Episode 22 - Magical Gummy Dollars - Thinking About Your Publishing Income
Rekka: 00:00 Welcome back to We Make Books, a podcast about writing, publishing and everything, everything, everything in between. And sometimes after.
Kaelyn: 00:07 Sometimes after. I'm Kaelyn Considine. I am the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press.
Rekka: 00:12 And I'm Rekka, I write science fiction and fantasy as RJ Theodore.
Kaelyn: 00:16 And today we're talking about that after.
Rekka: 00:17 Huh. Whoa. Yeah. So folks,
Kaelyn: 00:21 Yeah, just... This is a little bit of a heavy episode.
Rekka: 00:23 Sliiiiightly.
Kaelyn: 00:26 Um, we're talking today about money, but not in the way we talked about money in our previous money episode. Which was episode nine, uh, if you want to go back and check that out.
Rekka: 00:36 Yep. Um, that's the other half of the, well, the other third, I don't know, there's probably many more pieces of this conversation.
Kaelyn: 00:40 There's a lot of pieces. Yeah.
Rekka: 00:42 But you can, you can brush up on that episode if you're thinking about money for your writing career lately. Um, this episode will cover a lot of other stuff, so they don't really overlap that much.
Kaelyn: 00:53 Yeah. This is the episode... So before we talked about how you get your money, this is after you get your money...
Rekka: 01:01 How to not lose it all.
Kaelyn: 01:02 And...
Rekka: 01:04 Unless you want to!
Kaelyn: 01:05 Unless you want to.
Rekka: 01:06 Blow chunks of money, all you want.
Kaelyn: 01:09 Yeah. Um, so we talk a lot in this episode about, you know, when you hear numbers, what those then actually come down to and setting realistic goals and expectations for yourself and you know, just some general things to know about how money works in publishing, especially if this is going to be your primary or only source of income.
Rekka: 01:31 Right. And I think the biggest takeaway from this episode, um, is clearly the attitude that we come at our money with in the writing industry.
Kaelyn: 01:42 Yeah. So, um, you know, it is, it is a little bit of a heavy episode. Um, it's a lot. We...
Rekka: 01:46 It's a lot, but I mean, it's not like we get into specific—
Kaelyn: 01:50 No, no.
Rekka: 01:51 We did some rough math at the beginning.
Kaelyn: 01:53 Just for an example.
Rekka: 01:54 But we're not talking about like, OK, and then you move this amount of money over here into these—
Kaelyn: 02:00 Yeah do not take advice from us on that.
Rekka: 02:03 We're not offering specific investment advice. What we are trying to offer is like the mindset by which you, uh, pay attention to your writing income and how that can build into your life in whatever way you dream your life taking shape.
Kaelyn: 02:20 Yup. So, um, you know, we hope you find this episode helpful.
Rekka: 02:24 Yeah, we really, we debated doing this topic, but the fact is that Kaelyn came up with this podcast as all the things we didn't know about publishing and didn't know who to ask. And so this is definitely in that category.
Kaelyn: 02:41 And you know, as we talked about, like in the first money episode we did, there is this taboo around it. And this is a different kind of taboo because this isn't talking about, you know, how much money they agreed to give you. This is talking about now dealing with the money they agreed to give you. So, um, you know, take a listen. Like I said, it's a little, it's, it's a lot in this episode, but it's important. So, um, yeah, we hope you enjoy, we hope you find it informational.
Rekka: 03:08 Yeah. I mean you may not enjoy this so much per se, but yeah, this one is important, I think. If... You may want to set aside, if you're just like, you know, doing something where you're only half listening, I honestly would say come back a little bit later and give this one your full attention. And I'm not just saying that because we were the ones talking.
Kaelyn: 03:27 No, no.
Rekka: 03:28 But that's a very good reason. All right everybody take a listen to this episode and you know, hit us up online if you have any questions after.
03:50 Piano Music.
Rekka: 03:52 Today's episode is kind of a follow up sort of second part sister, cousin thing to Episode 9: "I get paid for this, right? The money episode."
Kaelyn: 04:05 We're talking about a completely different aspect of money today. So in episode nine we kind of went through like how you get money essentially. Um, you know, the process, how you get paid and who's taking it along the way. Today we're talking about kind of when you get that money, when you already have it. And this is again, you know, it's... Money is a taboo topic, especially in publishing, I think.
Rekka: 04:34 Yeah. I'm not sure how this shame around money came up in society, but people definitely don't want to talk about how much they're making. Um, how equal or less equal they are to other people. Um, it might be in your contract that you can't even disclose how much you make as a, you know, as a sale.
Kaelyn: 04:54 Yeah. Which by the way, that's, that's pretty illegal in most states. So what we're talking about in this episode is money that you've earned and in, as a writer, and I'm not going to say what to do with it because obviously it's your decision to come up with what to do with it.
Rekka: 05:16 Right. And you, you have specific needs and expenses in your life that are going to be different from even your neighbor. So when we talk about money coming in, we talk about your author income, we're referring to the advances and the royalties.
