MYOB – How Much Do You Know About Author Finances?

ROGUE’S PAWN is out now! This first book in my original Covenant of Thorns trilogy has been re-released with gorgeous new covers. Look for book 2 coming July 26 and book 3 releasing August 16.

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This week at the SFF Seven we’re MYOB – Minding your own business!

Seriously, we’re taking a long look at how we manage the financial side of being an author. There tends to be a wide range of strategies for managing author finances. As all authors are primarily creatives (with the small exception of the widget-makers who hire ghost writers to write for them, which is another kettle of stinky fish), not all possess the inclination to crunch numbers and balance accounts.

In truth, while I think all authors should have a thorough understanding of what they should be earning, not everyone needs to be a financial guru of their own writing career. In truth, the most comfortable place for an author – or perhaps any creative – to be is independent of the need to make money doing it. This, of course, requires either family money (marrying money counts) or a spouse with a great salary and benefits. In these cases, writing money is all “gravy” and I know many authors in this position who don’t really track that income.

The major downside of this model is it means traditional publishing has favored those with this privilege and also takes shameless advantage of these authors. There can be a lot of funky tickling of the financials, both from publishing houses and literary agencies. Believe me: I’ve seen it.

Learn to read your royalty statements and hold those who handle your earnings accountable.

The flip side is if you’re like me – someone who is supporting their household with writing income. This is the other extreme, where ALL finances are author finances. I track everything scrupulously, to the point of using mathematical models to predict my future income. That’s the thing about writing income: it’s super unpredictable. Sales wax and wane, often due to reasons beyond anyone’s control. Traditional publishing pays quarterly if you’re lucky and semi-annually otherwise. There’s almost no way to predict what those checks will look like, so I end up behaving like the privileged writer as above – I treat my trad income as gravy.

Self-publishing income is what allows me to pay the bills with writing. That money comes in monthly and, because I can access my sales dashboards in real time, I can reasonably predict how much money will come in. The downside of self-publishing is that the author fronts the investment. KAK covered a lot of the nitty-gritty of self-publishing costs yesterday. Most self-publishing authors can implement the simple math of outflow vs. inflow. That is, what you pay to produce and market the book should be less than the money you make from it. Where it gets into higher math is managing that income so that you can cover the costs of being alive.

With a salaried job, or even hourly income, the basic budgeting model is to figure your monthly income, subtract your expenses, and the rest is “disposable,” meaning you can spend it on stuff you want vs. the stuff you need. But with a fluctuating monthly income, this simply isn’t possible.

So, my basic model is to try to keep enough money in savings to pay for two months of expenses should I have zero income in any given month. (Which hopefully will never happen, knock on wood. My backlist is substantial at this point, so the baseline backlist income is relatively steady.) Once I have that in place, I can pay for some of the things that make us happy. This is VERY important. It’s tempting to confine oneself only to needs and funnel any “extra” money back into growing the business. This works okay for a while, but it gets soul-crushing over time. We work hard; we must also play hard. Anything else is unsustainable.

As a creative, maintaining your joy in the work is key!

From my initial announcement, you’ll see I’m also republishing some of my trad-pubbed books. I did ten books with Carina Press and now have the rights back to all of them. Those royalties came in quarterly, so I’m eager to see how my income on those books changes for me. So far I only have ROGUE’S PAWN up again. Republishing meant paying for covers and formatting, so a bit of investment on my part. Hopefully it will pay off.

As with all businesses, writing for a living requires a lot of hoping for that pay off. Being smart about crunching those numbers provides the reality. A balance of both is best.

First Cup of Coffee – June 9, 2022

Insights into getting your rights back on trad-published books and what you need to do from there. Also results of my experiment in read-out-loud proofing, along with random thoughts on data and vaccines.




