Dear Miss Snark,
Do publishers ever "lose track " of a book?
I have had some of my books translated into foreign languages. My ex-agent's assistant says that my second book has not earned out with one of its European publishers. Unfortunately, I cannot find that book's royalty statement for December 2004: I may have lost it, but I'm wondering if I never received one, and just haven't noticed till now? (I've been a bit lax with checking statements, as I don't always understand them. I simply trusted my ex-agent.) It's just weird. The book earned €6985 in hardback in 2003, just €17 short of its €7000 advance. It only needed a few copies sold to earn out in 2004.
I asked my ex-agent to re-send the 2004 royalty statement; she's ignored my mail.
Meanwhile, my first book continues to sell decently (for a hardback) in that country; 2005's royalties amount to over €2000, according to ex-agent's assistant. My ex-agent herself doesn't seem to be replying to my mails or checking the stuff I ask her to.
Isn't it strange that one book should continue to sell well even after four years, and the other should abruptly stop selling after one year's good sales? That's why I asked if publishers can ever lose track of books.
I am a member of the Society of Authors in the UK and I could get free legal help but I don't want to make a fuss over a minor matter. I just want a copy of the 2004 royalty statement so I can check sales for myself.
Another question: what do you think of the fact that this publisher doesn't pay out royalties till October or November following the December they are due - almost a year later? Is this normal? Shouldn't I at least get interest for late royalty payments?
I am not a very businesslike person, as you can see; but I've learnt my lesson and promise to pay more attention to the paperwork in future. Thanks for all your help and the time you spend on us.
It's not so much they lose track of things as this is one of those "on my list but no one is screaming bloody murder and she's not a client anymore" things.
Publishers screw up royalty statements ALL the time. There is a woman whose job is sniffing out royalty statement errors. She only gets paid if there is an error she collects for you. She has a very successful business, and has had for years. Frightening isn't it.
Of course you need to avail yourself of your help from the Society of Authors. You don't have an agent, they aren't returning your emails, you're not screaming bloody murder. They're going to ignore you until someone puts a flaming bag of dog poop on their front stoop. I know how to staff that out here in New York of course, but you'll need someone there who knows how to ring and run. Get busy. It's your money. Go get it.