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October 2021 Income Report

November 23 2021 – 04:46pm

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

October’s revenues were $6,760, down from September’s $8,327. Profits were $5,381, down from September’s $5,585.

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This month I’m reporting the lowest revenue in five months. But, expenses were the lowest they’ve been in a year and a half, so profits are pretty solid. Solid enough to keep up the record-breaking streak.

Profit record, five months in a row!

Profit for the past 12 months has been $56,285. That puts me deep into $50k territory, and is a new record, for the fifth month in a row. Naturally, that’s also a new 12-month average profit record, at $4,690.

So, we’re flirting with a profit of $60k for a one-year period, and $5k-per-month. Next month, last November’s numbers will be cut out of that one-year window, and profits were a healthy $6,338 in November of 2020 – thanks to the debut of Mind Management, Not Time Management, so there are no guarantees I can keep up this streak.

Self-published profit record

This month, we also have set a new 12-month self-published book profit record, again, for the fifth month in a row! Profits for self-published books in the past 12 months have been $27,410. That’s of course a new monthly record for 12-month average, of $2,284.

You can see from the graph, the velocity of record-breaking has slowed down a bit. We started off breaking the record by $400. This month, we’ve broken it by about $40.

Self-published revenue streak broken

While we barely broke the profit record this month, we didn’t break the revenue record this month. Self-publishing revenues over the past 12 months were $50,965. That’s down from the record, last month, of $51,280. That was only a two-month streak, however, as there were some high-revenue/low-profit months when I was spending a ton on Amazon ads back in late 2019.

Lowest self-publishing revenue in six months

October had the lowest self-publishing revenue in six months, before Digital Zettelkasten was introduced. Self-publishing revenues were $3,469. Digital Zettelkasten ebook sales have slowed steadily over the past few months.

I had thought sales would remain steady, since sales had outpaced expectations, and were likely driven through organic discovery on Amazon. But, it looks as if it’s still following the typical trajectory of higher sales early on, slowly tapering off. (Note that I’ve also raised the price a couple times, which is likely contributing to fewer units being sold.)

Lowest ad spend in eighteen months

Part of the low revenues are also due to October being the lowest ad-spend month in about a year and a half. I spent only $692 on ads in October. The last time I spent that little was in April 2020, when I spent $652.

I guess I didn’t pay much attention to ads in October, as I was in Phoenix attending to a family emergency. If you don’t keep an eye on them, especially Lockscreen Ads, ads can stop running.

I’ve since started a bunch of Lockscreen Ads for MMT and HTS. I don’t expect ZET to perform great as a Lockscreen Ad, but I’ve started one for it, too. I need to check in on these ads periodically, to both lengthen the timelines and increase the budgets of the winners.

However, we’re entering the holiday season, and ad costs tend to balloon. If they do, I may have to turn off some ads.

Above-average self-published profits

Lower self-publishing revenue combined with low ad spend to bring above-average self-publishing profits. Self-published profits were $2,777 in October, which is higher than the 12-month running average of $2,284.

Low Digital Zettelkasten paperback earnings (a lesson learned about Ingram Spark reporting)

Part of the reason self-publishing revenues were lower in October is the paperback earnings for Digital Zettelkasten were almost non-existent. Earnings through Ingram Spark were only $111. Contrast that with past months, when earnings have been as high as $524, and no lower than $250. Even stranger, the earnings in the U.S. were only $7. Earnings in the U.S. have averaged over $300 a month.

WTF!? How could I earn that little from the paperback, when the sales rank of the paperback show that it has sold steadily since introduction.

According to Ingram Spark, while books are sold as Print-On-Demand, Amazon often stocks up on books that are selling steadily. So, likely I got paid for an order of books from Amazon in previous months, and for all of October, Amazon was selling from that stock.

Digital Zettelkasten audiobook done (sort of)

When I had initially seen that my paperback earnings for Digital Zettelkasten were so low, I thought maybe someone had hijacked my Amazon page, and was selling an illegal copy of the book. This suspicion became even stronger after what happened with the Digital Zettelkasten audiobook.