Transcript
00:00.79
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. And it literally is my first cup of coffee even though it is almost nine thirty in the morning ah Ah. but that’s in a ah, a very good way Today is Thursday June ninth and um yeah I slept in um, great news. The book is finished. I did Tuesday and Wednesday did the massive out loud proof reading as I had intended and I I was happy with the process I was not happy with how long it took. Um. I found out that I could go I think my max in any hour long sprint was 32 pages I could get through um, slower ones. It was more like 25 I tended to go slow if I a started thinking too much about the story and wanting to noodle it and b started getting into the story and wanting to read it in a you know. I would start doing dramatic reading start reading like I would at a public reading instead of just reading out loud because the whole point – and I did have one – of reading out loud is to make your eyes hit every word and um. Punctuation point so forth because when we read to ourselves we tend to so skim our we get very good at just absorbing up. There’s my mom hi mom I kept my phone out here because we’re sort of coordinating writer coffee still, we’re meeting an hour later than usual. So that was another reason oh my mom slept for over 10 hours hey I’m telling her I’m doing the podcast.

04:53.69
jeffekennedy
Okay, so I might have to move ah, the way I’m facing this now I think it’ll be all right I just have to position myself under the Greatli Somem kind of dappled today I guess I should silence her. Um, my phone does its weird thing that sometimes if I silence it I can’t get it to uns silence without restarting I don’t know what’s up with them. So anyway, um, book came out at like 108,600 words transcript will hate that. Don’t know why it can’t do numbers and which was about three hundred and ninety eight pages in word and so yeah, it took me about 16 hours to read all of that out loud and. Make fixes as I went but I liked the process I did catch a lot of things I caught a few things storywise which is what I suspected that if I that I would catch both typos not both I would catch typos I would catch errors I would catch. Story things to tweak or correct and yeah, so it was good but I would rather have like four days to do it yeah I could probably do it that way do like um you know like 4 one hour stretches over 4 days I can’t find a good spot here I’m going to move.

08:22.23
jeffekennedy
Maybe not. It won’t let me pause. Ah well try one more time Now. Zencaster says no pausing I picked this position I must live with it. So. Um, So yeah, it was good, especially considering that I would have had to the um, the grape vine is really raining flowers too. Ah, Fortunately, they’re tasty. They taste like grapes they taste like um, very tart grapes these teeny tiny little flowers. I’ll show you guys for those of you on video to bring it out to the camera. You see that little teeny tiny Green flower. But sometimes it’s a little bit like being onto the um. I Don’t know maybe like the peach blossoms or something this snow of flower petals.

10:20.47
jeffekennedy
There I got it to pause and let me move a little bit so um, giving it to a proof reader would have taken five days she needs it place least that long so I may keep doing it this way. Um, as long as I don’t do this thing to myself of where I have to do it all in two days because that really was a little much and you could probably hear in my voice that I’m a little bit froggy I was um, one thing I learned as I was doing this too was to say it very quietly. That I didn’t need to project my reading voice but that I could just do it like this because what was most important was making sure I my eyes touched every word. So um I finished like yesterday was a marathon day. Um I did. Let’s see here I can tell you so on Tuesday I did 6 hours of work over about 9 hours and then yesterday I did 7 hours and 40 minutes um over 10 hours and 15 minutes and I didn’t do my morning run I started at 6am I got up at like 5 and got ready and went straight in and had my coffee didn’t do my blog post. Just did that. So so it was lot and I finished at like 4:20 got the front and back matter sent to my assistant along with the corrected text and then we went got our booster shots. Our appointment was at 5pm so and we got there right at 5 so timing was good interestingly enough she ah when we got there. The nurse asked us if we were doing Moderna or Pfizer the eternal question and I said Moderna and she said is Moderna what you got before and I said yeah, 3 the previous 3 shots have all been Moderna and she said well the Cdc is now recommending that you consider switching up and doing Pfizer instead because they’re finding that people get better immunity if they use if they so mix it up. If they you know, get Pfizer if you’ve had Moderna before so I was like oh okay because I thought the common wisdom was or the data was that we were supposed to get same thing every time. So I heard her give the same spiel to somebody else.