Kaelyn: 05:33 Yes. And again, these are two separate things. So I think the question on a lot of people's minds when, you know, they've sold their first book, they get a decent advance, very excited, is, okay, well I can do this full time now, Right? And—
Rekka: 05:53 Oh, that's whew. Okay. So you've got the American dream and then you have the dream. You know, the American dream is hold down a job until you retire and make a salary and have predictable income. The writer's dream is "I'm going to make writing my only source of income and that is going to support me through the rest of my life," essentially.
Kaelyn: 06:15 Yeah. And I'm going to say something that I'd like everyone to keep in mind when listening through this episode. A lot of people, even people who have sold multiple novels, who have had successful book series, this is not their only job.
Rekka: 06:33 Their only source of income.
Kaelyn: 06:34 Their only source of income. Yes. Um, well, I would even say their only job. I know, you know, a lot of people who write do not write full time. They're teachers. They're, you know, they're working in office. It's—
Rekka: 06:47 Right. And the reason I rephrased it was because for some writers their life support income comes from someone else, some other source and not through them putting through physical labor. So this could be a spouse, they could be supported by a parent or other family member, they could be on some kind of structured income that is not related to the writing.
Kaelyn: 07:14 Yes. Um, yes. So a lot of people who have had successful books, this is not their only source of money. Um, and like Rekka said, the writer's dream, "I've done this and now, I'm going to quit everything else and be a writer full time."
Rekka: 07:34 Often it includes things like "move to this fabulous city."
Kaelyn: 07:38 Yeah. Um, yeah.
Rekka: 07:41 So I mean that's, that's an extra point then we'll get to later is like the cost of living.
Kaelyn: 07:46 Yes.
Rekka: 07:46 As part of your writer's dream, the way you envision it might be very different for the cost of living where you are now.
Kaelyn: 07:51 Yeah. So we were, you know, we were talking at length before this episode about how to kind of walk through this because it is, it is a sensitive subject and this is different because it's not factual, like the other—
Rekka: 08:02 Right. Unfortunately we have to make a lot of assumptions to even have this conversation.
Kaelyn: 08:08 So one of the things, and we talked at, we mentioned this briefly in in episode nine, but it's much more appropriate here is to manage your expectations of what's going to be happening now that you've sold a book. Um, a lot of authors, especially debut authors, you're not going to sign for a book and then get handed a check for $1 million.
Rekka: 08:31 Right.
Kaelyn: 08:32 That—
Rekka: 08:33 Would be lovely.
Kaelyn: 08:33 That would be amazing. But you would basically have to be the first person to touch down on Mars or something, you know, like you, you know, you, you rescued one of the Royal babies, you know, something like you've got to have like THE book.
Rekka: 08:48 And notice, those are autobiographies, those are not genre fiction.
Kaelyn: 08:53 Exactly. And so, and you know what, that's a very good point, genre fiction, it's even going to be, you know, especially for debut authors, it's going to be even a harder sell, so to speak. Okay. So let's say for just the sake of round numbers, you've written a good solid book. Uh, one of the Big Five has picked it up and you've gotten a $30,000 advance.
Rekka: 09:14 Okay. Is this for one book or a trilogy?
Kaelyn: 09:16 Let's go with one book.
Rekka: 09:17 Okay.
Kaelyn: 09:17 Let's say this is, you know, they're really solidly behind this.
Rekka: 09:21 Okay.
Kaelyn: 09:23 Well, first of all, right off the bat, you're not getting handed a check for $30,000. You're probably going to be getting handed a check for 15.
Rekka: 09:30 Right. So what you're assuming there is that it's going to be paid in two installments, one upon signing and one upon publication.
Kaelyn: 09:37 Yes.
Rekka: 09:39 If the Big Five publishes your book, chances are you also had an agent that was helping you submit to those Big Five publishers because Big Five don't tend to take unsolicited. Um, or even if they have open calls for them, it's, it's a very, very—
Kaelyn: 09:54 They're gonna make you go get an agent regardless.
Rekka: 09:56 Yeah.
Kaelyn: 09:57 Um, so the $15,000 check is going first to your agent.
Rekka: 10:02 Right.
Kaelyn: 10:02 They're going to take their cut of it, then you're going to get a check. Then you've gotta pay taxes on that.
Rekka: 10:08 Right. So say you have 15,000.
Kaelyn: 10:10 Yeah.
Rekka: 10:11 Say your agent takes 15% the check that the agent sends you is 12,750. So you've, you've lost a chunk already. Now you have to pay.
Kaelyn: 10:22 Now you've gotta pay, probably about 30%—
Rekka: 10:24 Yes, so—
Kaelyn: 10:24 —on that. So that's going to take it down to 8.
Rekka: 10:27 30/33, depends on the size of the check. So now you're at $8,925. Yes, everyone, I have a calculator out. You've heard my math before. I was not going to mess around with this one, but you've gone from $15,000 to just under $9,000, which is probably not what you had in mind when you heard that first number.
Kaelyn: 10:45 Yeah. So, okay, so now you're going all right. Well I mean I still have nine grand. That's great. That's fantastic.
Rekka: 10:51 It is fantastic.
Kaelyn: 10:52 Can you live off of that? For a year?
