Archive for the ‘Financials’ Category

More nitty gritty. Also, thoughts on KU.

I put the books back on KU today.

As I’ve mentioned before, there were many months where KU was the sole source of income and it seems silly to spit in the face of that. I have a theory that it’s easier to gain traction if you have more books to pave your way. This may or may not be accurate, but it makes sense, so I’m running with it for now.

Asides from the theory of having a sufficient library of works making it easier to build up interest and therefore make going wide make sense, there’s also a whole slew of things that I need to be doing before I can go wide. Other than writing more books, I need to:

1. update the back matter of my current books to reflect things like newsletter sign up, links to other books, etc. This requires learning some other things like updating my site, installing plug-ins, and some code.

2. learn how to format my own books (this might …take me a long time)

3. learn macros and etc for my word processors

4. …and edit Phoenix Chosen for the typos that were missed the first 20 rounds of edits. There’s apparently at least two instances of Aedrian being surnamed MacKenna rather than McKenna. *sigh* As I said, brain-fatigue is a killer. Do not die.

5. put a contact form on the website and in fact, update the website

A couple of things therefore complicate the matter.

I’m currently living with my parents while we try a variety of different things to address the health issues. I am getting better day by day. Right now 2016 is treating me very well. I’m about 13k in on the rewrite of Phoenix Awoken over the past 6 days and I have high hopes that I might be able to finish a rough draft before the end of the month. That’s huge for me.

I cannot expect to live off my parents indefinitely. I have issues with how things as it is, because believe me, there is little more uncomfortable for an outwardly abled person to tell everyone in their family who asks that their current day job is “healing”. Even if it is absolutely fair and true.

Once I get sufficiently well to hold down a normal day job and be self-sufficient, I will be doing my best to do so. Therefore my gravy train does have an end station and it is (hopefully) in sight. I hear back from the grad schools I applied to for my masters in interpretation and translation around March or April. I then go back to the US to pack up my remaining stuff in preparation for my parents selling their home. I return to Taiwan at the end of July and from there I will either go to school or find a job.

To be honest, I don’t know if I will be able to write with any amount of clarity or speed when I’m doing other full time things with my life, even if my health does improve at its current speed. Right now I have about 2.5 to 3 hours of brain / activity time before my energy and focus start sliding sideways. That’s after more than six months of whatever I’m doing to try and fix things. If the trajectory holds, I will have 6 or 8 hours by July next year, which might cover me for school/job but maybe not quite. There’s a lot less spoons associated with writing in your jammies than navigating Real Life ™ with things like rush hour traffic, bosses, and so forth.

Therefore, I can only conclude that it would make more sense for me to try and write as much as I can while the support net is still in place and then worry about learning things like coding and formatting later, since theoretically all that is something that will be more amenable to being done on lower brain power and piecemeal.

It will be good if I’m doing something that feels productive towards my writing even if the learning curve is super steep while I’m doing other adulting things.

… so for now it’s going to be KU. I’m really sorry for whoever wants to buy my book but is thwarted by Amazon either not being in your area or a very reasonable hatred for all things Amazon, but right now it looks like KU is what’s best for me.

If you are unable to get a copy of my book, drop me a line and I’ll send you a copy. No strings. Just let me know.


Let’s talk financials

Because why not? I like to think that I’m a scientist at heart, except, you know, without all that rigorous attention to detail and obsession over statistics and sample sizes. Also, this is a set up post to discuss KU and writerly plans and suggestions.

Joking aside, I do think financial transparency* is a great thing and it puts things into perspective. (all separate links to various authors talking money) Like how someone can be a famous enough YouTuber to be mobbed at the Starbucks at which they work, yet be working at said Starbucks. Or how many entertainers can have a zillion (made up number) followers and yet still be eating instant noodles.

We consistently hear about the outliers, the E.L Jameses, Amanda Hockings, J. K. Rowlings of the publishing world and we also hear of their counterparts, the starving artists who make less than $1000 a year. But what about the rest of the authorial world? The silently toiling masses who (maybe?) neither starve nor feast?

Spoiler: for now, count me amongst the ones who would be starving if we were talking writing income alone

But I figure if enough authors came out with numbers, then we would have a better idea of what’s going on. Not a clear idea, oh no, because then we get into variables like luck, time spent, words written, books published, award nominations, sheer crazy, people known, money/effort spent on promotion, hours on your knees in front of your patron deity of choice, etc.

But a better idea.

And that’s all science really is, isn’t it? More pieces to the puzzle.

So, as Jim Hines said, sample size of one and all that. Shall we?

