Holy crap, just got a note from my agent–Dragonbreath earned out in October!
For non-authors, that means that author royalties on sales finally exceeded the big bag of money they plonked down as my advance. Essentially, in October I started making money on Dragonbreath sales, instead of on the publisher’s faith in Dragonbreath sales. (Actually, a little sooner than that–October’s just the end of that royalty period. Publishing has very, very long lead time on pay periods.) So they send me a check for the extra royalties earned in that period (not huge amounts, and it goes straight into the pay-Ursula’s-taxes-next-year pile*, but much better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!) and everything Dragonbreath earned after that point is just gravy!
I honestly never expected to earn out–not because I don’t have faith in the book, but I cut my teeth doing RPG illustrations, when "we’ll pay you royalties" meant "free art" so even though it was actually rather likely, my brain didn’t process it as possible. This is so exciting!
While the vast majority of sales occurred during that pay period, a few more will probably trickle in–I’m pretty sure we went back to press at least once–and there’s also a "reserve against returns", which means that the publisher is holding onto about a quarter of the supposed sales, just in case they come back from the bookstores. So eventually they’ll send me a check for that, too, assuming that they don’t come back. (Authors like to bitch about reserve against return, but the publishers do kinda need it–if you sell fifty thousand copies, and you get ninety percent of them back from the store a couple months later, you are up a creek, and if you already paid the author for fifty thousand bucks worth of sales, you are up a much bigger creek. The general complaint, I think, is that they hold the reserve much too long, rather than its existence at all.)
So this was fantastic news all around! Yay!
*This is a Very Important Pile. I cannot stress the importance of this pile enough.