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November 2020 Income Report
An audio version of this income report is available to Patreon backers of certain levels »
November’s revenues were $7,848, up from October’s $5,589. Profits were $6,338, up from $3,672.
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I had solid revenue and profit in November. Mind Management, Not Time Management was BookBub’s Featured New Release, and a Black Friday sale brought in a boost of income in the neglected-of-late department of online courses.
Book sale profits rising
It feels good to have another active book added to my self-published catalogue. This is helping self-published book profits rise.
Notice I’ve added a 6-month-trailing-average trend line to the graph (as well as the overall graph). This is less blunt an instrument than the simple trend line I added last month. With so much volatility in earnings, the 6-month trend line helps get a better feel for what’s actually happening.
I earned $2,060 profits from self-published books (assuming ad spend as my expenses) in November, on $3,051 revenue. That profit is on the high side, historically speaking. The record is $2,529, in April, which included MMT Preview Edition sales.
That profit is also above the average over the past 12 months, $1,233. You can’t see well from the scale of the graph how steeply that average has been climbing. The average monthly profit for self-published books for 2019 was $563. Here’s what that trend looks like isolated from the other data.
I can look back on a spreadsheet of projections I made after first publishing The Heart to Start, and see that I was hoping to profit $1,000 a month on that book alone! That was three years ago, and as you can see I only recently passed that threshold.
I do wonder if I can keep this up. Any time I release a big book, it’s naturally going to bring in decent revenue the first month. Mind Management, Not Time Management brought in $2,125. That’s a little less than the $2,410 it earned in the four days in which it was available in October.
BookBub Featured New Release
November’s MMT earnings were helped along by the book being BookBub’s Featured New Release. Which cost $330 (in October), and coincided with a single-day’s sales of $871 (in November).
If I visit BookBub’s site, I can see they’re still featuring my book as a new release, based upon my reading preferences. So it’s possible this promotion is still driving sales. Money well spent!
Did the Black Friday sale help book revenue?
Book sales may have gotten a boost thanks to my Black Friday sale. I marked The Heart to Start and my short reads down about 70–80%. I did not mark down MMT. In fact, I’m working on raising the price (more on that in a bit).
During the four days in November in which the Black Friday sale was going on, I earned a bit more than $370 revenue from self-published books. If you average out the $3,051 of self-published revenue for the whole month, it looks like I actually made less money than average on those days ($407).
The promotion may have given some algorithm boosts that would account for sales in December – not that we’ll be able to tell.
First batch of Mind Management, Not Time Management sales predictions in
Back in September’s report, I made some predictions on how many copies MMT would sell. The idea was to calculate my Brier score, so I could see if I can improve my sales-forecasting skills.
My predictions were that after one month, I had:
- 90% confidence I would have sold between 300 and 20,000 copies
- 70% confidence I would have sold between 500 and 2,000 copies
- 50% confidence I would have sold between 750 and 1,500 copies
As of the end of November, I have sold 879 copies of Mind Management, Not Time Management.
That makes me correct on all predictions. Here’s how that performance compares to my 50%-confidence prediction range.
As you can see, that’s slightly on the lower side of my range, but still well within it.
Using the Brier score formula from my Avocado challenge, those scores are:
- 90% confidence: 0.01
- 70% confidence: 0.09
- 50% confidence: 0.25
Those scores don’t mean a lot on their own, but over the course of many predictions, my scores may start to mean something.
Using Predictionbook to track forecasting skills
A friend recommended to me a service called Predictionbook, in which you can enter predictions, then outcomes, and have your Brier score tracked over time.
This was precisely something I had wanted to do, but I never thought to search for such a thing.
I’ve already entered my book sale predictions into Predictionbook, as well as my 1-month results. Additionally, I entered predictions about my Black Friday revenues.
So far, I’ve recorded results for six predictions, and they’ve all been correct. My current aggregate Brier score is 0.1167, and this is what my graph looks like.
In the spirit of making falsifiable predictions, for cases when I’m trying to predict within a range I’ve arbitrarily chosen to predict at 50-, 70-, and 90-percent confidence, so that’s where you see data points on the graph.
The idea behind making predictions is to predict correctly, but it’s not necessarily great that I’ve gotten all of my predictions so far “right.” Since I’m not predicting 100% confidence, you want to get some wrong once in a while. The fact I’ve gotten them all right is a sign I should be making more aggressive predictions!
Black Friday sale brought in some course sales
I’ve been neglecting course sales entirely this year, so I could focus on finishing Mind Management, Not Time Management.
With Black Friday/Cyber Monday coming up, it seemed like a good opportunity to make some revenue off these courses that are just sitting there. This would also give people an opportunity to take some of these courses that haven’t even been available.
I made the promotion really simple: I set up the coupon codes, and set up an announcement email and a deadline email – one for my Design for Hackers list, and another for the rest of my subscribers. It still took a few hours to do this!
The revenue will be split up amongst the November and December reports, but overall, I made almost exactly $4,000. The biggest sellers were D4H Video, which brought in about $1,200, and Blog 2 BLING!, which brought in about $900. I was surprised that Logo Mastery didn’t sell better. It didn’t even make $200.
I had to pay for Teachable memberships in order to sell both Blog 2 BLING! and Logo Mastery. Once that expires, the courses will once again be unavailable.
Is it worth it to promote by price?
It was tough mentally to discount these courses so steeply. I know they are worth more than I charged, and I know I could have earned more revenue by doing a “proper” promotion.
But my heart just isn’t in the big launches at this point. If I can still earn revenue with less work by doing a periodic price promotion, it seems worth trying.
