Happy New Year! I’m back from an (almost) unprecedented two-week break, talking about working smarter not harder really panned out in 2023 and a deep dive into author finances as a full-time writer.
Happy New Year! I’m back from an (almost) unprecedented two-week break, talking about working smarter not harder really panned out in 2023 and a deep dive into author finances as a full-time writer.
A bit more on how I’ve increased my author income stream over the last 7 seven years so that I can make my living as a writer, my strategies, why a robust backlist is key, and how I’m refining my approach for 2023.
I’m reviewing my author earnings for 2022 as compared to prior years, talking trad vs. indie income and how a robust backlist is key to earning a living as a write. Also some distressing news about Robin Perini.
I’m back from vacation, which gave me time with my head out of the book to think about some business stuff, so I’m sharing my New Plan for Social Media and promoting my backlist. Also: an RWA mystery!
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. And my Hummingbird friend. Ah delicious. Today is Monday July twenty fifth I am back in the saddle at least temporarily. I am um refreshed from my vacation for the most part you all the joke about how you need a vacation to recover from your vacation but we had fun. It was lovely time. Enjoy it very much and um, it was good. Just to take a break from things but busy catching up as always and and I don’t know what all I have to say I didn’t make notes today. I’ve started using Tiktok a little bit I’ve been playing with it putting up little reels and a friend asked me if I was going to post a podcast to Tiktok and she said you know there’s mosquito buzzing around here. She said you know you can put up um up to 10 minutes now on Tiktok. She said are you thinking about doing that I’m like oh I’d have to confine the podcast at 10 minutes which I feel like I’d have to be succinct which let’s face it that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. It might be good for me to be more succinct but I don’t know. It comes back to my whole um measurement of like when the podcast becomes more of a pain to do than than a pleasure. so um so yeah I paused you so you wouldn’t have to watch me kill the mosquito. In case, any of you are tenderhearted enough to worry about the mosquitoes mosquitoes are the one thing that I don’t mind whacking. So let’s see um this week will be kind of funny because I am.
Hear podcasting today and tomorrow. Um Wednesday I fly to DC for Apollycon very interested to see how Apollycon goes I’m excited to see my friends that it’s starting to hit me that I’m going to see these people I haven’t seen. Since um, three years or before a lot of them. It was ah RWA convention in July 2019 I saw a funny thing David found this kind of bizarre movie from 1990 on Paramount plus called. The um, the boyfriend, the boyfriend something I think if you look for the boyfriend. You’ll find it um boyfriend test boyfriend experiment something like that. Um with Shelley long and Steve Gutenberg and ah oh Erin um she was in a lot of those late eighty s movies hang on – The Boyfriend School and it’s Jamie Gerrtz who was in Sixteen candles and the lost boys. Ah, so ah, what was funny is so the movie was originally released back then back in 1990 as Don’t Tell Her It’s Me and I’m sure I don’t think I ever saw it. Ah. It’s from the book called The Boyfriend School which apparently that title tested badly. But then when they re-released on Dvd they went ahead and went with that because apparently don’t tell her. It’s me was an even worse title which I think the boyfriend school is good title. Anyway, this movie got so panned so panned and um, we’re finding it funny ah I don’t know why people hated this movie so much but the interesting part I promise there is an interesting part see this is why I couldn’t do this in 10 minutes right admittedly might be a good idea. Just not going to happen. Ah Shelly long plays a romance author and while there are a few cringe worthy lines here and there for the most part. It’s ah, a solid defense of being a romance author. Ah, Jamie Gertz comes in as a journalist making disparaging comments ah about at this conference that says romance writers of America and it’s all of this There’s the banner that says romance writers of America.
