Quarterly Income Round Up (April-June 2021)

How are we already in a new financial quarter? What is time? Anyway, here’s the juicy details of my eclectic income, including book royalties in double figures:

  • Book royalties: £41.41
  • Income from the No. 1 Readers’ Club on Patreon: £142.07
  • Income from miscellaneous writing/blog work, e.g. Kofi and PayPal one-off donations, WordAds on this blog, Amazon affiliate links: £0
  • Shop ‘royalties’: £60
  • Freelance work: £162.45
  • Total: £405.93

In the first income round up, I explained all the various streams, so this month I only have to say: this wasn’t too bad. Better than last quarter, when I was chained to my desk writing essays about leadership theory. I mean, I’ve paid out more in website fees than I earnt in royalties, but all in all… not bad. I was a full time student for about half of the quarter, and spent several weeks after I handed in my final project with brain fog, so I reckon all things considered, I did a fair amount of work. My shops are quieter this time of year but still open – well, until I close on 1st September – so I can still skim a bit off the top for wages. I should add that I didn’t pocket all of those book royalties – some of it goes to one side for business expenses. Obviously I’d prefer if there were an extra digit on the numbers, but I’m still pleased that they are higher than they were in Darkest Winter of 2021. And they’re better than they were when lockdown first hit. Freelancing and making art in the pandemic feels like rebuilding a Lego building when the previous one was knocked over, several bricks were stamped on, and you don’t know if you want to recreate the previous building or try something new.

I don’t know what to expect from this summer quarter. Probably fewer royalties because I don’t have much of a promotion budget and the sparkle of a new release has worn off. I don’t think affiliate linking will suddenly increase either? But the No. 1 Readers’ Club always has room for new members! Come and join us if you like magicky stories and tarot readings! This is what I look like when I’m writing a story with a patron’s name as a character’s name:

Kermit the frog typing manically from Giphy
from giphy

Speaking of, I am meant to be working on the next story RIGHT NOW. I’ve done something to the little finger on my left hand that’s making typing feel a bit weird; I might do some edits. I’ve typed this sans little finger and it’s not impossible, but it feels disloyal to my fingers to say that I might not need all of them. I LOVE YOU ALL EQUALLY. PLEASE WORK.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Quarterly Income Round Up (January – April 2021)

Darlings. Pending resubmissions, my diploma is finished, and I am trying to remember how to be human again. It was going well until I did a Covid test this afternoon. I don’t have Covid, but I did sneeze out most of my brain while I was swabbing. What a word, swabbing. Anyway, onto business: I promised (well, threatened) to start doing income round ups, because most people don’t really know a) what self employment or freelancing or executive producing books looks like, or b) how well those things pay. I also want to be transparent with my readers. Not transparent enough to tell you what I spend my money on, but open about the realities of Author Life. Money is very much still a taboo in western culture, and it shouldn’t be. Do we have time for me to rant about how it’s in multinational companies and landlords and politicians’ interests that we’re too polite to talk about finances, because if we knew how little people were earning we’d rise up and demand better rent control and fairer wages? No? Fiiiine.

So let’s settle in for a deep dive into my earnings! Be nosy! Be judgemental! It’s a longer post as I’m introducing different income streams and explaining why I’ve earnt X or Y amount. The next one will likely be snappier. This post is concerned with the final fiscal quarter of 2020-2021, from 6th January to 5th April 2021. I’ve been self employed my entire adult life, so the season isn’t split onto seasons, it’s split into financial quarters. Here we go.

Income

  • Book royalties: £5.59
  • Income from the No. 1 Readers’ Club on Patreon: £111.44
  • Income from miscellaneous writing/blog work, e.g. Kofi and PayPal one-off donations, WordAds on this blog, Amazon affiliate links*: £0
  • Shop ‘royalties’: £60
  • Freelance work: £99
  • Total: £276.03

*Amazon affiliate links and PayPal one off donations weren’t set up until the end of April and beginning of May respectively, but I want to include everything I can possibly think of so in future I can copy-paste the list. Continuity, innit.

If you’re thinking ‘that is quite depressingly low, I am starting to understand why you live with a parent,’ then welcome to the inside of my head. My mum has been helping me out while I’m at college, and I pay my dad miniature rent, instead of full sized market-rate rent. If that wasn’t the case, I’d be living in a homeless hostel and/or would have starved to death by now. Funnily enough, if I hadn’t been a student, I’d have been eligible for universal credit, but I was so… I wasn’t.

