Talking Business: The Financials of Writing

(c) Jo Naylor (Creative Commons License - Flickr)

(c) Jo Naylor (Creative Commons License – Flickr)

It's tax season again, and authors around the world are whimpering and preparing to sell their souls to the IRS. I'm no different, except I have a piece of paper that I send the government showing I'm exempted from US taxes. (I still have to file, but I do not owe them anything.)

I'm not going to go into much detail on my expenses, but I will be talking about money flow. I will be comparing 2014 and 2015. In 2014, I was still doing a substantial amount of editorial work.

Before I dig into the nitty-gritty, I want to list the books I released by year.

2014 Releases

  1. Inquisitor (Witch & Wolf #1, May 2014)
  2. Winter Wolf (Witch & Wolf #2, Nov 2014)

2015 Releases

  1. Storm Surge (Requiem #2, Apr 2015)
  2. Blood Diamond (Witch & Wolf #3, Jun 2015)
  3. Tales of the Winter Wolf (#1-5, Jul-Sept 2015)
  4. Beneath a Blood Moon (Witch & Wolf Standalone, Nv 2015)
  5. New Me's Book (#1 of Series, Dec 2015)

The number of books released is a pretty good indication of how thin I was spreading myself on the editorial front; by quitting client edits, I was able to release three additional novels in 2015. This has made a huge difference on my finances overall.)

I made ~$100 less in 2015 than I did in 2014.

This is actually a pretty big deal, and in a fantastic way. In 2014, I won the Amazon lottery and got featured in a mailer, which resulted in a huge boost to earnings over a 2 month period of time.

In 2015, I had no such luck. Every penny I earned in 2015 was done through advertising and my books selling themselves.

Progress is being made, and it's good progress. Of course, some of 2014's earnings were from books written in 2013, and the same applies for 2015, too.

Breaking Down the Earnings by Year

2013 | $602.45

  1. Storm Without End | $409.48
  2. The Eye of God | $192.97

2014 | $6,660.90

  1. Inquisitor | $4,905.83
  2. Storm Without End | $389.49
  3. The Eye of God | $194.99
  4. Winter Wolf | $1,170.59

2015 | $6,509.18

  1. Beneath a Blood Moon | $424.34
  2. Blood Diamond | $1,068.51
  3. Inquisitor | $1,568.75
  4. Omnibus – Tales of the Winter Wolf, Vol 1-5 | $148.31
  5. Storm Surge | $419.67
  6. Storm Without End | $240.48
  7. Tales of the Winter Wolf, Vol. 1 | $93.48
  8. Tales of the Winter Wolf, Vol. 2 | $65.18
  9. Tales of the Winter Wolf, Vol. 3 | $56.85
  10. Tales of the Winter Wolf, Vol. 4 | $60.70
  11. Tales of the Winter Wolf, Vol. 5 | $56.41
  12. New Me's Book | $542.13
  13. The Eye of God | $54.91
  14. Winter Wolf | $1,709.47

What do these numbers mean…?

That's a very good question. In the grand scheme of things, the answer is ‘nothing.' Luck plays as much a part in the publishing world as strategy. In 2014, I got lucky. In 2015, I played the numbers game.

In 2014, I had four titles to work with. In 2015, I had 14 titles to work with. There was no one golden race horse in 2015, while I had Inquisitor's lucky Amazon mailer driving income and sales in 2014. These numbers suggest there is definitely something there to the belief of more books equals success, to a certain degree. (More good books would equal more success, too.)

Here's the thing, though. Quality and genre matter. In 2015, The Eye of God made $54.91. This is by far my worst book, and it's also a fringe book. (I still love this book, but let's face it. It's my debut title and it has lots of warts.) Length of the book plays a huge factor, too. The Tales of the Winter Wolf series comes in at approximately 30,000 words per volume. They're priced cheaper as a result. Their earnings, as such, are lower. Beneath a Blood Moon is my longest title at approximately 180,000 words, but it's a new release, thus hasn't had any time to gain momentum. I also haven't done any advertising or special promotions for it, either.

My main Witch & Wolf novels are still my money makers, which comes as no surprise to me.

So, take from this as you will. But, there's definitely something to be said about the advice to keep writing and releasing new books. It's hard, but it helps. It really does.

Sometimes you just need to step back and take a look at the big picture… and remember that your big picture might have some clouded panes of glass. For me, the Amazon mailer in 2014 is that clouded pane of glass, because I have judged my overall financial performance against a freak stroke of luck instead of looking through another section of glass, one that wasn't quite so fogged up and distorted from a singular incident.

Something to think about.

(Shameless self-promotion: If you find blog posts like this useful, drop a handful of quarters in the donation bin by buying a book for yourself or a friend. Alternatively, you can drop a few quarters in the indiegogo donation bin.)

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2015 in Review: Finances, Taxes, and Money Matters – On Writing says February 5, 2016

[…] tax season. Yesterday, I compared my earnings from 2014 and 2015 on a book-by-book level, discussing the changes in income and […]

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