And on one of the author table there tables there. There’s the Harlequin brand so I feel like the movie makers must have gotten permission to use this stuff but there’s nothing in the trivia I’m I’m going to have to do some research and find out was this an actual Rw a conference that this movie. Ah, filmed this scene at there are things that seem not Rw a that seem more like RT, but it could be that rwwe was like this in the late 80 s you know if the film came out in 1990 it could have been one of those conventions in the late eighty s. And maybe they were like that because they had like a male model walking around basically wearing a thong. Um, that was our tea but not Rw so I’m going to hit up some of my um older Rw a ladies and see what they say. Yeah I want to know what they think and then if if I find out that it was this may be what finally catapults me into logging into I am db and creating an identity just so I can upload that trivia and then I might have to go in and like. Counter some of these horrible reviews I think people trashed it largely because of the romance. Um I mean there’s I mean it’s not a brilliant movie but it’s certainly far better than than many and it has a promising romance. We didn’t finish watching but um. I mean just did to see how it goes but it’s funny seeing the ah r wa stuff in there. Oh and and Jamie Gertz comes in talking to Shelley long and doesn’t realize that Shelley long is interviewing her as a potential ah love interest for her brother Steve Gutenberg who is recovering from. Treatments for Hodgkin’s disease was always bald and puffy I think apparently this is this is sort of like how time moves. Ah I did read in the trivia that at the time Steve Gutenberg had played entirely suavet roles up until then. I like in 3 men and a baby and um I don’t remember what all, but and that this was the first time that he you know here, he’s being bold and puffy and kind of um, a recluse and unhappy and it’s funny because. I do not think of Steve Gutenberg as a suave guy. Um and I think that’s because later he leaned more into being pitiful loser guy.
So perhaps I’m more willing to accept that than audiences were at the time there was I also saw when I was trying to look up who that little girl is who plays Shelley Long’s daughter who’s like 3 ah. And actually does kind of a brilliant job of it. She’s this very solemn little girl who were apparently a pair of twins but um, ah, let’s see what led me down that path I was trying to remember when I was looking it up. Oh. I found like this l a times review of the movie that mentioned this little girl’s name Susan Lund I think she must have been. Someone’s daughter you know well of course she’s someone’s daughter. But. Not a professional actress I think this was the only thing she ever did and it was like you know like the costume designer’s daughter that kind of thing so the um but this scathing scathing review written by a woman which I’ve always feel like is telling um. Really slammed the romance aspects but then she also said um that they failed to take advantage of the beautiful Charleston location and I thought really that’s a criticism of the movie that they didn’t choose to show the. Pretty Charleston south carolina stuff but instead chose some of the more rural landscape anyway, I didn’t mean see this is why we can’t do 10 minutes of this because I just spent almost 10 minutes talking about this movie. Anyway, we’ll see if we if I can upload this to Instagram I’m I haven’t tried obviously in a week so I was giving you my schedule going to Apollycon Wednesday. Um, Thursday Friday maybe I’ll do some podcast interviews. Maybe not. It. It’ll be potluck. Maybe you’ll get lucky maybe having a podcast interview with somebody will be unlucky. You never know. Ah, um, and then I come back on Sunday and next Monday I have um, and dum dum dum jury duty magistrate court. They think it’ll only take one day but they summoned me at the beginning of summer and I’d said well I have travel and they came back which I thought was interesting and asked for.
Um, documentation of my travel dates like hotel stays and plane tickets and they had a nice um interface on the website where I could upload. Those documents so I sent them. You know here’s my travel schedule here’s my plane tickets and hotel stays and so then I got a notice that I have to appear on August first and I was like you all are correct I will be in town. So it’ll be interesting I’ve been called for jury duty before never in New Mexico but I’ve never served I always get dismissed. Ah I’m apparently not an ideal jury member probably because I think it would be interesting to do so um. You know, like no cell phones nothing like that. So I won’t be out of contact next monday try not to set the world on fire without me people. Um, and after that it should be a fairly normal ish schedule for a little while. Hoping to get back into making progress on shadow wizard I’ve been looking at the covers going through the cover iterations with my fabulous cover artist Robin and Suku I’ll just love this cover. Um, just love. Discover the the model she found for Jadren is um, it’s perfect. So so it was interesting I wrote on Monday and then I just decided I was kind of pondering it I think on. The podcast last week but um I just decide to take the rest of the week off writing I decided it would be more stressful than anything trying to get my word count in and it would have been so I did do some. Um, pondering on the drive thinking about just some business e things and so while I was there I did work on some business-y things I researched a couple of things. And one thing I’m going to do and this this feels like a big transition for me a milestone for me I realized that it is not for other people. But for me, it’s kind of a big deal.