15:55.73
jeffekennedy
Ah, sitting nearby and the gal said well well I asked a doctor a friend of mine and she said it’s better to have a stick with the same one and I was thinking well that was certainly was the data before but here this nurse has just given you new data. It’s one thing that I know has been a problem with all of this is that. People don’t like that data changes. They don’t like that findings end up being different over time. But that’s how science works right? It’s iterative. So the other you know the other thing that’s interesting is my mom. When I mentioned we were going to go get our boosters. She called her doctor. She’s in Arizona and her doctor’s office said oh you don’t need to get another booster shot. Um it. It won’t do it make any difference which I thought was extraordinary statement for them to make and i. Senator the cds latest cdc guidance saying that they are really really recommending that. Especially if you’re over 50 to get that you know fourth shot second booster. So so she can get it. You know elsewhere. But I think it’s very interesting that. The doctors too are wanting to like pick a particular position and then hold to it. Our doctor did the same thing to us on the the first booster shot. We asked about getting it and he said oh you really don’t need to but then he got covid. And changed his tune. So I don’t know people you know it doesn’t hurt to get the next shot very interestingly and and a personal data point. The pfizer shot did not. Affect me like the moderna shots did all 3 moderna shots. Um, definitely hit me hard I got fever I felt really wiped out the next day hanging blue screen. So I’d planned to sleep in this morning anyway, just in case I got that and then um, it’s also not a sore. Which I think is interesting. Um I was planning to just like let myself sleep to sleep off the vaccine and to sleep off the marathon of the past couple of days so so yeah I woke up at like 6:30 but I lingered in bed reading until like 7 and then um and then I puttered I seriously puttered this morning which I figure I deserve so I’m taking it easy I probably won’t get this podcast uploaded till after writer coffee.

21:21.17
jeffekennedy
Because I am running that far behind so apologize for that. But at least you got one I contemplated not doing it but I knew my mother would have a fit. so um so yeah it’s good to have that book done have that series done I really love my 4 epilogues and I’m anxious for you all to read the book next up in my cue I have the 3 covenant of thorns. Covers we are going to send out a newsletter to reveal those covers and I’m going to put those up for preorder I have to write new back cover copy for them. So one thing that happens when you get your rights back on a book and these three I originally did with karina press and. They retain the rights to their stuff I put that in air quotes what they they like The only thing that reverts to me is the interior of the book is the actual story. The rest of it. They lay claim to and I’ve heard stories about some publishers. Trying to lay copyright to the editing to the developmental edits and the copy edits and so forth that you like can’t use anything that they did which just gets absolutely ridiculous after a certain point. It’s like really you want me to take it back to like what that first thing I sent you. Like before the revise and resubmit in my case, not gonna happen but they do retain all the elements of the cover. So I like she’s like you can’t use the karina press trademark and I’m like new like yeah that incredibly valuable press trademark and I say that still loving the people at Carina Press I mean Angie James was awesome. Kerri Buckley a bunch of other people who worked on the Carina press stuff. But unfortunately I don’t know that. Carina Press brand ever did what we wanted it to do what we hoped it would do so I know that that’s like standard business speak. But.

26:13.93
jeffekennedy
Okay, it’s gooded once more ah standard business speak but it just strikes me as funny. It’s like really really, you guys is this Um, that valuable. So anyway I have to get to. Write my own back cover coffee. Yeah coffee back cover coffee that would be funny copy and I don’t know if I mean I I keep thinking maybe I’ll look at what it was before the Carina Version and I think maybe I shouldn’t I don’t know I sometimes I think that kind of thing can get in the way it just gets in your head. Um, what would you do I might write it and then see what they had. And see if I want to to tweak at anything in anyway. New covers are so cool and so much better than what the previous covers were as I said reveal will be in the newsletter. Um I might. Do a reveal in the private Facebook group too. So if you are not signed up for either of those places that was a good time to do so I’m also going to do that recipe for the low sugar blueberry pie as requested from Instagram that’s exciting. And yeah, there’ll be a couple other goodies in the newsletter too. So if you do that? do that thing and it’s in the show notes if you want to if you want the link for sign up to the newsletter you can find it on my website. So um. So yeah, I’m going to get the preorders set up for all the Covenant of Thorns books and those will release this summer do a staggered release on those and then um, yeah, I’m gonna do that. Edit. Of the first book Rogue’s Pawn. I may try to do that tomorrow. Maybe it won’t take me very long and then next week I go on a writing retreat. So I’m not sure if I’ll be doing a podcast from there or not um, there’s pros and cons it would be fun to. Maybe get some other people to be on the writing you know on the podcast from ah you know that’ll be there I’m also not sure if everybody involved wants people to know that they’re there and that’s something I have to check I don’t know if I’m supposed to be.

