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February 2021 Income Report

March 25 2021 – 05:24pm

An audio version of this income report is available to Patreon backers of certain levels »

February’s revenues were $5,255, up from January’s $4,772. Profits were $2,208, down from January’s $2,436. Profits are down for the third month in a row. However, I still have the price of Mind Management, Not Time Management set at $14.99, which is likely suppressing sales, and is definitely bringing less profit per sale. So why am I doing that to myself?

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Mind Management, Not Time Management audiobook now on Audible (and other retailers)

Almost five months after the release of Mind Management, Not Time Management, the audiobook is finally available on Audible. I’m thankful it only took ACX three weeks to approve it, as I had heard horror stories of approval taking several months.

Good price for MMT on Audible

One of my motivations for setting MMT at $14.99 on Amazon – despite that knocking me down to a 35% royalty – was I wanted to get a fair price for the book on Audible. Audible does not let you set the price of your audiobook. I think the $6.95 price of The Heart to Start on Audible is too low, and I haven’t been able to persuade them to increase it. When I submitted the HTS audiobook, I believe I had a pretty low ebook price – maybe about $2.99.

I figured a higher price on my ebook would motivate Audible to set a higher price for the audiobook. The price Audible set for the MMT audiobook has not disproved that theory. $19.99 is even higher than I had set myself on Findaway Voices – $14.99.

I doubt this suppresses sales, and rather brings in more royalties, as many Audible “sales” come from subscribers using their credits. If anything, a higher price motivates more “purchases” as people want to “get their money’s worth” for the monthly credits they get with their memberships.

Going live to 40 retailers

Mind Management, Not Time Management is the first audiobook I have launched “wide.” I forewent a 40% royalty through ACX, for an exclusive deal, to instead get a 25%. But this means I can sell my audiobook wherever I want. Findaway Voices has made it easy to go wide.

The MMT audiobook is on Apple, Google Play, Kobo, NOOK Audiobooks, and dozens of other stores. If you have a favorite store, search there. It’s also available in many libraries. I’m trying to keep the universal link updated as it becomes available in more places.

In addition to Audible, ACX also publishes to Apple – an option you can’t turn off. I was worried about this, as Findaway Voices promises a 45% royalty through Apple, and I didn’t want duplicate versions of my book. Joanna Penn told me Apple defaults to the Findaway Voices feed, and that has fortunately turned out to be true.

Direct sales of MP3 audiobook (and others)

Right before I submitted the audiobook to ACX and Findaway Voices, I released it on MP3. I made $331 in direct sales during that launch. $276 of that was for the audiobook itself. I made another $45 on the ebook, and I sold an MP3 audiobook of The Heart to Start for another $10. That promotion spanned the turn of the month, so some of those earnings are reported in this month’s report, some will be reported in the next.

I won’t be breaking out direct sales in my numbers – they’re wrapped in with other “wide” sales.

Chirp audiobook deal on The Heart to Start

The Heart to Start was chosen for a deal on Chirp, BookBub’s audiobook outlet. It’s been $0.99 throughout the month of March, and they started promoting the deal on March 10th. So far, this deal has moved exactly 500 copies – which is good! I thought it might drive more sales to my other audiobooks, however, and that hasn’t been the case. I did recently drop the price of the How to Write a Book audiobook, to see if that will drive some sales on the tail-end of this promotion.

One great thing about the Chirp deal is, unlike the BookBub Featured Deal, it’s free, as there isn’t as much demand, as they build demand for this type of promotion. So that makes it more like a Kindle Daily Deal – pure gravy. It’s probably not as hard to land as a BookBub Featured Deal, but it’s hard to say, as HTS was approved on the first try.

MMT ready for a BookBub Featured Deal

Aside from trying to get a fair Audible price, another motivation for selling Mind Management, Not Time Management for $14.99 has been to build tension for a BookBub Featured Deal. I noticed with a past promotion of HTS, that my Amazon sales spiked as soon as I marked down the book. I think if a book is marked down for the first time in a long time, Amazon automatically promotes that deal to customers. So, if a book has never been less than $9.99, and has been $14.99 for a few months, I suspect marking such a book at $1.99 would be a strong signal to Amazon to promote the book.

Add to that, I have been steadily advertising the book. Many people have probably seen it or downloaded a sample, but have been on the fence because of the high price. My theory is that Amazon pays attention to these signals to know who to promote a discount to.

I learned a lot from my first BookBub Featured Deal, during which I made a run for the WSJ bestseller list. I want to take those learnings into a deal for MMT, and see if I can make the list this time.

