So here’s a writerly confession: I’ve hardly ever made any money from royalties. Most of my books (over thirty now, since 2004) have never earned out their advances. This is the money you get paid up front – no matter how well or badly the book does, that money is yours. But if the book does well, as soon as profits reach the amount you’ve already been paid, you start getting the extra, twice a year.
Up until now, those royalty payments have not been a lot. Let’s just say I’d be lucky if they made me £1000 a year. That’s just how it is for a lot of writers. I get most of my income from advances and school visits.
I’ve also, for a long time, been ogling a particular artist’s work. In my local garden centre there’s a framing shop, where you can buy frames, prints, and rather expensive art work. Kerry Darlington creates pictures using raised resin on top of a painting – so that it’s kind of 3D. Her pictures are crazily colourful, fairytale adventures. She’s tackled Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, and lots of trees, peacocks and random things like lollipops and spacehoppers. Every time we go to the garden centre, I sneak a look at the pictures they have hanging there. And then I look at the price tag and sigh and walk away again!
I promised myself that if I got a big payment for something, I would buy myself a picture. One day…
Today is the day. Last month, I had a large royalty payment, because A LIBRARY OF LEMONS has sold to several countries, which means each foreign publisher pays my publisher some money, which eventually comes to me. Don’t get excited – I’m not moving into Millionaire’s Row (hollow laugh). But it’s several years’ worth of usual royalty money. If my car breaks down this year, I won’t have to worry. And there’s enough to ‘splash out’ a bit. It means that, finally, I can buy something that (as a friend put it) will bring me ‘quiet joy’.
Here it is. It’s called MoonSong. And I love it.