Rekka: 10:53 How long? Yeah. And, you know, you still have probably 18 months maybe before this book is going to come out and you'll see the other nine thousand.
Kaelyn: 11:03 So when we say managing your expectations is yes, this may seem like a lot of money. Yes. I've got a $30,000 advance, I'm gonna walk into my day job and you know, flip off my boss, march out and, you know, go do a victory dance on the street outside.
Rekka: 11:20 If your boss was going to fire you in January anyway and you were only going to make $9,000 have at it, sure do that. That's unlikely.
Kaelyn: 11:31 But so when we say manage your expectations, is that first thing figuring out how much money you're actually going to be getting with your advance and when you're going to be getting it.
Rekka: 11:41 Yep.
Kaelyn: 11:42 Then figure out how much money you need to live off of, say for a year and then figure it's going to be even longer than that.
Rekka: 11:52 Yeah. So this scenario and the reason I asked about how many books were in this contract was because in this contract the book is already written. So you are being paid 9,000 now and 9,000 in say 16 months for work you've already done. And at this point you may have to do a round or two of revisions and go over line edits and copy edits and then you're mostly done with the book itself.
Kaelyn: 12:19 Yes.
Rekka: 12:19 This does not include marketing and and uh, any touring or anything that you might, events that you might have to do. So at this point you are receiving money for work you've already done, which is different if you get a three-book deal based on one book. Now you've got two more books to write.
Kaelyn: 12:41 Yeah. So now let's use the same scenario. And this time you're getting $30,000 for each book as an advance.
Rekka: 12:50 Okay. So assuming that this is a three-book deal?
Kaelyn: 12:55 Three-book deal, let's go with the three-book deal.
Rekka: 12:59 For 90,000 total. You're getting paid 9,000 and 9,000 for a book that's already written. And I would recommend you start writing book two right now.
Kaelyn: 13:10 Yes.
Rekka: 13:10 Because you're not going to get the next 9,000 until you hand in the manuscript.
Kaelyn: 13:16 Book two.
Rekka: 13:16 Yeah.
Kaelyn: 13:17 So you're going to be getting $9,000 six times over the course of probably about four years. Yeah. So quick math, that's $54,000. Can you live for four years off $54,000? Now those of you at home screaming at your, into your headphones, we'll have royalties.
Rekka: 13:39 Right, so if this is a jointly accounted three book deal...
Kaelyn: 13:43 Well yeah and we can get to that. But then on top of this, you first have to earn out the $30,000 advance. They don't care about taxes and your agent's cut. So it's not like you earn out the money that you received. You have to earn out the entire advance.
Rekka: 13:59 Right. So you have to earn out $30,000 as opposed to earning out $18,000 that you actually got. Yes. And that's assuming that these aren't jointly accounted.
Kaelyn: 14:09 Yes. And so if they are jointly accounted, you are earning out $90,000.
Rekka: 14:15 Before you see a penny of royalties.
Kaelyn: 14:17 Yes. And in your contract (read the contract), it will say, you know, it depends on if you know your first book sells and sells really, really well and they haven't paid you the next part of your royalty yet. There'll be stipulations and you know that's tough agents work out and.
Rekka: 14:33 yeah, you can have some input there too.
Kaelyn: 14:35 Yeah, exactly. But you have to keep in mind a lot of books do not earn out their advances. And obviously the hope for every author is that their book sells and is very successful and everybody makes money off of it and readers get to love and enjoy the book, but.
Rekka: 14:57 and the publisher is happy and comes back for another trilogy.
Kaelyn: 14:59 And publisher's happy and comes back and wants more for you. A lot of books do not earn out their advances. Um, so banking on, well then I'll have royalties is not necessarily a sound decision to me.
Rekka: 15:17 Plus, think about how long it would take to earn out that advance. By then your book sales are probably on a downward slope because of the nature of it not being a new release anymore. So your royalties for a book are very unlikely to ever feel anything like those advanced payments.
Kaelyn: 15:38 Yeah. Um, now again, this is not always,
Rekka: 15:45 This is not always the case there. There's a reason we call it the writer's dream. There are people who do exceed expectations and make money off a series for a very long time.
Kaelyn: 15:55 Yeah. Um, so the, the whole point of this is just manage your expectations. Go out there and do some research. There's all kinds of websites and um, you know, even communities that will give you like statistics and information about this stuff. And the thing is that it's scary because it's very hard to quantify because this moves into the next point we're making, which this is sales.
Rekka: 16:18 Yup.
Kaelyn: 16:18 You are essentially working in sales.
Rekka: 16:22 And from the moment that you find an agent and start working on that book with that agent, you are working on a product.
Kaelyn: 16:29 Yes, you are. And this is a product that you have to invest time into without being paid for. And you have to make something that other people are going to want to buy in order for you to live off of it.
Rekka: 16:46 This is the little bit, this was your, um, metaphor that you said earlier. It's a little bit like software development.
Kaelyn: 16:52 Yes. It's, if you're making an app that people are going to use and spend money on, that's great. But you still have to build the app.
Rekka: 17:04 and not every app becomes the killer app.
