By Chester Campbell
The common wisdom is that we authors should treat writing as a business. I agree, but it requires a little shift from the normal business model. Unless Uncle Sam thinks you're "too big to fail," normal businesses face the prospect of going under if they operate in the red for too long. Most writers operate in the red most of the time.
Good old Wikipedia says of businesses that most are privately-owned and formed to earn a profit that will increase its owners' wealth and grow the business itself. The owners and operators have as one of their main objectives the receipt or generation of a financial return in exchange for work and acceptance of risk.
So where do we fit in this picture? Writers do plenty of work. Writing, researching, promoting, selling, and, of course, business management. That's right, management. Who pays the bills, keeps the books, makes the decisions on what needs to be done, negotiates over book signings, websites, and all that good stuff? And we accept the risk of the time and resources we put into the job.
We love to write, but we go into it with the objective of generating a financial return and making a profit. The fact that few of us do but still remain in business is what separates us from the "normal" company ranks.
I'd always heard that you should break even with your fourth book. Didn't happen for me. Or the fifth, shown here. Actually, I'd show a profit this year if I hadn't spent money on two conferences where I only sold enough books to pay for a couple of meals. So, like a good business owner, I'm reconsidering the best expenditure of my book income next year.
Up to this point, I've been spending not only my book income but bunches of money from other sources, like investments and retirement benefits. I don't plan to go down like Lehman Brothers, and I don't expect to get bailed out like AIG. But it would sure be nice to see a little green at the end of he rainbow.
Maybe next year.