2015-05-03

Writing Income

Before I get into the material linked to the title of this post, I want to give you an update on Dragonverse Origins. Yesterday, I went back to the beginning and I'm re-editing what I've written so far. I added about 200 words and the total now stands at 29,887 words. I'm doing this at this point for two reasons:
   1) My re-edit notes have gotten too large and I need to make changes to what's there before I move on.
   2) I want to send the partial manuscript to my content editor--Lee Dilkie--for his review. I want his take now on what I've written so far because getting it later will mean another heavy rewrite. I prefer to have my manuscripts nearly ready by the time the first draft is complete.

I'm about 1/3 of the way done. If I can get this post written and out in a timely manner this morning, I will have time to make even more progress. I am back to normal working hours and weekends are once again free for me to write in the morning. There will also be some evenings where writing gets done (as long as I don't have an episode of Agents of Shield to watch).

I went to see Ultron yesterday. Marvel has--once again--created an action-packed movie that holds my interest. Of course, there are a number of major science errors throughout the movie, but this takes place in the world of comic books. I loved it.

Okay--time for the meat of this post. I've promised for several weeks to do this and now I'm following through on the promise. I was initially inspired by Jim C. Hines when he posted his own writing income. After seeing his post, I posted my book sales numbers but have withheld my business income figures. Others have posted their actual income: Kameron Hurley and D. Moonfire to name two.

I published my first novel on Amazon in 2009. I made a grand total of $66.00 that year. 2010 is the first full year of sales. If I recall, I had 2 books available early that year and I released a third toward the end of the year. My total sales that year amounted to $302.00. I had not yet declared the writing business as a business and so this income was just added to my normal income. 2011 marks the start of when I filed my writing income as a business. I had a gross income of $2,929.00. After expenses I had a net profit of $2,333.00.

The next year was the year of my amazing sales. I have never been able to say for sure what happened but I believe it was due to a one week promotion by Amazon. I have never been able to confirm this though. Sales of the Galactic Alliance trilogy skyrocketed putting me at #1 in several science fiction categories and getting me to at least #173 of all books sold on Amazon. That number could be better but 173 was the last I actually saw with my own eyes. Total sales that year amounted to $92,772.00. After business expenses this yielded an income of $87,819.00. I used the extra income to put a new roof on the house since I'm planning on retiring here.

Since then, sales have declined but have remained remarkably steady. Sales for 2013 as well as 2014 are included in the below table. In 2013, we took a trip to DragonCon which accounts for the high deductions. Here are the complete income numbers:

Year            Gross           Net
2009 $66.00
2010 $302.00
2011 $2,929.00 $2,333.00
2012 $92,772.00 $87,819.00
2013 $9,753.00 $3,223.00
2014 $8,528.00 $4,269.00

I've posted a comment on an SFWA forum asking other authors to be more willing to share their income from writing numbers. This could be done on an anonymous basis if someone is willing to set up a website where this type of information could be collected. It would be a great benefit to other writers.

One thing I want to point out before I close. Many writers might have been tempted to quit their day job if they'd had a banner year as I did in 2012. Don't do this! As you can see, my writing income did not stay in the clouds. This happens, and it happens more often than you might think. Just because you have a good run for a few months does not mean you've become a world-famous author and you can tell your day-job boss that you're quitting.

What the above numbers for 2012 don't show is how much extra I had to pay in taxes. The net income shows only what was added to my income after normal business expenses are deducted. Take that $87,819.00 and figure I paid about 33% of it in taxes. Actual, in-pocket take-home is significantly less. Don't forget--Uncle Sam will want his cut of your profits as well. Had I spent all that money on a fancy car or a frivolous luxury item I would have had to come up with the taxes at the end of the year. Plan ahead so you don't have to struggle to pay your taxes.

Time to get back to writing.