When I do writing workshops for authors wanting to write picture books, I am very honest and open with them about how much money you make. Let me show you how I break it down using last financial year as an example. Bear in mind, that last financial year, I had a baby and wasn't actively doing market stalls and school visits, but as this is based on me having 8 published picture books, it will give first time authors an idea of what to expect in the beginning. Are you ready?
Income for 2013-2014 Financial Year
Royalties from the sale of picture books $672.23
Payment for 'Help on Heels' editing service $150
Lending rights from public and school libraries $1639.55
Total Income $2461.78
Wait for it..
Cost of stock, Phone, Postage, Eftpos Machine fees, Business Insurance, Conference fees, Competition fees, memberships $5210.53
Total Profit -$2748.75
This is why my accountant shakes his head at me every year and asks "why are you doing this again?" This is just my example and I don't believe there would be many other authors brave enough to break it down like this to show you their actual income. I don't blame them, especially if you have partners who also question why you keep running a business at a loss. So why do you and is there a way to make a profit?
In the start of any business, the first couple of years are going to be tough. This was my third tax return, and I'm glad to say, even though I still made a loss, it was a smaller loss than the previous years. It will change, as my social media platform grows, I keep submitting manuscripts to bigger publishers as I earn my dues and hopefully, when I one day write the 'best seller'. Until then, I keep working at it every day, just like any small business owner.
It seems to me many authors supplement their income by writing books or ebooks on how to be successful authors. They are top sellers, easy to produce and have a large audience. You are reading this blog, right? No one would buy my book, it would be filled with the truth.
Another way that I really enjoy is to conduct workshops, do paid author visits, set up an editing business and blog. Even though it doesn't pay a million bucks, it's income. And its the part of marketing myself as an author that I really love.
Which brings me to the reason I keep going. Because I love it. I love writing picture books. I love seeing my stories in print, sharing them with people all over the world, winning awards and being recognised by my 8 year old groupies when I sell books at the local markets. It's my passion.
At the same time, I'm not stupid. I have a 5 year plan, like most organised small business owners, and if there comes a time when the money I am spending on my business is taking away from the money I need to keep a roof over my families heads, then I stop. But until that time comes, I focus, with a positive attitude, on my financial goal of making a profit as a picture book author. Stay tuned, I will let you know when it happens...