This of course is a common tactic I use with my books. But that is different because selling a large number of books on Amazon brings in new readers. Marking your courses down can feel like cannibalizing your own brand when there are no networks effects to be gained.
First direct sales of The Heart to Start
The Black Friday sale did bring in the first-ever direct-to-reader sales of The Heart to Start. I sold 7 copies at $2.99 apiece using Payhip, delivered with Bookfunnel. After payment processing fees, that will come in at around $19.
Had those been through Amazon, I would have made about $15. Arguably, that $4 isn’t worth missing out on the algorithm boost that would have come with selling them on Amazon, and I do pay $15 a month for Bookfunnel (though I’d likely do that anyway).
However, while it makes logical sense to sell a DRM-free ebook direct to a reader at a higher price than they would pay on Amazon, I doubt it would feel fair to the consumer. In any case, it’s a start, and it feels good to know readers have a choice other than Amazon (or Apple, or Google, or Wal-Mart/Kobo).
Mind Management, Not Time Management to be in Great on Kindle? (with a price increase?)
I’ve said many times before, if MMT gets into the Great on Kindle program, I plan to raise the price on the ebook.
At the current $9.99 price, I earn a 70% royalty. If I raised that price by one cent, I’d earn only a 35% royalty. But if it’s in Great on Kindle, I can earn a 50% royalty on prices between $4.99 and $19.99.
Currently, I make about $6.88 per MMT ebook sold. That’s because I pay an 11¢ delivery charge for the ebook. But the 50% royalty plan on Great on Kindle has no delivery charge. I could start making the same royalty at about $13.77.
I have my sights set on $14.99. That would be a $7.49 royalty. That’s only 61¢ additional earnings for a $5 price jump, but it would give my book a price tag like that of traditionally-published books. Also, I suspect that because Amazon would make more money for each transaction, that might trigger the algorithm to promote the book more, and for my ads to run more profitably.
Additionally, that’s only on Amazon that my royalty percentage would drop. I believe I would still be earning 70% on Apple Books, Kobo, etc. That would be $10.49 in royalties per book. And when I start selling direct, it would be more like $13.50.
Finally, having a higher list price would just make any price promotions, such as a BookBub Featured Deal at $1.99, even more powerful.
Fixed an issue affecting Great on Kindle eligibility
Following my initiative to write more SEO-friendly content, I was writing a summary of my experience with Great on Kindle, and I noticed a “Quality Warning” in my KDP Dashboard.
Apparently an image was too low resolution, and according to the quality warning, it was preventing the book from being eligible for Great on Kindle.
As you might be able to tell looking at that screenshot closely, I fixed the issue. However, despite the fact it is marked as resolved, it still shows up in my dashboard.
It has only been a couple days. I’m hoping to be eligible for Great on Kindle soon, so I can boost that price! I’ll probably send an email to my list beforehand to give them a chance to buy before the price increase.
Actually in Great on Kindle?
As I’m preparing this report, I’ve noticed that MMT appears to be in Great on Kindle on the consumer side. Amazon’s landing page is promising I’ll earn credits toward Great on Kindle books if I buy it.
However, I still don’t see the 50% royalty option in my KDP Dashboard. Still waiting to hear back from support. I’m sure it will get worked out soon!
Some Clarity revenue this month
I had a couple Clarity calls in November. $166 isn’t a ton of revenue, but the calls are fun, and I get to talk to interesting people.
Yep, there’s $249 in Twitter ads in this month’s report. I did some experimentation to try to boost the hit Twitter thread I used to launch MMT.
It’s hard to say whether these ads help. I have noticed it’s possible to get engagements from U.S. users for incredibly cheap, if you bid low enough. I am experimenting with allocating tiny, tiny budget to boost tweets that have already done well organically.
I have no idea if this is worth it, and I kind of don’t like how it skews my stats so it’s not as easy to see how I’m doing. It does make me wonder to what extent big Twitter accounts out there use ads to boost their engagement and build their followings.
Oops, Fathom Analytics missing from previous reports
I realized that for a few months I’ve been paying for Fathom Analytics via my personal credit card. I won’t be correcting that in the past income reports, but I am reporting the $14 expense for this month in this report.
I am liking Fathom, but still haven’t had the heart to pull the plug on Google Analytics. I should. I have some sunk costs/loss-aversion bias at play there. I have like 15 years of data history (not that I can make a case for how I would ever use it!)
Thank you to the Accidental Creative podcast!
I’m continuing to be on a podcast here and there, which is a nice way to promote a book. It was an honor to be back on the great Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative podcast.
More podcast appearances coming up! I have considered hiring someone to help me get on some more podcasts. However, having been on the receiving end of such pitches, I know that people who are good at it are probably hard to find.
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Kindle||$1,654|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Paperback (Amazon)||$308|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management (non-Amazon)||$164|
|The Heart to Start Kindle||$474|
|The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon)||$74|
|The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$54|
|The Heart to Start Audiobook||$60|
|How to Write a Book Kindle||$101|
|How to Write a Book Paperback||$114|
|How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$1|
|How to Write a Book Audible||$19|
|How to Write a Book Spanish (all)||$12|
|Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain (all)||$0|
|Ten Passive Income Ideas||$16|
|Total Book Sales||$3,051|
|Blog 2 BLING!||$494|
|Explosive Email Course||$54|
|Summer of Design||$46|
|White Hot Course||$434|
|Total Digital Products||$1,971|
Affiliates / Advertising
Love Your Work Podcast
|Total LYW Podcast||$246|
|Podcast Editing / Publishing||$80|
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