I had been waiting until the audiobook was live to apply for a BookBub Featured Deal, and now it’s live. So, the book is ready to be submitted for a deal! But wait. I have to travel the first couple weeks of April, and if I apply for a deal now, the promotion date would likely conflict with said travel. I want to be in my home office and available to dedicate my full attention to a promotion when it happens.

It’s disappointing that I’ll have to wait until late April/early May to do a deal (if approved, remember HTS was rejected fourteen times). I had hoped to do it in the first quarter of the year, when people are still in a New-Years-inspired self-improvement mindset.

Self-published book profits below average

Self-published book profits were $729, which is well below the 12-month moving average of $1,252. Despite these lower profits – again, which I attribute to raising the price of MMT – that 12-month moving average is on a slight uptrend.

If I can get a BookBub Featured Deal, then drop the retail price back down to a more-profitable $9.99, I’m confident these profits will bounce back.

Mind Management, Not Time Management a BookLife Prize quarterfinalist

As I mentioned back in December’s report, I entered a few competitions. It’s something I hadn’t tried before, it seemed it may potentially be useful for marketing, and I thought I had a shot at some of the cash prizes.

Mind Management, Not Time Management was chosen as a quarterfinalist for the BookLife Prize. What were the chances of being chosen for this honor? The email mentioned “almost 300 entries” and there were 49 quarterfinalists, so that makes the chances 1 in 6 – which is not as competitive as I would have guessed.

Not a semi-finalist

The semi-finalists were announced the following week, and MMT was not included. It first I thought MMT had a good chance to win, as it scored 8.5 points. Now I realize last year’s non-fiction winner scored 10 points. There are some semi-finalists who scored 8.5 points as well. Then again, there are some who did not make it to the semi-finals who scored 9.0. So, points aren’t all that matter – which would take the fun out of it anyway. Good luck to the rest of the field.

Downside of competitions?

This brought me to one downside of these competitions that I hadn’t thought of: It’s disappointing to not win. It’s more disappointing to not be a finalist nor a semifinalist. I entered with the attitude of, “All I have to lose is $X. It’s all upside.” But a downside cost is this disappointment, as well as spending my attention seeing whether I placed or won these competitions.

It’s arguably not worth thinking about competitions. The disappointment isn’t severe, but it’s there. It’s something to consider when I consider entering competitions.

First cohort of 100-Word Writing Habit complete!

The first cohort of my free 100-Word Writing Habit email course is complete. Once the course was over, the active contacts were added to my Love Mondays newsletter (I didn’t automatically add contacts who had not opened any emails). More than 1,200 people took the first session of the course, and 600 of them were not already on Love Mondays.

You’ll see a little expense of $155 for Outside Contractors this month. That’s what I spent to hire a programmer from Upwork to make the timer on the 100WWH home page automatically reset (there’s a new session of the course each week). They got it done in an afternoon!

Cleaned email list

The 600 new contacts from 100-Word Writing Habit replace some of the 900 or so inactive subscribers I recently got rid of. Shedding those 900 inactives increased my open rates by about 14% (as in from about 28% to about 32%). Since the 600 new contacts are very active, they may bump that up a little more.

A little Patreon boost

There’s a little boost in Patreon earnings for the month. Last month’s earnings were $225, and this months were $425. That’s thanks to a “mini-sponsorship”, which is $99. But, that only lasted for two payments – which both fell in the same month – so we’ll be back down at the normal level next month.

Patreon membership drive?

One recent new supporter pointed out that when I’m asking for Patreon support – at the end of each podcast episode – they’re not in the right context to act on the request. I had noticed that before, and past ads have even asked people to set a reminder, but that got me thinking about doing a Patreon membership drive. Rather, I had thought of doing a membership drive before, and now I’m thinking of it again.

Ideally, I would have something to offer new members that would encourage them to “act now.” That could be a bonus, but I also think it could be a discount. At the $15 “Creative Entrepreneur” level, supporters get access to a number of masterclasses. They also get access to the audio versions of these income reports.

Kevin Kelley’s famous “1000 True Fans” article states that if you can find 1,000 people who will pay you $100 a year, you can keep doing what you do. So, I’ve thought about temporarily offering a “True Fan” level, which offers everything from the $15 level, but for only $9 a month.

But when I think about that, I ask myself, Is the $15 level enticing enough? Then again, maybe it isn’t so much about being enticing as it about reminding those people who have meant to join, just because they want to support my work.

Of course, if I offer such a level, those at higher levels would be welcome to take advantage of the offer and get the same things they’re already getting, but for only $9 a month, instead of $15.

And as I think of this, I also think about whether I can make the lower levels more enticing. Then I also think about how the messaging on the page needs to be updated.

I am probably overthinking it, and should just do the simplest first “membership drive” I can as a learning experience. I can go from there.