Kaelyn: 17:06 Not every app becomes, you know, Snapchat. Um, I think we kind of fall into this mentality in any sort of creative process. And that could be from writing a book to developing an app that "I made this, this thing and it's great, and everyone should give me money for it," but that's not what actually happens. What happens is you need to sell this to them. So if you want to write, you know, this book that you just love this story and it's just great but no one wants to buy it, that's not going to work out for you with your career as a writer then. So you are working in sales and like any other person working in sales, be they, you know, for instance like a medical device salesperson or you know, a purveyor of bulk coffees and spices. You have to manage your money in a way that allows you to live off of it.
Rekka: 18:07 If you think about this more like you are not an employee at a company with this money, you are the company itself.
Kaelyn: 18:15 And you have to pay yourself. Rekka and I were talking about this, um, beforehand and you know, I am not a writer. I am on the business side of things. Um, you know,
Rekka: 18:26 You happen to cut some checks every now and then.
Kaelyn: 18:27 Yes. And as you know, I've mentioned a few times on this. I also work in finance. So I come at all of this with a little bit of a different mentality and approach. The way writers get paid and the way writers earn money. And by the way, I don't mean writing, I mean how they are paid is not the same for a lot of other people in the world. For most of the other people in the world who do work and then receive a paycheck.
Rekka: 18:57 For an agreed amount for per either item or hour.
Kaelyn: 19:02 Yes. That they did. And I am, you know, focusing on writers. But this is, you know, this is creators a lot of times, and I'm not talking about, you know, somebody who's a graphic designer for a company that goes in and gets a salary to show up, to do work every day. I'm talking about people who make things and then have to hope that other people buy them.
Rekka: 19:21 Right.
Kaelyn: 19:23 I think writers especially fall into a little bit of a trap because let's, there's a difference between a writer and say a craftsman because in order for the craftsman to have something to sell, they need to buy things beforehand to make that. They have to maybe get a business loan and invest time into this. And, you know, take this enormous risk.
Rekka: 19:47 So the closest parallel would be the time the writer has to, you know, make for their writing in order to create a product.
Kaelyn: 19:55 Yeah. And I think we can fall into this thing where, because it is, yes, you're not making money, but this is not costing you anything to do either.
Rekka: 20:05 The upfront investment is all time.
Kaelyn: 20:09 Yes.
Rekka: 20:09 And effort and energy.
Kaelyn: 20:10 Yes. So you don't have any money coming in, but you also didn't have to take out $100,000 business loan that now you also have to pay back.
Rekka: 20:20 Which by the way, as a writer, you're not going to get a business loan.
Kaelyn: 20:23 No, you're not. Um, so I think sometimes writers especially can fall into this trap of going, well, this isn't costing me anything. Don't think that it is costing you something because your time is valuable and your effort.
Rekka: 20:43 And your energy.
Kaelyn: 20:44 And your energy that you put into this where you're going, well I don't, it's just my time and my time is free.
Rekka: 20:53 Well, that's what our country wants you to believe. However, you should put some value on your time.
Kaelyn: 20:57 Put some value on your time and, but because of that, it's like, well, I can just write another book. I can just write another book. It's not going to cost me anything to write another book and then that will be my job. And that's for a lot of people, that's not how that works. So when I say I'm coming from, you know, like the business background of this and how for a lot of the people in the world that, you know, uh, earn money for themselves to live off of or have income coming in from somewhere, I think they would be very shocked by how writers live this way.
Rekka: 21:40 Shocked and discouraged.
Kaelyn: 21:41 Discouraged. But also the thing is that within this community, this seems normal because this is what everyone around you is doing. And I'm, I'm painting with a broad brush there, but like, it's something that you encounter more on a regular basis. So it's like, Oh, okay, well that's just, you know—
Rekka: 22:00 Right. Yeah. If most of your exposure is to other writers versus people who go in to work at a gas station, at a doctor's office, at a, you know, a factory or something like that. Your experience and the experiences you see are going to be very different from what I think we were brought up at least in this country to expect from money. We have a very strange relationship with money in this country too.
Kaelyn: 22:28 Well, so now why am I saying this? The point that I'm trying to make here is that mentally, I think it can be damaging to disconnect yourself from the quote-unquote rest of the world and how they manage their money. At the end of the day, it's no different than yours. You still need money to live off of. You still have living expenses. You still want, need money to retire, money set aside for, you know, emergencies and catastrophic events, money for things that you want in your life.
Rekka: 23:01 Right. So you still need a budget.
Kaelyn: 23:03 Yeah. And I think there is this disconnect almost between somebody who goes and, you know, works at an automobile plant for eight hours a day and is paid X amount of money for that hourly thing, and somebody who for instance say sells a book and gets a $30,000 advance because windfall money is a tricky, scary thing.
Rekka: 23:31 And I think even calling it windfall money here is, is the opposite of what you're trying to convey.
Kaelyn: 23:36 Exactly. Yes. But that's what it is.
Rekka: 23:39 Right. It is, it is as if your employer paid you once a year for all the work you did for that year.
Kaelyn: 23:51 Yep.
Rekka: 23:52 And if that were the case, you'd be doing a heck of a lot more in, in intensive budgeting.
