Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have noticed that I was less than happy with life last week. Part of that was family stuff that I can’t talk about publicly, but the rest of it is very relevant and I’ve only avoided talking about it until now because there were people who needed to be told first so they wouldn’t worry.
Basically the situation is that the global economic crisis has finally caught up with my day job, and as a result I am facing a 40% reduction in my income. This is not a total disaster. I should still have enough money to pay the rent, taxes, utility bills and still have something left over for food. But unless I can find other paid work to fill the gap I’m not going to have any money for things like books, conventions and the like.
At this point you may well be thinking it is a good job I have this second business to fall back on. However, like most businesses, Wizard’s Tower did not burst fully-profitable from my brow. New businesses need nurturing and investment, and right now most of what Wizard’s Tower does loses money.
Dark Spires is close to earning out, which is a great relief to Colin and myself, and I actually have a couple of (ebook only) books coming out very soon. However, the ebook sales are very low and I don’t expect to make more than a few dollars off then. (Most of the money goes to the authors and retailers.)
The bookstore is making sales, but it needs professional online shopping software to provide the sort of service that publishers and customers expect, and that costs money. At the moment sales are not covering costs, let alone making an income for me. It is possible that now I’m going to have more time on my hands I will be able to ramp sales up by doing more PR, so Kevin and I will keep the store going for a few months to see what happens. We’ll see how that goes.
The big drain on my finances is Salon Futura. That costs me several hundred dollars a month, and the income is practically zero. I simply can’t afford that any more, so it will probably have to go. I have sufficient funds to cover all of the material I had promised to buy, and I’m going to stretch that into two slightly thinner issues rather than one fat one to give me a bit of time to look at alternatives, but I’m not hopeful.
One thing I am not going to do is run a “save Salon Futura” appeal. Given the level of readership I doubt that would generate more than enough for one more issue, and then we’d be back where we started. What the magazine needs is a regular source of income. As it is pretty clear that substantially more than 99% of its readers do not think it is worth paying for, the message has to be that it isn’t worth doing. I’m very grateful to the small number of people who have donated money or bought ebook copies, and personally I think the sort of material that Karen, Jonathan, Sam and the other contributors have produced is worth paying for. I just can’t afford to do that myself any more.
In the long term this may turn out to be something of a blessing as it gives me both the time and the incentive to try to diversify my income. However, given the current economic climate, the next few months may prove rather depressing. I shall try not to inflict this on you.
What this does mean, however, is that there is no chance of my being able to get back to the USA in the foreseeable future. It also means that I will be cutting back drastically on conventions. I have existing commitments to Eastercon, Eurocon and Finncon. They are also all part-paid for, and the air travel can probably be done on points. I’ll also do BristolCon as that only requires a fairly cheap train ticket. But everything else is currently on hold, and priority will be given to events where I think I may be able to find work.