A Turning Point: Forty Second Income Report – September 2016 (-$223.94)

Are you curious about a one-year delay? I explained it in my first income report.

Forty Second Income Report September 2016September 2016 was a milestone in my writing career. Not the one you’re probably thinking about –  I didn’t get a contract with a big publisher or publish a blockbuster. Quite to the contrary, and it served me well.

I published Directed by Purpose on Thursday, the 8th of September. Thanks to the preparations in August, the first week of September wasn’t insane; it was merely busy.

My friend who designed a cover delivered it a few days before the publication date, and I made one last-minute change, I got rid of the subtitle altogether to make a title and the main image bigger.

I hit the publish button on the 8th, but it was a silent launch only. The initial Buck Books promo was scheduled for Monday, the 12th of September. I took a day off on Thursday and wrote a few email broadcasts and an email template for my beta readers and potential reviewers. I posted info about the launch of the book here and there on social media and sent several emails, mainly to the people who promised to review the book in advance.

And the next day I went for a 3-day get-together organized by my employer.

It was in a remote area, and I had Wi-Fi connection only at a hotel. I enjoyed the trip and activities.

Monday Morning

I woke up before 4 am and sent a couple of broadcasts. I also sent a few reminders to potential reviewers.

Then I could only wait for the results.

Amazon Ads

On the first of September, I signed up half a dozen of my books into KDP Select program and created the first advertising campaign for The Art of Persistence. It is still up and running.

My oldest AMS campaign

I created several more campaigns in September; a pair for The Art of Persistence and Trickle Down Mindset and one campaign per other book in the Select program.

I was stoked with the results. My dead books resurrected. The books that were selling a few to several copies a month started selling 1–2 copies a day.

Moreover, I quickly discovered that advertising had a significant impact on my print book sales.

Paperback Sales

On the 1st of September I was stoked to discover that Amazon bought 35 print copies of my personal mission statement book. That rescued the bottom line of the otherwise worst month of my book sales since January 2014.

Till that point in time, I was lucky to sell a 2-digit number of paperback copies a month. My best month was February 2015 when I sold 32 copies. The meager figures of CreateSpace royalties in my previous income reports reflect that reality quite aptly.

However, in September 2016, I sold 55 copies of my paperbacks.
69% of them came from the books included in the KDP Select program and advertised on Amazon.

September 2016 was the last month of a 2-digit sales number of my paperbacks. Since October 2016, they were always 3-digit.

InstaFreebie Feature

While I had been submitting my books to the Select program, I received an email from InstaFreebie. They asked if I was interested in featuring Making Business Connections That Count on their platform.

This was serendipity. I still could reverse submission to Select. I definitely was interested in getting featured.

The feature was the same week as the book launch. It added some additional workload. I created a page on my blog and encouraged my readers and followers to share it.

I also adjusted the giveaway, making the sign-up to my list obligatory.

In the end, it was well worth it. I got over 250 new subscribers. My email list grew by 50% in a couple of months thanks to the InstaFreebie platform.

I decided to stick with them, even though their fee ($20) wasn’t worth the small trickle of subscribers I got outside promotions. Those promotions made up for that with vengeance.

InstaFreebie required the giveaway to be available for one more week, so I closed it on 15th of September and signed the book up into KDP Select program the next day.

Analytics

Very quickly I recognized the fact that Amazon reporting in the case of ads was created without authors in mind. In other words, it was hopeless. It’s good to know how much you spent, but absolutely not useful in guessing how much you earned.

After several days of trying to squeeze an ounce of sense from Amazon reporting, I created my own Google sheet and a habit of updating that sheet every morning with data.

Maybe that didn’t make me much money, but it surely protected me from flushing money down the toilet.

I think it was more of paying daily attention to my campaigns than anything else that caused them to be profitable in 95% of cases.

Also, thanks to the Amazon ads, I re-discovered the importance of editorial reviews.

Making Business Connections… was advertised two weeks later than the other books. I noticed a strange data fluke. This book had more or less the same amount of clicks per impressions, but much less actual purchases. It meant that people were clicking on the ad, landing on the book’s page, and then they moved on without buying.

I wondered: How is this book’s page different than my other books?

I quickly noticed the difference – there were no editorial reviews on the page! I mined the reviews that I got from my readers and featured a few of them in the ‘Editorial Reviews’ section in Author Central.

