Sum ******* Week!

150 150 Rob McGibbon

Well, not the easiest of weeks in my Island life, it has to be said. It has sped by in a blur of enthusiastic hustling, idea pitching, planning, talking, stalking, waiting. All part of riding the freelancing beast.

My eyes are red and watery from staring at this screen and it feels like a jagged chunk of metal is stuck in the right side of my neck. All I want now is a slow, deep massage in a hot climate followed by a cold, colourful cocktail with an orange sunset to gaze at. Oh, well, I’ll have to settle for a workout, a sauna and a pint in the local. The only trouble being that I have given up beer for Lent. As if life isn’t fucking hard enough.

Anyway, I haven’t stopped by to grumble. Plenty of things have gone right this week and it has drawn to a close on a pleasant note, which got me thinking. Always dangerous.

I received my first statement for the “Sally” cards today, which came as something of a shock, to put it mildly. As someone familiar with the accounting systems of newspapers, magazines and book publishers, I am used to, at best, chasing my money for several months, or – as is the case with books – waiting a year or more while some bastard in accounts works out every algebraic permutation that means the company keeps my royalties.

Amazingly, this is not the case in the card business. No. At the end of each month, they – the distributor Peartree Heybridge – have the bloody cheek to tell me, very simply, how many cards they have sold and then pay me my cut. Quite extraordinary. The Sally cards have been out for just three weeks and she has already sold 3,332. By my mathematically backward mind, that’s a touch over 3K a week. I’m not saying I am in for a fortune, but it is a healthy beginning from a standing start. Who knows…

Now, I have long thought that the accounting systems in the newspaper and publishing businesses are archaic – and that’s me being polite. Newspapers generally pay monthly plus a week, if you are lucky, but you usually miss a month’s pay run so you wait two. In the days of computers, why can’t they start trying to pay the day after publication, or upon invoicing, or weekly? But, come on, why would they?

It is the publishing business, however, that takes the Garrick’s butter soaked shortbread. It pays twice a year based on a system that is stuck in the days when books were printed with hot metal and delivered by steam trains and steaming horses. This insane, appalling system is an insult to authors worldwide and weighted in the favour of publishers to suit their cash flow. But these companies are book creators, not glorified banks designed to hold onto hard earned royalties. They have fancy computers and EPOS systems, so they know who sold what, when and for how much. Why the wait?

Authors unite, start a revolution and make them pay quicker. Because, if the high volume, low margin, card business can cough up right away, then why the hell can’t all the others pay?

Ok, I know, I’m dreaming. It’s been a long week. Adieu.