Over the last week or so, I’ve gotten royalties from both my current publishers and Audible. Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see how much I’ve earned from fiction writing so far. I added up KDP and Audible statements, royalties from three small presses and one short fiction market, and estimated what I’ve earned from hand sales at a few events. The rough total?
One thousand dollars. (Cue Dr. Evil pinky to mouth pose.)
I’m not going into line items, partly out of respect for my publishers, but mostly because nunya. From what I’ve heard, that’s pretty respectable for a small press science fiction/fantasy author who’s only been published for a couple years. Could I have made more if I’d been more aggressive? Probably, but I don’t think “being aggressive and earning more money” was my goal.
If that were my goal, I’d have pursued more freelance copywriting clients. As it was, it was probably more true that I was actively avoiding freelance copywriting clients.
Because I’m tired, y’all. Being me can be a little exhausting.
Since this year’s Imaginarium (which was AMAZEBALLS), I’ve been thinking about my fiction writing. Why I do it, what I’ve gained from it, and where I would like to go with it. I did an interview with C.C. Chapman for the NCTE’s fantastic new podcast #WhyIWrite (not sure when my episode goes live, but you should subscribe anyway). I also answered some private questions from some fellow church members who are self-publishing.
I used to describe SEO as “copywriting with a scoreboard.” I don’t really need more money right now, but I do like scoreboards. Partly, it’s because I’m a little competitive by nature. Partly, it’s good to get objective validation on the quality of my work. As a person who’s struggled with depression and anxiety, it’s always nice to get affirmation that my perception and reality aren’t wildly far apart.
The net result of all this pondering is that I’m coming up with some new, concrete goals for my fiction writing. Some of them are about production. Some are about improving my craft. Some may be about getting more readers, fans and earnings. Real talk, y’all – I’m getting to an age where a passive income might be nice to replace the 401k I lack and the social security that may not be there by the time senility inevitably claims me.
If it’s all about the benjamins, then I have a thousand reasons not to write. Each one of those dollars would have been multiplied by doing something more “profitable.” But what does it profit a woman to gain all the benjamins, and lose her soul? Writing fiction feeds my soul, and that’s reason enough to keep doing it.