Blocked by Audible!?

After getting the audiobook from my audio editors, I logged into ACX to upload. Unfortunately, I saw a message that said, “This title is not suitable for audio.”

I figured this was because there are a decent number of illustrations in the book. No problem, I thought. Many of the illustrations consist mostly of text, and I performed them in the audiobook. Aside from that, I’ve also created a companion PDF showing some of the illustrations that don’t work as well over audio. This is standard practice in audiobooks, and the Mind Management, Not Time Management has illustrations such as these.

So, I emailed ACX to state my case, explaining I already had produced the audiobook, and it was ready to upload. (I sure hoped they’d accept it, as I had also already paid more than $700 to edit the audiobook – which you’ll see in November’s report. And of course I had gone through the trouble of recording it!)

Attempted theft of my intellectual property

They wrote back and told me that the problem wasn’t the content of the book. Rather, someone had tried to produce an audio version of my book. Knowing this person didn’t have the rights to do so, they blocked it.

So, someone was, in fact, trying to steal my intellectual property! But for the audiobook (I checked with Amazon, and it appears the paperback being sold there is, in fact, my Ingram Spark paperback).

Waiting on a copyright certificate

I was relieved to learn that ACX had blocked the attempted theft of my audiobook. But I didn’t like their solution to the problem. They had blocked not only the offender, but anyone from producing the audiobook. They want to see a copyright certificate from the U.S. Copyright Office, stating that I own the copyright to the book.

Does it matter that I was already granted the copyright to the book, upon publishing it, according to U.S. law? Nope. I have to get an actual certificate.

Applying wasn’t a difficult process on copyright.gov, but it did cost $65. Who knows how long it will take to get the certificate!? Some say many months. Others say, several weeks. Until then, there will be no Audible version of the Digital Zettelkasten audiobook!

Digital Zettelkasten available on MP3

By the time I found out I couldn’t yet upload the audiobook to Audible, I had already sent the MP3 version to my readers. At the time of this writing, I’ve sold 21 copies, for $173 in revenue. That’s not bad for an MP3 version. I’ve only ever sold 4 copies of The Heart to Start on MP3, and 26 of Mind Management, Not Time Management on MP3.

Digital Zettelkasten audiobook available everywhere except Audible

I didn’t have any problems uploading the Digital Zettelkasten audiobook to Findaway Voices. So, it’s now available – or very soon will be available – pretty much everywhere. Findaway Voices is distributing to 41 different audiobook outlets, including Apple, Google Play, and Kobo.

Mind Management, Not Time Management hardcover!

I had originally planned for the first paper format of MMT to be hardcover. But, when I experimented with an Ingram Spark hardcover by releasing a hardback version of The Heart to Start, I had some in-stock issues with Amazon. So, I got spooked. I didn’t want to risk launching with stocking issues.

Now, a year after the release of MMT, I entered my Ingram Spark promotion code and the hardcover version is available! I think it’s beautiful.

Ingram Spark recently added some new features that enabled me to design exactly the book I had imagined. For one, I was only able to choose brilliant white paper for the HTS hardcover, when I would have preferred cream. But the big game-changer is the case-laminate with dust-jacket option. For the HTS hardcover, I could choose either between a case-laminate, or a dust jacket over “digital cloth.”

Being able to design a custom case-laminate to go under the dust-jacket freed me up to add some “pop” to the design, which reveals itself when you take the dust-jacket off.

I don’t have a fancy launch planned for it, but I’ll probably send it to the email list in time for the holidays. It would make a great stocking stuffer.

Changes coming in Active Campaign affiliate revenue

This month I’m reporting one of the highest payments ever from Active Campaign. It’s bittersweet, because I don’t know when I’ll see another payment like this.

Active Campaign paid me $2,708 in October. The highest payment I ever received was in June, $3,266. This month’s big payment is helped along by a $2,200 commission I received in July. That was from an account that appears to have paid for a yearly plan. This account was typically paying by the month, and that was bringing in $440 each month.