Medium earnings boost from Forge syndication

I had a little boost in Medium earnings. You’ll see $207 in this report. Medium’s Forge publication syndicated one of my articles. I syndicated my article on clock-time/event-time directly to Medium. Weeks later, an editor from Forge reached out. They made significant changes to the article, and published it.

Do the thing that causes the thing

It was ironic this article got syndicated, because I had previously pitched another Forge editor an article idea, and never heard back. As far as I know, the editor who reached out to me had no knowledge of this. I have been telling myself, “Don’t try to make a thing happen, do the thing that causes the thing.” In my experience it’s a waste of energy to try to pitch your work and change your voice to fit an outlet in the process. It seems to be more effective to do your thing. Others will notice.

Don't make the thing happen. Do the thing that causes the thing.

-More followers? Do great work.
-Podcast appearances? Do great work.
-Great connections? Do great work.
-A verified badge? Do great work.

You can't make your garden grow by pulling plants up from the ground.

— ? David Kadavy (@kadavy) October 30, 2020

That said, I can’t point to any lift in sales or other opportunities that came from the Forge syndication – aside from the extra Medium earnings.

Zettelkasten short read book?

In the process of writing my recent Zettelkasten post, I learned a lot about organizing my own Zettelkasten. People seem to have enjoyed the post.

But I had to make that post much shorter than I would have liked to. There are far more thoughts and details behind managing a Zettelkasten than I was able to share in a couple thousand words.

That post is what I would have liked to have found at the beginning of my Zettelkasten journey. I was confused for a very long time about the concept, and had to wade through hours of videos that weren’t helpful. How to Take Smart Notes was the biggest help, but it’s still pretty abstract, with few examples.

At the time of this writing there are literally zero books, in English, that have the word “Zettelkasten” in the title. If you search on Amazon, Smart Notes comes up first, and Mind Management, Not Time Management even shows up on the first page.

So, I’ve begun expanding on my Zettelkasten post, dabbling with the idea of publishing a “short read” book on Zettelkasten. I think I could give a good overview in around 10,000 words. It would be the book I wish I had had, the market seems to be there, and there’s a lot of overlap between that market, and the market for the rest of my books. Additionally, people interested in Zettelkasten are “sneezers.” They write, therefore if they like one of my books, more people will find out. They are hubs with spokes.

The biggest challenge in writing such a book is with technology. I’d want to make it as specific as possible, without talking so specifically about technology so as to render it out-of-date soon after publish.

I also feel a little impostor syndrome around it, as I haven’t had a Zettelkasten for even a year, and I’m still learning. The way I use my Zettelkasten is going to be different from how many readers might use it, and I likely won’t address all of their concerns. These aren’t show-stoppers, though. In my current draft I’m as open as possible about these limitations.

Thank you for having me on your podcast

I’ve had a flurry of podcast invites coming in. I’m not sure what to attribute that to. I like to think it’s from putting my head down and doing work – doing the thing that causes the thing – instead of pitching podcasts.

Thank you to Trey Kaffman at The Mosaic Life, and to Domestika’s Curious Minds, who had me as a resident Comic Sans expert.

Income

Book Sales

Mind Management, Not Time Management Kindle $1,171
Mind Management, Not Time Management Paperback (Amazon) $302
Mind Management, Not Time Management (non-Amazon) $80
Mind Management, Not Time Management Audiobook $125
The Heart to Start Kindle $786
The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon) $58
The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon) $27
The Heart to Start Audiobook $32
How to Write a Book Kindle $89
How to Write a Book Paperback $117
How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon) $0
How to Write a Book Audible $10
How to Write a Book Spanish (all) $13
Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain (all) $5
Ten Passive Income Ideas $5
Total Book Sales $2,820

Digital Products

D4H Video $59
Total Digital Products $59

Affiliates / Advertising

Active Campaign $1,625
Amazon $0
ConvertKit $9
Hostgator $100
SendOwl $5
Total Affiliates $1,738

Love Your Work Podcast

Patreon $425
PayPal Donations $5
Total LYW Podcast $430

Services

Clarity $0
Medium $207
Superpeer $0
Total Services $207
GROSS INCOME $5,255

Expenses

General

Accounting $344
Outside Contractors $155
Podcast Editing / Publishing $80
Quickbooks $36
Total General $614

Advertising

Amazon $2,092
Total Advertising $2,092

Hosting

ActiveCampaign $135
Bookfunnel $15
Drafts $2
Dropbox $10
Fathom Analtyics $14
Libsyn $7
Namecheap $18
SendOwl $24
Ulysses $7
WP Engine $96
Zapier $14
Total Hosting $342
TOTAL EXPENSES $3,048
NET PROFIT $2,208

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This post is filed under Income Reports.