With her kind permission, I'm sharing it here with our SCBWI community:
On one hand, I'm happy to get a check for $308.07 for a book that's been out for 13 years. On the other hand, this is why authors charge for school visits and why we can't send you free books. 286,982 copies of PIRATE MOM sold over the years. My take: $17,459.15 less the 15% that goes to the agent who sold the book. So I've received $14,840 and change, spread out over 15 years when you take the timing of my advance into consideration. I'm delighted to have this book still out in the world, and when schools ask me which books they should sell during my visits, I include this one, because its low cover price makes it accessible to kids who might not otherwise be able to afford their very own book. But still. A girl's gotta eat! So does her cat.
A few clarifications: Most sales of this book were paperbacks. The paperback price started at $3.99; not sure what it is now. My royalty rate on standard paperback sales is 3%, but I think there were a ton of book club sales, too.
By email, Deborah adds:
"This is a particularly dismal scenario; with most of my books, I’m getting 5% of the hardcover picture book list price. But if you do the math, you’ll see that selling a very respectable 10,000 books at $16.95 earns a picture book author $8,475…or $7,203.75 after their agent’s 15% cut. And they'll only see that if their advance has earned out.”
A few aspects of what Deborah shared that really resonate:
Pirate Mom sold over 280,000 copies - more than a quarter-of-a-million copies! And Deborah's take was less than $15,000 - spread out over 15 years! Less than $1,000 a year...
"...this is why authors charge for school visits and why we can't send you free books."
The generosity and transparency behind Deborah sharing these numbers. Because the more real we can be in setting our expectations for what this writing (and/or) illustrating for children career can be, the better we can navigate the adventure that is our career.
What resonates for you?
Thanks, Deborah! Find out more about Deborah and all her books here.
Illustrate and Write On,