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May 2024 Income Report

June 28 2024 – 05:01pm

To listen to an audio version of this report, join the Patreon »

May’s revenue was $5,586, down from April’s $6,653. Profits were $3,764, down from April’s $4,524.

Revenue was below the average of $6,187 for the previous twelve months, but profits were slightly above the average of $3,693. However, I still haven’t been billed for my warehouse services and shipping for direct sales, and haven’t yet ironed out my reporting to reflect those expenses and their effects on profit.

Book sales were $4,224, which is below the average of $4,412 for the previous twelve months. However, direct sales were relatively high at $1,014. I beat that number in January, when I sold $1,076 in books directly. But the last time I was above the $1,000 mark before that was nearly four years ago, in June 2020.

Help from How to Sell a Book Preview Edition

The higher direct sales are thanks to the Preview Edition of How to Sell a Book, which brought in $483 in May. I’ve now delivered six Parts of the book, amounting to nearly 30,000 words – longer than The Heart to Start. When it’s all done, it looks like it will be about ten Parts, amounting to 50,000 words.

There’s still time for readers to buy the Preview Edition, get all completed Parts and future ones, many weeks and maybe months before the First Edition is available. I plan to cut off sales of the Preview Edition before I’ve delivered it in whole, so I can close feedback on the Google Doc that comes with the Preview Edition, and focus on editing and preparing it for publish.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I first set out to write a blog post about how I’ve sold 100,000 self-published books. This thing just keeps going and going. In addition to my other writing, my target is to add another 1,000 words per day to this book, until it’s finished.

100 Journal Prompts Workbook Kickstarter

I’m chipping away at the Kickstarter campaign for the premiere edition of the 100 Journal Prompts Workbook. I’ve been photographing and preparing photos of the workbook and other products I plan to include in the campaign.

Here’s a nice animated GIF showcasing the silver-foil-swash on the cover.

Here’s another GIF demonstrating how to use the habit-tracking band that’s already on the store.

I’ve been slowly developing this workbook over previous months, and now that I have these images loaded into the Kickstarter story editor, I’m getting very excited about this workbook!

My favorite feature is the word-count calculator, which works in conjunction with the specially-designed prompt pages, to help you identify at what point you’ve written 100 words.

It certainly feels strange to have two projects shipping at about the same time, this workbook along with How to Sell a Book, especially since it’s been about a year and a half since I shipped something new. But, this is the way it’s working out. I plan to ship both projects as my available workload permits, without artificial delays. There are always more projects I’m excited to get to next!

While I’m very excited about this workbook, I’m not feeling super confident it will make a lot of money, which is actually a sign it is a black swan play that has a big chance of being a flop and a small chance of being a huge hit.

So I’ll make a few predictions, to help calibrate my expectations.

As you can see, between 70% and 90%, my ceiling rises quickly, almost double. Which is a good sign of my uncertainty. I’m excited about it and think it deserves to be a huge hit, but I’m also not sure people will “get” it. This will be fun!

I’ve put together a very detailed projections worksheet, and it looks like if my revenues are $1,500, I’ll net about $500. If $15,000, I’ll net about $5,000. (I’ve got on my list to share a screencast of this spreadsheet with the Patreon sometime soon.) And, damn, neither of those is a lot of money, but once the premiere edition is launched, I plan to sell a less-fancy paperback edition in perpetuity.

If you want to be sure not to miss this Kickstarter campaign when it launches, make sure you’re subscribed to my project notifications. Also, follow me on Kickstarter, for good measure.

Finish What Matters outline completed

I have finished a detailed outline of Finish What Matters! The outline itself is over 19,000 words. If I can double that in expanding it, I’ll have a book. If I triple it, I’ll have a slightly-too-long book.

This is the first time I’ve ever successfully created a detailed outline of a book before writing it. I like to think that’s a reflection of maturity in my writing process. I’ve always struggled with top-down process, so every time in the past I’ve tried to outline a book, I’ve inevitably hit a vein on some bullet point and ended up drafting a chapter of prose instead.

I don’t expect that by merely expanding the outline I’ll have a book ready to publish. I deliberately tried to write this outline in as plain and straightforward language as possible, eschewing my usual desire to tangle and layer concepts, building and releasing tension along the way. It’s possible this book will simply end up with plain and straightforward language. I have to write the first draft to find out.

I’m letting this project incubate as I complete How to Sell a Book and the 100 Journal Prompts Workbook. Meanwhile, I’m re-listening to many of the reader interviews I did, searching for tidbits that might fit nicely somewhere in my outline.

There are also some parts of the outline that were easier to write and felt more resonant as I wrote them than others. I tried to [use brackets] when something didn’t feel well-thought-out. I’ll have to go back and revisit those parts. I may need to freewrite about them to work out what I want to say, or maybe they don’t belong in the book at all.

