I Get Royalties and You Don’t

Posted on February 10, 2011


It’s that time of year, the annual arrival of the 1099 with the year’s royalties I have received for my novel.  I’ll pause for you to take this in.  MY NOVEL.  As in, I WROTE A NOVEL.  AND I GET ROYALTIES.  So, you may wonder, how did this amazing and spectacular thing come about? 

When my marriage of decades imploded, I was overwhelmed with three concerns:

  1. Have I completely and totally ruined my children forever (I’m talking about the divorce, not the idiotic things I did while raising them)
  2. Who was I if I wasn’t Mrs. Husband?  What was my life about?
  3. Would my ex let me have the antique rolltop desk his mom got from her church? 

So, I decided to write a novel in order to sort things out.  In a novel, I could (often, if not always) make my characters do what I wanted them to do.  I could enjoy a level of control at a time in my life when I felt very much out of control. 

In anticipation of writing the novel, I took no writing classes.  I didn’t join a writers’ group.  While writing, I didn’t have anyone review my work.  I don’t even think there was a spell check back then.  If there was, I wouldn’t have used it.  After I finished, I didn’t get an editor.  I simply sent the manuscript to iUniverse with a check and ten books came back in the mail.  That was nine more than I needed, but ten was what they sent me. 

At the end of the year (2001,) I received a 1099 for royalties.  I was stunned.  Who was buying the book?  If it was someone I knew, why didn’t they just ask me for one of the extra nine copies I had in the attic?  And, because I tend to forget things really easily (I remind myself of that old joke, “What’s the best thing about having Alzheimer’s?  You get to meet new friends each day.), the next year when I got a 1099, I was stunned all over again. 

My 1099 came the other day.  It informed me that I had made $18.22 in royalties from the sale of the book in 2010. For the tenth year in a row, I was stunned.  Well, OK, maybe not quite stunned.  I’m sort of getting used to it.  But this year, because I was writing a blog post about it, I did something I have never done before.  I looked up the book on Amazon to see my ranking.


 This means there are 8,246,822 books that are selling more copies than mine.  It also means that you can be #8,246,823 in books AND STILL MAKE MONEY.  

This writing business is amazing.

Posted in: humor, satire, writing