I need a math geek who likes books

We are still slogging through all of last year’s math. (In addition to doing our taxes – always fun for two self-employed people – we are doing one of those Analyze Ever Blasted Penny We Spent Last Year things, in the hopes that maybe we won’t have to live in our grandchildren’s tree house in forty years.)

Oh, yeah. Party time in the Forest. ::serious sarcasm::

But I know it will eventually be all good, because I am something of a fiend for details and I like it when things add up properly on both sides of a balance sheet. It just takes me longer than other people because numbers are a bit of a problem for me. And yes, I do have an accountant. The thing is, if I show up with a suitcase worth of receipts and pay him to sort it out, I will have to go back to milking cows to pay that bill. So I try to do as much of the tallying as possible, then I sent the numbers to him (with the receipts to back them up) to properly crunch.

::sends sympathy to all the math teachers who turned to drink in despair when I was their student::

I have written a fair number of books in the past ten years and a couple of them have actually earned out their advances (for those of you who care about these things, the real number is three), so I am a delighted novice in this esoteric practice known as "having sold enough books to actually make it worthwhile to develop a royalty-tracking spreadsheet."

Only I don’t know how to make a spreadsheet. And Numbers does not have a template called "Lame Author Royalty Accounting."

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Specifically, I am looking for a way to track advances, returns, royalties that comes in at different percentages ::shakes fist at the obscene deep-discount clause::, gross sales, and net sales.

I am hoping that one of you guys out there has already done this.

Second best scenario: someone directs me to a spreadsheet design and formula tutorial that will spell it out at the complexity level of a fourth grader, so I can have a little kid at the library explain it to me.

Can you help me?

4 Replies to “I need a math geek who likes books”

  1. I don’t know anything about accounting or tracking royalties but I am comfortable with spreadsheets. I did find this website that gives some links to using Excel (which is the PC version of Numbers).

    I also found a video tutorial for Numbers on the Apple website.

  2. I’m so glad you mentioned the deep-discount clause. I’ve tried for several years to get my blog readers (all seven of them) to really understand how obscene the deep discount clause actually is, and how it gives some publishers an incentive to increase their discount and to generate some sort of group outrage. (In essence, as I’m sure you know, they can take money away from you and split it with the distributor.) There’s nothing that can be done about existing contracts, but if every author really understood what is going on and refused to accept the clause in its current form, things would have to change. You have a much larger audience and more clout than I. Maybe people will listen to you. (I do know that one well-known writer’s editor growled at me after I discussed this with him in private emails and encouraged him to try to get a better deal. She also claimed it really isn’t the publisher’s aim to exploit this clause. Of course, in my last statement from that publisher, 90% of the paperbacks were sold at deep discount. That’s why I doubt I’d ever pitch another book to them. I’ve averaged 17 cents per copy with them.) While I think it is genrally bad form to put a link to my own blog post in someone else’s comment area, here’s a post that summarizes the problem: http://davidlubar.livejournal.com/78825.html

    As I said, I’ve tried and failed to generate any sense of outrage among our peers. Sorry to go off on a tangent, but I hate seeing writers getting shafted.

  3. David, have you heard Michael Grant’s idea of the future of book distribution? I heard him speak this weekend and he believes the time is coming when publishers, bookstores, and libraries will be obsolete. Writers will sell e-files directly to the reader at a much lower price but make much more profit. No more discount clauses. Interesting concept.

    Karen K.

  4. Math?? YUCK! I’ll stick to English!

    While I’m not much help with the math part, I wanted to say “thanks” for all the teaching help on “Speak.” I starting teaching a few weeks ago in a school that doesn’t have a lot of emphasis on reading novels in the classroom. I’ve been searching through the novel list of something to read that the students would like and connect to, and “Speak” is on that list. With the teachers’ guide and connections the students can make, I believe I can get them excited about reading. Thanks!!

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