3rd Quarter 2018 Income Report (and more!)

It’s official, we are in the last quarter of the year!

Honestly, it has been a great year. Especially when I think of how my attitude towards writing and publishing has changed. It’s gone from…

“I make no money, I’ll never make any money.”

To…

“Holy crap, I’m making money at this.”

To…

“How much do I need to write to make a living at this?”

To…

“Do I want to chase the almighty dollar bills, or do I want/need to write less (with better quality) and be the mom and wife I need to be?”

Lots of changes, but with it has come some amount of clarity. I’ll explain…

Earnings for This Quarter

July Payout: $14.76 from CreateSpace (paperback sales) and $119.41 from Amazon (ebook sales and page reads)

August Payout: $31.20 from CreateSpace (paperback) and $307.06 from Amazon (ebook sales and page reads)

September Payout: $204.05 from Amazon (ebook sales and page reads) and $2.95 from Draft2Digital (ebook sales)

Total income from 3rd Quarter 2018 (Book sales that occurred from May 2018 through July 2018 and were paid out from July through September): $679.46

This is an increase from 2nd Quarter 2018 (book sales that from February 2018 through April 2018 and were paid out April through June) where I was paid a total of: $237.72

And an increase from 1st Quarter (book sales that from November through January 2018 and were paid out January through March) where I was paid a total of: $414.01

My average income across the year so far has been about $5.58 per day every day of the year. Obviously, I have a ways to go.

Going Wide

I made the decision to give up exclusivity with Amazon and go wide. I did this knowing that I would no longer be able to reap the benefits of the Kindle Unlimited page reads, but I am hoping that I will gain a following on other ebook platforms.

Limiting myself to just Amazon did not seem to be in my best interest.

This Is Where I Need to Be…in Two Years

I’m the financial planner of the family and I have budgets lined up for years in the future, taking into account conservative estimates on my husband’s pay raises, on our potential income as landlords of one (and soon to be three) rental properties, and more.

In my August 2020 budget (yes, I really do plan ahead!), I have scheduled myself to stop cleaning houses and also to begin tapping the writing income I’m currently accumulating. Just $200 per month is what I have listed, and I’m pretty close to being at where I need to be in two years. My average monthly income so far this year is $147.22, but the last two months have been over, or right at $200 per month. That’s with a majority of my sales being generated from Get Organized, Stay Organized.

I plan to roll out a 2020 update on Get Organized, Stay Organized with more bonus content based on my monthly newsletter advice as well.

So, all in all, things are looking good.

Lessons Learned

A little less than a year ago, I decided to up my game. I was determined to get more subscribers, write a ton of content, and sell a zillion books.

And less than a year later, I have learned a couple of things about myself.

#1 – My creativity does not perform well under pressure.

Honestly it has felt stilted and contrived, a place no writer wants to be.

#2 – My desire to spend time with my daughter and craft a well-rounded life in our home insists on less writing not more.

I can’t go back in time, and staring at tomorrow instead of today does little to raise my daughter, whose formative years mean so much to me. I know that, after the next six years, I’ll have more than enough time to write and fill my days with words. But for now, I’ve got a tween to raise and homeschool.

#3 – I need to set the foundation in place in order to unleash the creative focus.

I’ve talked about it before, but the way I plan on managing this is through our rental properties. My husband likes that saying “Hang on to land, they aren’t making more of it,” and he is definitely on target. I’m a woman with a mission – but my plan for the two properties on either side of us means setting into place a foundation that provides evergreen income for the rest of our lives. Once I’ve done that, my days will be open to more writing.

Writing Is My Secret Weapon

I’ve also said this before, but really, when you think about it, writing is my not-so-secret weapon. It is the unknown that could change everything. Did Andy Weir realize he had a bestseller on his hand when he was writing The Martian? If so, putting it on his website for people to read for free was an odd choice. No, he just wanted his story read, and if getting it read meant putting it on Amazon so folks could download it easily, that worked for him.

He turned around twice and had a publisher on his doorstep and sales out the wazzoo.

And even if that never happens for me, it’s okay. No really, it is okay.