31:48.50
jeffekennedy
Public about where I’m going and what I’m doing or not so frequently accused of not being discreet here I am being so discreet. So I plan to do that. Um I would like to get at least Rogue’s Pawn handled. Before I go there because then next week I want to start working on the next bonds of magic book and I agree with um, a few of you chimed in with thoughts I think probably of the next trilogy. Which I think it’s just gonna be judgment andully. Um, and I think I’m gonna do all 3 books with with them. It’ll have a new a new series title and I need to figure out what that is. There’s no preorder for it yet. But. Um I will get that done soon. Um I’ll have that preorder up by July because that’s when I can come up with the cover. So that’s where I am with my cover artist. So that’s all the news in my world I feel remarkably good today. Both. Vaccine wise and creative well-wise I’m glad that I get to do just businessy things today. But yeah, all right I’m gonna tick off here for the great white noise old joke and I will. Um yeah, so I can get to write coffee. And I will talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye-bye.

First Cup of Coffee – May 12, 2022




Transcript
00:00.37
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:15.70
jeffekennedy
Delicious coffee elixir of life. How the hell are you guys today is Thursday may twelfth. Yeah, ah, it’s um. Fairly warm I mean coolish warm here in Santa Fe and overcast this morning and it’s not windy so I’m out here in the great barber for once in a straight on shot because I don’t have the rising sun in my face. Ah, it was really nice to wake up to a little bit of moisture in the air and the little bit of cloudiness stillness is supposed to be windy today but maybe after this, it’s come back off although I see. Mid next week is looking Windy again. My I move my plants outside this weekend I I know that this is something if you have listened to this podcast for a long time. The moving my plants outside is always a yeah, an event. It’s a deal you guys and I’ve left it long this year because I didn’t want him to get battered by the wind. But I think I’m going to go ahead and do it. Um, there’s one that I hesitate to move out to the front porch with this monkey tree. That’s really great. And it’ll get torn up by the way and but then the leaves grow back. So I don’t know I shouldn’t obsess. Ah, so um, ch ch ch things things something rustling nearby. What could it be a mouse There are a lot of rodents again this year

02:18.18
jeffekennedy
Yeah, so I make good progress on the on the book yesterday. Um I was still not done with this revision. It’s still going slowly but on um Tuesday I made it through 47 pages and yesterday I made it through 41 which so that’s going considerably faster than I was I’ve also been adding a lot of words I’ve added well so far for this revision I’ve cut almost 2000 words and I’ve added um. Trying to forgot what the actual ad was well I’ve gone up a net of nearly 4042 pages to go so theoretically I should finish the revision today I did not mean to hit that excuse me. We do not need to open a Zoom conference. So I’ve got writer coffee today. But otherwise I hope to get to that revision and can add those remaining words at least with this revision something happened that I was hoping would happen in that. My overall word count revised down. It’s not going to be 102000. It’s gonna be like a 98000 which I mean I realized that it may sound immaterial if it’s like 95K, 98K or 102K but I mean it’s a difference of a couple of days of how long it takes me to write it. So I take 98000 is probably going to be spot on. Glad for all of you who are excited about the 4 epilogues I’m excited about the 4 epilogs. And then we shall. Um, yeah, get this one out there. So speaking of getting books out there I had kind of an exciting exciting slash daunting event yesterday ah congratulations are in order because. I got the rights reverted to all 10 of my Carina Press books 10 books people. It feels like the end of an era um Carina press was the first to publish me well almost. Um, LooseId and Ellora’s Cave each published one smallish thing for me I did Petals & Thorns with LooseId and then the the vampire books my vampire books in um, with Ellora’s Cave.

