The Writing Life: Getting paid…

dollar-660223_1280Hybrid writers, they say, have the best of both worlds. I’m not sure that’s true – I think we have the pros but also the cons of both traditional and self-publishing. Take getting paid…

I have two traditionally published books. Every six months I receive a royalty statement, theoretically immediately followed by payment, for six months’ worth of sales, the most recent of which is three months previously. This is how traditional publishing works. So far, so good.

checkbook-688352_1280I also have two self-published books, and the vast majority of these sales occur on Amazon. Amazon has a different payment policy – monthly. On the dot. You can set your watch by them. Which sounds great… but last summer, I was completely taken aback to realise that the ?largest online retailer was paying me – as well as everyone else not resident in the US or UK – by cheque. Remember those? Here in Switzerland, cheques have been obsolete for many a long year. And some of mine would be in dollars, some in pounds, and some in euros…

Time to go to the bank. (Side note: my bank is amazing.)

I had a meeting with Ms S, our bank advisor, around then anyway, to discuss the new mortgage, so I took my first cheque along with me.

money-689493_1280‘I’ll be getting some of my book payments by cheque from now on,’ I said, handing it over.

Her jaw dropped. ‘By cheque!?!?!?! We don’t do cheques now. The fee to cash them in would be Fr.50 – per cheque!’

Fr.50 = £37 = Eur.46 = $52.
Not exactly nothing.

‘I get paid by cheque,’ I said.

She squared her shoulders. ‘I’ll see what I can do.’

And whatever she did was successful – I was given an ‘arrangement’ for my Amazon payments. In due course the next cheque landed in my post box, and I took it down to the bank. This time I went to the counter, where a young clerk was on duty.

business-18162_1280‘I’d like to put this in here, please,’ I said, sliding over the cheque and my bank card.

I have never seen a man look more gobsmacked. He lifted the cheque by one corner and stared at it speechlessly, astonishment verging on outrage emanating from every pore; so much so that a senior bank lady rushed over to help.

‘It’s a cheque,’ she said, and peered at my bank card before jabbing the keyboard. ‘Ah, Ms S has made an arrangement, look…’

The unaccustomed process around these pieces of living history always took a while, but I was only too glad to get the money safely into my account each month. Meanwhile, things at Amazon were moving. I don’t imagine for a moment it had much to do with the three messages I sent about this, but the upshot was they changed their policy and direct transfer was enabled for non-US/UK residents too. Shortly afterwards, I took The Last Cheque to the bank.

dollar-bill-166309_1280‘Afternoon,’ said the young clerk, clattering away on his keyboard. ‘Have you signed the back of the cheque? Right…’ He reached for the transaction printout and stapled the cheque to it. ‘Okay, that’ll go in to be processed and the money will be in your account in a day or two. The usual procedure.’

I smiled to myself on the way out. In only a few months we’d travelled from ‘A cheque!?!?!?!?’ to ‘the usual procedure’. Flexibility is the name of the game in my bank. (I didn’t mention it was the last cheque just in case it wasn’t – but up until now, it was.)

And I’ll say it again, my bank is amazing – BIG thanks!

The world of the hybrid writer is many things, but it’s certainly never boring…


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14 Responses to The Writing Life: Getting paid…

  1. Isn’t it weird. I’m married to a farmer and cheques are used…all the time. But, I know what you’re saying. I’ve also experienced it

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindahuber says:

      To be honest, I think it still depends on which country you live in and maybe also which bank you use. It’s about 4-5 years since the charges for cheques increased so much at my bank here in Switzerland.


  2. Fun story! Here in US, and at least in Alaska checks, while not exactly popular, are still well-known enough to not cause such a hilarious response. P.S. I love that you used the word gobsmacked. Cheers and have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Helen Pollard says:

    What a pain! Your bank is amazing to have been so flexible. I can’t imagine many in the UK tweaking their central policy to help an individual customer!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. TanGental says:

    We love our cheques and have fought a rearguard here
    Still the banks have to cash
    Long may that work
    PS amazon pay into my account direct

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindahuber says:

      They’ve always done direct payments to the UK and US, apparently – and I’m very happy they’ve extended this to Switzerland and a few other places now!
      I remember my first chequebook… #happydays


  5. Cathy says:

    I still like cheques for making payments but I don’t like receiving them if there’s an electronic alternative. Money from Amazon in any form is good 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindahuber says:

      Cheques have been gone here in Switzerland for many years, and even before that it was expensive to cash them. Having been used to the trad. publishing payment method, I was amazed how punctual Amazon were, even with their cheques. But I’m glad they’ve changed to electronic! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m amazed that a major company like Amazon was still paying writers in some countries by cheque until recently. I’m glad you’ve managed to sort this out Linda. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindahuber says:

      I gather it was everyone outwith the US and UK, Heather. But it’s sorted now. Except Mexico. My Mexican sales (ahem…) are still paid by cheque. I can live with that…


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