I’ll admit it, I read about Mark Dawson’s $80k months and really, really wanted just a fraction of that. What could I do with $10k a month in sales?!

Don’t get me started, it’s like dreaming of winning the lottery.

But so much hinges on the whimsies of fate, that perfect combination of phenomenal writing, timing, and the interests of just the right readers and reviewers. It feels like I’ve been tasked with capturing lightning in a bottle.

I’d rather be content. I remember a coaching client once telling me that she shared that dream, one of contentment, with her father and he replied, rather scathingly, “What, you want to be a cow? Cows are content, they chew their cud and stare at the world vacantly!”

She said it with a great deal of hurt. Decades later, his words still had the power to wound her. But here, midway through my life, I understand the sentiment. The drive to change the world has faded. I just want to live peaceably, comfortably, and let the winds of fate blow someone else around.

That said, if anything is going to drastically change my plans in the next few decades, it will be in the writing arena. And if it comes, I will welcome it, I’m just not betting my future on it.

Income Report – 1st Quarter 2018

You are going to read these numbers and probably…

  • feel sorry for me
  • cluck your tongue and say, “Wow, that’s, um, that’s all?”
  • ask me why I bother
  • firmly commit to never quitting your day job in order to write books
  • ask why haven’t tried my luck with a publisher

The answer would be long, tedious, and possibly short-tempered on my part – for now, I’ll simply say this…

Someday, I’m going to look back at these numbers, smile, and pat myself on the back for my persistence. I’ll remind myself that, despite the frustration and despair I felt at times, and occasionally admitted to publicly, I have surpassed all of my own expectations.

It will happen.

So below is my income report for the first three months of this year. As a reminder, Amazon pays out nearly three full months after the sales. So these totals are for November and December 2017 and January 2018. They were paid out in January through March 2018.

January 2018 (sales from November 2017) gross income: $123.30

February 2018 (sales from December 2017) gross income: $203.91

March 2018 (sales from January 2018) gross income: $127.41

Total for 1st Quarter 2018: $454.62

At this point, I’m only tracking gross income. Why? Because what I’m spending on cover design, marketing, and ads campaigns is probably eradicating my profit margin and taking it down to almost zero.

I’m still learning the marketing side of things and hope to fine-tune it over this coming year.

Writing My Future Fund

At the end of January, I started a new bank account with Goldman Sachs. It’s online and highly convenient. I just add up all of the various payments from Amazon (they send one from each country and a separate one for my paperbacks POD in CreateSpace – typically I have four in total) and then transfer that amount into my savings account. It’s also earning 1.5% interest, better than any local bank.

When my income grows to at least $3,000 per month and it holds there for at least three months OR I have $6,000 in my Write My Future savings account, then I can quit cleanings and start writing full-time. Basically, I need to have a net income of $2,000 per month to stop running my cleaning biz on the side.

I’m following my dreams – but I’m doing it in a responsible (and realistic) manner.

So when you add the total for the quarter with interest earned on the savings account, it comes out to a total of $455.19. Divide that number by $6,000 and I’m 7 1/2% of the way towards my goal.

I’m hoping that will snowball soon as my sales slowly rise.

Writing is My Secret Weapon

The other day, as I cleaned two big cleanings, back-to-back, my mind kept replaying these words…

Writing is my secret weapon.

Well, maybe it isn’t a weapon. Nor is it secret, but, well, you get my drift. Or maybe you don’t, so I will explain better.

Writing is kind of like the last frontier of exploration.

  • My husband makes the most money he can make with the education he currently has
  • I clean as many houses as my body can possibly handle right now
  • I make a little more on the side by caring for my elderly father and occasionally teaching classes
  • We can’t make money on our rental houses until they are ready to be rented (another $50-60k in renovations – or approximately 2 1/2 years and 4 1/2 years respectively to completion)

In other words, if I want more money – I need to figure out how to make my writing pay.

My writing is my secret weapon. It’s been primed, well-oiled, and assembled. Now I just need to get it out there.

Word Count and Making Words Count

I promised monthly short stories beginning in January. And I have delivered. The last one I have finished is due to go out in a day or two in the April newsletter. But then I’m out of new material. The advance planner in me is panicked. I only have a month until the next short story is due!