Not many people know this. But I’m kind of a big deal. Love that line. Thank you Jim Sorenson for pointing it out to me from cheers. So I’m going to I think use SmarterQueue ah. SmarterQueue as in making a line ah to schedule social media posts and this is a transition for me because I have never used a scheduler I have um, always believed that social media should be. Authentic and in the moment and that I should engage directly hence this podcast.
Um, and I did like the I give scheduling. Um I’ve always thought that social media should not be like a billboard but I’m feeling like things have changed that there are. Aspects of all of the social media platforms that are like billboards that there’s room for both and I really need to get into promoting my backlist more Um, and so smarter queue will apparently allow me to. Ah, schedule on all the social media platforms and I can just put up evergreen posts to promote the backlist. Um and and that’s what I’m going to do so that that step’s just always out there because what I’m finding is. That my whole thing about posting in the moment and so forth that it creates this. Um sorry I just had an idea of something I want to do on Instagram but because i. I do the podcast in the morning I exercise do the podcast get this uploaded try not to look at social media as I upload it. Ah, don’t look at email write get my words in while my brain is still fresh. Then I come out and. Deal with email social media sif web business business of life. Ah that that is when I would like do other kinds of social media posting problems with this are it’s not necessarily the ideal time to post um and. I’m not necessarily full of bouncy social media energy at the end of the day and I was talking with I consulted a few other people that was part of what I was doing when I was you know like downtime at the resort when everybody else was sleeping off being in the casino all night um I got on some of my. Author groups and stuff and just ask people what they use and and and it’s a thing because people were like yeah you know end of the day I’m just not social media friendly and you know the world has changed It’s amazing to think about how how long it’s been. Um, we were talking about someone who I’m trying to think of how to phrase this we were talking about this gal and I said you know that person’s um, someone to keep an eye on because.
They had a big social media meltdown and I went to look up the links on it and it was 2009 2009 so thirteen years ago and so so so I added to it I said here’s what’s happened here’s what the person. You know, got into and I said um and it’s entirely possible that my memory is way too long. Um, because wow, but you know that is one of those things is that people don’t forget and I said I don’t believe that. People should be held accountable forever for a mistake like that. Ah, but this person did not handle the social media meltdown. Well um, threatening to call the Fbi on readers who had given their books bad reviews. You know it was like a little on the emotionally wonky side and I said you know it could be It was a bad time. A one time thing but just keep an eye on this person and you know it’s It’s been my hope my point and I do have one is that it has been a long time. Ah, you know when we first started using social media a lot I think I got on Twitter in 2009 um, Facebook might have been like 2007 and it was mostly promote my blog. So I think you know that is the thing is that we have to continue to roll with the times and um, so that’s going to be a big thing that I’m going to do. It’s smarter q you have to pay for but I’ve been thinking out paying for a publicist and instead I’m going to pay for this and I’m also going to set up. A blog tour for shadow wizard. Um, so that’ll be interesting. Oh and other news is rogue’s possession releases tomorrow. So how how could I forget. So so yeah, um, release day tomorrow and exciting changes for some of these business things I’m I’m excited to to implement these particular tools and see how this works for me. Um, one thing that’s going to have to happen with that smarter cue is it’s gonna there’s gonna be some ramp up right? I’m going to have to spend some time getting all of that stuff queed up as it were ah but otherwise I’m hoping to get.
I hope to get a full writing week this week I hope that’s not unreasonable. Um I’m glad I didn’t write last week now I need to get my head back in the book. Um I don’t leave to Wednesday afternoon so fingers crossed I should have three good writing days and then. Um, a polykon stuff doesn’t start till Thursday night. So I should have good writing time Thursday morning and then also um Friday morning I don’t have anything until that afternoon. So thinking good thoughts that I’m not distracted by other stuff should. Should work out so um, regardless I will be here in the garden tomorrow morning and it’s ah it’s nice to talk to you all again? Um I would say I missed you but it’s kind of weird because I don’t hear I mean I guess I get your comments and stuff. So. But yeah, it’s nice to be back on the podcast nice to be back in my garden if only for a few days and I will talk to you all tomorrow you all take care bye-bye.
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.