The numbers improved to the levels observed with my other books.

Email marketing

InstaFreebie is integrated only with MailChimp, and I wasn’t familiar with this platform. But I got about 500 new subscribers, so I had to learn on the go.

September was a month rich with email interactions with my list. I sent several broadcasts to everybody and several dedicated to specific segments, like my beta readers who promised me a review of Directed by Purpose, or a welcome broadcast to new people who got on the list from InstaFreebie.

Wayne, my mastermind buddy, mentioned that he feels I’m doing my readers a disservice by not offering them some higher-tier product, like a coaching program based on my book.

So I went into a hustle mode again. However, I was smart about it – I started from surveying my subscribers, if they were interested in such a program. I created a survey, wrote a broadcast, and sent it at the end of September.

Apart from several broadcasts, I sent also a few dozen individual replies to my readers.

My son continued working for me as my assistant, and I recorded a few videos explaining what I require from him.

Our cooperation wasn’t rocky nor smooth. He didn’t share my enthusiasm for spreading my message and, like a proper teenager, had been lazy with his tasks.

On the other hand, he could do things for me no virtual assistant could have done. I shared with him my passwords and accounts with no risk whatsoever.

New Versions

I managed to publish two paperbacks in September, one for Directed by Purpose, and it was only a couple weeks after the launch, and one for Know Yourself Like Your Success Depends on It. The last one was almost a year after the publication of an eBook version. I finally did that because I also decided to make an audiobook version of it.

Of course, this meant hours spent on adjusting the manuscripts, formatting, creating the Table of Contents, email correspondence with HappySelfPublishing who created the paperback covers for me, signing a contract with a narrator, and so on.

It was a very good decision, especially with Amazon ads positively affecting my print sales.

Important Decision and Announcement

On 22nd September, I sent an email to my list informing them about my decision to hold any new releases of mine for an unspecified period of time.

Here is the core of it:

I started my writer’s journey hoping that I will support my family from my writing. Three years down the road and it didn’t materialize. My hopes were even higher when I published a few bestsellers. But their fate was always the same: an initial surge of sales and quiet oblivion after a few months. Kindle publishing was, for me, like pumping a hand water-pump; as soon as I stopped pumping and took a break in publishing a next book, the sales dwindled. I have no more energy to pump. I put all my publishing projects on hold. Writing is for me a joy, but publishing is a taxing work.

I had enough. I was spent. Writing books for a living is a full-time job, at least at the beginning, when you try to make enough income to sustain your current lifestyle.

Part-time efforts can bring only part-time (or worse) results. Till the moment of sending the broadcast, I sold exactly 134 copies of Directed by Purpose, my latest title. After three years of publishing, I could predict the future. This book was no blockbuster. It would not have brought me freedom from my day job.

I was hustling for four years. At the end of August I received June’s royalties, only €311. I had already had figures for the next two months. They weren’t any better.

For the last few months, I had been drawing from my day job salary to pay my business expenses. I was working hard for relatively small results.

The worst part was that I felt a growing distance among my family. It was my fault as well. I didn’t dedicate enough time to keep our relationships thriving. I was overwhelmed with work.

I didn’t intend to give up, but I desperately needed to limit my workload. Eliminating the publishing process was the obvious choice. Five rounds of editions and corrections were taxing like nothing else. I didn’t like this activity, it drained me. And the results didn’t justify my time investment.

 

I was touched by the response of my readers. There were a few voices of disappointment, but everyone declared their support of my decision to spend more time with my family.

The new chapter of my author career began. I had no idea how much better it would be.

The Income Report Breakdown

Income:
Amazon royalties: €196.95 ($220.58)
CreateSpace royalties: €116.24 ($130.19)
Draft2Digital royalties: $21.67
Coach.me fees: $48.73
Audiobooks royalties: $4.32

Total: $425.49

Costs:
$36.9, View From the Top Community fee
$29, Aweber fee
$265, Business on Purpose mastermind
$15.15, royalties split with co-author
$198.38, Amazon ads
$40, RA’s (RA = Real Assistant; my son 😉 ) remuneration
$65, cover for Directed by Purpose

Total: $649.43

Net Result: -$223.94


Previous Income Report: August 2016

Forty First Income Report – August 2016 (-$428.36)

Are you curious about a one-year delay? I explained it in my first income report.


