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March 2023 Income Report
To listen to an audio version of this report, join the Patreon »
March’s income was $8,960, up from February’s $7,973. Profits were $4,750, up from February’s $4,514.
No records (which is sort of a record)
For the first time in a long time, I have no records to report. That shouldn’t be a big surprise, as I haven’t had a new full-length book come out in nearly three years.
After a long period of sharp inclines, book profits are starting to decline.
This certainly has me thinking about how to make revenue between big books. I can only write so many shorter books while I’m busy writing longer ones.
Join the Patreon! (more bonuses, for less)
One of those ways I’m exploring bringing in revenue between books is by doing more with the Patreon. I’ve now published four episodes of the patron-only Coffee w/ Kadavy.
Speaking both of longer books and the Patreon, you can now get a sneak audiobook preview of a chapter of the book I’m working on, working title, Finish What Matters. It’s available for Patreon supporters right here.
I’ve also simplified the Patreon offering. There are now only two levels:
- $5 Patreon “Insider” level: which gets you early access to episodes, and bonus content such as Coffee w/ Kadavy, and occasional sneak previews of content, such as the aforementioned audiobook chapter.
- $25 Patreon “Top Supporter” level: This gets you everything from the Insider level, but as a Top Supporter, I mention your name in the closing credits of the Love Your Work podcast.
These income reports in your ears, for less
Now that I’ve eliminated the middle tiers of Patreon, you can also get the podcast version of these income reports at only the $5 level (previously $15!).
I hope that by offering more for Patreon supporters, and by simplifying the tiers, more of you will be interested in contributing a coffee a month to support my ongoing work between books.
Right now there are 36 Patreon members, which seems like very few considering 12,000 receive these income reports via email. Admittedly, I haven’t recently done a lot to make joining the Patreon enticing. With some concerted effort such as mentioning it here, a dedicated email blast, and some promotion on the podcast feed, it seems reasonable to get that number above 100. The more people who join the Patreon, the more value we can have for every member.
AMA/livestream next week!
One thing I’d love to have Patreon-exclusive is Ask Me Anything livestreams. Alas, it will take a few more members to make that work. So, for the meantime, my AMA livestreams are free!
I’m holding a livestream next Wednesday, May 3rd. Mark your calendars and submit your questions. Some great questions I’ve received so far:
- How can you pick a creative project when you have too many ideas?
- How do you keep yourself from falling into the research rabbit hole?
- How do you publish a book outside Amazon?
- What has surprised you most in the past year or two?
If you especially want me to answer any of those questions, say so as you submit your questions.
100,000 lifetime book sales!
I’ve now sold over 100,000 books! Here is the breakdown of books I’ve sold, as of April 6, 2023:
- Mind Management, Not Time Management: 30,312
- The Heart to Start: 28,597
- Design for Hackers: 17,770
- Digital Zettelkasten: 13,202
- How to Write a Book: 11,635
- 100-Word Writing Habit: 376
- Other: 2,307
- Total: 104,159
In February of 2022, I made a prediction that I would reach 100,000 lifetime sales by February 2024.
When I made this prediction, I had sold 70,000 books. I did not document my prediction model for making that prediction, but given that my first book had come out ten years previous, it probably seemed reasonable it would take two years to make 43% more sales.
12-year career. 43% of sale in past year!?
It was a conservative prediction. I was 80% sure I’d make those sales in two years. In fact, I made those extra sales in only about one year. That’s kind of crazy. 43% of sales in my twelve-year career as an author have happened in the past year?!
Here’s what that looks like over my entire author career.
Prediction: When will I hit 200,000 sales?
It seems appropriate I should make a prediction about how long it will take for me to reach 200,000 lifetime sales. What factors should I use to make such a prediction?
- Sales are accelerating as I’m adding more books to my catalogue. So I could reasonably see a doubling in lifetime sales in 18 months.
- My publishing cadence has slowed, with only one short read published in the past year. So my overall sales may slow.
