Yeah, I'm still trying to make money by making up stories. It's been a while since I posted one of these share-the-knowledge posts. I've been in a "see how things play out" kind of a place for the last few months, but it's getting to the point where I have a few decisions to make and it'll be helpful to get the state of my union down in writing. I'm sharing it because there's still a lot of bullshit pertaining to self-publishing on the internet. I have a lot of writer-friends and I don't want anyone to be losing opportunities because I didn't share information. I also especially don't want to be projecting a false image of success. I'd feel bad if anyone made the leap I've made on the basis of thinking that I'm doing better than I am.
So here's how things look. We'll start with expenses. I've been releasing a new project every three months for almost two years now. Even considering that some of those releases have been novellas and not full novels, that's not a pace I'll be able to continue forever. I've been able to write about 100K finalized words a year at my current pace. When I've tried to increase my pace, I've ended up having to spend more time revising and have pretty much ended back where I started, so let's assume that future improvements are going to go towards quality rather than quantity. That means that once things settle down I'll be able to put out about two books a year. Using the sneaky free copy-editing trick I mentioned in my last post, that means that my main unavoidable expense in putting those books out is book covers, which at the moment average out to about $300 a pop. So book covers cost about $600 a year.
My other two main subscriptions are my Mailchimp account (which manages my mailing list) and my Instafreebie account (which is overwhelmingly where my mailing list signups come from). Not paying for these any more is an option, but has consequences I'll talk about later. Mailchimp costs me $25 a month and might cost more eventually once my list gets big enough. Instafreebie costs $20 a month, plus about $10 a month in advertising/promotion so that I get enough people taking my free stuff and joining my mailing list to make it worth it. That's about $55 a month, which adds up to $660.
So my baseline expenses are $1260 a year, $105 dollars a month. There are plenty of other things to spend money on, specifically advertising and conventions, but I'm becoming cynical about both and in any case they're easy expenses to scale up or down at will, so let's stick with book covers plus mailing list for right now. There are also ways these fixed expenses could be reduced or eliminated depending on whatever the New Plan ends up being. I'll talk about those as they come up. I'll also talk about the costs involved in printing up paperbacks. For right now, let's just say that I'm $105 a month in the hole before I start making any money.
Good stopping point, I think. Next time we talk revenue.