When I don’t feel like writing I often crunch numbers related to my writing. It makes me somehow feel like I’m working on my writing business but really I just think it’s fun to play with Access databases and Excel spreadsheets. (It seems to me that somewhere in that statement is an indicator of what I should actually be doing to earn a living, but I digress…)
What did I learn today?
That I am slowly but surely making progress with this writing gig. Six months into my fourth year of self-publishing and I’ve already made more than I did in my third year of self-publishing. Yay.
We’re still talking small numbers, but I think I can pretty comfortably say that I will earn at least $100 per month at this point since the last eight months have been well clear of that number. (Although no $1,000+ months yet, sadly.)
What changed? Last time I posted something about this on the blog I think I was happy that I’d made it twelve months with at least $50 earned.
One, audio. I now have twenty-two titles out in audio. Some barely sell, so I haven’t paid off my overall investment in audio yet, but without any effort from me it chugs along nicely on the ones that do sell. The first title I put in audio got one great review and that’s driven sales of that title ever since and it broke even a few months ago so all sales on it are now gravy. After the first four, I produced them on a non-exclusive basis and am about to list them wide so I’m hoping that by zigging while everyone else is zagging I get even more audio revenue. We shall see…
Two, finally putting out a second book in a series. As much as I knew the advice to write novels in series I really hadn’t done that until last year. I have high hopes that getting the third and final book in my pen name fantasy series out will really make it pop. Then I’ll feel comfortable pushing book 1 heavily to drive sales. I had a small international-only Bookbub on that title in January and got a taste of what I might be able to accomplish with the series once it’s complete. Even if I can’t get another BB I really have’t promoed that title at free or 99 cents other than that one sale, so lots of options available.
Three, advertising. I’ve had some success with AMS ads since July with non-fiction as well as fiction titles at full price and I’m starting to poke a toe into FB ads as well. I’d like to explore other CPC ad options this year and see what I can do with them because I think advertising is what’s really been driving my numbers the last six months. Basically, I’m getting $2 of sales for every $1 of ads. I just wish I knew how to scale it….But pleased with that 2:1 ratio nonetheless.
Interestingly, I didn’t publish a lot last year. Other than book 2 in that series most of what sold last year was material that I’d published the year before. So don’t give up on a book just because it’s been out a while and didn’t do well right out the gate. Sometimes it just requires a new format (like audio) or more related books or finding advertising that works for that book.
I by no means have cracked the secret to success. I can still earn more in a week of consulting than I’ve ever earned with my writing. (Although it’s pretty close right now.) But I do have faith that if I keep working at this and eventually build a solid enough backlist under one name that I can maybe do pretty well at this. (How’s that for resounding confidence? Maybe, sort of, kind, possibly.)
And in the meantime, it at least gives me something to analyze when I get bored and don’t want to write…