- I haven’t counted foreign-rights sales in this number. I’ve made foreign-rights deals for about 17,000 additional copies of self-published books, with other deals in the pipeline. My plan is to count those if and when advances pay out beyond the initial print runs (but that might be an overly-conservative methodology).
- My writing has improved. I’m learning about publishing and marketing.
- I expect sales to compound for other books in the series when I publish the third book in the Getting Art Done series.
- I’m thinking about other revenue sources, more media-rich and lucrative, such as another course. No decisions made yet, but that may mean fewer book sales.
With all that in mind, what are the chances I’ll reach 200,000 sales by May 2024? I’ll say 10%. Since I remain only 60% confident I’ll finish the manuscript of my next book in 2023, I’m not sure it will even be out by May 2024. I plan to make a run for the WSJ list, so will probably put more time and care into my launch.
How about May 2025? Okay, I’m 50% confident I’ll reach 200,000 lifetime book sales by May 2025.
Lessons from 100,000 books
Some lessons from that list of book sales: The books I’ve sold the most copies of were the most work, by far. But the short reads vary wildly in number of sales.
There are six books in the main list, and “Other” comprises five short reads. Those five “Other” sold a total of 2,307 copies. The book that sold the fewest – In Defense of Papyrus – has sold fewer than 100 copies. Yet that book was more work than Digital Zettelkasten, which has sold over 13,000 copies.
As I demonstrated in my recent article about making predictions, I almost didn’t bother writing about Zettelkasten, and was 95% sure my Zettelkasten blog post wouldn’t rank in the top ten on Google. So I was very surprised to sell that many copies.
This makes a good case for the barbell strategy. Nobody knows anything, so it helps to play some wildcards while you build your sure bets.
That’s one lesson, but the ones you really work hard on, based upon a long process of receiving feedback from the world, in my experience, sell more and last.
30,000 copies of Mind Management!
Speaking of books I’ve worked hard on and put a lot of expertise into, you may have noticed from that list of sales that Mind Management, Not Time Management has now sold over 30,000 copies! Of course, this called for updating the wheat-flanked words.
The sales of MMT continue to climb up a slightly concave curve.
Though my profits for the book have climbed at a faster rate.
Maybe I should spend more of those profits to try to make that curve more concave? Something to consider.
BookBub Featured Deal results
MMT was catapulted into the 30,000-copy range by my recent BookBub Featured Deal. Though, the deal began on March 31st, which means only some of the sales it generated in five days are included in this month’s report.
My prediction was wrong (on the low side)
My prediction about sales in this BookBub deal was one I was happy to get “wrong.” Last month I said I was 70% sure I’d sell between 500–900 ebook copies, during the lifetime of the promotion, provided I spent less than $800 on supplemental ads.
As it turned out, I spent only $533 in supplemental ads, and sold 966 ebook copies. So I was 30% “wrong”, for being too conservative with my estimate.
I had based my prediction on my previous two BookBub deals for MMT. Though this deal was very different, as I wasn’t spending a ton, as I did in my first deal, when I spent $3,902 in supplemental ads to sell 2,715 copies in nine days. My deal was also going to be sent to fewer than half the number of people as it was previously, such as when I spent only $341 on supplemental ads, but sold 1,692 copies in seven days. That deal was sent to over a million people.
Why was I wrong?
My guess is the Business category is more appropriate for the book than the “Advice and How-To” category to which the previous two deals were sent. That and/or you naturally have a higher saturation of conversions when sending to 450k people, versus one million.
Other potential explanations for selling more copies than I had expected include the fact that I advertised the deal using BookBub Ads before the deal, which could have increased awareness. Also, the BookBub Ads I did run were more targeted, so my spend was probably more efficient than in the past. Finally, it’s not clear reading last month’s report that I took into account the fact that my last deal wasn’t sent to Apple Books subscribers, because PublishDrive had failed to change my price as scheduled.
100-Word Writing Habit prediction wrong?
