Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Can I pay my bills this month?

Yellow dollar signThere's a reason a lot of authors have put their older works up on Kindle, Nook, and other e reader platforms.  It's called Payday.  You see, Amazon and Barnes and Noble pay on a monthly basis.  Okay, they're paying you for what you sold two months ago, but the point is you're getting a check (or in my case, a direct deposit) every month.  (Smashwords pays every three months.)

Believe it or not, I use that money to live on.  And why is that?  Because the publisher for my mass market paperback books (think the Booktown and Victoria Square Mysteries) only pays me twice a year.  Yes, you heard that right.  I get paid sometime in April and sometime in October.  And so does everyone else with traditionally published books.

It's hard to budget when you have no idea when you're going to get paid for your work -- or how much you will make.  Because I'm very numbers oriented, I keep track of my Kindle and Nook sales so I can budget ahead.  This month we've got our healthcare insurance premium.  It will take my entire month's pay to cover that one bill.  Meanwhile, we'll be eating a lot of  Macaroni & Cheese during the next couple of weeks.

BIM MOTM coverOn Friday, I got a royalty check for the audio edition of Murder On The Mind, my first Jeff Resnick mystery.  A whopping $11.57.  Still, I'm grateful for it.  (I'd be a lot MORE grateful if people would discover this edition of the book.  Then maybe they'd buy the rights to the other books in the series and I could have a cavity filled once in a while.)

TaxmanIn two weeks, I have to pay my estimated taxes.  Holy smoke!  If my biannual check doesn't come in time, where is that money going to come from?  Kitchen refit?  On hold indefinitely.  Why?  Being an author, I have to pay estimated taxes every three months.  Plus, in September, I have to pay the town school taxes (that same month we have to pay for healthcare AGAIN.  I have to pay county taxes in January--right after the December *%#@ health care premium).  It's never ending.  And you know I'll be praying to see that check arrive in the mail--SOMETIME before April 15th--praying it will cover the June and September estimated taxes, too.

Raking in moneyIt's not likely the big publishing houses will ever pay their authors on a more timely basis.  So in between we either live in luxury (for usually one month of the year--October for me) or like paupers (for the other 11 months).  So if you thought that all authors are raking in the dough like Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or Janet Evanovich, think again.

BTW, anybody got tips for budgeting?