(If you’re thinking ‘don’t students get loans to live?’ you’re thinking of university students getting maintenance loans. I enrolled in local college, on a diploma for learners aged 19-plus (aka not dependants). The diploma is considered ‘full time’ despite being about 15 hours of class time each week. You aren’t allowed universal credit if you’re a full time student, presumably because the powers that be assume you’re eligible for a maintenance loan. I learnt this the hard way when I claimed UC last September, thinking I was still eligible for support (I’d been on it since Covid, well, Covid-ed the majority of my freelance work). I had to repay September’s amount a couple of months after they cancelled my claim. It isn’t fair that adult, not-university-level learners slip through the system because we’re in the weird space between mandatory education and university (old enough to work while we study, studying so we qualify for better paid jobs and pausing or cutting down work if we feel we need to devote more time to those qualifications, ineligible for financial help even though we’ll pay more tax when we earn more down the road). Not a lot about the education system in this country strikes me as meritocratic these days, though.)

So, yeah, I made less in a quarter than most people pay in rent or on their mortgage per month. This was a particularly pitiful time to be fair, as I wasn’t really freelancing but the book royalties hadn’t trickled down yet. Good thing it was illegal to go anywhere, eh. Here’s how and why it’s worked out:

How it all works

Book royalties:

The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes ebook was released in the previous quarter: early December 2020. There was, what, three weeks left of that quarter when it came out? I don’t know how many ebooks sold in those three weeks, because apart from Google Play (which is where that £5.59 came from), another company (We’ll call them Third Party) does all the admin for me. It’s a very slow process, because consumers can return ebooks up to 30 days after purchase, so you can’t take the money out before then, in case customers want it back. The purchase is processed by Amazon or Kobo or Apple Books, which takes their cut, and is then processed by Third Party (currency conversions are accounted for, etc). Third Party takes 20% of whatever’s left after the retailers are paid, instead of charging me a flat fee.

I don’t have access to sales figures, so I can’t do a best-guess as to what will come to me. The ebook is available on multiple platforms, which all have different systems with varying fees, and they’re often in different currencies. I might receive the December 2020 quarter royalties during the quarter we’re in now (April-June 2021). I might not.

That £5.59 from Google Play is one book sale, in case you’re wondering, and the buyer paid £7.99; Google Play’s cut is approximately 30%. The customer paid in GBP so there was no currency conversion fee. If there had been, or if Third Party had done the admin, I’d have earned about £4.50 from it.

Why do I let Third Party do all that admin when 20% is quite a lot? Well, if you’re agented, your agent takes 20% of your earnings – instead of you paying them a set fee each for each publisher they get interested in your book, or for each event they get your involved with, et cetera, they just take a cut of your earnings. It’s a good system, because a decent agent will always work in your interests to ensure you get the best deal possible. So, yeah, 20% is normal. But also, I hated setting up one book on Google Play. It took maybe half an hour from start to finish, but I don’t have time to do that with Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all the others. I think that 20% is quite a reasonable exchange for the time I save by not doing it. It’s like having an accountant. Sure, I’d save money if I dealt with my self assessment admin myself, but I’d stress myself out worrying if I’d forgotten to declare something or was claiming too many expenses. I’m paying for the luxury of a night’s sleep.

Income from the No. 1 Readers’ Club on Patreon

I can’t remember if this was the amount I actually got as a wage or the amount I withdrew from Patreon; I usually put aside about 20% to pay for member rewards (stamps for their letters, the odd piece of merch) and writer life admin stuff (website domains, Microsoft Office, book promotion costs).

Miscellaneous writing and blog work

Here is what I made from WordAds, running on this site, from January until March this year (it won’t show me April yet as it’s still processing):

LOOK AT ALL THAT MONEY

What can I say: website advert profits are pitiful unless you’ve got a gazillion views each week. WordPress only pays out ad revenue when it hits $100… I did the maths and I will be in my eighties when that happens, assuming views continue much as they have been. I told this to one of my cousins and she suggested that $100 in 60 years’ time will probably get me a Freddo. There’s a comment there somewhere about the housing market, millennials and avocado toast.

