As customary, every December, I put together a recap of what I spent, what I made, and what I want to do in the next year. 2017 in review is kind of like a stockholder sharing meeting, as everyone who buys a book is essentially investing in the Sush brand. And it’s also for my fellow indies so they can see if they’re doing better, worse, or about the same. It doesn’t include everything I spent, but these are the so-called “big rocks.”
Advertising Costs: $2400
With only two new books this year, I spent a lot of money both preparing for #DemonSpring and pimping out my existing series. I also began investing in growing my newsletter subscribers, hoping that if I scooped up more freebie seekers, they’d continue on to buy the rest of my series. I’m bummed to report that many freebie seekers are just that–freebie seekers. I saw no noticeable improvement in sales via Instafreebie giveaways. But that’s why we try things, right?
I also got a BookBub. So let’s just let that sink in for a minute. Because it’s kind of a BFD. But since my ad ran in November, the sales and impact will show up in 2018’s report. I ended up making around 4x what I invested (so far), so it was absolutely a great investment.
Book Production Cost: $1200
With only three books to worry about this year, my book production costs went way down from last year. In fact, I think the majority of this is just editing costs really. Although I didn’t enjoy the publishing pause from an income perspective, I did like having the chance to write all three books at once, get my marketing squared away, and have a chance to breathe—oh, who am I kidding? I started on Lexie as soon as DS was done…
Event Costs: $5,000
I really pulled back on events this year, especially in the second half of the year. And although I spent $5k (including the cost of books), I also made $5,000, so I ended up really close to even.
While part of that is not doing as many events, I’m doing a better job of knowing which events are worth my time and which aren’t. I bowed out of RT convention this year (losing my $200 deposit, sadly), as I didn’t have a table and I didn’t see the value. My one big travel event to Phoenix turned into a bit of a mess, too. Those two shows accounted for the only money-losers of the year, which is a pretty big feat.
Right now, I’m eyeing four big ones for 2018: Pensacon, Houston, Tulsa with my crabs TS Barnett and Michelle Kay, and Baltimore in September. Maybe Grand Rapids in November, and a couple local(ish) ones. However, if you wanna get my butt to your hometown convention, let me know! I am always looking to visit new cities.
General Business: $1050
This includes things like credit card fees, my annual web hosting fees, legal business stuff, etc. Happily, SGR-P’s freelancing arm has been super busy this year, and I’ve been able to divert a lot of that cash into the business account.
Total Sales: $7700
So I ended up losing about $2500 this year in the business, which is an improvement from the last couple of years. But I also made less money than last year, too. Publishing just two new titles this year was a big reason for that, but I also think this year in general was SLOW for eBook sales. Perhaps we were all too busy worrying about nuclear annihilation or calling our representatives, telling them to quit screwing with our health insurance.
Event Sales: $5600
I did have some of my best events ever. AwesomeCon was…in a nutshell, Awesome (scheduling conflicts made me miss the deadlines this year). Kansas City is another one that conflicts with my 2018 schedule, but I’ll absolutely be back. And my two local staples, Pensacon and CreativeCon continue to be well-run, productive shows. The balance is, of course, making sure not to spend more than I make.
eBook Sales: $1200
Google Play: $75
From the eBook perspective, I really did see a HUGE slump in sales–and I was disappointed to see that all the money I spent on growing my list didn’t help me one bit during my Insider Special. However, I have begun to focus more on free newsletter swaps with other authors, so we’ll see how that works out. Just based on the BookBub results, I’ll be off to a running start next year, so I think 2018 will be much better.
Also, I’m testing Kindle Unlimited again for the Urban Fantasy (since it’s a KU-dominated genre). And with four releases, I should be back on the upward trend here. I’d like for my ebook sales to match my event sales in terms of volume, and that’s one of my main goals for 2018.
Stock Paperback Sales: $1100
Happily, paperbacks keep selling, and the Demon Spring Insider Special was a nice late-year boost. I do like being able to sell copies from the website, especially as I get the cash immediately, and I get to send books with little gifts and signed notes. And as I don’t sell enough paperbacks to make major muscle moves on the bestseller charts like I do eBooks, and I’ve got a pretty good system rolling.
The really, really nice thing about pausing this year was I got so far ahead for 2018. Demon Spring is done, scheduled, ready to roll. All I have to do is show up and upload books during the year. I was also able to knock out the third Lexie book, and am slowly working my way through the fourth book. Those will be out October 2018 and January 2019 respectively. Depending on how the year goes, and how sales continue to rise or fall, I may do something fun to celebrate the final two books. The Insider Special didn’t quite work out as well as I thought, so I’m rethinking how I do preorder promotions.
I’ve also come to accept that I may not make a living on royalties alone. That’s alleviated a lot of pressure to perform, and allowed me to focus on trying to make the business self-sustaining. Having five different series–four of which are fully paid-for (meaning, I’ve recouped the initial investment in cover design and promotions)–means there’s more profit opportunity. When I go to events, I’m paying for the event, instead of the event plus editing plus, plus, plus.
So for 2018, my goals are pretty simple: continue to grow audience and experiment with new ideas. Keep up on trends on where people are hearing about new books. Try to resist the urge to spend money on events I know won’t be beneficial (or at least make a vacation out of it). Shoot for another BookBub. Continue working it on SGR-Pub’s freelancing arm. Try to figure out the magic formula to get the books to start paying for themselves, and then pay me.
Here’s to a brand new year!