Every once in awhile, I get asked the question, "How is your business doing?" or some variation, such as "How are ebooks working out for you?"
Now, at the moment, this question is actually hard to answer. To understand why, one must realize that my business underwent a couple of changes last year--and a major change this year.
One of the changes that happened last year was that I actually started to do a certain amount of photography and advertising for another business, Celtic Soul Jewelry and Pottery, my wife's pottery business. I have been doing photography for her off and on for several years, but it was for record keeping. The current set of photos are actually for sale purposes.
One of the things that changed my approach was the simple fact that I brought a better camera--something that I was required to have when I was still working for the school newspaper. The old camera was hers; this one is MINE. My wife and one of our friends have made the comment on occasion that it is like I was born with a camera in my hand.
The reason that my photography style had to change was the fact that she started selling pottery and jewelry online (after years of me saying that she should do so). But the change in style has meant that in the future I will be using several of my own photos as cover art.
It is only a matter of time before I start seriously freelancing on that front. And yes, my wife is paying me to do photography and advertising for her. Therefore, I have to consider that part of my current business model--and that is completely brand new.
The other change which happened last year was that I switched from the print market as a writer to the ebook market. This happened in October. It was such a major change that I consider my current writing business to be a new business, and not a continution of my print market efforts (which I started to submit to in 1985).
Now, as the writers who read this blog know, the ebook market is only about five years old, and really did not start picking up speed until 2010. The newness of the ebook market and my recent entry in it means that I am still trying to collect a full set of initial numbers to base my answer on...and my decisions.
(For the record, the section of the print market that I made the most money in was gutted by the internet--it is only now that the internet and ereaders have provided a replacement for that market.)
These two changes by themselves make it hard to figure out how my business is doing. Essentially, it is a new business. By the standard of my old freelance days, I doing better than I was. Unfortunately, the major change that happened just a few months ago makes it look like my business is doing really bad.
Basically, my business has became my sole source of income (outside of the occasional Tarot reading and other odd job).
During my time in college, I relied upon student loans to make ends met. But that is no longer an option for me. I graduated this spring with two Bachelor degrees: Hitory and Literary Studies. While I do intend to go back for a Masters in at least one of these subjects, it was decided that I am going to wait until my wife finishes her Masters in Education for the Linguistically Diverse (think ESL) before going back to school.
Now, let's be honest--the job market s***s, and unemployment will not drop to 7% until 2014 by the best estimates. So my degrees combined with twenty years of food service would get me a job in...food service, if I was lucky.
Therefore, the decision was made because of the job market and a strange bounce that one of my ebooks did (it is performing really well compared to the others) that I would focus on building my business until my re-entry into college (technically, it will be university).
Another factor that makes it hard to figure out how well my business is doing is the simple fact that I was burnt out terribly by the last two semesters (back to back capstone Senior Seminars). I had a hard time getting my act and cranking out the writing.
The cherry on top of all this doubt and non-informationis the fact that I am starting to do artwork, editing, and formating for other writers...and calling it publishing (because I am going to collect a percentage). And that is also completely new for me.
So really at the moment, I am incapable of answering the question of "How is your business going?" This quarter will be better than the last quarter (if my estimate is correct), as has been the last two quarters, and the next quarter should be better than this one. But that is about all I know until I spend some more time working at it.