Kaelyn: 23:56 Okay. So I'm going to use, uh, a personal example here and this is, this is an interesting story and um, req is going to hear this as you hear this because I didn't tell her about this beforehand.
Rekka: 24:06 Oooh, juicy.
Kaelyn: 24:08 We have family friends that won the lottery, but they won the $1,000 a week for life Lottery. Um, I learned a lot of very interesting things about how lotteries work when this happened. Um, so you know, it's married couple, they have one daughter. Here's something interesting. I didn't know when you, when especially like the lottery like that where it's an ongoing payment, um, you can percentage it out to people.
Rekka: 24:40 Okay.
Kaelyn: 24:40 It's just an interesting fun fact. So like, you know, their daughter gets X percent of it. Each of them have X percent in their name, even though they're married, you know, but every year there's a day of the year where they get the lump sum of money for that year.
Rekka: 24:58 Okay. So even though it's a thousand per week, they're not, it's not, being direct deposited every week.
Kaelyn: 25:03 They don't get a check of $1,000 every week. They get a lump sum payment once a year.
Rekka: 25:07 So instead of having to budget what's left after taxes of their $1,000 a week, they have what's left after taxes of 52 weeks each year.
Kaelyn: 25:15 Yes. Now they both are still working. I mean, they're getting to retirement age, but that's actually, you know, very smart of them. I think they're just, you know, kind of setting all this money aside. But even if they weren't, they're being handed their money for a year all at once.
Rekka: 25:32 And that is a windfall.
Kaelyn: 25:33 And that is a windfall. And they knew this. So what did they do? They went to a financial planner. Now again, this was, it's a different situation, but it's kind of not, because if you're, you know, let's say you have like a really big great advance and that's supposed to last you for whatever, going to talk, even if you get, you know, the $30,000 advance and you're just going to get like six installments of $9,000, iit's a not a bad idea to talk to someone about this. And you know, I think we hear financial planner and we get scared. It's a little intimidating.
Rekka: 26:08 Well, you know, just like tax professional and all this kind of stuff, the first thing you think is, "I'm going to lose money to this person. I'm going to have less if I go get help."
Kaelyn: 26:17 Yeah. But there's a reason that these people exist. It's because managing money is scary. Yes. And,
Rekka: 26:25 And just like submitting to a publisher is scary and you feel that that agent earns are 15%...
Kaelyn: 26:31 Financial planners also earn their 15%. And look, I'm not talking about, you know, giving it all to a brokerage firm to invest. Just, you know, saying like, I have this much money, um, I can, and they'll say, you can put it into this accountant how much, you know, if you continue doing this, this is how much you'll make and when do you want to retire? Do you want to retire? Um, but where I'm coming around to in sort of a little bit of a roundabout way here is windfall money can be very dangerous and... Just punch "lottery winners" into Google. And it will just give you story after story of people who won a good amounts of money.
Rekka: 27:14 Enough to call a gob.
Kaelyn: 27:15 Yeah. And it was gone in two years. Yeah. I'm gonna say this and it's not a judgment or anything. If you, especially if you are not used to having extra money and suddenly you've got a lot, it's going to seem like, wow, this is amazing. I've got all of this extra money. It is probably not as much as you think it is. Um.
Rekka: 27:42 And when you think you have a lot, you might be less careful in how you budget it.
Kaelyn: 27:46 Exactly. And that's exactly what I'm... The point I'm trying to get to here is that you need to be realistic about how far that money will get yet.
Rekka: 27:55 And you brought up something earlier that we didn't discuss when we were planning this episode, but is another perhaps good way to think of it, not just as your salary, but think of it as your retirement savings. You get access to your retirement savings when you retire. You know, there's different kinds of accounts, there's different ways you get access to it, but you have a finite amount there.
Kaelyn: 28:18 Yup.
Rekka: 28:18 And you know, when you retire that you are going to be living off this amount for as long as possible, hopefully. Um, and I think there's a little bit more of a sense of reality of what that means in that framing than there is of like this is your advance until you get another advance for another book.
Kaelyn: 28:39 You know, this is... We said at the beginning of the episode. No one can tell you how to spend your money on this. Everybody's going to have different needs and priorities, but if you're looking to make a living off of this, if this is what you want your regular full time job to be, being realistic about how much you're going to be making and how far it's going to get you is important when then deciding the lifestyle you want to lead. If you're very happy making whatever you make and you can just exist off of that, then you know, fantastic do that. But you've got to decide what your goals are, what you're aspiring to, what is going to say I consider myself a successful full time writer now.
Rekka: 29:23 Mm-hmm. Yeah, what does that look like to you?
Kaelyn: 29:25 And there's no answer. It's going to look different for everyone.
Rekka: 29:28 And it's going to be very based in what you want, what you see as your vision of success. One thing you can do before you get that giant windfall is start to plan what it would cost for what you see as your vision of success so that you know, obviously every year, that cost will go up a little bit, but you'll have a really good baseline for what that means and take into account things like the cost of groceries. Take into account... If your vision of success is living in New York city, you need to put a, you need to account for the cost of groceries in New York city. The cost of getting to the grocery store because they are not usually nearby and owning a car may not seem practical. I mean like there are so many things to consider.