The Slight Edge reportAugust 2016 was a very busy month for me. Not only had I tackled many additional projects, I also had publishing of the next book on my hands. The amount of activities that come into play with publishing a book causes me a headache on its own. How the heck I tackled half a dozen other tasks puzzles me to no end. But my journals don’t lie 😉
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Thirty Eigth Income Report – May 2016 (-$176.4)

Are you curious about a one-year delay? I explained it in my first income report.


The beginning of May 2016 was crazier than usual, and that means quite a lot coming from me.
38th Income Report May 2016During the first 6 days of May, I did a ton of prep work before the launch. I had been engaging my FB group; I wrote a book description and got it proofread.
I got the cover draft and put it for voting in various FB groups. I had been adding in the last-minute bullet points at the end of the chapters. I asked my friend to proofread those changes. I formatted the manuscript and created the draft version of the book in the KDP panel.
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Thirty Seventh Income Report – April 2016 (-$764.2)

Are you curious about a one-year delay? I explained it in my first income report.


Thirty Seventh Income Report April 2016April 2016 was focused around publishing Making Business Connections That Count.
Next to the everyday hustle of my day job and writing, I also completed a bunch of activities needed to publish a book.
I sent a broadcast to my email list asking for volunteers to beta-read the book. I incorporated their feedback and sent the manuscript to an editor. Continue reading

Thirty Sixth Income Report – March 2016 ($1012.92)

Are you curious about a one-year delay? I explained it in my first income report.


36th Income Report March 2016Life in March 2016 was routine and relatively uneventful.

I hustled as usual, though the amount of time needed for my day job was still challenging (I found a couple of entries in my journal mentioning work at night).

Quora

My main focus was still Quora. That seemed to be the right strategy.
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Thirty Fifth Income Report – February 2016 ($794.85)

Are you curious about a one-year delay? I explained it in my first income report.


views_16II2016At the very beginning of February 2016 I invested $200 into producing my first audiobook. I decided to create it for A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness, my first book ever published. It was very short, so I didn’t have to pay much 😉

Quora adventure continued

views_13II2016I was still excited by the traction I got on Quora. I remember noting in the middle of the month that I became the most viewed writer (meaning one of the top 10 writers) in Weight Loss category. I was busy also chasing another shiny badges and awards on Quora. Publishing there was so much fun!

In Early February I discovered a hack for repurposing my books’ content into Quora answers. For my books creation I used a very specific outlining process and its last step is filling the outline points with questions.

I discovered that it’s relatively easy (easier than trying to search relevant questions manually) to pair Quora questions with questions from my outlines. It saved me a lot of research time.

Publicity

I published a couple of guest posts in February. One was inspired by my Quora success. I also gave one or two podcasts interview.

On 17th of February I got an offer from a fellow author who met me in an authors group on Facebook. He wanted me to contribute to his book about writing. The book was going to be in form of interviews with authors. I gladly agreed and spent 4 days writing my answers to his interview questions.

Marketing

Inspired by Steve Scott I gave another shoot to getting on BookBub. I chiseled a nice comment and the answer was the same as always: nothing. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I quit on any new attempts for the whole next year.

Half-accidentally I discovered that adding readers’ reviews in Editorial Reviews section on a book page provides much higher conversion from browsers to buyers.
I added those reviews to The Art of Persistence page while preparing it for a BookBub pitch.

Then I noticed that the sales for this book increased out of the blue.
February 2016 Income ReportWell, “the blue” appeared to be editorial reviews. I started gradually adding this section to most of my books. Puzzling, but not all of them enjoyed the same effect of increased sales. I discovered why in September at last.

Taxes

I was preparing to include my royalties in my tax form for the first time. In 2014 I paid 30% of tax withholding and Amazon didn’t collect my Polish tax ID, so I saved myself the trouble and didn’t reveal to a tax office this income stream. In the end I wouldn’t have had to pay even a dime of taxes, because 30% was a way more than a starting author should pay. But in 2015 the withhold was only 10% and it was collected under my tax ID.

I phoned to a few accountant firms before one of them hesitantly agreed to have a look. When I met with them their people seemed to be as afraid of presenting this strange multinational atypical stream of income to a tax office as I was.