05:09.20
jeffekennedy
Doing feeding the vampire with Ellora’s Cave because they wanted Petals & Thorns and there was communication problem and dhad already taken it but those were all smallish books. Um. More so smallish presses whereas we had such high hopes for Carina back in the day because it was um harlequin’s digital imprint. We thought we were gonna get like the whole harlequin marketing machine behind it. Some things manifested other things didn’t um. Carina was I loved working with Carina I really did and I still loved the people at Karina I learned a lot there. They were great they were great to me Angela James you know, started out running. Ah. Press came over from Samhain books which they did pronounce Samhain I asked the owner once ah, you know there’s just a lot of history. There. It was a really heady time. You know it was around um the around 2000 8 2009 and it’s just funny to look back on. Yeah so 10 books 10 books I did with Carina will be mine now I know I will make more money on them selling them myself. So that’s great. Ah, however, this is ah leading to a bit of angst. It’s like I have to do covers for 10 fucking books people I’m tempted. Maybe I’ll package some of them I don’t know I need to like figure out the smart way to do this. Some of them are smaller. Um, contemporary bdsm novellas. In fact, 7 of the 10 are contemporary Bdsm and which is like not full on my brand right now. But so I have to figure out how I want to do this. It requires thinking and planning and marketing savvy and I’m not feeling really equal to the task at the moment and then the 3 that are fantasy romance my covenant of Thorn’s trilogy I’m going to have to make up my mind about that because do I do I fix them I’m tempted to fix them at least the first one there. Yeah I know I’m so I’m almost inarticulate about this.

08:00.54
jeffekennedy
Because I go back and forth right? It’s like do I because Rogue’s Pawn, the first book in Covenant of Thorn’s was the first novel I ever wrote and I revised it multiple times and I can see the ways now that it is flawed some people love it. I don’t get many. People loving it the way that I used to but that could be because of Carina and I know that I can recover rebrand remarket. Ah you you know it’s so funny because like the the bargain with the fae king kind of thing is such a. Big deal in kindle unlimited right now in fantasy romance. That’s what that’s what these books are they’re about a scientist who ends up in Faerie and makes a bargain with this ah Fae, Rogue, and as usual and this sort of my my blessing and my curse I was I was kind of ahead of my time on this stuff but also my fairy my landa fairy my fay are all more alien and weird. What many people are writing these days and I think I mentioned this on here before but I saw someone tweeting about reading it and they didn’t tack me I I don’t remember why I picked it up I think maybe it came up under because I like I a search for my name and. Somebody said they were picking them up and were all excited and then she didn’t enjoy it. She said um that she felt like she’d gotten whiplash between the whimsy and the darkness and I don’t know maybe that’s my brand I feel like this is the spot I live in. But I’m wondering if I should go through and smooth it out. Also there is this section of the book. That’s very very dark that is stuff that I did not want to write I wanted it to be there only in flashback and my editor really pushed me um, like 3 times i. Ended up like right? she kept way more and more and more and so I ended up writing this whole scene and I know that that’s something that people really react to very strongly because it is ugly. It’s meant to be ugly but I never meant it to be on page so I’m really tempted to go in and take that out. Um, frankly I’m you know like on the other end of the spectrum I’m tempted to go through and rip the whole thing apart and redo it which no I know I can’t do that I won’t do that and so then the other extreme is not to touch them at all and just.

10:49.23
jeffekennedy
Take the files put them up have done buy stuff to pay for covers covers for 10 books 4 of the books are novellas that um are my facets of Passion series and those are um, sapphire platinum ruby and 5 golden rings and 5 golden rings was supposed to be called oro but Angie James thought that no one would get oro which means gold and. And it takes place in Mexico and it was in a holiday anthology. So what do you think? do I keep the name the same do I change it I’m tempted to put it back so many things so many decisions you guys I know that this is a champagne problem I know this is a good problem to have I i. Bitched in 1 place on a forum and I think and really I only got hearts which I think was like good problems to have Jeffie I have 10 books that I can release.