I envision at some point in the near future fleshing out this outline to create a first draft, hopefully at some high-word-count goal such as 1,500 or 2,000 words a day. I still think I’ll have a ways to go once that is complete, but I hope to have a completed draft by the end of the year.

X ads: A mistake

You’ll see in this month’s report about $90 spent on X ads. That was money well-spent in terms of results: nearly 1,500 clicks and more than 250 email sign-ups. But as happened to me in the past, as soon as I started advertising on X, my organic reach tanked.

Posts to my 12,500 followers consistently get only 250 impressions. In April, before I started advertising on X, it was rare to have a post perform that poorly, and more often a mediocre post would get 500 impressions.

I’ve since realized many people block every advertiser in their feeds en-masse. Besides being an unbelievably trashy way to behave (how do these people think this app runs…funds from the tooth fairy?), being blocked harms your posts in the X algorithm.

An alternative theory is simply that advertising a post with a link greatly reduces your engagement rate, which harms your other posts’ organic reach. Notice the drop in my engagement rate once I started earning lots of ad impressions (yellow).

I’m sorry to say I can’t recommend advertising on X at all, and won’t do it with my main account until I’ve hear this problem has been resolved. It’s weird, I would think it would be a priority of the X team to make sure choosing to advertise doesn’t harm advertisers.

Reviving my X reach?

Though I stopped advertising a few weeks ago, my organic reach still continues to be poor, even for posts that have very high engagement rates. I’m not sure how long it will take to recover, but I’m trying some things to try to revive my reach, such as being more intentional about engaging with new and relevant posts.

I also noticed my account location was set to Colombia, which couldn’t have helped! My preferred audience is in the United States. Fortunately X makes it easy to change account location. My TikTok account with 30k followers is still unable to open a store because I can’t change the location.

Vietnamese translation of Mind Management, Not Time Management

I’ve finally received a copy of the Vietnamese translation of Mind Management, Not Time Management! It looks good on my shelf, next to the Arabic version.

This is only the second book of the twelve foreign-rights deals I’ve done as a self-published author I’ve actually received. At least one has been lost in the mail, some publishers don’t fulfill their contract and actually send the books, and others simply haven’t been finished yet. For example, the Vietnamese version of The Heart to Start apparently never got made. I signed the contract and got paid more than three years ago.

New on the Patreon

I’ve shared a screencast on the Patreon for how I compile book sales numbers across multiple channels. Keeping track of sales is so complex as a wide author, few bother to do it at all. But it makes these income reports possible, and enables me to tell you I’ve sold more than 100,000 self-published books. Join the Patreon and see how I do it!

Thank you for having me on your podcasts!

Thank you to John Lee Dumas for having me on the legendary Entrepreneurs On Fire! EOFire was the first podcast I was on, in 2013, and now it’s the latest, too.

As always, you can find all my podcast appearances on my podcast interviews page.


Book Sales

Mind Management, Not Time Management Kindle $474
Mind Management, Not Time Management Paperback (Amazon) $990
Mind Management, Not Time Management (non-Amazon) $152
Mind Management, Not Time Management Audiobook $688
100-Word Writing Habit $263
Digital Zettelkasten Kindle $358
Digital Zettelkasten Wide (non-Kindle) $233
Digital Zettelkasten Audiobook $23
The Heart to Start Kindle $107
The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon) $41
The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon) $46
The Heart to Start Audiobook $14
How to Sell a Book (Preview Edition) $483
How to Write a Book Kindle $70
How to Write a Book Paperback $36
How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon) $209
How to Write a Book Audiobook $33
How to Write a Book Spanish (all) $5
Total Book Sales $4,224

Digital Products

Summer of Design $0
Total Digital Products $0

Affiliates / Advertising

Active Campaign $1,026
Alliance of Independent Authors $143
Amazon $43
SendOwl $5
Total Affiliates $1,217

Reader Support

Patreon $144
Total Reader Support $144


Clarity $0
Medium $2
Total Services $2



Accounting $0
Book Printing $236
Outside Contractors $0
Quickbooks $27
Total General $263


Amazon $747
BookBub $0
Google $13
Meta $344
X (Twitter) $90
Influencer Marketing $0
Product Samples $0
Total Advertising $1,195


ActiveCampaign $135
Bookfunnel $15
Drafts $2
Dropbox $10
Fathom Analtyics $14
Libsyn $5
Namecheap $0
Obsidian Publish $10
SendOwl $9
Shopify $42
Ulysses $3
WP Engine $96
X (Twitter) $8
Zapier $14
Total Hosting $363

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This post is filed under Income Reports.