Also, both my accumulated incomes from Coach.me and Draft2Digital exceeded $100, so I decided it was high enough to bother with filling tax forms for them. I had to fill some US forms and provide my Polish tax ID. I managed to do that in February, but I was too late for the February payment for D2D.

Lent

Lent started early in 2015. I decided to attend breviary prayer at 6 am with my church community every day. The plan was (apart from obvious spiritual benefits) that it will force me to better organize my evenings and after the Lent I will be able to wake up 4 am every day and work for an hour or two on my business. The first phase went good.

The Income Report Breakdown

Income:
Amazon royalties: €791.72 ($878.81)
CreateSpace royalties: €77.56 ($86.09)
Coach.me fees from 2015 and January 2016: $186.5

Total: $1151.4

Costs:
$21.5, proofreading services Fiverr
$30, View From the Top Community fee
$29, Aweber fee
$40.40, royalties split with co-author
$200, audiobook of A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness
$4.9, Kindle business books of my mentors
$30.75, first month of Business on Purpose mastermind
Total: $356.55

Net Result: $794.85


Previous Income Report: January 2016

Thirty Fourth Income Report – January 2016 ($833.33)

Are you curious about a one-year delay? I explained it in my first income report.


Thirty fourth income report January 2016
January 2016 started on a high note. When I checked my sales on the 2nd, I found I’d sold over 100 copies on the 1st of January.

That was the first time ever that I’d sold over 100 copies of my books without any main event: a big promotion, book launch or participating in a book event. I did have two minor promos scheduled that day, but these had almost never worked for me in the past.

And it was still a ‘honeymoon period’ for Bulletproof Health and Fitness. Still, discovering these sales made my day. I bragged about it in a few author groups and fellow authors were very appreciative of my “achievement”.
Book sales continued at a decent level too, even when I finally increased the price of “Bulletproof…” Income wise it wasn’t a bad month at all.

I also sold the biggest number of print copies: all 39 of them! That was my record that held until August 2016.

Publishing

At the beginning of January, I finally submitted “Bulletproof’s…” manuscript on Draft2Digital. I didn’t do much else publishing-wise in January, apart from a few sessions tidying up some aspects of Book #14. I organized a few minor promos for the latest book, on top of ones I had previously scheduled. In their case all I had to keep an eye on what was happening and raise or lower prices as needed.

I was pleased there was little else I needed to do, because the frantic pace at my day job continued. I worked in the evenings and on the weekends. I was exhausted.

My Quora adventure

In December I had a foretaste of what success on Quora looks like. It exceeded my expectations. I got one nice surprise after another: one of my answers got 7,000 views in the first day; another one, that was buried under dozens of other answers, was suddenly dug out and put at the top of a huge thread; my blog posts from the beginnings of ExpandBeyondYourself were getting thousands of views.

That was a great ride.
I shared my results (and my joy!) in author groups on Facebook. I stirred some interest and inspired some followers. One of them got even better results than me. My Quora success drew attention of big fishes and at the end of the month I pitched a guest post idea to a couple of bloggers.

In the meantime, I kept writing for Quora and repurposing my old content for that platform.

Writing

Apart from Quora answers, I had been writing blog posts, email broadcasts, book reviews and guest posts.
I published a guest post on Marta Tuchowska’s Holistic Wellness Project. Actually, the post was published in February, but I finished and submitted it in January.

The Income Report Breakdown

Income:
Amazon royalties: €982.13 ($1079.24)
CreateSpace royalties: €39.85 ($43.83)

Total: $1123.07

Costs:
$10, BookTastic’s promo of Bulletproof Health and Fitness
$21.5, proofreading services Fiverr
$30, View From the Top Community fee
$29, Aweber fee
$35.35, royalties split with co-author
$121, my editor’s share in Know Yourself Like Your Success Depends on It first 3 months profits
$40.4, a print copy of Derek Doepker’s Break Through Your BS
$2.84, a Kindle copy of Quora Domination
Total: $289.74

Net Result: $833.33


Previous Income Report: December 2015

Thirty Third Income Report – December 2015 ($181.04)

Are you curious about a one-year delay? I explained it in my first income report.

Thirty third income report December 2015It would have been quite a standard month, even dull, if not for one thing:
QUORA!

The previous month, I had started preparing for a big opening on Quora. I’d heard people were getting a lot of momentum on that platform, but I didn’t really expect what happened.
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