Honestly, 2016 has been an absolutely amazing year for me--15 short story sales (six of them to professional markets, the rest to semi-pros and tokens), about a dozen short stories written, and one novella finished just in time to get in some beta-reads and rewrites before the 1/12/17 Tor.com deadline.
Also, I had a son. Well actually, I should say I was there when my wife had our son.
Looking back, it still seems kind of surreal--both the story sales and the birth. Having blown away my wildest expectations for the year, I can't help but feel like I'm at the top of some bizarre wave and that any moment it'll all come crashing down. So here I am, a moderately successful semi-pro author who has had a pretty damn good year publication-wise.
But what does that really mean?
I've always been really interested in authors (both John Scalzi and Jim Hines) who do a yearly breakdown of fiction-related income. Firstly, it gives us a good idea of what it's like for someone who has ostensibly "made it" as a professional author. Secondly, we get to see that a view from the top isn't necessarily so rosy. From my own limited experience, (even marginal) success comes with a whole new crop of anxieties--but that's neither here nor there.
I thought it would be fun to provide another data point for would be authors--a "view from the bottom," if you will. For me, writing is a hobby--any money I make goes to offset the various costs I incur. My financial goal (inasmuch as I have a financial goal) is to break even. Some years I do, most years I don't. Once or twice, I've actually made money--which I donate to various charities.
But hey, let's take a look at what has, by all measures, been my best year ever.
Income: Total income includes all payments and royalties received 1/1/2016-12/31/2016. Note: this doesn't necessarily include all the pieces I've sold in 2016, just the ones I've been paid for.
|Story Sales (First Rights)||$1,309.83|
|Sales (Reprints and Audio Rights)||$196.89|
Expenses: This table includes all travel, registration, professional, and promotional expenses I've racked up in 2016. I've also included about half my genre magazine subscriptions (I have many, many more) as well as a small allowance for books and research (I spend much, much more).
|Subscription (Grimdark Magazine)||$9.99|
|SFWA Dues (Active Member)||$100.00|
|Website Hosting (GoDaddy)||$15.17|
|Squarespace (Basic Package)||$144.00|
|Imaginarium (Hotel 3-Nights)||$344.52|
|Imaginarium (Gas and Travel)||$62.46|
|World Fantasy Registration||$225.00|
So, here's my year in review.
Net Total: +$211.82
Could I have cut costs? ABSOLUTELY--Submission Grinder provides free (if not as comprehensive) publication tracking and searches; I could move my site from Squarespace to Wordpress or some other free blogging site; I could not attend conventions, buy books, or subscribe to various magazines--but for me, all of those costs are inherent to the hobby. On the flip side, I only attended three conventions this year, two of which were in driving distance of my house. So my "promotion" expenses were lower than average (I usually attend between 4-6 conventions a year). Again, my experience isn't necessarily indicative of the norm--I've never published a novel or a story collection, so my royalties are (understandably) miniscule.
Hopefully, this provides some additional insight into the write-life.