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A Profit? Holy Cow! A Profit!
At the end of last year, or close to the beginning of this one, I looked at past years' profit and loss. It worked out to look something like this...
2022 - Total net loss of $2,382.56
2021 - Total net loss of $766.43
2020 - Total net loss of $1,985.97
2019 - Total net loss of $2,246.04
2018 - Total net gain of $899.41
2017 - Total net gain of $144.92
I've been publishing books since 2008, but I didn't track them in detail until the past 6+ years. As you can see, only two years, earlier years at that, have been successful, or should I say, profitable, in any way. And not by much. This year, however, is different.
While goal-setting at the end of 2022/early 2023, I decided I wanted to make this year show a profit. More than that, I wanted to NOT have to invest any of our household income into it for 2024. The way I figure it, if I can instead put that extra $250 per month towards our renovations budget, we can get Cottage East done sooner (more on that later). I decided to set aside $250 per month in invested funds for 2023, reinvest any sales income from 2023, and then use those funds to pay for any 2024 expenses.
So far, I've invested $1,750 ($250 times 7 months) of the $3,000 I earmarked for the writing biz. I've had a total of $3,675.12 in sales and $2,592.03 in expenses, leaving a profit of $1,083.09 for the first six months of the year. Which is an average of $180.52 per month net profit.
Yes, with my massive earnings I will retire and live a life of leisure sipping Mai Tai's on a beach, fanned by half-naked, adorably tanned pool boys. Or not. But hey, a girl can dream, right?!
The fact remains, I'm damned excited to be seeing a profit after four straight years of losses. I credit the Book Bub and Chirp deals for making the difference. And for my intentionally moving away from Amazon to a more wide audience through KOBO, Draft2Digital, Apple, Findaway and Google books (to name a few).
Moving More Sales Away from Amazon
The move over the last few years from seeing almost exclusive sales with Amazon, to other markets. Last year, over half of my sales were with Amazon, over 60% if you count Audible (owned by Amazon). Now? Only 31.54% of sales were with Amazon, 33% if you count Audible. This is a good thing. Never depend on ONE company for all of your income if you can possibly help it. I do the same with my short-term rental business - you can find my properties on Airbnb, VRBO, TripAdvisor and Houfy - to name just a few.
The Plan for the Rest of 2023
August 1st is a Tuesday. And that is the day I will officially return to writing. "What's on the menu?" you might ask. Well, for the moment, it is as follows, in order of priority:
The Retirement Home
The Family OR Quit Your Job, Change Your Life OR The Return of Winter's Child
In other words? I'll know more soon, but I've got a basic hierarchy of priorities!
In Other News
While I continue to do my best not to lose but actually earn more money on books, my income is dependent on the short-term rental properties we have, and the one more we are renovating. I've taken Jo Penn, from The Creative Penn podcast's advice to heart, "Have multiple streams of income." And while she might have been thinking strictly of multiple streams of income from writing, well, I have found the short-term rental business to be an excellent source of income. More than that, it is convenient, since our STR property is less than 100 feet away. I can work from home, writing my books, while also managing the rentals.
All of that was put into jeopardy when recent legislative changes were proposed by the City, including banning non owner-occupied properties in residential areas. Factor in an almost complete lack of competence by city employees unwilling to answer phone calls or emails, and I was deeply worried that Cottage East, the house we are renovating on the east side of our house, would be deemed ineligible for approval as a short-term rental.
We have been scrimping and saving for over four years since we finished the renovations on Cottage West. Our goal? To pay for the renovations, some $90k in total (that includes over $40k already spent on Cottage East), without going further into debt. We already have a mortgage on our long-term rental house in Belton (my first house I ever owned), our house we live in between the STRs (that we bought in 2013), and a mortgage on Cottage West of around $35k remaining balance. All of my projections indicate that we should be able to finish paying for the renovations for Cottage East by the end of next year, possibly sooner.
Today I received the news that the city had decided to allow Cottage East to be approved under the old set of rules (the ones that allowed for non-resident owned STRs to operate in residential zones) and that we would no longer have to proceed with the class-action lawsuit that we, and some 26 others, were forced to file when they rejected our submitted applications after the new legislation passed in May.
This was HUGE. All of our savings have been going into these renovations. There are no 401k funds, no inheritances to fall back on, nothing but our bootstrapping our way to the top of the renovation mountain and getting it done. And with it, our future, and our children's futures. Each of our three children will inherit a house, and if we keep everything on track, there will be funds enough to handle the taxes and estate fees as well. We live in an uncertain world. A place where our quality of life is no longer rising, but declining. The thought of being able to give my children this gift - a home of their own when I pass on - is so freaking huge. Having dealt with poverty, insecurity, and financial stress most of my life, it feels amazing to know we can achieve this in the next few years. My teen and my two littles will never know what it is like to not have a home. That isn't to say that they will not struggle, or endure hardship. I've already told my teen that getting college paid for is not in the cards. But staying with us while going to college IS an option. And he's getting a headstart on that by attending Early College Academy for his junior and senior years of high school too. I quickly added that up and realized he is getting a minimum of $6,000 in tuition for free. How amazing is that?!
In any case, I'm over the moon to hear that we can move forward with turning Cottage East into a short-term rental. It has been a stressful few months, waiting for the city to do the right thing. I'm glad they finally did!
What Are You Reading?
I absolutely loved Netflix's first season of Silo, which is based on the Silo series by Hugh Howey. I blasted through Wool (the first in the series) years ago and just had to re-read it now that it is on Netflix.
After that, I have a non-fiction book by Eric Barker Plays Well With Others that I plan on reading and then following it up with John Marrs book Keep it in the Family. What are you reading? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you!
Hired Gun Audiobook for Just 99 Cents!
On July 31st, and a few weeks thereafter, you can get the Hired Gun audiobook for just 99 cents. Check out Chirp books for details on that and get it while the getting is good!
Find Me on Facebook Join my group General Malcontent's Grumbles and Scribbles on Facebook and get plenty of weird memes, the opportunity to read my newest releases for free, pics of the family, and other author news. I look forward to seeing you there!