Let’s talk about money – my 2019 revenue and expenses.

Let’s talk about money – my 2019 revenue and expenses.

In 2019, I had many great accomplishments as a writer. Most notably, I earned an MFA in creative writing, I released my fourth historical novel, and I launched my own publishing company. I am tremendously proud of these achievements and I look forward to my continued development and success.

My first novel, Thy Eternal Summer, was published by Tate Publishing in 2013

I began seriously pursuing writing as a career in 2010 when I quit my job as a parking lot attendant and started writing my first novel. Since that time, I have learned a lot about the work that is required to be an author. Not only have I had to develop my craft as a writer, but I’ve had to learn about the important business and marketing elements that come with the publication of a novel. These important business elements include things such as building an online presence, developing a platform, branding, advertising, and public speaking. For instance, in 2019, in addition to completing my Master’s thesis, publishing a novel, and starting a new novel, I published 21 YouTube videos, dozens of blog posts, 9 author interviews, and I had 18 author events in the states of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Also, I managed two websites, numerous social media accounts, and worked as the editor of my publishing company receiving and responding to submissions. 

Colin Mustful at the 2019 AWP Conference and Book Fair in Portland, Oregon

The most important part of my writing, is sharing with readers the complicated, often tragic, history of Minnesota and surrounding regions during a period of settler colonialism and Native displacement on which our country is founded. The pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and healing is and always will remain my central focus, though my writing may or may not change over the years. With that said, I’ve discovered that many readers are interested in more than just the history behind my writing. Often, patrons at my speaking events ask me about the role of being an author. They are curious about the sacrifices and gains and they wish to know if I make my living as an author, or if I rely on outside income. Because of the interest shown by my readers and patrons of my events, I’ve decided to share the (current) financial aspects of my work as a writer/author/historian. I will note here that I do not make my living as an author. Rather, I work as a para educator, a pizza delivery driver, and a soccer coach. 

Colin Mustful pictured with his novels.

Before sharing this information, I must preface it by expressing that every author’s experience is different and is dependent on the goals of the writer and the manner in which they publish. Below you will find a record of my costs and revenues as an independent author for the year 2019. It is not meant to encourage or discourage writers or readers in any way. It is meant only in the interest of transparency—to give people an idea of the financial costs and rewards of my own personal experience as an author. I am very proud of the work I have done, no matter the gains or losses, and I will continue to pursue my path wherever it leads.  

Colin Mustful speaks about his new book Resisting Removal on a Duluth TV news station in September 2019

As I progress in my career as a writer, I will continue to pursue all opportunities to share my work, develop my craft, and seek out new ways to earn a livable wage. Over time I have gained a wealth of experience and knowledge which I am available to share through speaking engagements, freelance editing and writing, contract work, conference panels, and collaboration. I invite you to contact me if you have or recognize any opportunities for me as an author and historian. Lastly, if you value literature and the work of independent authors and bookstores, please support them through word-of-mouth, positive reviews, and purchases of their work. 

Thank you! I hope you find this information interesting and I look forward to sharing more with readers in the years to come. 

Author Sales and Revenues (Sales through Ingram include only the title, Resisting Removal. Sales through Lulu include all other titles. Revenues for sales in the final three months of 2019 have not yet been received by the author)

Print books sold through online distribution channels (Ingram) – 144

Electronic books sold through online distribution channels (Ingram) – 15

Revenue from online distribution channels (Ingram) – $144.89 

Print books sold through online distribution channels (Lulu) – 7

Electronic books sold through online distribution channels (Lulu) – 3

Revenue from online distribution channels (Lulu, books only) – $26.35

Print and electronic essays sold through online distribution channels (Lulu) – 10

Revenue from online distribution channels (Lulu, essays only) – $0

Total books/essays sold through all distribution channels – 179

Total Revenue from all online distribution channels – $171.24

Total books sold through non-events (i.e. in-person, author website, etc.) – 43

Total Revenue from non-event sales – $527.81

Total books sold at author events (18 total events) – 201

Total revenue from author event sales – $2,883.77

Speaking fees collected – $1,548.58

Total books/essays sold from all sources – 423

Total gross author income – $5,131.40

Author Expenses

General expenses (i.e. conference registrations, writing materials, website related fees, State sales tax, etc.) – $2,210.42

Books Giveaways (reviewers, contests, etc.) – 25 total books

Advertising – $1,412.69

Shipping Costs – $212.86

Books ordered through Ingram – 186 for $1,105.70

Books ordered through Lulu – 99 for $746.51

Payments to freelancers (social media manager, cover designer) – $2,370.00

General expenses at events (food, transportation, etc.) – $397.67

Lodging at events – $411.01

Total miles driven for events – 4300

Gasoline costs – $294.91

Total Author Related Expenses – $9,161.77

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