Today I got my royalty statements through from Gullane - always exciting, as they publish the majority of my titles, and also most of the ones that have sold beyond the advance.
For those who don't know how it works: authors and illustrators get paid an 'advance' before the book is published, so that we don't starve to death, waiting all the years it takes for the books to get out there and gradually earn money, a few pence at a time (we get a tiny percentage of what you pay for each book).
From then on, you get royalty statements every 6 months, to tell you how sales are going and how much of your advance the publisher has earned back. Unfortunately lots of books never earn enough to quite match the advance, but that's OK - you don't have to pay anything back (phew)!
Once you have sold enough books for your pennies to mount up to the value of your advance, you start to earn royalties: which means that every 6 months, when the royalty statements arrive, the publishers pays you whatever your percentage has amounted to.
Which might sound straight forward, but the big snag is that royalty statements are generally written in publisher's code and often virtually unintelligible (grrrrr...). So, well done and a huge thank you to Gullane, for re-designing their statements recently, so they are totally clear and author friendly!!