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September 2023 Income Report
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September’s revenue was $8,182, up from August’s $7,216. Profits were $7,127, up from August’s $6,165.
This is the highest-profit month since January, when I made $7,899. As a result, there’s a bit of a rebound in the 6 month moving average profit in the graph above.
This also puts my “salary” for the past twelve months back about $60k. $62,132, to be exact, which also puts my monthly profits above the $5k mark.
No advertising (okay, $5)
Likely my higher profits this month are thanks in no small part to that I spent no money on advertising. Okay, so I spent $5 boosting an Instagram post – which is still the least I’ve spent on ads since starting these reports. Therefore, instead of having an ROI of infinity, it’s merely 93,479%.
Of course, not all my sales this month were generated by my $5 in ad spend. Nor were this month’s sales possible without ad spend from prior months. How many sales did my $5 in ad spend generate? I have no way of knowing, but I’d guess zero. How many of this month’s sales are due to ad spend in prior months? I have know way of knowing, but I’d guess much more than zero.
No more TikTok
Probably some of those book sales are due to my efforts on TikTok over the past couple months. I posted every day for August and September, and well into October.
In July’s report, I had amassed nearly 10,000 followers. In August’s report, 28,200. I still haven’t broken the 30,000 mark.
As of this writing, I haven’t posted in about two weeks. In fact, I’ve hardly touched any social media platform at all.
It’s hard to say exactly what happened. Some switch flipped in me. Part of it is, I needed to make space to focus on my next book. Part of it is, I reached the point of diminishing returns in “making for what making makes me,” at least as far as my next book is concerned.
I’m sick of your shit
Part of it is, I’m sick of your shit. By “you,” I of course don’t mean you. If you’re reading this, you probably have a higher attention span than 0.5 seconds. You probably have more productive ways of boosting your self-esteem than performing mental gymnastics to “dunk” on the next thing you see. You probably have the humility to know the world is too complicated to self-righteously offer your “obvious” solutions to every ill humanity has struggled with since the dawn of time.
Unless of course all those things are true of you, in which case I do mean you. I’m sick of your shit.
I’m sick of the constant moralization of everything. I’m sick of people believing the answers are so simple. I’m sick of everything having to fit a narrative one already believes before they’ll bother paying attention. I’m sick of contrarianism for contrarianism’s sake. I’m sick of every discussion taking the posture of, “Help me reinforce what I already know,” rather than, “Help me understand.”
As Bo Burnham has said, “Can anyone shut the fuck up?”
Can I afford to STFU? (do I want to?)
This is a bit of a problem, as it may be my job to not STFU, and the places where people go to not STFU are presumably the best places to find people who will buy books. Something for me to think about.
I love social media as a place to socialize and learn from smart and curious people. But as more and more of the lowest-common-denominator has made its way to social media in the past fifteen years, it’s become less and less that.
Still holding out hope to find my cozy web.
For the moment, it seems the decline of Twitter and the characteristics of TikTok have combined to cure me of social media. Seriously, since moving to Silicon Valley in 2005 – eighteen years ago – I can’t remember a time I was less interested in social media, at large.
That said, I did enjoy my TikTok experiment while it lasted. I think it’s a cool platform for making content, that gives content a chance. But the vast majority of comments were so juvenile, pedantic, and/or self-righteous, I couldn’t bother myself to dig through to find the thoughtful ones.
That, I think, is a tragedy. I wish I had a “thicker skin”, as Tyler Cowen has recommended. Perhaps I will develop one, over time. Or maybe there’s some adjustments I can make that can make the experience better for me. For now, it’s not a priority.
Re-focusing on Finish What Matters
A major motivation that has pushed me away from social media has been to make some progress on my next book, ironically and tentatively titled, Finish What Matters.
I tried to focus much of the content I made for TikTok around topics I hoped to include in the book. This is a great way to sharpen my point-of-view on a topic, and get an idea of what resonates, and what common objections pop up to things I have to say.
Point-of-negative-returns on social media
But, I felt I had reached the point-of-negative-returns on that use of social media. One: I’ve written enough books and made enough content on this topic, making more felt like it was crossing the line between Research and Resistance. I have a sharp enough point-of-view, I should be able to say things without second-guessing every little thing. Two: Some of the feedback I was getting was only serving to sow more doubt, and I don’t think it was relevant feedback. There were too many objections from “Stews”, and Stew, by definition, doesn’t buy books. He’s chronically online.
A different kind of book-writing journey
I continue to have little idea how much farther I need to go to finish Finish What Matters. In January I was only 60% sure I’d have a manuscript by the end of the year. That wasn’t terribly confident, but now I’m even less sure (PredictionBook is now defunct and I haven’t looked into an alternative yet).
When I wrote Design for Hackers, I had been immersed in design for more than a decade. When I wrote Mind Management, Not Time Management, I had been immersed in that topic approximately a decade. The Heart to Start came from a more than decade-long journey. This book feels more like I’m deliberately immersing myself into a topic, so the fact that three years in the finish line isn’t in sight isn’t totally strange.
