Susan Grossey

Please send cake

It’s time for the annual totting-up, as I prepare my self-assessment tax return and work out whether being an author makes me any money at all, or whether I am in fact paying for the privilege.  (Incidentally, my top tip for filling in tax returns – and indeed any complex form – is this: if you don’t understand the question, the answer is no.)

First, some stats for you:

  • I have self-published 21 non-fiction books (all about anti-money laundering, all in paperback only), five Sam Plank novels (all in paperback and various e-formats, and the first two as audiobooks as well), one collection of articles that I wrote for the local newspaper (paperback only) and one box-set of the first three Sam Plank novels (e-format only)
  • I have also self-published a guide to the Sam Plank series, with the first chapter of each novel and a glossary of Regency terms, but that’s free and so it brings in no royalties
  • In June 2015 my tax return revealed that I had made just under £1,500 from the writing side of my professional life
  • In 2016 that disappeared into a net loss of £44.87
  • In 2017 I increased my net loss to £288.71 – obviously too much spending and not enough writing
  • In 2018 I bucked the trend and went into the black, making a net profit of £1,338

So what can I report this year – up or down?  Profit or loss?  In the period 6 April 2018 to 5 April 2019 (that’s the crazy English tax year for you), I made a net profit from my authorliness of £1,294.31.  In essence, that’s royalties and sales minus cover designs, promo materials and membership of the Society of Authors.  It works out at £24.89 per week.  At this rate, I’ll be lucky to afford even a modest garret.

Don’t forget to vote for the title of “Plank 6” – for £24.89 a week, I’m certainly not choosing my own titles.

(And in case you’re wondering, the blog title is from a letter my father sent to his mum from university in the 1950s, which we still have in the family archive and which reads, in its entirety: “Dear mum, Washing enclosed.  Please send cake. Pete.”)


  1. Graham Thomas Avatar
    Graham Thomas

    Dear Susan

    Thank you for sharing the latest annual figures and I’m sorry to hear that you can’t quite retire from the day job yet!

    Being paid £24.89 a week for something that you love and enjoy doesn’t sound too bad to me and I seem to recall some previous statistics that you posted explaining that the majority of authors don’t make any money?

    I did enjoy reading your father’s letter. He didn’t like to waste words!

    Best wishes


    1. ihatemoneylaundering Avatar

      You’re absolutely right, Graham – I am lucky to turn a profit at all, particularly as it’s not my full-time job. When I retire, I shall devote much more time to both writing and marketing, and maybe then I will boost my income to, say, a dizzying £50 a week!

      And yes, my father was the master of concise communication. Throughout his life he sent his mother postcards from wherever he went – which was a lot of places, on business – and they always said something like, “Hello Ma, here I am in [wherever]. Love Pete”. He was also of the view that fiction was a waste of reading time, as there is so much real life to read about!

      Best wishes from Susan

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