Kaelyn: 30:12 Yeah.
Rekka: 30:13 For something like that. You know, really budget this out. Like it's really happening so that you get real numbers.
Kaelyn: 30:19 Just be realistic. I'm not saying don't aspire to things. You absolutely should.
Rekka: 30:23 No, this is, this is building the budget for the life you want and that's great, but it will tell you how much you need to have that life. And it's not meant to be discouraging, but just to temper your enthusiasm when a big check comes in as to whether that big check gets you there.
Kaelyn: 30:38 A lot of people who you know want to be full time writers are going to have to spend a lot of time confronted with the reality of how their money is going. But again, I'm gonna stress it's no different from anyone else in the world, in terms of...
Rekka: 30:53 Right. The difference comes in terms of the frequency of these payments, but the dollar is still worth a dollar. It's not a sparkly gummy dollar that, you know, is, you know it has no extra magic than regular currency.
Kaelyn: 31:07 Don't disassociate yourself from the rest of the population in terms of how your money works. How you get it may be very different, but how it works and how you have to plan for it is exactly the same as everyone else.
Rekka: 31:19 Once it's in your bank account. Those dollars function the same as everyone else's.
Kaelyn: 31:23 So don't fall into this trap where, "well I'm a writer, it's different."
Rekka: 31:29 Okay. It is. It may be slightly different but not in the way you think it is.
Kaelyn: 31:36 Well yeah. What I mean is like, "I'm a writer. How my, how I manage my money is different," because everyone still needs the same things. You know, regardless of where you're living, you are presumably part of a society that has certain norms and standards in the way that it functions and you need money in order to adhere to those.
Rekka: 31:53 Right.
Kaelyn: 31:54 So none of this was meant to be discouraging. None of this is meant to, you know,
Rekka: 31:59 if anything, this is to empower you to have, you know, a plan before you get to the point where you cause your own financial collapse because you are overwhelmed. And the idea of coming up with a plan sounds scary. So you avoid coming up with a plan and then the money doesn't last.
Kaelyn: 32:19 When I was working on my MA, you know, I was a, I was a graduate assistant and one of my jobs was to run the graduate student events series. Most of them were academic based, except one of them was what we called the PhD scare session. And a lot of, you know the people that I was with that we were all working on this graduate degree, were all planning to go get a PhD and once a semester we had the PhD scare session, which was, we went and got a pizza and a few beers and we brought all of the professors in and they sat there for two hours and told horror stories about getting their PhD and how hard it was, and how you're just basically not going to have money for five to seven years, and how they didn't sleep, how, you know, all of this terrible stuff. And they always finished it by saying, "we would not have taken you into this program if we didn't think that, you know, you were capable, everyone was capable of going to do this. But you need to understand that this is how it is. It's, there are times that it's going to be very unpleasant. It's not going to be fun. It's not going to be easy. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it."
Rekka: 33:40 Right.
Kaelyn: 33:41 Now, that said, I didn't, do it.
Rekka: 33:42 I was just about to say.
Kaelyn: 33:45 For a whole bunch of different reasons. But, um, when I was in grad school school, uh, that was the, the great recession started in the middle of that. And um, a lot of people were losing funding. Things were changing. But then that's another thing to consider is sometimes the economy changes. Things can change in your financial future. So in my case, I made the conscious, like I had to sit down one day and work all of this out and go, well, I'm not going to get a PhD because to me, it wasn't worth it. I didn't want to spend, you know, all of these years when the financial situation of the world was just so bad, you know? So I decided not to do it. And that's why I am not Dr. Kaelyn.
Rekka: 34:30 I was literally about to say that. Get out of my brain.
Kaelyn: 34:33 So yeah. So I mean, the point of this episode is not to make it sound like you've chosen so poorly, but to give you the information to prepare you for when those these circumstances arise. And the maybe a voice in the back of your head will say, Oh, Kaelyn warned me about this, that you should not go buy those very expensive shoes that are so on brand from my book title.
Kaelyn: 35:01 I have a bad shoe habit.
Rekka: 35:04 I was not trying to point fingers.
Kaelyn: 35:05 No, It's fine. It's, I, I've, I've accepted it. It's, you know, there are a lot of things about writing a book that are very hard in all different aspects. One of the harder ones is going to be the money issue. It's just, I mean, it's just how it is. It's not, you know, it's something that we don't want to think about. We want to, you know, say like, Oh well I'm going to write this book and then it's going to be, you know, my life is going to be exactly where I want it to be. The money side of the writing process is, I won't say the hardest because I don't think that's it, but it's definitely up there. And while it may not be the hardest, I think it's the most difficult to deal with.
Rekka: 35:50 Yeah. And there are a lot of difficult steps. I mean, like if writing was easy, everyone would do it. It's the phrase and—.
Kaelyn: 35:56 Well, that's the thing is everyone, everyone can do it. Just not everyone necessarily should.
