A Breakdown of My Writerly Expenses (2017)

Discussions on Twitter have prompted me to blog about the breakdown of my writerly expenses/finances. In my opinion, it is not shameful to talk about expenses as part of a creative’s career. Writing is a profession.

However, it seems that nobody wants to talk about their expenses. Some say it’s embarrassing, some think by talking about their income/earnings/expenses, they would be construed as ‘complaining’, something which I personally experienced when I talked about the frustrations that come with being a hybrid author. Traditionally published authors are now as dependent on initiatives such as Patreon or Kofi as their self-published/independent counterparts. Many still keep a day job as I did two years ago. Now I am using this time to look after my health while still managing my household and many other creative projects, specifically a publishing Thing.

My expenses took a hit when I decided to write full-time. The first time I did it, it was horrible, I literally had no support and I had to go back to adjunct teaching which helped for four or five more years. I chose to repeat the same experience all over in 2017. Having Patreon helped a little as well as having a supportive spouse. Most of the Patreon earnings went into my savings. Some of it took the edge off medical fees. I am considered lucky in a sense that my country also have backups like Medisave or Medishield to help cover defray expensive health costs. However, as I am not a high-earning author with a large readership, I found myself struggling in 2017. Plus that I had to buy back the remainder of my YA sff books because they were just not selling at all in my country, due to lack of exposure and marketing. Same country is still fixated on US and UK publishing imprints and foreign authors dominate our book shelves.

I saved a lot of costs by designing my own covers. Photographs and pictures are available on sites like Pixabay or Unsplash. Likewise, Canva is a good website to design covers and marketing collaterals.

The following is a breakdown of my writerly expenses in 2017. This includes earnings from Patreon and book sales from online platforms as well as medical fees. They will be in USD.

The following is a breakdown of my writerly expenses in 2017. This includes earnings from Patreon and book sales from online platforms as well as medical fees. They will be in USD.

Earnings Net profit (In Total)
Patreon $907.57 (twelve months)
Amazon royalties $541.55 (accumulated)
Payments from pro/semi-pro/game writing and sff venues $920.22
  This is for ONE year, NOT per month

Bear in mind that in between 2017, I had medical expenses and “rainy weather” emergencies to pay.

Remainder 720.00
Ad-hoc cover payment to illustrator 10.00
Medical expenses (ultrasound, specialist fees, medication) 1000.00

By my calculation, I made a net profit of $639.34 in 2017. Note: 2017 was a year where I worked hard, wrote a lot, signal boosted my work and basically gritted my teeth. The net profit also didn’t take into account my living/household expenses and school fees (for my two daughters) which are both covered by both spouse and me. My spouse has been shouldering the burden too, so to speak. You definitely need a supportive network in order to survive as a creative! Likewise, I am not even going to talk about taxes!

But living wage? No. I definitely couldn’t survive on $2369.34 per year alone.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ekaterine Xia (@katjexia)
    Jan 22, 2018 @ 02:28:33

    Thank you for being so open; I feel it’s really necessary.
    I hesitate to ask more emotional labor from you, but if you’re up to it, I feel it’d also be helpful to know what sales you made in which venues, etc.


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