I am a professional author. I know this because I collect royalties from a book I wrote. Today, I got two 1099 forms from Amazon. One is for the Kindle version of my book, the other for the paperback (trade) version.

The total for 2015 was … are you ready? $6.89 for the year.


I don’t know how I spent all that money. It leaves me breathless. The good news is I’m pretty sure 2016 has already proved more lucrative than all of last year . It’s only the beginning of February, but I’ve breached the $10 bottom line and may hit the heights of greater than $25 — the amount at which the I.R.S. wants to know about you.

This is probably the only time that having the I.R.S. notice you feels good.

teepee book shelf

It turns out that giving my book away for free (or almost free) does not generate royalties. I remember one month where the total royalty was 5 cents and many months of royalties direct deposited to my account which were much less than a dollar.

That being said, I’d rather you read it and find it worth the time, than have it molder unread — the fate of most books of this type.

teepee book back

To all of you who “read me” this year and were kind enough to tell me you enjoyed my book, thank you. Very much. Though “The 12-Foot Teepee” may not generate a lot of money, your enjoyment makes me feels rich.

Wealth is more than a number.


  1. It probably costs much more than the 5 cents to generate that royalty. There are so many people around trying to earn a living off books – unless you have a huge block buster and have a film made of it – it is hard to stand out. But, you have sold some books and as you say the fact that you get positive feedback is worth a lot more


    • The book did moderately well when it first came out. I set up book signing. I had a couple of TV interviews and a few more on radio. I worked at publicizing it. Then I got cancer and the next two years were spent putting myself back together, Humpty Dumpty style. After which came whole heart disease … and by the time I was recovered (more or less) from that, the book was old. I’ll always be glad to wrote it, if for no better reason than to prove to myself that I could see it through beginning to end. People seem to like it, mostly, and if there’s any kind of wisdom in it, I’m happy to give it away.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The two sites I “sell” crap with my designs on them don’t even bother to send out 1099’s for royalties. And Cafepress doesn’t provide you with a yearly summary (The best you can do is look up the past 90 days), so I never know what paltry amount I’ve amassed in any given tax year anyway. I definitely hear you on how good it feels just for people to enjoy the fruits of my labor… I guess that’s why I blow those royalties and then some giving stuff away once a year!


    • Art … any kind of art … is even harder now to make money from than it was a decade ago. While record companies and other “online distributors” are getting nastier and nastier about copyright infringement, they are stealing everybody’s stuff without (apparently) a second thought. I am glad I’m not counting on it to actually be an income stream. Meanwhile, I STILL love your work. Oh, and my pingbacks aren’t working. Not anywhere. I suppose I’ll have to actually contact WordPress. Maybe they are punishing me for not using their “new improved” interface.


  3. Boy, Marilyn, that’s a hard way to make a living. Music is much the same way. With streaming you may get $.0000231 a stream. I’ve even seen it streamed for N/A (which I have since figured out to be – not anything). There has been a drastic change in the economics of the world and this monetization of things. The creative juices of the world are being drained and the guy holding the glass is making the money.


    • You either develop a sense of humor and realize that you didn’t become a writer to get rich (though you sure wouldn’t mind if Hollywood made a really great offer), but that people actually read you book … that’s a big deal. Because you reach people and sometimes, maybe, you make a difference in their life. If you’re in it for the Big Bucks, you probably will be disappointed.


  4. What a cheerful smile you had on the picture of you on the back cover! You were so proud of yourself, and it shows! I did buy the Kindle version and it’s still in my library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And me just upstairs with a bookcase full of books 🙂 But I get it. I bought the Kindle edition too I know I wrote it, but you don’t get it for free … As an author, you don’t get anything for free, though I do get a discount on the hard copies. I read everything on the Kindle because … well … it’s easier to read on the Kindle than on paper. It’s all about the light 🙂


    • Good for you! I went “pro” (photographically) briefly and a long time ago, well before digital. And hated it. Babies and weddings are not my best work. I do know a fair number of people who’ve made a good living at it, though. If you can stand the clients … 🙂


      • I considered myself a serious amateur 🙂 This was during the transition period from film to digital when there was still a debate. The thought of photographing people never excited me either. I sold my images as stock photography. Freedom to shoot whatever, no people to deal with but not much money as an amateur. About 5 years ago everyone and their hamster became a professional people photographer(weddings, babies) with a digital SLR and 6 months photography experience. They got work, enough to be considered a career or at least a really good side gig.


        • And so much of the work of these amateur-turned-pro is really bad. It looks like what it is — inexperienced, amateur crap. The effect has been to lower the bar and make it hard for really good photographers to make a decent living.


          • Quite often for the client, as long as the photographer is better at photographing than they are then to them it looks good. I would feel bad knowing I’m giving an amateur product for someone’s important life event.


  5. It is really on my to be read list, but I have not yet read it. I will, so if you see someone in Switzerland has your book, it is me. In the meanwhile my Kindle is kaput, the electricity bit will not connect to the cable. No problem, Amazon are sending me a replacement. In the meanwhile I will be reading on my iPad on the Kindle app. Congratulations to the royalties and my there be many more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s okay. It’s not great literature, though some people like it. Good to know Amazon will replace the Kindle if it breaks down like that. None of mine have, but the future is long and I don’t think I’ve read a paper book for … five years? At least that long.


      • Ironically, I bought the Kindle edition too. I have the files I used to make it into a Kindle book, but they are almost unreadable. They are even difficult to edit. So … I bought it. It was more expensive back then. I managed to get the price down as far as they would let me. And now that Amazon offers “all the Kindle books you can eat for $9.95/month,” it’s free to anyone who is part of that, so I don’t get any royalties for those who borrow it or get it through Amazon’s “Kindle Free” plan.

        I’m just glad anyone reads it and especially glad when a friend reads it. I know there have more than a few free downloads. They those show up on my monthly report, but don’t generate royalties. I guess I’ll have to remain a poor author. There’s a long tradition there. Proud to be a part of it.


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