I have been pulling together the figures for my 2016 income taxes. After looking at my writing business financials, I’m please to report that Lisabet Sarai actually did make a profit last year!
Not a large profit, mind you. In fact, when I amortize the amount over the time I spent on writing and marketing, I’m making far less than the minimum hourly wage.
At least I’m not losing money. It would be pretty hard for me to justify the effort (and expense) associated with my writing career if I ultimately ended up in the red. Given my current net positive financial situation, I can pretend that my publishing, editing and blogging is nothing but a hobby.
I say “pretend”, because in fact being Lisabet Sarai and sending my stories out into the world means a lot more to me than just some way of passing the time. Lisabet is my cherished alter ego. It’s almost impossible to imagine letting her die off for monetary reasons. I pray that doesn’t become necessary in the future (though trends in the publishing world are making it more and more difficult for authors to sell anything at all).
Given my P&L sheet, I’d be in major trouble if I were trying to support myself with my writing. I am grateful I don’t have to do this, because that means I can write more or less for the joy of it. Many of my writer friends don’t have this liberty.
Both my income and expenses were down last year. In fact, I didn’t have many releases in 2016, though I did publish what might be the best book I’ve ever written (The Gazillionaire and theVirgin). Also, I put a significant amount of my scarce writing time into penning stories for charity anthologies. Again, I’m fortunate I can afford to donate my work to support causes I believe in.
The fact that some people are willing to shell out their hard-earned bucks to read my work is hugely gratifying. Ultimately, though, this is not about the money. I was writing long before I published my first novel, and I’d probably still be doing so, for myself and my friends, if I hadn’t happened on that Black Lace novel eighteen years ago. Now I enjoy the thrill of sharing my visions more widely. Profit’s just an ancillary benefit.
Those occasional reviews or emails where a reader tells me he or she absolutely loved my book and couldn’t put it down—that’s the real payoff.