Last night, I was trying to explain how writers make money through royalities to my wife. I might have had an easier time eplaining nuclear physics to her. In particular, I was trying to describe what I was doing on Smashwords, and why I suspected that in the long run I would hit the break-even point on some (if not all) of my writing there.
Midway through the conversation, I realized that my wife did not even understand the concept behind book advances. For the one person in the audience who has only been involved in the modern world of ebook publishing, an advance was something that publishers used to give to writers...it is still possible to get an advance today, provided that you are someone like Stephen King, who is guaranteed to sell copies even if one's writing bores the general public to tears and one's ideas are lifted from other writers.
My wife was not even aware that book advances had to be earned back before a writer got more money from the publishers, much like she did not realize that some writers took fifteen years to get their first book contract and that it can take three years to get your book onto store shelves.
(Gee, why do some of us decide that ebook through self-publication outlets are a better option---getting published by a Big Six legacy publishers sounds so quick and easy; you will be raking in the money before you die.)
Of course, I understand her concerns. She would like me to be making money (as getting a paycheck) tomorrow, rather than a quarter or three down the road. Again, for the newbie in the audience, even on a self-pub site like Smashwords, it can take awhile to get cut a check; it takes a calendar quarter for the distributors (iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, etc.) to send their sales figures to Smashwords, who in turn waits to pay you when the next quarter ends (plus thirty days)---nevertheless, it is still more timely than the print market was.
Anyways, I digress. The important part is that I can foresee making my time investment back (provided that the initial figures are a true indication of how well I am going to do). In fact, I may even make a nice little profit. That means that the future is a little brighter; I might have to invest in a new pair of sunglasses.
For those who are curious what I am doing on Smashwords, you can download a free copy of some my work. The rest of you can just sit here and watch the following video by Timbuk 3: The Future's So Bright.