The affiliate links didn’t exist yet and I don’t seem to have the sort of audience that goes in for the ‘one off PayPal/Ko-fi/blog-button-at-the-end-of-each-post’ type thing. Feel free to prove me wrong if you’re reading this, though.

Shop ‘royalties’

Fun fact: until this year, I never took a wage from my stationery business. Everything I made went back into the business to keep solvent. So I didn’t see a penny for about… seven years. (This is also normal, and why most people say ‘don’t quit your day job’ when you start a business.) Anyway, 2020 was surprisingly good sales-wise, because the shops were closed and everyone had to buy online. I did one event pre-Covid, so I didn’t have as many big costs as I normally would. And ta-dahh… cash flow is good. I can skim a little off the top to keep myself in smokes. Not that sixty quid buys you a lot of cigarettes these days. (I also don’t smoke.) (Do I strike you as someone who can afford to, on less than three hundred quid a quarter?) (I wish I had chosen a different expression.)

Freelance work:

Officially, I stopped freelancing at Christmas to focus on my diploma. Unofficially, I have some lovely friends and colleagues who occasionally have me post a blog or schedule a Facebook post. That said, 70% of my earnings this quarter were what I was owed from work I did in December. Delayed gratification is very much a theme in my career. (When I say ‘unofficially’, I’m lying: everything listed here is declared earnings. I just emailed my clients and said ‘I’m off to focus on academia for a bit.’)

There you have it. It looks bad, because it is, but we were in lockdown for the entire quarter, so my outgoings after rent were essentially limited to toothpaste and shampoo. I probably could have ditched the shampoo, now I think about how few people saw my face… next quarter will be snazzier assuming I get some more royalties through – I have the paperback of The Princess and the Dragon now, too – and if those lovely colleagues are happy for me to trot over to Facebook and schedule some posts for them. I can’t wait to show you guys the non-existent WordAds revenue every quarter until either I die or reach my eighties. Ooh, now I want a Freddo.

If you found this halfway interesting, let me know! Ask questions! Get judgy in the comments section! Okay, not too judgy. I don’t bitch about your life choices to your face. Students and writers are meant to be fiscally insecure, it’s basically a rule. It does feel strange to talk about money so publicly, but I do feel like it needs to be done. Not because I want readers to feel bad for me – I chose to work in the arts and I chose to go back to school – but because not enough people talk about what those things look like in reality. I’m off to daydream about Freddos and continue my Raven Cycle reread.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Making Money: introducing a quarterly income round up!

Hi hi lovelies. A slightly quicker post from me today. More of a heads up kind of a thing? I’ve been sharing a survey on my socials about how I can improve my Patreon page, the No. 1 Readers’ Club (please take a couple of minutes to do it, whether you’re a member or not, because more voices equals better direction for me, and your input will influence the posts I share here).

One of the suggestions that has come up so far is more transparency about where patrons’ money goes. I’d already been considering sharing a post, or posts, about how I earn my money, because I’ve had a lot of questions about book royalties and how they work. I figured that, since royalties are a quarterly thing, it might be more useful to do a quarterly ’round up’ post detailing all my income rather than a monthly one… also, frankly, I don’t earn enough at present to warrant a monthly post. So what I’m thinking is, I’ll do the first one when my first royalty statement comes through. That will be some time in March, I believe. I can also talk about the money I get in from my stationery shops, plus of course income from my patrons. I’m not sure how long the post will be, but I want to be as transparent with patrons as I can, so I figure I’ll do it every quarter? I won’t be sharing how I spend my money, but the number of questions I’ve had about book royalties alone has convinced me that the general public could do with a little bit of an education about how much authors actually earn.

Spoiler alert: this will be my face when I calculate how much I’ve earnt versus what publishing dragonnovel cost:

Gerard Way pulling a face next to a BBC reporter at Reading Festival in 2014
from bloodinfections.tumblr.com, according to my computer

(That image has been sitting on my computer for SIX YEARS.)

Anyway. Leave a comment if you’d like to see anything in particular in this as-yet unwritten income round up post! Let me know if you have any questions about book royalties and how they work, or how publishing works, and I’ll do my best to add those in too. I feel like people tend to think of the creative industries as a bit mystical and opaque, not to mention lucrative, so anything I can to, you know, add some reality to the perception is something I’m interested in. I know March isn’t for ages, but this is the sort of topic that requires planning and I want to do it properly.

Look after yourselves!

Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers.