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Making It: Indy Publishing & Money

I start my third job today.

If you count caring for small children as a job, I suppose it’ll be my fourth job, but I’m talking about actual, paid work here. In addition to royalties from my writing, I’m an adjunct philosophy professor (the pay for that one is actually worse than it sounds), and I just picked up an extra teaching gig.


For the money.

show me the money

Before I published The Trickster’s Lover, I scoured the internet, trying to find out how much money writers actually make. And I discovered that, with a few exceptions (thank you, Jessi Gage!), writers are pretty damn cagey when it comes to talking about money.

(Yes, there is an entire book about writers and money called Scratch, but those are hoity-toity literary writers, not indy-published erotic romance writers.)

“When I’m published,” I vowed to myself, “I’ll be honest about the money! I’ll post it to my blog, by God!”

vow as god is my witness

In September, I published The Trickster’s Lover. And then I got cagey about the money, aside from the occasional vague post like this.

Here’s the truth:

I’m embarrassed.

My novel got good reviews, and yes, it sold. But not like I’d hoped.

But I did make a vow to talk about the actual finances of independent publishing. And hey, I already talk about sex. Why not add another forbidden topic to the mix and be totally, 100% explicit…about money?

So here it is:

The Trickster’s Lover came out in September. In November (somewhat unwisely, as this came out right after the election) I published my Loki/Caroline novella Honeymoon. And, in February, I published my short story Persephone Remembers the Pomegranates.

Trickster’s Lover sells for $3.99 currently, although I’ve sold most of my books during .99 sales. Honeymoon and Persephone are both .99. I’ve been paid for my sales through January of this year.

In five months, I made $355 (that’s about $70 a month).

As a small business, Samantha MacLeod has not yet broken even. I’ve spent more money on advertising, cover design, and the like than I’ve made from my sales, partially because I made some bad, optimism-driven decisions early on.

But I am at the point where my business is self-sustaining; I’m only spending money I’ve earned. For a five-month-old business, my husband assures me, that’s not too shabby.

It’s just not enough to help ends meet around the MacLeod household. Hence, like almost all the other writers, and all the other artists, I’ve got day job(s).

And no, I’m not going to dramatically fling back my hair, slam down my laptop, and declare I’m never writing again.

I do still reserve the right to throw myself on a bed and sob.

I’m going to keep plugging away after work, or while my kids are napping, or late at night, as the artist types do. Because the stories are still there, damn it, and they want to be found.

So there you have it.

Totally explicit talk…about the financial realities of indy publishing erotic romance.



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