Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Job That Will Not Die, part two, or What Is this Money For?

As I mentioned last week, I still have my old job as Secretary to Mrs. Bradley, even well after her death, and I'm dealing with issues she never foresaw, even in her wildest dreams as a science fiction writer.

I refer both  to our ability to self-publish both domestically and internationally and to the electronic transfers of royalties into her bank account. When we get paper checks, they generally come with a stub or statement that tells what they're for. If information is missing or incomplete, we contact whoever issued the check and say something like: "Your check #9999 dated 06/03/2013 has a line that says SWORD AND SORCERESS. There are 27 volumes with that title, so could you please tell us which one you're paying us for?" But when money appears in the checking account, sometimes it's a bit difficult to tell exactly where it came from.

We can identify the Nook payments; there's only one a month, and it's the only thing we get from Barnes & Noble. Kindle royalty statements aren't too bad. There's one per country, but they send us e-mails with the payment number so we can match them up. But then we have the dead tree editions. We have two different physical book publishers: CreateSpace and Lightning Source.

Lightning Source provides monthly 3-4 page long sales statements for both the US and the UK. The books they published are Sword and Sorceress 22-26, so the title for each item is "Marion Zimmer Bradley's," which means that the only thing that identifies which book they're reporting is the ISBN. So I find the page with the ISBNs and enter the data in my spreadsheet. The payment amount for the UK, of course, is in pounds rather than dollars, and there's no conversion figure because they won't be paying us for another few months. I have the sales for July, but the most recent payment was for April. The payment notice has dollars, but not pounds. I entered the amount in pounds when I got the sales figures, but for the benefit of those who didn't, the statement has one line:
"UK PCOMP-GBP(1.54354) APR-13 Sales Comp" along with the total amount for all five books, in dollars. Because these are anthologies and each book has to be split among different contributors, I need to apportion the total among the individual books, and then enter the final amounts into another set of spreadsheets. It's tedious, but it's not as bad as the Nook royalty statements.

CreateSpace, which we're using for everything else, also sends information in installments, albeit much more quickly. First the money shows up in the bank, looking like this:
24-Jul-2013        33.33               ACH Credit
24-Jul-2013        44.44               ACH Credit
I know that one of these is the UK and the other is the rest of Europe, but at this point I don't know which is which. Shortly after the money lands in the bank, the payment is reported on the CreateSpace site, providing the answer to that question. Then all I have to do is download the associated reports and parcel the money out to the various books.

As we republish MZB's backlist and publish new books, the CreateSpace report gets longer, so it's a good thing that it's readable. We are currently working our way backward through the Darkover anthologies, and the trade paperback of FOUR MOONS OF DARKOVER should be available this week.