Saturday, February 04, 2017


The Seashell Contract

My 40th book has just been published. The Seashell Contract is a collection of 22 stories, all previously unpublished and written in the past two years. All proceeds from this book will go to The Mariposa Trust, a charity that supports families who have lost babies. The book is available from Amazon in both print and ebook editions. It is also available directly from Createspace, the printers, and if you take this option, a larger percentage of the cost price of the book will go to the charity.

Let's take a provisional look at the figures. If you buy the paperback edition, which is priced at $9.99, the royalties that come to me are as follows: $3.33 in the US; £2.93 in the UK; €2.68 in the EU. If you buy the ebook edition, which is priced at $3, the royalties due to me are $2.10. All royalties will be passed to the charity the day I receive them. This means that if you buy the paperback, the charity will get more money in total; but if you buy the ebook, a higher percentage of your money will go to the charity. One third of the paperback price goes to the charity, but two-thirds of the ebook price.

Buying this book, you are supporting the charity. However, you may prefer to make a direct donation to them. It could be that you simply don't really care for my work. It could be that you don't like the idea of either 66% or 33% of your money going to a printer and distributor rather than the charity. It could be that you don't approve of charity projects that are 'exhibitionist' and it can't be denied that releasing a book that promotes the writer as well as supports a charity is certainly an act of grandstanding.

What can be done about this? Nothing much. Writers will always write books and promote them, and they will take the money for themselves and keep it. In this case, I am not keeping any money at all, but certainly it is in my interest too that the book sells. It is not pure altruism. It is an act of striving that happens to be allied to altruism. Striving and altruism must work together.

I hope that this project will be mutually beneficially to both the charity and myself. At the same time, let's be clear. I am not an especially successful writer in commercial terms. The amount of money that this book will earn for the charity isn't going to be a large sum (unless something happens and I become more popular). I will, however, keep the paperwork accurate, donate the money to charity each time my royalties are paid, and I will make sure all the documentation of transactions is available for official scrutiny. I will have to write off against tax the profits from this book, however small those profits are. So it's in my interest to be very careful with the entire process.

The photo displayed on this blog entry is one taken by an excellent fellow and chronicler of SF and fantasy fiction, Michael Hutchins. It has given me an idea. Anyone who buys the book and posts a photo of it on social media or websites, or sends it privately to me, will be automatically entered into a competition to win a free copy of either my last book (Sangria in the Sangraal) or my next one (Cloud Farming in Wales), whichever is preferred...

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