By his traditional publishers, I mean to say. We already know beyond any shadow of a doubt that he was ripped off by the Bernie Madoff of science fiction. At Castalia House, a review of the traditional publishing model, based in part on records from the Heinlein estate, shows that an author with a traditional publisher has to sell at least 12.5 times more copies just to break even with the shared risk/reward independent publisher.
By the way, his advance from Putnam for Stranger in a Strange Land? $3,000. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
UPDATE: I think I figured out what happened. In March 1967, Putnam sold the exclusive
paperback rights to Berkeley for $1. This permitted Putnam to reduce the
royalties that came in from Berkeley with Heinlein. As it happened,
Putnam had bought Berkeley two years before.
So, by selling Heinlein’s paperback rights to themselves for $1, they managed to cut his royalty from 12 percent to 6 percent. An examination of the Berkeley reports and a comparison of them with the pricing of their books over the years shows that from 1968 to 1978, Berkeley sold 2,281,668 paperbacks for $3,234,147.40 in retail revenue. Heinlein received $223,756.29 in royalties for a royalty rate of 6.9 percent. On a contract that called for him to receive 15 percent for sales over 10,000 units.
Traditional publishing for the win! Unless, of course, you’re the author.