Rekka: 36:01 well, okay. So if being successful at writing easy, then everyone would be, um, yeah. And as I said, like going in with the, for knowledge of what your actual needs are to have the writing life that you envision and there is no correct answer to what you should envision. Some people are happy to make writing their side gig,
Kaelyn: 36:27 Decide what success looks like for you.
Rekka: 36:30 Yeah.
Kaelyn: 36:31 And that can change by the way.
Rekka: 36:32 Yeah. Yeah. And you can reevaluate every few years.
Kaelyn: 36:34 No one's going to tattoo it across your back and say like, Oh well sorry,
Rekka: 36:39 Look at you, you failed cause this is what's written on your back. And ya changed your mind. But you know, no the um, you know, you can reevaluate it every couple of years. You can change your mind and say, you know what, I thought I was happy writing on the side, but like writing gives me passion and my day job doesn't. And I would really like to figure out what it would take. Suddenly, I am curious what it would take to write full time. Yeah. And that's the thing is, research it before you attempt it.
Kaelyn: 37:05 and just think about money. And I won't go so far as to say, be careful with it because that's not my business. But think about it and consider these things. And if you're unsure, reach out to someone. It doesn't have to be a financial planner. You know, like this is, I mean, my mom is really good at handling money and if I, to this day, if I have a question about something I call her and go like, "I dunno, what do you think? Like what should I do here?" Or in some cases, "what is this?" Um, you know, if you have someone in your life or reach out to other authors and ask them if they did anything special or talk to you know, your agent, your, you know, ask questions. Don't expect people to tell you things.
Rekka: 37:52 Right. It never hurts to ask and it never hurts to get multiple opinions cause one person's experience, like we said, is not going to match another's. You can ask these questions, don't expect that someone is going to volunteer everything you need to know.
Kaelyn: 38:08 Yeah. And don't feel silly asking the questions. It's okay not to know things.
Rekka: 38:13 And everybody deals with these things.
Kaelyn: 38:15 And it is much better to ask someone than to just remain ignorant of something that's important for you to know.
Rekka: 38:24 Because then you're not only afraid of the money or afraid of being broke. You're also afraid of looking like you made a horrible mistake or that you can't manage money or what, I mean, there's like—
Kaelyn: 38:34 —any number of things—.
Rekka: 38:34 —like I said there's a lot of shame surrounding money in our, in our society. The people who don't have it are, um, shamed for not working hard enough, et cetera. When there's a whole lot more to it and the more you look into it. And plan and, you know, keep dreaming. It's just...
Kaelyn: 38:50 Look, I'll use a personal example here. Um, you know, when I came in and Parvis and I have these business partners and I had to sit down and go through my finances with them and it was a very, like, jarring experience.
Rekka: 39:04 You feel very vulnerable.
Kaelyn: 39:05 Yeah. I felt very exposed. And at the same time I'm kinda like, there's nothing, you know, there's no reason this shouldn't, this should be something that, you know, especially with people that I'm invested with, to talk about.
Rekka: 39:18 Yup.
Kaelyn: 39:19 And now, you know, and this is coming from someone who, like I've mentioned in other episodes, I work in finance where we talk about money all the time, but we don't talk about our personal money,
Rekka: 39:31 Right. Yes. It's a little bit like flashing your underwear at somebody. There's just a, um, a whole social, uh, parfait of—
Kaelyn: 39:39 There's a social dynamic to it definitely.
Rekka: 39:40 Yeah. I'm talking about money. And so there's... People are afraid of, of being heard, talking about money in the wrong way around the wrong people.
Kaelyn: 39:49 Exactly. Yeah. And all of that said, you know, that's, you know, your own personal, what you're comfortable with, but don't be afraid to ask questions about money and don't be afraid to be frank about it because at the end of the day, it's your money and you need to make it do what you want it to do for your life.
Rekka: 40:05 Yeah.
Kaelyn: 40:06 On that note, we'll end with the same sentiment as the previous money episode, don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to talk to people about it and be realistic.
Rekka: 40:15 Yeah.
Kaelyn: 40:16 Windfall money can be a very dangerous thing.
Rekka: 40:20 Right. Because it feels like a lottery dividend or something like that.
Kaelyn: 40:25 Yeah. If nothing else, just seriously look up stories about lottery winners. Look at that. There've been studies,
Rekka: 40:31 This is your PhD scare session.
Kaelyn: 40:34 Yes. Um, look up stories about lottery winners. They've done studies on, you know, people getting windfall amounts of money in all different denominations and what's happened to it. And a lot of times the mismanagement comes down to people not realizing how much money they actually had. Right. How far it goes in what you can do with it. Yes. So, you know, look, I really hope that everyone listening to this goes out there and gets a $500,000 advance for a book that becomes a national bestseller and.
Rekka: 41:06 Earns out and keeps earning.
Kaelyn: 41:08 And just, you know, and then you get to go live in your, you know,
Rekka: 41:12 Whatever your definition of dream author life is.
Kaelyn: 41:15 I think I want like, I like being in New York, but like I want a castle in New York.
Rekka: 41:24 You gotta write something first, Kaelyn.
Kaelyn: 41:25 Yeah. Well, yes. Okay. Fair. But,
Rekka: 41:29 So that's part of what you're planning.
