Writing is the original deferred compensation plan, where you do the work now but get paid in the future. Some times, it’s a long way in the future.
In 1975, the Dramatic Publishing Co. published a one act play of mine called “Cemeteries Are a Grave Matter.” I signed a standard royalty contract where I receive ten percent of the price of the playbooks sold and fifty percent of the production royalties. I knew I would not get rich from a one act play, but I did not anticipate how far into the future I would continue to be paid for my work.
Yesterday I received a check from the Dramatic Publishing Co. for $67. It’s hardly an earth-shaking sum, but it is amazing to know that the play I’m being paid for was written thirty-five years ago! In all that time, there has never been a year when I didn’t receive royalties for “Cemeteries Are a Grave Matter.” Some years the checks are bigger than others, but I always get something.
Occasionally a young reader will ask, “How much money do you make on each book?” An honest answer would be, “Ask me again in forty years, and I might know.”