I thought a lot about what I wanted to do. That meant I didn’t spend a lot of time actually doing anything.
A big part of this was all the editing I was doing.
Yep, I put out two large books this month – a novel and nonfiction book. I had to make sure they were good, so my writing went down.
For the month I wrote 103,202 words, putting me up to 1,411,747 for the year.
That’s 77,556 more words than last year. Pretty good!
I also put out 51 blog posts this month.
Let’s talk about some of that, as well as what’s to come, in this final monthly report of 2015.
Since then the book has sold 6 copies.
Nothing to write home about there, though that’s about what I expected.
People just don’t buy my stuff.
Last year I sold 120 copies of Stand Out, the 2015 guidebook. Maybe I’ll sell that many of this new one in 2016.
Maybe I should just stop writing this stuff?
Honestly – content marketing-types are a dime a dozen.
Everyone can write about social media and SEO and social media. Everyone does.
Why am I any different, or any better, than anyone else?
Maybe I’m not. Maybe my lackluster sales and shoddy website traffic point to that.
Maybe I should just give up.
So I’m thinking that a lot. That’s why I say putting out a new book is depressing – you know that hardly anyone will care.
How long can you continue in the face of that?
This book did better than I expected, with 19 sales for the month.
More, quite a few of those sales came from the UK. That’s interesting.
Overall, I sold 79 Colter books this month and 388 for the year.
Clearly, people like to read these. They’re fast becoming my most popular novels and in another couple of months they will be.
That’s why I spend time on this – people like it.
Really, it’s not hard to get a writer to like you or do what you want – just buy their books and say you like ‘em.
That’s what people are doing with the Colter books and that’s why I continue. Expect more of them this year, quite a few more.
Total Book Sales
In 2015 I got 1,905 sales.
I think that’s pretty good.
Maybe it’s not the best, but gosh darn, lots of people would kill to have that.
So why do I feel it’s not good enough? I guess I’m too busy measuring myself against others.
Alas, that just makes you depressed.
I’ll have more on my 2015 eBook sales around January 15. That’s when Amazon puts out the December report and that’s when I’ll know the exact totals for the year.
Until then, here are some sales numbers for the 14 books I put out in 2015:
- Colter’s Winter: 276
- Dulce Base: 136
- Stand Out: 120
- Colter’s Hell: 53
- Social Media Politics: 41
- Colter’s Run: 40
- How to Write Fantasy: 20
- Colter’s Friend: 19
- Soul Catcher: 7
- Strategic Self-Publishing: 7
- Get Noticed: 6
- Feds and Farmers: 5
- Mountain Man Series 1-3: 4
- Flight 370: 3
As you can see, the Colter books are where it’s at. That’s clearly a direction I want to continue in. Western books in general will be good to me, I have a feeling.
A big part of this was my expenses.
My expenses got away from me this year, and in this graph you can see how they broke down:
That’s more than $2,600 in expenses.
This sucks because I only made about $20,000 in gross earnings. So that puts me down to $17,000 for the year.
Yep, I live in poverty.
I’m the epitomy of the starving artist, though I’m not starving.
I’d be doing a little better if I could get those expenses under control. How can that be done?
- First, much of that is eBook cover art and illustrations, even some map work for those Colter novels. More than half of it, however, was updates to older books. That means I can probably decrease this expense by half in 2016.
- Next, Createspace book expenses are the same way. Much of that stems from updating older books or just getting new books into print versions. Since I made $1,600 from Createspace this year, $349 in expenses isn’t that bad. It’s still 22% of earnings, however, and that number has got to come down.
- Finally, I just need to spend less. Printer ink, for instance. I do that when I print out books and proof ‘em. Maybe I can decrease that. I had some serious computer repairs this year as well, and that set me back. eBook marketing, however, is an expense that should probably increase…just not the crappy Facebook advertising I was doing.
So mainly I just scrape by, but I know ways I can improve and scrape by a little better.
I can’t complain too much – I chose this life. That doesn’t make it any easier, but honestly, I do what I love to do!
How many can say that?
That’s not much and I wish I would have/could have given more.
I bet I could have given more.
The Bible says you should give 10% of your income.
That’s not really why I gave money to charity, however.
Maybe it’s some of it. I’ve been trying to help people out more lately, and since I first donated to charity after my 2014 legislative run I thought it’d be a good way to do that.
I started thinking about this giving/tithing during the year, mainly because I heard it on the Dave Ramsey show. He talks about tithing sometimes.
I also give to charity because it makes my tax situation better.
Because I’m self-employed and pay no taxes, and because my wife is employed and does, at the end of the year I actually cost her some money in the form of a bigger tax return she would have got.
Confusing? It can be.
That’s why it’s better to give throughout the year and not wait until the end of summer to start, like I did.
So this year I gave to the following charities:
- Feeding America: $50
- Missoula Boys & Girls Club: $50
- Operation Homefront: $25
- The Nature Conservancy: $15
Because I gave that I now get tons of mailings from other charities. Sometimes they even give me calendars and address labels.
That’s pretty cool. Something else to keep in mind is to give to charities that spend 95% or so on their cause and not that much on administrative stuff/gifts.
If I were to give 10% of my income that’d be about $2,000 a year.
Wow, that’s a lot of money! I don’t think I can afford that.
I can afford a bit however. So my goal for 2016 is to give more.
Maybe I can give $280. I bet I can do better than that, though.
I hope you can give some too…if you can afford it. I think you can. Besides, it’ll make you feel good too.
And God likes it.
Thoughts of Work
I mean, I’m not making much money. Worse, my earnings are down.
Clearly, getting a real job might be a good step for me.
I’m hesitant to do that, however, especially after 3 years of working for myself.
All in all, I don’t know what to do.
- I do know that I’m really lucky. I do have enough money to give to charity.
- I have a warm place to live, and in winter. I have food on the table.
Those are good things, and we often discount them…if we even think of them at all.
I’ve been thinking a lot more about those little things, and maybe if I get my spending under control, think more on what I have as well, then I can do better financially.
The nice thing is that I have some affordable hobbies and pastimes.
Reading books at the library is pretty cheap, after all.
So I’m doing well, but like last January, I’m starting from a very low “pile” of money.
Oh well, things will get better – they always do.
For instance, what are my talents?
What am I the best at?
After all, I do a lot of things. I mean, I could focus a lot in 2016 on English as a Second Language.
Currently I’m putting about 1 blog post a month up on my ESL website.
Really, though, is that the best use of my time?
One of the reasons I did my “Top Posts of 2015” blog posts this week was so you could see what’s the most popular.
More, I did it so I could see what’s the most popular.
We all know that hardly anyone comments on this site. It’s therefore important for me to gauge interest in other ways.
Currently I do that by blog post views. For my books I do it by sales.
So I can tell you, I won’t be focusing much on ESL this year. For one, it’s not that popular. Another is that it doesn’t make me much money.
I made $409.17 on my ESL website this year, but after PayPal takes their 29% cut on each transaction I’m left with $290.51 for the year.
I can see why people hate taxes so much. Fees are just as bad.
On the eBook front, the Colter/western novels are what I want to keep doing. Montana is a topic that seems to work for me, though only my first history book sells worth a darn.
One direction I’ll probably cut back on is SEO this year. I’ll also do less with certain fiction routes, like conspiracy books about shadow governments – boy, no one likes those!
Mainly, I know what works and what doesn’t from experience. I’ve been doing this for 3 years now.
I’ve been lucky. I need to continue to stay focused and in-touch with what my audience wants.
If I can do that I might get through another year.