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We Can Buy a Toaster: Reflections from the First Year as an Indy Author

Way back in April, I posted a really explicit article… about money, baby!

Now that I’ve reached the one-year anniversary of The Trickster’s Lover‘s publication – and the one-year anniversary of my start as a small business – I thought I’d add another post about the financial realities of independent publishing.

Because what’s sexier than financial realities?

Anything. Literally anything is sexier.

The Numbers

Let’s run those numbers!

In the year since I started this crazy publishing journey with The Trickster’s Lover, I’ve made just under $700 (that doesn’t count my July or August sales, since I only tally up the profits once they’re in my f’ing bank account).

Of that, roughly $500 came from Amazon sales, and the rest trickled in from various other vendors (Barnes & Noble and Apple being the biggest of the non-Amazon sites).

Of course, Trickster’s Lover isn’t the only smut I’m peddling. I have two novellas (Honeymoon and Death and Beauty), plus my erotic short story Persephone Remembers the Pomegranates (It’s free now, but it did cost .99 for a good chunk of this year).

I’ve also gotten paid for two short stories – The Ballad of Tam Lin in Lustily Ever After and On Selkie Beach in Sinful Pleasures.

Still, $700 sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?

The Downside


no money

I’ve spent it all.

And I don’t mean “went out for beer and hot wings” spent it all.

No, I mean “business expenses” spent it all.

As an indy publisher, I buy my own covers and advertising. I also buy paperbacks for giveaways and pay fees for things like this blog and my newsletter. All told, the expenses side of my business isn’t huge… but then again, neither are the profits!

The Bottom Line

Profits are the difference between the amount a business earned, and the amount a business spent.

money to burn

To date, Samantha MacLeod’s independent publishing company – Vestal Valley Press – has not made a profit.

That is to say, I’ve sunk every penny I’ve earned right back into promoting my books or buying covers for the next story in line.

And to be totally honest – just between you and me, internet – if I take into account the money I spent before The Trickster’s Lover was published, I’ve sunk more into publishing than I’ve made.

I’m in the red.

red in my ledger

Yet another thing I have in common with Natasha Romanova.


I suck at setting goals (and I’m going to write a blog post about that someday), but I am a business, and businesses have goals, damn it!

So, as I stare another year of independent publishing in the face, I’m hoping to both decrease expenses and offer some new sexy stories. Maybe, just maybe, next year will be the year I break even, or come away with some actual profit.

Like enough to buy a toaster.

The sweet smell of success!!!


I’m not going to freak out about these numbers. Because publishing is a business, yes.

But writing is not.

And, while I want to be explicitly honest about the money I’m making (or not) – in part because I wish I’d done more research before I started this journey, and in part because I wish people were more explicitly honest about everything – I don’t want to focus on the money.

I didn’t start publishing for the money. In fact, publishing is a terrible way to make money — almost as bad as becoming a writer.

I started writing because I had an idea that just wouldn’t shut up, and I decided to publish independently because I liked the idea of creative control, hated the idea of querying agents, and suspected my paranormal romance novel with nary a vampire or werewolf in sight was a bit too unconventional to be an easy sell to a publishing company.

If I look at that decision from the profits perspective, well, maybe it wasn’t the greatest. But then again, if I look at any of my life decisions from a profits perspective, they don’t look so good. I mean, I am a philosophy professor, after all…

One f or two?

So, while I want to be honest about the money and smart about the business side of things, I also want to keep it in perspective.

Because in the end, writing is about telling a good story, creating something from nothing, evoking emotions in your audience, and perhaps even capturing something beautiful.

Making enough money to buy a damn toaster is just a nice bonus. 😉

Like what you’ve read? Join my newsletter and I’ll send you a free copy of Tam Lin, my sexy modern take on the Scottish folktale.

2 thoughts on “We Can Buy a Toaster: Reflections from the First Year as an Indy Author Leave a comment

  1. Samantha, your financial disappointment mirrors almost all independent business owners, but in a much more articulate, entertaining, and effective way. Keep on writin’, Girl!!


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