Kaelyn: 41:32 Yeah. Um, so yeah, I, you know, be realistic. Yeah. Manage your expectations.
Rekka: 41:35 And we hope, you know, and we are not trying to scare anyone.
Kaelyn: 41:39 No, no, definitely not.
Rekka: 41:40 This episode is not your PhD scare session. That lotto Google search,
Kaelyn: 41:44 That's your, that's your PhD scare session.
Rekka: 41:47 Um, but we do just want to bring it up because that's what this podcast is for. We want to talk about the things that people don't understand about publishing. And one of the things is how strangely your income would be structured if you relied on this income to live.
Kaelyn: 42:03 Yeah. It's, um, quarterly at best.
Rekka: 42:07 At best. And that's royalties.
Kaelyn: 42:09 Yes.
Rekka: 42:10 And not even advances.
Kaelyn: 42:10 Yes. So do your research, manage your expectations, but also, you know, aspire to what you want to do with it.
Rekka: 42:18 Don't be afraid to dream. Just also know what goes into that to make it functional.
Kaelyn: 42:21 Just wake up every now and then.
Rekka: 42:22 No! And like that's the thing, it's like there is nothing wrong with wanting.
Kaelyn: 42:28 yeah.
Rekka: 42:28 But you need to understand what's under the chassis of that dream and how it's going to function.
Kaelyn: 42:35 Yeah. And don't fall into the trap of just wanting and not doing anything about it. So anyway, that's the episode. That was a bit of a while. I won't say a bummer, but
Rekka: 42:44 no, but we, we tackled that one. We grabbed it by the throat and we shook it a lot. So
Kaelyn: 42:50 No, we did, we did really spend a lot of time beforehand talking about this and kind of deciding what we wanted to do and say, so,
Rekka: 42:57 and we understand that our audience has a very wide experience of, you know, finances and life and abilities. Um, so we wanted to make sure that what we said was not the bright and sunny best case scenario for everybody.
Kaelyn: 43:14 I would be very curious and I'm going to do some digging on this and if I come up with anything, I'll post an update authors and writers who, you know, are internationally known and that's, you know, what they do. Um, and be curious to see what their advances were
Rekka: 43:31 and also, are they receiving royalties as most of their income? Are they receiving, I'm speaking fees as their income? Are they receiving, you know, dividends from investments that they made with a large advance that the advance went straight in and now they're being paid out on money market money.
Kaelyn: 43:52 Exactly.
Rekka: 43:52 So that's, um, you know, that's all very likely in many of those cases.
Kaelyn: 43:59 Yeah. Okay. Well, um, yeah, thank you for listening. That was, you know, we know this was, this was a lot.
Rekka: 44:04 Yeah, it was a heck of a lot.
Kaelyn: 44:05 This was a lot. So, um, but you know, as always questions, comments...
Rekka: 44:09 You can find us on Twitter and Instagram @WMBcast. You can find our older episodes wmbcast.com. If you found this—we hope you found this—episode very helpful, and if you have a few of those magical gummy dollars to throw our way, we'd love your support patreon.com/WMBcast. If you are still waiting for those gummy dollars to come in, you can, uh, share the podcast with a friend who would find the information useful. Or you can leave us a rating and review on iTunes to help random strangers find us through searches. And we'll talk to you next time everyone.
Kaelyn: 44:45 Thanks everyone.
44:45 Outtro Music
Episode 46 - Prologues (Advice for People Who Aren't Famous Enough To Do Whatever They Want)
Episode 45 - Sounds Difficult Because It Is (Formatting Cover Art)
Episode 44 - Theme and Character Arcs
Episode 43 - The Maps of Esowon - Cartography with Antoine Bandele
Episode 42 - Art Directing a Novel Cover with Colin Coyle
Episode 41 - These Covers Are On Fire!! with L. D. Lewis of FIYAH Literary Magazine
Episode 40 - For that you get the print, the digital, the whole damned thing.
Episode 39 - Singing Its Praises: The Art of the Space Opera - An Interview with Michael R Underwood
Episode 38 - An Author Called By Any Other Name Will Still Write Amazing Things - The Pen Name Episode
Episode 37 - Managing Mayhem with Murderboards - An Interview with Jennifer Mace
Episode 36 - Every Rivet in the Alien Railgun - Military Science Fiction with Scott Warren!
Episode 35 - Beware the Giant Mechanical Spiders! - Reevaluation: The Anniversary Episode
Episode 34 - Making Characters Kiss - Romance with Alexandra Rowland
Episode 33 - Artistic Integrity and Suffering For Your Art
Episode 32 - Ulterior and Often Nefarious Motives - Book Piracy
Episode 31 - An Overabundance of Caution - Coping with Personal Setbacks
Episode 30 - Filters and Blockers and Mute Buttons, Oh My! - The Importance of Boundaries with Miri Baker
Episode 29 - Fantastic If You Can Get Them! - Starred Reviews and Awards
Episode 28 - Dopamine Hits and Cortisol Spikes - Navigating Social Media
Episode 27 - Do You Want to Buy This Book? - The Art of Cover Copy