Musings on Income

(Author note: if you are waiting on book 7 and couldn’t care less about nitty-gritty of the dark inner workings of being a pro writer, skip this post.  For you peeps- book 7 is over half done and still on track for release in next couple months. I apparently might have pneumonia, but I’ve wrestled that beastie and won before, so I hope it won’t slow me down too much.  Happy New Year, eh?! But no fear, Boss Fight: Samir (ie Magic to the Bone) is on its way).

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For everyone else… have some random thoughts and some numbers:

Income, especially in American culture I guess, is a touchy thing. Among writers and other creatives, I think it can be even touchier. This business is so uneven and so subjective once you hit a basic threshold of quality. Which is why I always choose to define “good book” as “book multiple people want to read enough to pay money for” and leave it there, because every other measure runs into problems of taste and opinion.

Some writers do share their income. Many choose not to. I think both are making the decision that they are comfortable with, however, I super appreciate those who share. For the same reason I watch certain books and how they do with readers, I also watch various author careers. It’s all data that I might be able to apply to my own career, to my own books, to help me better deliver great books that people want to read and to find the best avenues to get those books into reader’s hands.

I’ve noticed though that there’s an odd gap in the numbers being shared, and chatting with a few others I am not the only one who has noticed. Authors starting out, both trad and indie, seem to share more often than long-time authors. Same with authors (long in the biz or not) who are making less than six figures. Then the gap appears as you see some authors who make very high six or into seven figures sharing. Where are the betweens? I know they exist in the professional fiction writing world, because I know quite a few of them personally. But they don’t share.

Many, I assume, don’t share because they aren’t comfortable talking numbers outside private groups. After all, in the end it is nobody’s business but the tax people and yourself what you make, and that’s cool. Many of us are raised to never discuss money, though from dealing with various unfair work situations and seeing relationships dissolve over financial disputes, not discussing money can sometimes be a poor choice. But when you work for yourself? It’s a decision you have to make for yourself.

I imagine others don’t because six figure income is this funny limbo place. You are making money, good money, but you aren’t making enough to feel untouchable (especially not when the tax bills come due, weeee). Publishing is a very volatile field. You can sell thousands of copies of one book, release the next, and watch the pennies trickle in. One change at a vendor or a mix-up in a computer system somewhere, and you can lose tens of thousands in the blink of an eye. There’s no “made it” or coasting available at almost any level of publishing that I can see until you hit the upper echelons where you have more money than JK Rowling (okay, probably nobody has more than she does in publishing, but you get my point).

This is stuff I’ve been thinking about as I read blog posts by awesome people like Jim C Hines and Kameron Hurley. Posts such as theirs, posts by others like JA Konrath, Amanda Hocking, and John Scalzi, and surveys like the one Tobias Buckell did back in 2005 helped me figure out what paths to take, what careers to look at, how to navigate things and what expectations to have. I’m a firm believer in more information is more better.

For that reason, I used to share numbers. I still do pretty openly at conventions and if people ask. But when I thought about writing a post after reading Jim Hines’ summation of his year, I balked. Why? Because this year was super successful for me and I fall into that limbo place now. I worried that writing this post would cause backlash, people saying “oh she doesn’t deserve that” or “she’s just bragging” or “her books aren’t that good” or “she’s just an outlier” or whatever else people say when green-eyed monsters come to live in their brains. Professional envy is a real danger in creative endeavors, I’ve witnessed it first hand multiple times and almost fell prey to it myself once in a general way (I quit writing short fiction for a while because I felt like I’d never compare to people who seemed to work less hard than I did, but thankfully I got the fuck over that hang-up).

But you know what? Data is data. I might be in the fragile limbo where income could be zero next year (if I don’t stop getting sick, that might be my reality, sigh), but I’m going to share numbers. These are a combination of a ton of work/study finally paying off and the support of the best readers anyone could ask for, with a dollop of luck thrown in (like the whole e-book revolution happening while I’m still alive to enjoy it, for example).