So I’ll probably be stopping on the manuscripts long enough to write 3-4 stories, thus calming my obsessive over-wrought “I must deliver on time!” mind.

Meanwhile, I’ve been making progress in plotting out the story arc of Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World (the sequel to Gliese 581: The Departure).

My main emphasis for the past two weeks is The Hired Gun, book one of The Hired Gun series. And I’ve identified 29 chapters, have written ten, and I’m currently at 30k words. So the book is approximately 1/3 done.

Food for Thought

I have this book in the bathroom, The Little Zen Companion by David Schiller. It’s short and sweet, which is good because I’m not looking for an opus while sitting on the throne.

I read this quote this morning and thought of writing:

“Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.”

-Leonard Cohen-

Something to think about.

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Look Ma! It’s Working!

I have approximately 48 hours left in Facebook jail to go. As the hours and days of my six day sentence have ticked by I’ve spent much of that time writing in my blogs, reading about marketing tips and tricks, crafting tweets on Twitter, and obsessively (oh yes, OBSESSIVELY) checking my stats on Kindle Unlimited.

I have to say that, for me, Kindle Unlimited appears to be the way to go. To be able to offer your book for sale through KU, you have to check that box for KDP Select and agree to not market your book elsewhere.*

*Don’t try to be sneaky and get around it, they WILL find out and then ban you from selling on Amazon.

Every morning (and sometimes multiple times during the day) I have been checking the reports section. It looks like this:

The top graph is actual ebooks delivered. See the blue lines? Those indicate free books. I gave away over 1,400 in five days, so that massive number dominates and you can’t actually see the ebooks sold in the days since. I only sold four, but that has netted me $7.87 in royalties.

Let’s talk about that little number for a moment. I am charging $2.99 for the ebook and getting a 70% royalty for it from Amazon due to exclusivity. If I published through a traditional publisher, the most I would get on any paperback sale would be around 90 cents to one dollar. Instead, I’m getting twice that.

The second graph is Kindle Unlimited page reads. Readers sign up and pay $9.99 per month to be able to read “all you can eat” of the thousands of books in the KU section. Amazon pays authors $.00488 per page read, so my Gliese book is approximately 310 pages long or $1.51 once it is read cover to cover.

Write a shitty book that no one finishes? You will make little or no money. I say little or no because I believe that the reader has to make it to at least the 25th page before Amazon will begin crediting the pages read so far. So if you write an unbelievably shitty book and 90% of folks make it to page ten and quit, you get ZERO for those folks and only get paid for that last ten percent. And did those folks like it? Will they write a nice review? Or even finish it?

In any case, you get my point.

And being that I’m obsessive, especially about money and where it is going and how much is coming in, I created this little chart in Excel that I can update daily…

You will notice that folks started reading the book through the KU program on Day 2 of my free giveaway for Gliese 581: The Departure. I ran the free book giveaway from 11/1 through 11/5. On 11/6 through 11/9 I was promoting both Gliese and War’s End: The Storm. On the 10th, early in the morning, is when I managed to land myself in Facebook jail by posting 70 links to  War’s End: The Storm in a rather quick manner (just under an hour).

Now the sequel to  War’s End: The Storm – War’s End: A Brave New World has not been marketed at all – and yet is has page views. Here is a view of just that book…

So, $2.03 in page reads. Income grown organically by writing a book that someone found compelling enough to read the sequel to immediately after finishing the first.

All in all, my tiny little simple goal of making $1 per day for this month looks like it will be exceeded if things keep going the way they are. I have two more days left to serve before I can return to marketing my books through the promo groups on Facebook.

Two more days to craft at least four different book blurbs for each of my books. Two more days to Tweet away and plan my next promo days. And possibly, if I can fit it in, actually write during that time as well.

As I reach the halfway point in the month, my goals for November are:

  • Reach and exceed an average income of $1 per day on my writing
  • Build my Twitter, Facebook page, author website and newsletter audience
  • Market daily
  • Write daily

What are yours?!