I published Phoenix Chosen in 2014. My first deposit from Amazon was on 11/28 for 20.68. If I only count digital sales, then I made 38.06 in 2014. If I count print-on-demand as well, which I’m disinclined to do because I’m fairly certain all the POD sales were to my parents, then I made 52.82 for 2014.

Considering the initial outlay was in the thousands, count me very deeply in the hole.

Ariagne was published March 29th 2015.

As I’ve said before, it did pretty well. Much better overall in terms of paid downloads and pages read than Phoenix Chosen did. Again, I’m not sure if it was because of pricing, genre, better/more accessible writing, amount of incense burned, etc. However, that doing well didn’t spill over into PC buys that I could see.

There’s this beautiful $78 dollar deposit at the end of June, but I’m not sure what’s going on there because the release was near two months ago, etc. That was the highest single month income ever, btw.

If I only count digital income, then I made 168.99 in 2015. If I count POD as well, then the number goes up to 221.52. I’d say at least 50 to 60% of that is KU income. There were some months where it was KU only and some months where there was no income at all. Hence, btw, my putting the books back in KU. More on that later.

I didn’t keep proper notes on KU versus buys in 2015, which I will be remedying in 2016 so as to give a clearer picture of the going wide versus going KU route. Keeping in mind, of course, KU right now seems to favor longer works, assuming you keep your audience’s interest. Ariagne is estimated to be about 169 pages and Phoenix Chosen is about 350 or something  thereabouts.

If I don’t count the immense hole I dug for myself with Phoenix Chosen, then technically I’m about $20 in the black for 2015. I think I spent around $200 for formatting, the ebook cover, and website costs. I spent other money that I should probably be counting as well, like the 5 pack of covers from, but I’m not for the purposes of making myself feel good about myself. *grin*

I like the thought of being in the black. Well, insofar as the art paid for itself to be put out there. In terms of anything else? Naaaaah.

But let’s drill down further.

I adored Phoenix Chosen’s cover. I also loved the work the formatter did, especially on the print version. And let’s not forget the editing.

However, none of that came particularly cheaply.

When I hit publish in 2014, I had a day job. So it was easy to make the decision to pay for a $600 dollar cover and $835 for ebook and print formatting (most of that for print, IIRC). I also paid $250 for content editing and proofreading. Btw, I made 67.29 total for both years for the POD books, making the decision to go print somewhat fiscally irresponsible. **

It is nice to have a nice solid thing to chunk at someone when they ask “so what have you accomplished with this writing thing?”, however. Might be worth it just for ….nah. It’s not. It’s sweet and all to have a hard cover copy of your book and all, but….

I’m generously not counting all the incidentals like cost of website hosting, banner graphic art, wordpress theme to help me set up the site, etc, that I paid for that year. Yes, it’s on my list for “how much am I in the hole?” but not as salient for our purposes right now.

However, in 2015 I knew I was heading into no-income land due to health issues. And PC, much as I loved the end product, hadn’t come within the solar system of paying for itself much less earning profit.

Therefore, with Ariagne, I made very different decisions. IIRC, the cover cost me around $80, the formatting I got someone to do for $20 off Fiverr***, and I relied on non-paid editing services****.  Website hosting was about $100 or so.

Which, in passing, one has to wonder, all things considered, if I shouldn’t go back to a free site…?

So. Decisions. The nitty gritty. My pride and foibles, etc.

Anyway, that’s 2015. We’ll see how 2016 goes.




* I find it vastly amusing that in the comments there was the ubiquitous person who goes “self-publishing is the way to go! there, shall you find salvation and toilets of pure gold!” More on this later, but suffice to say, no, SP is great and all, but it is not the way to salvation or being able to shit on gold.

** Yes, yes, the clear take home message here is to either find cheaper people to outsource things to, or to do it all myself. Like I said, variables. YMMV. I happen to be a complete novice at graphic art, don’t seem to have sculptable amounts of talent, and little spoons.

*** Yes, yes, digital sweatshops, outsourcing work that drives down the price of what people in the US can get paid for, etc. I feel terrible. I do. But needs must. And speaking as someone living in a country where $20 is a hella lot of money, hey, I’d work for a fiver too.

**** The thing is, this was only really possible because Ariagne was 1. a much shorter book 2. a much less complicated book. I do not think that I can safely do this for Phoenix Awoken without either A. imposing too much on my friends, even with barter and B. having a lot things slip through the cracks that later end up making me cry. As it is, despite PC going through multiple rounds of eyes, some of whom were paid to look at it, things still slipped through. I’m convinced that a novel needs at least three professional editors at this point because brain-fatigue is a real and scary thing.