If that $2,200 turns out to be the only commission I get from that account for the next twelve months, that will overall be a drop in revenue, but I don’t really know what to expect. I have seen some strange billing behavior from that account, anyway. For example, some months it looked as if they had cancelled, as no commission showed up at all. It seemed they had disabled their account to avoid paying in some months. So, there very well could be more payments coming soon.

However, lower payments are definitely on their way. There will be at least $1,300 reported from Active Campaign in November’s report, then it looks like there will be a drastic drop in revenue. In September, I earned only $509 in commissions, and in October, only $476. That’s nearly the lowest commission I’ve ever reported. The second-lowest was $475, in January 2018, the first month I published an income report. The lowest was the following month, February 2018, with $374.

I had some other larger commissions in June and August, from accounts that also appear to have paid yearly, so I won’t be earning monthly for those either.

Seeing these revenues drop tempts me to update my Active Campaign Review. It’s easy and sustainable revenue for me, but it’s a challenge to get excited about updating everything, when I balance that with all the other things I could do with the same time and energy.

Making progress on my next book – with my new typewriter!

When I was in Phoenix in October, I stopped by Phoenix Typewriter, and bought a new (to me) typewriter – which I lugged with me on a plane all the way back to Colombia. It’s a 1953 Smith-Corona Super, and it’s beautiful.

smith corona super 1953 typewriter

smith corona super 1953 typewriter logo

smith corona super 1953 typewriter from the side

I already have another typewriter, which isn’t in the best working order, but this one works perfectly. As I already did with my previous typewriter, I use it to brainstorm drafts of articles, tweets, and newsletters.

But, this new machine is also helping me make progress on my next book. I’ve been using a Zettelkasten method to write an outline.

typewriter Zettelkasten cards

It’s working great. I can flip through the cards, and when I see an idea I want to build upon, I insert an index card, and start typing. It hasn’t quickly gotten unruly, like it always seems to when I try to outline on software.

Will this replace my digital Zettelkasten? Not likely. It’s great for getting control over a specific project, but it’s hard to beat the searchability and linkability of a digital Zettelkasten. It’s more of a “grippy” to my digital Zettelkasten’s “slippy.”

Income

Book Sales

Mind Management, Not Time Management Kindle $817
Mind Management, Not Time Management Paperback (Amazon) $248
Mind Management, Not Time Management (non-Amazon) $72
Mind Management, Not Time Management Audiobook $239
Digital Zettelkasten Kindle $1,186
Digital Zettelkasten Wide (non-Kindle) $200
The Heart to Start Kindle $326
The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon) $92
The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon) $35
The Heart to Start Audiobook $26
How to Write a Book Kindle $122
How to Write a Book Paperback $67
How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon) $0
How to Write a Book Audiobook $16
How to Write a Book Spanish (all) $14
Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain (all) $5
Ten Passive Income Ideas $6
Total Book Sales $3,469

Digital Products

Summer of Design $9
Total Digital Products $9

Affiliates / Advertising

Active Campaign $2,708
Amazon $60
ConvertKit $45
Google Adsense $127
Hostgator $100
SendOwl $5
Total Affiliates $3,044

Love Your Work Podcast

Patreon $234
Total LYW Podcast $234

Services

Clarity $0
Medium $3
Total Services $3
GROSS INCOME $6,760

Expenses

General

Accounting $219
Outside Contractors $0
Podcast Editing / Publishing $123
Quickbooks $36
Total General $378

Advertising

Amazon $642
Product Samples $0
Prestozon $50
Total Advertising $692

Hosting

ActiveCampaign $135
Bookfunnel $15
Drafts $2
Dropbox $10
Fathom Analtyics $14
Libsyn $7
Namecheap $0
SendOwl $9
Ulysses $7
WP Engine $96
Zapier $14
Total Hosting $309
TOTAL EXPENSES $1,379
NET PROFIT $5,381

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This post is filed under Income Reports.