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I write about everything from gardening to community, education, the writing process, DIY, and more. I maintain four blogs, write fiction and non-fiction books, and I am a community educator.

Click here to join the email list and receive ONE monthly newsletter that will provide you will all of the links to my blogs, updates on my writing projects as well as book promotions and special pricing.

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Income Goals

These Dreams

As soon as I typed those two words, I suddenly had Heart’s lyrics running through my head…

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside

But the reality is, I’m excited. It feels as if I woke up finally. I have FIVE books on Amazon. FIVE. Why am I not promoting the hell out of them?

And with just a few minutes a day of marketing on the Facebook groups, I’m seeing results. And that is just from ONE of those books I’ve written.

Now granted, according to everyone who has read it and reported back to me, Gliese 581: The Departure is probably my best book yet. However, letting the others sit out there, languishing, is silly. And now that I see that, I’m making some changes around here!

One Dollar a Day

“For just one dollar a day, your donation can feed a starving child in Africa…”

Apparently, lyrics aren’t the only thing bubbling out of my brain when I write subtitles.

But seriously, I need to start somewhere, right?

My huge short-term goal is to replace the income I make cleaning houses (currently anywhere from $1300 – $1650 per month) with income from my writing. But I have no idea how long that will take – weeks, months, years?

So I am starting with a far more simpler goal – I want to make $1 per day on my writing.

Kindle Unlimited to the Rescue!

Halfway through the free book giveaway on Gliese 581: The Departure, I noticed that that second line on the picture above, which indicates pages read through Kindle Unlimited had suddenly shown movement. Someone who was a member of Kindle Unlimited must have seen my book and instead of clicking on the Read Book for Free button, had instead simply began reading it under the Kindle Unlimited section.

This meant income for me.

How much income?

Well, not a huge amount in the bigger scheme of things – around $.004 per page. Yep, four tenths of a cent per page. But that has added up. In fact, it has added up to over $1.00 per day so far in November.

In the past 20 minutes I watched today’s number of pages read jump from 168 to 184 – so someone is reading Gliese 581: The Departure at this very moment, somewhere in the world.

And here is where I think I’m going to make my money.

The Nitty Gritty

I’ve already put it in the budget – so that means it exists as an expectation, a goal, and a driving force to get that marketing done every day. I’ve got a list of 368 Facebook pages I can promote in. Not all of them apply, some are for specific genres, some only allow book promotions on certain days or a certain number per day or week, so it isn’t me flooding the FB groups, all 368 of them, each day. More like 20-40 per day. And it takes about 20 minutes to do. I’ve got it down to a science of copying, pasting, updating my files and moving on.

And that’s just Facebook. I’m also reading up on other angles of attack to see what else I can get into. Podcasts focusing on authors, that’s going to be a big one.

Bigger Goals

One dollar a day is just the start. It’s a goal that I can accomplish in a short amount of time and it will also give me an idea of how quickly I can accomplish Goal #2 – Five dollars per day ($150/month), which I have set in my future budget as beginning in April 2018.

I guess another way to look at it would be that I will be trying to add another $1 per day on to my income each month. December $2/day, January $3/day, February $4/day, March $5/day – with at least a month of leeway in case things don’t move that quickly.

Goal #3 then expects $10 per day ($300/month) by October of next year and then Goal #4 would be $50 per day ($1,500/month). I don’t have a date expectation on that last one, but it will coincide with me stepping away from cleaning houses and instead focusing entirely on writing for my monthly income.

The end goal would obviously be a much higher amount than just $1500 per month in writing income, but I like to keep my short-term goals small and achievable. After all, I’m talking about taking my current income of $1 per day to $50 per day in a rather short timespan, maybe less than two years.

In short, I think that it is achievable and rather exciting to finally be turning my sights onto writing for a living!

Email Newsletter

I write about everything from gardening to community, education, the writing process, DIY, and more. I maintain four blogs, write fiction and non-fiction books, and I am a community educator.

Click here to join the email list and receive ONE monthly newsletter that will provide you will all of the links to my blogs, updates on my writing projects as well as book promotions and special pricing.

Your email will NEVER be sold or shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.