Transparency Report for 2013

(8 comments)

Right, this is one of those things I've been promising to do before another Kickstarter, and I have the numbers handy, so let's go ahead and have a look at how the whole writing career went over the last year.

I'm doing this mainly because I do have to shake the cup occasionally and ask for money, and encourage people to buy books to support the project. And I feel like if I'm going to plead with you for money, you have a right to know what my financial situation is.

So, first of all, I am not the primary earner in my household. That would be my wife, who is an oncology nurse at a fairly large hospital. She makes about what you'd expect for that, which is to say, a fraction of what she deserves. We live in Danbury, Connecticut, which is around the 66th percentile in terms of cost of living in the US - a two-bedroom apartment in decent but not great repair runs us $1250 a month, to give you an idea, and that's pretty much standard market price.

I made $12,409 in royalties in 2013. $3169 of those came from the bundling of books in the Storybundle Doctor Who deal, while the other $9240 came from general sales, for an average of $770 a month. In practice this helpfully supplements my wife's income in a given month and means that we enjoy the considerable luxury of never having to get too stressed about where rent is coming from in a given month.

There was also the matter of the Kickstarter. I made some errors in calculating shipping costs that resulted in much, much more of the Kickstarter being used to fulfill rewards than I had expected. Between paying for editing and design services on four books in 2013 and rewards shipping, all but about $5000 of the Kickstarter was spoken for. (Design is about $800 a book. Final costs on shipping aren't quite nailed down because I still have some replacements to ship due to my screwing up and not using sturdy enough packaging, but they were around $6-7k.)

That $5000, along with the Storybundle windfall, essentially went to two things. The first was our honeymoon, which we took in Chicago after eloping. We drove out, stayed in a Pricelined hotel, and put all the money towards eating at nice restaurants. It was an absolutely amazing time, and we would both like to thank everyone for making it something we could do.

The second was my wife's birthday present for me, a very nice grill that lets me do all sorts of fun cooking things. I was going to include a picture of it, but I ended up writing this at about 3am, so really, not the best lighting for it. Still, I love it dearly, and have made some really lovely dinners on it. (Next up, a grill-roasted duck with potatoes, also grill-roasted.)

To sum up, then, between this job and my wife's work, we're able to maintain a pretty nice middle class existence for two. There's no shortage of stuff we could do if we had more money - any sort of expensive vacation in 2014 is currently not in the cards, for instance, and this week's budget was rather strained by the fact that we had to finally confront the annoyance of not owning a printer. Our savings aren't great, and we're not in any position to buy a house, have a kid, or afford to move somewhere less stupidly expensive than Danbury in the immediate future. But we're doing a lot better than most, and although the income from this job is a fraction of what my wife makes, it's still enough to be the difference between a constant struggle to make ends meet and being in a position where they reliably do, albeit without much left after.

All of which is to say, thank you for your support. Within the next week or so I'll be launching a Kickstarter that will fund the writing of Book Two of The Last War in Albion, the book version of Book One, and the occasionally mentioned Secret Project, which I will merely say is Doctor Who-related, book length, and will be serialized to all Kickstarter backers. (And that's really all you get unless you pledge.) That'll be a $2500 goal Kickstarter, with stretch goals being commitments to write an additional book of Last War in Albion for every $2500 over goal. My hope is that it will end somewhere in the $8k range, which will allow us to set up some substantive savings such that we can cope with unexpected emergencies and/or maybe actually take a vacation again someday.

I'm happy to answer any questions about this in comments. Thanks again for everything. It's been a heck of a year.

Comments

Kit Power 3 years, 4 months ago

I can't tell you how happy I am for you. I also cannot wait for the Last War KS - I've been buying the first drafts as they drop, but having picked up the Hartnell book as part of the Kickstarter campaign, I now really appreciate the extra work that you put into the editing and expanding for the book formats (and found the same for the Troughton book), and I'll be very excited to see the same for Last War. Also, belated thanks for the Hartnell book - the cover art is a thing of rare beauty, and you've ensured that my next few months discretionary book spending will be on paperback editions of all the Dr. Who books. They look great on the shelf.

I hope you continue to enjoy expanded success in the coming years. You deserve it - you work bloody hard, and produce consistently brilliant writing.

PS - I realise it's likely a ways off, but I hope you're still considering doing the Joss Whedon thing. Because, damn.

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Froborr 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm glad to hear you're doing reasonably well, and hope you keep doing better! You deserve it, as Kit Power said.

...It does make me sad that "a pretty nice middle class existence" entails not being able to afford "to buy a house, have a kid, or... move to somewhere less stupidly expensive," but that's 21st century America for you.

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Shane Cubis 3 years, 4 months ago

Only passingly relevant, but here in Sydney, my "two-bedroom apartment in decent but not great repair" costs $2700 a month in rent. Obscene, innit?

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Eric Gimlin 3 years, 4 months ago

Did the Flood book bring in anything in 2013? I suspect it may not have, with an advance the year before and royalties other than the advance being something to hope for in the future but not likely soon.

How well have the Last War Chapbooks been doing? I've been grabbing them as quickly as I figure out you've released them (generally a few hours before the official launch), I'm just curious as they might be at least a starting indicator of interest in the kickstarter. (You're probably quite wise to tie a Doctor Who project into this as well; I suspect the market for Last War is reasonably large but I doubt very much you've found more than a fraction of it yet.)

Looking forward to reasons to give you more of my money very soon.

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William Silvia 3 years, 4 months ago

You're in Danbury? I thought you were in Newtown. Did you watch Day of the Doctor at AMC by chance? (Though it was crowded enough that even if I knew what you looked like I'd have been sure to miss you.)

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 4 months ago

Advance? What's that? It was technically academic publishing - I'm lucky I get a royalty.

Yes, I got my first Flood check a few weeks ago, so it's in the 2014 numbers. It's not going to move them by much, but it was also only the first month's sales. I'm very curious what the 2015 check will look like.

The Last War chapbooks are a pittance, I fear. But I think they're probably priced too high. I'm tempted to put the next one as Smashwords only at $1.99, which is the right price. It's just that Amazon only gives a 35% royalty at $1.99, which is too low.

So yes, the Kickstarter will be interesting, to say the least.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 4 months ago

I moved about a year ago, for a variety of reasons, mostly not particularly pleasant. I caught Day in New York, though - I don't have cable, so it was the only way to see it live. :)

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Eric Gimlin 3 years, 4 months ago

I normally grab them on Amazon for convenience but will happily move to Smashwords if need be.

Interesting. I didn't realize it was considered academic publishing. You learn something new every day.

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