Another prediction it looks like I’ll get wrong, but in the aggressive direction, is my prediction about sales of 100-Word Writing Habit. I predicted with 70% confidence I would sell 400–800 copies by the end of April.
Last month, I reported I had sold 375 copies, so I thought it was likely I would meet or exceed that range. But approaching the end of April, that’s still how many copies I’ve sold.
Amazon probably ordered a bunch of copies to keep it in stock, and those haven’t been sold yet. So that’s a complication to take further into account when I make future predictions about books fulfilled by IngramSpark!
Dragging my feet on promotion
Though, I haven’t done as much promotion of HWH as I would have predicted. I haven’t made a TikTok video, haven’t shared it on Instagram, and an influencer promotion has been delayed. All these things, combined with the out-of-stock issues I had early in the life of the book, make it likely I’ll be 30% wrong in my prediction!
BookVault copy looks great!
I will add, though, that I finally got a copy of 100-Word Writing Habit, as printed by BookVault. It took a few weeks, but wow, it looks amazing! A step above the print quality of IngramSpark. I’m still dabbling with doing my own fulfillment, but given that BookVault is going to start printing in the U.S., I’m glad to at least have my feet wet before jumping in.
“Big” payment for Design for Hackers
There’s an $897 royalty payment in this month’s report, from Design for Hackers! This “technology” book came out in 2011, so that’s amazing to me. The previous payments I’ve received were $406 six months ago, and $589 a year ago.
D4H sales driven by Amazon Ads?
I shouldn’t get too excited about that. I just checked my Amazon Ads dashboard, and see that I spent $663 advertising D4H – my own money – between July and November of 2022. I’m not sure sales generated by those ads are all accounted for in this payment, but I imagine by September they will be. It was a fun experiment to advertise my own traditionally-published book, but I doubt I’ll do it more.
Mind Management in Turkish!
This month, I received payment for a new foreign rights deal! I sold Turkish translation rights for MMT, five years for $1,200. Though 10% of that was withheld for Turkish taxes, I’m reporting it all, per usual.
This will be my first book in Turkish, so that brings my total languages to nine: English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Thai (contract pending).
Italy research trip!
I’m currently planning a trip to Italy this summer, to do some research for parts of my next book. I’m trying to see as many things as I can related to the work of Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, as I expand upon on my article about how their creative approaches differ.
This is my first research trip, I lived in Rome for a semester more than twenty years ago, and haven’t visited in more than fifteen, so I’m excited to say the least. I’ll take and share some pictures.
In the next Coffee w/ Kadavy: email list growth
A question I’ve been asking myself every Friday is, “What can I do with what I already have?” One thing I already have is great readers like you, thus I’m improving the Patreon. Another is my website and email list. So, I’ve been experimenting with some ways of growing my email list, including running ads. So far, I’m having some good luck with BookFunnel and Facebook ads. I’ll share more in the next Coffee w/ Kadavy episode. So join the Patreon so you don’t miss it!
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Kindle||$1,521|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Paperback (Amazon)||$1,642|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management (non-Amazon)||$897|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Audiobook||$609|
|100-Word Writing Habit||$1,154|
|Digital Zettelkasten Kindle||$494|
|Digital Zettelkasten Wide (non-Kindle)||$281|
|Digital Zettelkasten Audiobook||$55|
|The Heart to Start Kindle||$312|
|The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon)||$84|
|The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$91|
|The Heart to Start Audiobook||$26|
|How to Write a Book Kindle||$40|
|How to Write a Book Paperback||$101|
|How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$14|
|How to Write a Book Audiobook||$8|
|How to Write a Book Spanish (all)||$9|
|Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain (all)||$0|
|Ten Passive Income Ideas||$6|
|Design for Hackers (all formats)||$897|
|Total Book Sales||$8,241|
|Summer of Design||$0|
|Total Digital Products||$0|
Affiliates / Advertising
|Alliance of Independent Authors||$20|
Love Your Work Podcast
|Total LYW Podcast||$199|
|Podcast Editing / Publishing||$123|
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