Titles published in 2015: 2 (plus one three book omnibus of previously published work)
Paid Titles total under this name: 17
Free titles: 7 (one of which was paid for half of 2015 at .99)
Short stories sold to anthologies in 2015: 4

Books sold in 2015 (including audio and print): 106,661 (approximate)
Income earned from ebooks/audio/print: $257,293
Income from multi-author bundles/Misc: $4,048
Income from anthology sales/royalties: $1,690
Total earnings 2015 (paid in 2015): $263,031

Want to see what a totally uneven career looks like? I quit my job in 2009 to start pursuing being a writer full time. I made one short story sale for a flash fiction piece that year, earning 18 dollars.  2010 income is a short story sale and the tiny beginnings of my foray into ebooks. Baby steps while I learned how to write (I wrote and submitted 39 short stories in 2010 alone, plus a novel).

Here’s the graph of my career so far:

chart of earnings by year
And here’s a pie chart of how my earnings for the year divide out between indie, trad, and multi-author stuff, because who doesn’t like pie?

2015 earnings by type
So… to sum up, I had a fantastic 2015 income-wise. Health-wise and stress-wise, it was awful and I’m ringing in 2016 with another bout of pneumonia, so who knows what my writing schedule will be like but I ain’t gonna quit. I will keep on writing, and working to make every book something I am proud of and that people want to read for as long as I’m alive to do so. That’s pretty much all any career writer can ask for, I think. Maybe I’ll have crazy numbers to post again this time next year, or maybe I won’t, but if I can get more good/healthy days and more books written than in 2015, I’ll consider 2016 a win.

And as anyone I’ve ever gamed with can tell you, I’m all about winning 😉

On Awards This Year

Hey peeps,

I’ve had a few people ask me, so I guess I should say publicly what I’ve been saying to people when they ask.

I don’t wish to have my work considered for awards this year. I’d like to just have 2016 to get stuff done, worry about my readers and my career, and (hopefully!) not be involved in any award business. I’m not attending Worldcon 2016 either (I’ll be there for 2017 though, yay excuse to go to Finland!).

So please… if you read and enjoyed something of mine that was published this year (and there were a few things I think are some of my best work),  thank you. But don’t vote for my stories.   I’ve got cool work coming out next year, and maybe by 2017 I’ll have healed the stress of this last award season, but for now… please, I want a year of not having to even worry about it, slim as my chances might be.

My advice for award reading in general is this:

Read widely (there’s tons of good fiction for free on sites like Clarksworld, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Nightmare, etc as well as lots of inexpensive anthologies and ebooks out there). BUT! Don’t feel like you haven’t read “enough” to vote. Even if you only read one story/novel/novella/whatever and it really touched you, made you want to re-read it, etc… then nominate that story or novella or book or film etc. Your opinion matters. You don’t have to know everything about every work published in 2015, or about every category. It’s okay to leave things blank.  Just… read what you can. Vote for what you love.

Thank you!

Orycon Schedule & Book Signing

Okay. Now that book six it out, I can blog about something else. Yay! 🙂

Just a quick note about book 7: it will be out hopefully by end of March, 2016. I’m already working on it and barring more health issues (which at the moment I seem to have a handle on), it will NOT take as long as book six. Thank you all again for your patience!

Other news!

I’m signing books at Powell’s Books Cedar Hills location in Beaverton, OR at 4pm (until about 5:30-6pm) on November 22nd!  I have ten shiny copies of Thicker Than Blood that will be for sale that day. So if you want it, or want the full signed set… show up on time! Or just come say hi, or just come to Powell’s because that bookstore is amazing.  I’ll be giving out free dice!

I’ll also be doing panels at Orycon, the Oregon Science Fiction convention in Portland, OR this coming weekend, Nov. 20th-22nd.

Here is my panel schedule:

Fri Nov 20 3:00:pm
Fri Nov 20 4:00:pm

I Quit My Job to Be a Writer! WHAT HAVE I DONE?

