Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Poetry Economics--A Moronic Oxymoron. The posts I do on this topic are actually among my most popular. I guess most presses don't bother sharing how much they make -- or lose -- by publishing poetry. I, however, have a masochistic side. To wit, my 2010 Income Statement:

Since I've basically stopped doing much author events, most of my earnings and expenses as a poet relate to Meritage Press. So it's tax time and I just calculated my Income Statement. I am saddened -- though not surprised -- to share the results: I lost money as a poet!
TOTAL COSTS $7,805.85

NET LOSS ($1,520.99)

Woe is Moi. I had thought that 2010 would continue my recent profitability (I was profitable in years 2009 and 2008). But it looks like, as we celebrate Meritage Press' 10th anniversary year, that MP would have been profitable only two out of its first ten years. Again, you can see the effect of the Great Recession in my revenue stream:
2010 REVENUES $6,287.86
2009 REVENUES $2,754.42
2008 REVENUES $9,117.92
2007 REVENUES $7,721.88

You can see that I actually more than doubled my sales figures over the prior year, but it took more money to ... double those sales figures!

Another way to look at these numbers is that $1,520.99 is basically my personal subsidy to be a poetry publisher. That's because Meritage Press is a private press. If, however, MP had been a nonprofit -- which is the case for many (most?) poety publishers, I probably could have raised at least that much money from grants and donations to avoid going into the red.

That's really the next step for MP, to become nonprofit or do something else. Because I don't have time for the paper-bureaucracy that would come with such nonprofitness, I don't bother to take that step. We'll just have to hope that this post makes you all feel sorry for me such that you buy the books I publish or the books I write (as regards the latter, start with THIS ONE please, as the Great Britain took a chance on me).

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