Skip to content
Swizec Teller - a geek with a

After five months, my effective hourly rate with a publisher is 3eur/hour

A while ago I wrote a book about creating d3.js visualizations. You can read about the writing, editing, and hair-pulling part of the process, here.

By the time it was published, I no longer liked my book. The didactic approach needed work, the examples were kind of meh, and too much of the content had to be breezy. When a publisher gets a fixed idea about book length, pushback is hard. Still managed to make it 70 pages longer than they wanted, though.

Either way, the book has been out for five months now and with no word from the publisher, I was certain it tanked. An utter failure.

Packt's official statement on keeping me in the loop was, "You will get a royalty statement every quarter".

Gee, thanks. That is very satisfying to both my inner data nerd and my ego. But probably good for peace of mind.

Other than a "Hey we have some errata" every once in a while, the book became completely invisible to me after publication. Just floating in the aether doing ... something.

No discernible buzz. No marketing that I could see. For some reason I haven't even seen the book yet. I literally have no idea how this thing turned out.

In December the first royalty statement arrived.

First royalty statement
First royalty statement

Great, the book sold exactly ten copies in its first month. And that means I made a negative 101 euro ... perfect. Just perfect.

I was right confused, so I asked what's going on.

Hello Sir, Thanks for sending in your query . We have forwarded your query to the accounts team and will get back to you as soon a we receive an update. Thanks. Regards, Invoices Team

They never got back.

At this point I was well bummed. The book surely a massive flop. Every time the editor contacted me about errata he'd open with "First of all I would like to congratulate you on the success of your book Data Visualization with d3.js.".

Psssht, yeah right. Sure.

But two weeks ago I get an alert email from my bank. "577 euro has just been deposited to your account"

U wot m8?

I don't remember sending out any invoices. What is this mystery money? Where's it from? How am I going to explain this to the tax agency? What is going on here!?

And sure enough, a few days later - new royalty statement from Packt.

Winter royalty statement
Winter royalty statement

Hey now, that's much better! 943 copies sold across all versions.

Almost 600 euro made. Time to celebrate!

But then again, total revenue was almost 6400 euro ... damn son. Not sure where all that money is going, but my chunk of the pie suddenly looks miniscule. And I think I did most of the work.

What really hurts though is that advance. You'll see the whole advance Packt gave me to write a book came from my own damn pocket. Fuckers!

You'd think a royalty advance is something the publisher invests in a book. Nope. They take it right back as soon as they can.

That means I've made about 1020 euro so far, Putting my effective hourly rate at 3 euro an hour. I'd be making more weighing tables at rundown restaurants. Tips not included.

Not sure how I feel about this.

PS: I'm giving a talk about writing my first technical book (this one) at this year's Write The Docs in Budapest. If you're going to be there, I want to buy you a beer.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Did you enjoy this article?

Published on March 24th, 2014 in Book, Business, d3.js, Data Visualization, Packt, Publishing, Side Projects, Writing

Learned something new?
Want to become a high value JavaScript expert?

Here's how it works 👇

Leave your email and I'll send you an Interactive Modern JavaScript Cheatsheet 📖right away. After that you'll get thoughtfully written emails every week about React, JavaScript, and your career. Lessons learned over my 20 years in the industry working with companies ranging from tiny startups to Fortune5 behemoths.

Start with an interactive cheatsheet 📖

Then get thoughtful letters 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career.

"Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only email I open from marketers and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"

~ Ashish Kumar

Join over 10,000 engineers just like you already improving their JS careers with my letters, workshops, courses, and talks. ✌️

Have a burning question that you think I can answer? I don't have all of the answers, but I have some! Hit me up on twitter or book a 30min ama for in-depth help.

Ready to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own?  Learn how to build scalable dataviz components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, modern backend for the frontend engineer.

Ready to learn how it all fits together and build a modern webapp from scratch? Learn how to launch a webapp and make your first 💰 on the side with ServerlessReact.Dev

Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet:

By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️