I've been reviewing my book sales numbers, to make sure I'm reporting every penny to the unemployment thingy (you're supposed to type in how much money you made when you file once a week - this week was my last), and was astounded to find that this year to date I actually made more money via donations as opposed to via book sales! Of course I tweeted about it, and Facebooked, and everything, and a bunch of folks asked me to blog about it in depth, so here you go. Today is a tough day for me, both because 9/11 tragedy shook me to the bone, and because 9/11 is my dad's birthday and I can't call him because he basically cut me out of his life about 4 years ago, when I confronted him about sexually abusing me. So, I refuse for this to pull me down into depression and I want to celebrate my achievement as a writer today, both in honor of 9/11 victims and in my personal victory over suicide, to celebrate life, and to celebrate my readers who are supporting me as an artist directly, something that is largely unheard of in the book publishing business. I honestly don't know where this is going, and I only have enough savings to last me another 6 months (my trip to Russia cut that down significantly), but I'll keep giving my ebooks away for FREE, and I will keep updating you on my crazy journey as a writer. Well then, without further ado, my money story.
Starting January 2013, I made $2,170, with 62% donations, 38% sales. I self-published the little book of my tweets, Blue Sparrow, on May 10th, so any money I made before that was purely donations, and they were supposed to sponsor my book signing trip that never happened. I got about $600 for that, and it's still reserved for it, once I have time and if I manage to make more money to actually afford a trip. So you can view this money report as if it's for 5 months, May - September. Of course, $2,170 is nothing is the big scope of things, and $2K is how much money I need a month to live on. But because I also spent money on purchasing physical books for my store, and for paying for this website, and paying for extended distribution rights, and various other services (like Batchbook where I track over 300 of my beta readers), plus shipping materials and shipping cost, which I grossly overestimated and ended up paying up to $30 for international shipping (where I only charge $15 for it), I ended up only making $163 of profit from that $2,170, which is, of course, not enough to live on.
I sold 60 paperbacks on my site, 35 ebooks and 22 paperbacks on Amazon. Since Blue Sparrow is just a little book of tweets, I'm not including it in this statistic. I self-published Siren Suicides on August 10th of this year, so, 1 month ago, and so far I don't know how many free ebooks have been downloaded from my site (have no way of tracking it - am looking into installing Google Analytics), but I have sold total 117 books. In 1 month. I know it's nothing, in terms of sales, but what's curious is the breakdown of how much I sold where. It turns out I sold more signed paperbacks from my site, as opposed to from Amazon. This month, now that I'm back from Russia and back into my routine, I will also upload Siren Suicides to other distribution channels, like Scribd and Kobo and such, for free. I will be able to track numbers there, and shall have more to report soon. But so far the trend is showing me that, one, I make more money via donations, and, two, I sell more books from my own store. Curious, eh?
Despite the fact that I'm giving ebooks away for free, people still buy them! This was the biggest concern of everyone when I told people I will be giving my books away for free. People asked, how exactly will you make money? Why are you doing this? You are crazy?!? Well, I explain in detail here why I'm doing this. But, look, I am starting to prove that I can make money while giving my books away for free, see? It's happened to the music industry. CD's became promotional material to be given away for free. People pay real money for concerts, buy t-shirts at concerts, etc. I'm doing the same. I give away my books like promotional material. If people like my writing, they buy paperbacks like a souvenir of sorts, that's why I sell more signed books than paperbacks on Amazon. And so far I haven't been invited to come out to some event to talk, but I have a feeling I will, and that is sort of like a music concert, right? So far I've been asked to do numerous interviews, like, right now, I'm 3 written interviews behind, and have one Skype one later tonight. See the trend?
I plan to support myself for 3 years by any means, before I will really make money. So, this is not some wisdom from someone who has done it before, because I don't know anyone who is doing what I'm doing, except Amanda Palmer in the music space. If you know of anyone, can you please tell me in comments? I would love to connect! But my thinking is based in what Hemingway said, something along the lines of, if you write for 3 years, and nobody is paying you money for your writing by the end of 3 years, quit it and do something else. I started writing full time in May of 2012, I'm not expecting to make any money until May of 2015, at least, not enough money to live on. If by then I'm still not making enough to live on, well, I will sit down and reevaluate my life. By now I'm so addicted to writing, that I don't know if I can do anything else. We shall see. This month I have a consulting gig with a company, helping them with their social media presence. I'm only working 4 Mondays a month, making enough money to live on for 1 month. I have shifted my schedule so that I'm writing on Saturdays and only taking Sundays off. It will be tough, but, hey, I can't complain, I'm making money! I don't know if they will like me enough to invite me to do more work. If they won't, I was thinking about doing a Kickstarter in March, to raise money to write 3 more books. It takes me 4 months to write a book, and all I need is $24K to survive for 1 year. In any case, I will keep you posted.
Well, there are my numbers for you. If you have any more detailed questions, please ask, I will try to answer in as much detail as I can. For now, I gotta get back to finishing Rosehead, so I can start writing Irkadura, because I have only 6 months left to finish and publish both! Oy!