Mr Thomas will, I understand, be on Countryfile this evening talking about grouse shooting.
Over the last year and a bit Mr Thomas has shown a rather persistent interest in my finances (nothing to see here!). In particular he has repeatedly asked how much of the money I raise from sales of Inglorious I will donate to practical nature conservation work. It’s a bit of a cheek since I don’t ask him how much he earns, but now that we have passed 100,000 signatures I’ll tell him the embarrassing truth.
Bloomsbury paid me an advance of £3000 to write Inglorious. That was fine with me – I wanted to write a book that set out the facts about the driven grouse shooting industry as part of a campaign to get it banned. An advance is a payment ‘in advance’ of royalties (the author’s cut of book sales – see below) which in theory is a debt – the publisher can ask for some or all of their money back if sales are poor (and certainly if the manuscript is sub-standard or not delivered at all).
So, £3000 as an advance.
In addition, I was paid £500 for writing the extra chapter for the paperback edition.
So, now we are up to £3500 – are you following this Duncan?
Take away from that the author’s, (that’s me) share of legal expenses in getting the manuscript read by a lawyer – £750.
So now we are down to £2750 – are you still with me Duncan?
In addition, I have sold signed copies of Inglorious myself, having bought them with my author’s discount from the publisher. I can’t be bothered to look up how many copies that is, but let’s say it is as many as 300 copies, which I doubt, and that I make £2/copy, which I don’t. Let’s say that’s another £600 in sales.
We’re back up to £3350 now. Are you coping Duncan?
That’s about it for income. I give talks about why we should ban driven grouse shooting, and I write articles, for some of which I have been paid, but I’m not including them here because Mr Thomas wanted to know about my huge earnings from Inglorious but they wouldn’t add up to much money and, in any case, I would have done them even if I didn’t have a book published.
Now writing a book does have some costs (if you write about Passenger Pigeons you might travel to the USA to do the research), and travel and buying research material etc does cost money. Shall we call it £1000 just to make things simple?
So now we are down to £2350 ‘profit’. And that of course is taxable.
We haven’t taken any account of my time so far have we? How long would it take you, Mr Thomas, to write 100,000 word book? Let’s say it took me 3 months actual work – most would say that is pretty damned quick – but then I do write quickly. That’s not the end of it though – there is working with an editor ( a delight – but still it takes time), reading proofs, all that stuff with lawyers, getting copyright permissions (the author’s job) etc etc. Shall we say another 3 months, to make things simple? That’s 6 months time overall (an underestimate rather than an overestimate).
So for 6 months work, and if I might say, quite skilled and difficult work that not everyone could do (could you Mr Thomas – just wondering?), I have made about £2350 – that’s equivalent to an annual income for writing Inglorious (before tax) of £4700pa.
And you, Duncan Thomas, really have the nerve, on your BASC twitter account, to ask how much of my earnings I am donating to anything?
Of course, Inglorious may sell fantastically well for decades to come – but that’s a bit unlikely isn’t it? If it does, then every April, or so, I will get a cheque for royalties of 10% (I think) of net receipts. Now net receipts are not what you pay for the book, but what the publisher sells it for, which clearly is way below the cover price and way below what you pay as a buyer of the book (and something over which the author has no control).
So, when you buy the paperback Inglorious at the Bird Fair this weekend you will be contributing to my finances to the order of about 50p or so, before tax, and I don’t get the money until April 2017. My, what a money earner it is!
But I wrote Inglorious as part of a campaign (that’s why you will find the url to the e-petition on p11 of the paperback edition) and now we know it’s a successful campaign, to get 100,000 signatures to ban driven grouse shooting, not to make money. Just as well really isn’t it?