What the full-time writing life is like, how to stay focused when you’re all by yourself, the realities of making a living via the written word, and techniques for forcing yourself to get dressed and leave the house.
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Fri Nov 20 4:00:pm
Fri Nov 20 5:00:pm

I’ll Be Watching You…

From vampire assassins to wizard private eyes to undead thugs, crime has been mixing it up with fantasy for years. What is it about crime, noir, and the paranormal that’s so appealing? Also – what are some really good titles?
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Fri Nov 20 5:00:pm
Fri Nov 20 6:00:pm

How to Jumpstart Your Novel’s Sales

Your self-published book’s sales have plunged. How can you revive them? Will a new cover make a difference? What about targeted advertising? Publishing tie-in short fiction? Appearing in multi-author bundle? Or should you learn to stop worrying and get writing the next book in the series, or even start a new series?
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Sat Nov 21 12:00:pm
Sat Nov 21 1:00:pm

Revision: Path to Better Writing or Way to Never Finish?

Endless revisions can kill good writing, but everyone says polish your work. Besides, the first draft is usually bad, right? How to navigate through the apparent contradictions without going crazy.
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Sat Nov 21 3:00:pm
Sat Nov 21 4:00:pm

Hybrid Vigor: Choosing Both Traditional and Self-Publishing

Don’t believe the True Believers on both sides of this non-existent divide: you can be both a traditional AND a self-published writer. Learn how to let the project choose the path.
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Sat Nov 21 4:00:pm
Sat Nov 21 5:00:pm

How to Write a Series

Where to start, and how long of a series you can (or should?) write. How to make it interesting, different, and hopefully successful, and stay in love with it.
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Sat Nov 21 5:00:pm
Sat Nov 21 6:00:pm

The Magic Goes to Eleven

Defining Magical Systems. Magic is not to be trifled with as far as a reader’s concerned. Discuss how to give your characters powers–but not too much power–and how to keep internal consistency.

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Hope to see some people there!

Release Date

Okay, I finally feel comfortable giving a new release date on book 6. I know it isn’t the date ya’ll want (which would have been yesterday, I know, I know), but I think it is safe to give one now and hopefully having a nice solid date again will alleviate some of the questions/concerns I’m getting!

Thicker Than Blood will be out on November 10th.

Thank you to everyone for your patience on this and your understanding about my health etc. I’m truly sorry for the delays.  I know six months is a long time, especially given the “zomg what!?” ending of book five but thank you for hanging in there with me for Jade’s story to continue.

May all your hits be crits in the meantime!

Annie

Quick Update

Not had a good health week 🙁 Got slowed down in final bits of getting Thicker Than Blood ready for publication. The book is nearly here, but just a little longer. Sorry peeps.  Don’t worry, I’ll post freaking everywhere as soon as the file is live in the stores.

Book 6 and Sundry

Update!

Book 6: Thicker Than Blood is nearly ready. It’ll be out this month (September). I know I said August, but the plans of mice and writers, eh?

Health stuff continues as it was. My life is an episode of House, basically, except I haven’t coded on a table yet. It’s slowing down the work a lot, but books are still being worked on, no worries.  It is just unlikely for the near future that I’ll be able to keep up the pace of releases I had last year, so it will probably be at least 3 to 5 months between books going forward, sorry! I don’t want to release anything I’m not 100% happy with, so hopefully the wait will be worth it.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t read the first three Twenty-Sided Sorceress books for some reason or have friends or pets or dolphins or whatever that haven’t read them, there’s a special sale going on now where you can get the bundle for $0.99. This is only good through Sept 6th!

Amazon/Kindle version hereBarnes & Noble/Nook version here. iBooks/iTunes here.

Book 1-3

Last Delay

Health issues still putting me down a lot, sorry guys. I need a little more time. This is the last delay, I promise. I won’t even give a date, we’ll just say early August, but it might be before end of month. The book is almost there. I just want it to be perfect and I have so little energy thanks to this ongoing illness that everything is taking longer than expected.

Thank you all for understanding and having patience!