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I received my first royalty check for Dear Heart on 07/30/18, and all of you guys who thought you'd be able to stretch out on the shores of my brand-new lake house are going to be disappointed. I wasn't though. I've been tracking sales and calculating royalties all along, so I wasn't surprised at the amount of money I received. But there were a couple of other surprises, one good, and one not so much.

According to my calculations, I sold 51 paperbacks and 34 e-books during the month of May. According to Amazon's report to Solstice, I sold 49 paperbacks but only 6 e-books. I wasn't shocked or crazed by the discrepancy in e-book sales because Solstice warned us that there's often a lag in Amazon's sales stats. Hopefully, they'll show up next month. In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out how to modify my Excel spreadsheet so I can track carry-over sales from month to month. Nothing's ever easy.

Another surprise is that I apparently earn royalties when folks who belong to the Kindle Unlimited Program read some of my book. I get credit for the number of pages read, which means that people don't have to read the entire book for me to be paid. If they just open it and read one page and never go back to it again, I get paid for that one page. Cool, right? Well, yes and no.

For May, I got paid for 47 pages -- at .003617 per page. That's less than half a cent per page, but that's not the problem. The problem is that either 47 people read just one page of Dear Heart and hated it so much they didn't want to go on, or one person read 47 pages and threw in the towel, or any one of several other nefarious scenarios which didn't end well for Dear Heart. All I can say about that is: thank God they didn't leave a review.

As for the money, here you go! I receive 10% of net profits for the paperback and 40% for the e-book. That's 10% of $11.99 or $1.199 per paperback and 40% of $2.99 or $1.196 per e-book. And those are gross figures. I wasn't sure what the net profits would be, but I knew that Solstice incurred costs to publish Dear Heart because, among other things, they had to pay for the cover art license and, of course staff time to edit and ready Dear Heart for launch. So here's how it broke down:

Paperback: Gross Sales: - $587.51

Gross Royalties - $ 58.75

Net Royalties - $ 21.32

Solstice Expenses - $ 37.43

E-book: Gross Sales - $ 17.94

Gross Royalties - $ 7.18

Net Royalties - $ 4.94

Solstice Expenses - $ 2.24

KNP: Net Royalties - $ 0.17

Right about now you may be scratching your head and saying, 'wow, if she'd have self-published, she'd be halfway to that new computer she's been wanting,' but it's not that simple. Even though you may get a higher royalty rate if you self-publish, Amazon still gets its cut. Plus, even though you can earn up to 70% of royalties for e-book sales, there are conditions associated with that rate which make it less attractive. The alternative is to choose the 35% Amazon royalty option, which is 5% less royalty than I'm currently earning on e-books.

As for self-published paperbacks, the Amazon rate is 60%, but the author has to pay the printing costs. After doing all of the calculations, I determined that I could have made $213.15 on my paperback sales for May, but here's the rub. If an author chooses the expanded distribution option, which makes their books available to be listed for sale by other book stores, and which my books now have, the royalty rate drops to 40%. And, although my paperback royalty rate for Dear Heart is only 10%, Solstice recently upped that rate to 40%, which is what I'll get for paperback sales of Sweet Heart.

What does this all mean? It means that, all things being equal, I'm better off where I am because I don't have any of the hassles of self-publishing, I have a support network in Solstice that is second to none, and I realize roughly the same return. Or to put it another way: all that glitters is not gold.

So, there you have it. My first royalty check was for a whopping $26.34. Just enough to buy me and Arthur each an order of shrimp fried rice and a Shanghai egg roll, with enough left over for a bag of treats for Sam. But, hey, it was more than I had on the 29th and, besides, I have no doubt in my mind that there''s more to come!

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