12:04.45
jeffekennedy
Now. So then the other three I guess I I didn’t say the other three are my um, falling under books which are full length contemporary bdsm novels and. So one way to approach this is to put up the ones that have sold the best right? and it’s definitely those books those books I’m actually surprised they reverted the rights to me on those books because they um they they still continue to sell pretty well. But I mean I might just try to set up a deal where I have like a release every thirty days on Amazon right? Just keep the momentum going along with my other books I’m releasing I do have a. Reserved spot with my cover artist Ravven for the rest of the year and probably we’ll just keep doing it that way I can always cancel but I can get her going on these covers and they’re not horribly expensive. They’re not what other people. Pay you know, like for other stuff but it’s still a financial investment right? Oh gray magic is live. Okay, so now all 3 bonds of magic books are live in Audiobook. I just got the message last night so I need to get those going for some reason acx put the second book in erotica and I don’t know why and I asked them to change it once and they haven’t done it. Feel like it should be in the same categories as book one. So I’m going to have to deal with that more business e things right? business business. So that’s good news. It’s it’s like that. Ah, but it it really is good. News. But. Ah, did make me think and I even made this note the other day and then forgot to oh no I think I made it later on the day on Tuesday but you know 1 thing about earning your living as an author which we talk about that. It’s the dream and I did think that this was funny. Um. Ah, few weeks ago on the sf f seven where I blog one of the other writers said that because we said um, are you a full time writer is it your dream if you are you know like how do you do the finances and so forth and one of the.

14:47.41
jeffekennedy
Writers said that they are absolutely a full time writer that they’ve always been a full time writer and just because they have a day job doesn’t mean that they’re not a full-time writer. Ah, you know and it’s like okay, but you’re you’re kind of mincing words here. This isn’t what we’re talking about when we say full time writer. It means it does mean a few different things right? and and people want to be able to claim it because it’s like some kind of badge of honor which I don’t. Think it should be because being a full time writer I think means that you don’t have another job that you don’t have any kind of day job or so you know most of us have like side gigs of teaching or other things but not. Salari not consistent income. Um, that’s what I think it means but just because you’re a full time writer does not mean that you are supporting yourself with your writing and that’s really the dream right? That’s what we want is like this. Have the career where you support yourself as a writer a lot of writers are subsidized by a salaary benefited spouse which is no shame I mean that’s that’s great. Um, and I wish I had that because it would be much It’s just a lot more security. It’s much easier because the thing about it is that yes, this is the dream that you don’t have another job that you get to write full time but you know the thing is is it is a fair amount of pressure that. You know, just like I’m feeling with finishing this book where you know like I really want to get it so that I get that money from Amazon you know thirty days earlier right? if I get this book out by the end of may then I’ll get that money by the end of July and I’m looking ahead to my finances. Later in the year and it’s like I need to have a certain amount of money coming in every month so that I can keep us afloat and you know it’s one of those things where I think a lot of us think that earning being a full-time writer supporting ourselves as a writer means that we’ve made it. That we’ve gotten there and as I’ve talked about many times making it is an illusion right? That’s there is no made it there. You know unless you really hit the jackpot as a writer where you make a whole slew of money enough so that you never have to worry about it again.

17:29.26
jeffekennedy
Then you’re always hustling. You’re always looking towards that new book to releasing those new books just like I’m talking about with my reverted writes books you know, getting that you know packaging I’m and getting them ready to go. Um. So. It’s just something to consider because I think a lot of us think if you and I certainly did for a very long time like I had my number in my mind when I still have my full time career type job I thought well once I make enough money from my books. To be equivalent to and I 2 milestones right for my salary. What I was making as an environmental consultant which was admittedly a high bar. They paid me well which was wonderful of them and then if I figured in like the value of my benefits and I thought well you know like if I could get into that area. Then I’ll be fine right? because I’ll be bringing in enough money from the books to be equivalent to my salary but the thing is is even though you’re bringing enough money from the books at 1 time doesn’t mean that you will continue to do so because it waxes and wanes and things go in and out of fashion. That’s another thing with my covenant of Thorn’s books is I admit to a fair amount of insecurity about whether these books are really good enough and whether people will like them or if I should retire them of course that’s the eternal insecurity of the altar right? so. Um, yeah, that’s where I’m at I really feel like I need to hire someone to do promo for me to do to be a publicist and maybe I need to circle back to that because the 1 person I tried to contact they never. Got back to me. Oh well. So um, yeah I’m gonna go get this podcast up and then go out and have um, we’d still call it writer coffee. Although one of the guys wants to call it writer or brunch because we do sit there for a couple of hours and eat so I’m going to a new to me place in Santa Fe not new to Santa Fe because it’s been here since the mid 70 s apparently and I don’t think I’ve ever been there while the other guys suggested I was like never been there looking forward to it so I’m gonna do that. And I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and I will talk to you all tomorrow take care bye bye.