Shaun is our latest published author. We emailed him asking how to pay him his royalties. His reply: “To be honest i haven't thought about royalties, my main aim was to get my stories out there.” This sounded like a great post for the blog, so we asked him to expand on it.
No folks, Rewards, Awards, and Royalties aren’t some weird “Glam Rock” combo from the nineteen seventies music scene, they’re three simple words that a lot of people believe that most authors write for, with two other words “Fame and Fortune” being the ultimate prize.
An interesting concept I agree, but not as one would imagine, the prime motivation for a great many authors, myself included, so I’d like if I may, to address these one by one.
Firstly, what is a reward? Does it have to be monetary? Of course it doesn’t. A reward is an elusive shapeshifting beast that takes on a wide variety of forms, and if we set out deliberately to hunt for it, we shall never find it. Similarly, if we set out on our journey not expecting to see it, the laws of probability say that we shall at some stage of that journey, encounter this beast, and in ways that we could never have imagined.
Some time ago, a work colleague asked me what I made as an author, and expecting me to respond with a cash amount, he was most taken aback when I replied with this. “I’ve made my readers laugh, I’ve made them cry, I’ve engaged with my readers in ways that even I can’t begin to understand. I’ve made new friends, and in some small way I believe that I’ve made a difference, there is no cash equivalent for that, and to my mind there never will be.”
So, although my writing has never made me vast amounts of money, I believe that I have made something that has far more value than money. True success as an author cannot, and should not, be measured in money, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Let’s just say that with my particular style of writing, and my shocking attempts at punctuation, that I’m not going to be winning the Nobel prize for literature any time soon, so I think we’ll leave this one where it is.
This isn’t something that I’ve given much thought because the royalties side of it isn’t my prime motivation for writing, nor is the prestige. No, my ultimate aim was to get my stories out there and to engage with the readers on a whole new level, and even if I only ever make a few pounds or only sell one copy of my book, so what, I’ve done what I set out to do and achieved a damned sight more than I would have achieved had I not sat down and set “quill to parchment.”
Besides, as I’ve already said, the reward doesn’t have to be monetary, it can come to us in a wide variety of forms, and more often than not, in ways that we couldn’t even begin to imagine.
On a personal level, I feel that the greatest reward is when I hear how my stories have reached out to my readers, when I hear how they have engaged with certain characters, and how they enjoyed seeing the plot unfold, learning of my reader’s opinions is of far more value to me than any amount of cash, and I can, as an author, benefit enormously from this knowledge, far more than I can by lining my pockets.
Finally, I’d like to tell you of an instance that lends a great deal to the ramblings that I’ve posted thus far.
I was sitting in the canteen at work and two of my work colleagues were discussing my first book and their favourite characters, as I listened, accidentally on purpose, and all of the while trying hard not to make it obvious that I was listening, they went on to say how they enjoyed the story and how they engaged with certain characters, though they would have preferred it if those characters had lived a little longer. They fully understood that the character had to die for the sake of the story, but they had grown to love the character.
How cool is that? No amount of money will ever be enough to match how hearing this exchange made me feel, because this in itself was reward enough for me, and a gentle reminder of why I write.