Thursday, September 7, 2006

Cash flow ...

A life lesson for wannabe writers: it pays to have money in the bank. Because you know that check you're expecting? Money you're owed for work you've done? It can take an awfully long time to show up.

My editor at Tor accepted the final revisions on Rollback on Thursday, April 27. That act -- acceptance of the manuscript -- triggers a contractual payment for a major portion of the advance.

My agent just emailed me today to say that finally the check from Tor has shown up at his office (in the same city as Tor) ... 133 days, or 19 weeks, or four and a half months later. (And of course, I don't have the money yet ... my agent still has to process the check, take his commission off, and send me a new check for the remainder.)

Meanwhile -- and I'm not grousing, just observing -- it seems I spend half my time dealing with complaints from authors whose books I've bought for my imprint through Fitzhenry & Whiteside, the company that publishes my imprint, about the late issuing of contracts and advance checks by Fitzhenry ... so it's not just Tor; it's endemic throughout publishing. But, sheesh, what a way to try to make a living!


At September 07, 2006 3:24 PM , Blogger Michael A. Burstein said...

Now I understand, Rob. You'll get your money when your writers do!

At September 07, 2006 6:25 PM , Blogger E.Jim Shannon said...


When I get my first book published, it isn't about the money. I have a day job that makes a lot more (on the surface) then publishing a novel would bring. I'm not that hard up for cash but it isn't flowing like milk and honey either. I'm not well to do by any means. I got income coming in on a weekly basis, like clock work. Sure the money a book contract makes must be nice, but when I get my first book published I can wait. Ya got to go through the proceses.

Sigh, this instant gratification of our society. People want it right now. Yeesh. makes my head spin.

I submitted a story to a paying market last month for free. It's not one of my best stories but I was rushed and it was the only story I had that wasn't hard copy. Still money isn't everything I guess is what I'm trying to say.

Well, I think you know what I mean.

At September 07, 2006 8:22 PM , Anonymous don said...

Oh don't I know it.

Cash flow is my biggest headache too. I've never had to wait 5 months, but even 45 days can seem like forever.

And when the bank takes the mortgage payment no matter what, it can really get interesting.

And what a lot of writers tend to forget is that being a writer is being a small business. Albiet a one person one (like me), but it's a business none-the-less. Cash flow is critical to success, now matter how good your product or service is.

At September 07, 2006 9:59 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Michael: Hee hee hee. I'm sure no one on staff at Tor (or Fitzherny) was waiting for their checks; maybe things WOULD move more quickly if editors only got paid after their authors did!

By the way, just for the record, I haven't taken a dime in compensation from Fitzhenry and Whiteside or Red Deer Press (except for royalties earned on my own short-story collection Iterations) since 2003. So, my authors would be ill-advised to wait until I got paid. :)


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