’t want to look stupid. So instead of asking the editor you waste an afternoon googling “how do magazines pay writers” and you end up here, realising that there is no one set answer. But the very fact that there is no standard means that the editor expects to be asked. Asking about payment terms from the beginning shows you are professional.
3. Don’t argue! The way they do it is the way they do it, and they are not going to change their systems for you.