Recently I was listening to Joanna Penn’s podcast The Creative Penn and she talked about measuring your life in Olympic periods, how she looks back at how her life has changed and what she achieved in cycles of four years. I thought this might be an interesting exercise to do for Ladylit as well.
2008 Beijing Olympics
We were living in Belgium, both in an office job with varying degrees of satisfaction. Harper (although the concept of Harper Bliss did not even exist back then) was writing a blog about things that happened in her life, but no fiction. I had tried my hand at running my own business but I had no passion for what I was selling and had given that up in favour of regular employment and a steady pay check. We did, however, have ants in our pants and were looking at ways to move away from Belgium and find a job abroad. Then in 2009 my boss asked me if I was interested in moving to Hong Kong, so we jumped at the chance and after long months of preparation, we finally arrived here in October 2010.
2012 London Olympics
We’d been in Hong Kong for for almost two years. I was still working my same job and Harper had started writing fiction. She had published her first novel in early 2012 (under another pen name; we shall not speak of it too much) and had started writing short form erotica under the name Harper Bliss. As this seemed to be a potentially successful endeavour (thank you Fifty Shades!) we set up a limited company through which to publish these stories. And thus Ladylit Publishing was born in June 2012.
At this point Harper did basically everything: writing, covers, promotion. I edited her stories, and did some basic admin stuff, but we were still so small that there wasn’t really that much to do. And we were making a two to three figure monthly income.
2016 Rio Olympics
We’ve been in Hong Kong for six years. I quit my previous job and have been working for Ladylit full time for about two years.
From having a couple of novellas out in 2012, we now have a catalogue of more than sixty titles. We now almost exclusively publish full length books, and at the moment are focusing on Harper Bliss novels. And I’m working on a book of my own and have another one planned as well.
We’ve grown our reader platform bit by bit over the past four years, so much so that we now expect any new title to go to the top of the lesbian romance and fiction charts when it’s released.
As for our income, at the end of last year we set ourselves a goal for 2016. We wanted to reach a six figure US dollar income from book sales. As the year progressed, we adjusted that goal to a five figure US dollar income per month. As of the end of August we reached that first goal. And we’re pretty confident we’ll reach the second one by November. So now we’ve adjusted the goal again, to a seven figure HK dollar income.
In 2016 we also made the decision that we no longer wanted to be in Hong Kong full time because there is so much of the world that we want to see. So in early 2017 we’ll be setting off to try to be digital nomads, staying in different places around the world a couple of months at a time and then coming back to Hong Kong in between.
2020 Tokyo Olympics
So where do we see ourselves in 2020? Hopefully still making a living from books, both Harper’s and mine. I also hope we’ll still be traveling around, but we might have found a couple of places that we want to focus on and divide our time between. Possibly even think of settling down there by the 2024 Olympics.
When I look back on the last eight years, I can’t help but be a little bit proud of what we’ve achieved so far. I come from a family of several entrepreneurs so having my own successful business has always been an ambition. One thing is for sure: I’m very excited about the future, working on growing our business further and, most importantly, having many new interesting adventures with my partner in business and life.