But, I’m currently making it a point to cut out as much other stuff as possible and spend every possible moment engaging with the ideas for this book in some manner. That includes morning writing sessions, listening to recordings of interviews whenever I get a chance, and redirecting my curiosity so that when I’m reading, it’s something I’m fairly confident will be useful for the book.
This is also the first book for which I’ve had an active Zettelkasten, at least to the point described in Digital Zettelkasten. I went through my #Finishing hashtag the other day, and it was a breath of fresh air to have everything right there. But I still have much more to collect and think through, and I’m still searching for the right structure.
I still feel there’s a small chance the right book will “appear” in my mind at some point. Creating can be an emergent process in that way.
The Heart to Start hardback series redesign
A couple weeks ago, I launched a redesign of The Heart to Start hardback. I made it match up with the hardback of MMT.
This edition is currently only available on my Shopify store. It has the same ISBN as the digital cloth hardback from IngramSpark, but after a lot of back-and-forth with IngramSpark support, I figured out they don’t support creme paper for these exact specs. The only way this book is different from MMT is that it’s 8’ x 5’, instead of 8.5’ x 5.5’, but for some reason that means you can only have white paper. Perhaps I’ll use an IngramSpark coupon and get around to uploading an updated design anyway. But, ick – still stuck with white paper on Ingram.
How much more $ I make when you buy direct
This new edition of The Heart to Start has only sold three copies on my Shopify store. I’m not reading too much into that, as it is three-weeks shipping, and those who wanted to buy the book have already done so.
But it is cool to have a trickle of sale coming in. Here’s how the economics break down on some recent orders, versus buying from Amazon.
A customer purchased Digital Zettelkasten Audiobook for $15.31. After payment processing, I get $14.03. On my latest statement from Audible, the audiobook had been downloaded 358 times, for $901 in royalties. Instead of an average of $2.50, I get five, almost six times that when customers buy direct.
A customer purchased Digital Zettelkasten ebook for $7. I get $6.35. Last month, I sold 103 copies on Kindle, and earned $395 in royalties. I usually average about $3.83 per book, so I earn 2/3 more when customers buy direct.
A customer purchased Mind Management, Not Time Management on hardback for $32.91 (with shipping). I paid $19.59 to print and ship, so earned $13.32. I’ve sold 255 of these hardbacks in the U.S. this year and earned a total of $2,155, for an average of $8.45. So I earned 58% more when this customer bought direct.
Shipping takes three weeks, but this customer took advantage of my policy of free ebook and Audiobook with paper book purchase, so they got those right away. They got for $33 what retails for $47.
I also get paid right away, instead of waiting 90 days.
Shopify store images
I’ve now completed photographing and mocking up all my store images for Shopify. I took photos of paper books with my new camera.
I also set up a stock image to display my audiobooks.
Finally, I had to photograph my own ebook devices for my ebook mockups.
The ebook mockup stock photos out there were especially disappointing, and I didn’t like what DALL-E 3 came up with and Midjourney wouldn’t give me a free account. If you’re a stock photographer, there could be an opportunity for a decent-earning image here.
By way of thinking more about direct sales, here’s how mine stacked up in September.
$92 of my $4,662 book income came through direct purchases. That’s approximately 2%. Of course, I had to pay for some printing and shipping for those, too, so the actual share is less, but I’m not going to get that detailed just yet.
October is already looking good on the Shopify store. I’ll report final numbers next month.
Final payment for India deal
I got an extra bump in book revenue this month by receiving the final $975 of my $3,250 deal for the Indian subcontinent. Again, this was for MMT for six languages (including English), and English for HTS.
Solid ActiveCampaign revenue
I got a healthy injection of revenue from ActiveCampaign. Been using them for years by the way. If you’re looking for an email marketing platform, use my affiliate link.
Design for Hackers payment
I received one of my twice-yearly payments for Design for Hackers this month. I made $553. My previous payment, received in March, was $897, and the one a year ago was $406.
Thank you to Patreon supporters
Thank you to my latest Patreon supporter: George Perdicaris.
Thank you for having me on your podcast!
Thank you to Cody McClain at the MindHack Podcast.
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Kindle||$429|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Paperback (Amazon)||$517|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management (non-Amazon)||$1,471|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Audiobook||$1,098|
|100-Word Writing Habit||$5|
|Digital Zettelkasten Kindle||$395|
|Digital Zettelkasten Wide (non-Kindle)||$133|
|Digital Zettelkasten Audiobook||$55|
|The Heart to Start Kindle||$129|
|The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon)||$15|
|The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$264|
|The Heart to Start Audiobook||$55|
|How to Write a Book Kindle||$29|
|How to Write a Book Paperback||$39|
|How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$3|
|How to Write a Book Audiobook||$31|
|How to Write a Book Spanish (all)||$6|
|Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain (all)||$3|
|Ten Passive Income Ideas||$4|
|Design for Hackers (all formats)||$553|
|Total Book Sales||$5,232|
|White Hot Course||$39|
|Total Digital Products||$237|
Affiliates / Advertising
|Alliance of Independent Authors||$183|
|Total Reader Support||$154|
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