The Perfect Insider Author Reveals Details of Royalties in New Book
posted on by Eric Stimson
Hiroshi Mori, the successful writer of The Perfect Insider and The Sky Crawlers, delves deeper into the story behind his success in a new book, Sakka no Shūshi ("The Writer's [Bank] Accounts"). As he tells it, the secret largely has to do with royalties, which can be extensive if writers are savvy with promoting their material.
Excluding e-books (the royalties for these are difficult to calculate), the royalties for Mori's debut work, The Perfect Insider, have alone totaled 61 million yen ($502,000) for 780,000 copies sold since its initial publication in 1996. The royalties for his works in total add up to 1.2 billion yen (about $10 million).
But the royalties don't end with books alone: Broadcast royalties for the drama version of The Perfect Insider equaled 5 million yen (or $41,100), a rate of about 500,000 yen ($4,113) per hour — which is about standard. A pachinko version of The Sky Crawlers, although ultimately unrealized, would have brought in another 5 million yen. Mori secured sponsorship from Coca-Cola for his novel An Automaton in Long Sleep, which meant 10 million yen ($82,300) in royalties for the manuscript and 8.2 million yen ($67,450) for publication. Another unrealized scheme to quote from the work in a TV commercial would have netted Mori another 5 million yen. Even blurbs on the back covers of books can earn the author 100,000 yen ($823), while the sashes that cover Japanese novels earn authors 20 to 30,000 yen ($150-$250).
Mori points out that while test writers can use literary excerpts for free, if these excerpts are used in practice test booklets, they must pay royalties depending on their sales. Royalties must also be paid if they are used in textbooks or in teachers' guides.
Mori also explains other strategies he used to maximize his earnings. On the endpaper of The Perfect Insider, he advertised four additional titles and used a gradually unfolding love story to lure the reader into buying sequels. He maintained a blog and updated it regularly with his progress. He guaranteed a personal response to fan e-mails. And he was actively involved in negotiating royalties and manuscript fees with his publishers.
Mori now says "I have enough money, so I'm going to try writing the book I really want to write."
Neko Oikawa, writer of the Neon Genesis Evangelion theme song "Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis," also makes a bundle from her royalties.