Indie Author Weekly

099: Recap of this author's book sales in 2020

February 16, 2021 Sagan Morrow Episode 100
Indie Author Weekly
099: Recap of this author's book sales in 2020
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Indie Author Weekly
099: Recap of this author's book sales in 2020
Feb 16, 2021 Episode 100
Sagan Morrow

Are you curious about how much this author spent on book marketing, and how much I made on book sales over the course of an entire year? Well, that’s exactly what we are going to discuss on today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly! 

This is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books.   

In this episode, get a behind-the-scenes recap of how 2020 went for this author in terms of 5 categories: hours spent writing book, hours spent marketing books, dollars spent promoting books, number of book sales and downloads, and dollars earned from book sales… PLUS the importance of embracing all forms of success and how you can step into your own productive, prolific self! 

TUNE IN to get the inside scoop now... 

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Show Notes Transcript

Are you curious about how much this author spent on book marketing, and how much I made on book sales over the course of an entire year? Well, that’s exactly what we are going to discuss on today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly! 

This is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books.   

In this episode, get a behind-the-scenes recap of how 2020 went for this author in terms of 5 categories: hours spent writing book, hours spent marketing books, dollars spent promoting books, number of book sales and downloads, and dollars earned from book sales… PLUS the importance of embracing all forms of success and how you can step into your own productive, prolific self! 

TUNE IN to get the inside scoop now... 

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Hello and welcome back to Indie Author Weekly! I’m your host, romantic comedy novelist and productivity strategist Sagan Morrow, and this is the podcast for indie authors, aspiring authors, and curious bookworms who want the inside scoop, tips and motivation, and behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. 

Now, are you at all curious about how much this author spent on book marketing, and how much I made on book sales over the course of an entire year? Well, that’s exactly what we are going to discuss on today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly.

For our new and returning listeners, you can now get all Indie Author Weekly podcast episodes plus book and writing updates delivered directly to your inbox each week at SaganMorrow.com/behindthescenes—link is in the show notes.

Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today, I want to share a recap on my author experience in 2020. That’s right! I’m sharing with you how much money I spent on my books, how much time I spent writing and promoting my books, how many book sales and downloads I had, and how much cash I put in my pocket as a result, over the course of the entire year.

We’re well into 2021 now, but I wanted to wait until this month to give you a full report on my book stats because there’s always a delay with e-book platforms. Sometimes they don’t actually give their official reports or payouts until a full month after the previous month is wrapped up. So that’s why we’re doing this recap *now* rather than a month ago!

This feels weirdly vulnerable, I have to say. For all that I write romance novels and I love sharing behind the scenes, when it comes down to money, it feels really vulnerable. For a taste of my past experience and relationship with finances, just look at Scarlett’s financial situation in Book 7 of my Polyamorous Passions series, Her Bad Idea. You can grab a copy at your favourite e-bookstore, or visit SaganMorrow.com/books—link is in the show notes. Her situation isn’t too far off the mark from where I once was. So as you can imagine, there’s some vulnerability around sharing this kind of nitty gritty detail with you. 

But I also think it’s really important for us to learn this kind of information from one another. The entire point of this podcast is to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be an indie author. I’m sure there are many indie authors who have a completely different experience from mine, and I’m sure my own experience will change a lot over the years! So consider this a snapshot, behind the scenes peek at a moment in time... 2020 in the numbers of my authorpreneur business. 

Okay. I’m going to break this down into 5 categories: hours spent on writing books, hours spent on marketing books, dollars spent promoting books, number of book sales and downloads, and dollars earned from book sales. Let’s do this.

First, hours spent on writing books: 121 hours.

40 of those hours were spent on my upcoming romcom, Small Town Stilettos, and 76 of those hours were spent on my last romcom, Her Bad Idea

The extra hours here and there were on general book ideas and writing short stories.

Second, hours spent on marketing my books: 86 hours.

The vast majority of that, 66 hours, occurred in July and August when I was doing my book launch for Her Bad Idea. 

I should also note that those 86 total hours didn’t include one-off social media posts, because I would have counted that toward a different category in my Toggl time tracking system. Same goes for this podcast, as well as any guest posts I’ve written or podcast interviews I’ve done where I’ve included some promotions for my books—those have totally separate categories in Toggl. So the amount of time spent on book promotions would probably be quite a few hours higher than that, if we were to calculate all of that.

By the way, if you’re wondering how to find the time to work on your own books—or any passion project or side hustle—then I encourage you to grab my free time-saving tips cheatsheet at SaganMorrow.com/savetime… link is in the show notes. 

Third, dollars spent on promoting my books: approx. $1,900

This dollar amount includes cover design, payment for book promos and ads, stock photos, all of that kind of thing. I should also note that this was primarily for one book, Her Bad Idea, since it’s the only book I published in 2020. 

Fourth, book sales and downloads: 

There’s a difference between book sales and downloads, because of when books are available for free. For example, Book 4 in my Polyamorous Passions series, She Wants More, was free for much of last year. So it might have received a lot of free downloads but only a few paid downloads. 

Kobo: 45 book sales and 808 free downloads.

Draft2Digital: 635 downloads in total—I couldn’t figure out how to differentiate between book sales and free downloads, so that’s both combined.

Amazon: 11 paperback sales, 133 e-book sales, and 4,368 free downloads.

I paid for promotions in August and December to promote my free book, and that’s when I got the vast majority of all those free downloads for Amazon especially.

So, that means that in total, I’ve had 6,000 book sales and downloads in 2020.

Lastly, dollars earned from book sales: 

I earned approximately $450 in book sales from Amazon, Kobo, and Draft2Digital. About half of that was from Amazon; I earned a little more from Kobo than I did from Draft2Digital. Draft2Digital, by the way, is a book platform that distributes to all other e-bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and so on. 

As you can see, I did not come close to breaking even from a financial perspective—I earned about a quarter of what I spent. Depending on the mood I’m in, sometimes that kind of thing can feel discouraging. But right now, I’m not discouraged. I’m inspired and motivated to build on that. This past year has been a wonderful opportunity to invest in some strategies, and to learn which ones are more effective than others, and to become more comfortable with marketing and promoting my work. 

So, in actuality, looking at the cold hard data is more encouraging than anything else.

I’m getting to the point with my books where I’m thinking, “Okay, I have now published 7 novels, plus a couple business books. I’ve been doing this for a few years. It’s time to see some return.” 

As with most authors, I became an author because I love writing. I have a habit of writing books and then wanting to write more books, rather than doing a lot of marketing and promotions around my existing books. I should probably be doubling down on the marketing side of things.

In 2021, I would like to break even on the amount of money I spend on my books and the amount that I earn. I have a few plans for how I intend to promote my work and make strides with it, including a plan for organic marketing through guest appearances. 

I also want to note that there are so many different definitions of success. Right? Getting quite a few 4 and 5 star reviews on my latest book is absolutely fantastic. Making progress with writing and publishing new books is amazing. Improving our writing skills is incredible. It’s very important that we celebrate all of our wins and successes! And also, I think it’s important to share this kind of financial breakdown with you, so that you know what you might be getting into as an author. Other authors might have an entirely different experience and make way more money, right from the start! This is one author’s experience. 

Part of what allows me to experiment like this and try different strategies and spend so many hours on my craft without the immediate financial payout is because of the other side of my business: that is, being a productivity strategist. I am so focused on time and energy management that it creates the space, the capacity, the bandwidth, to prioritize my work as an author throughout the year. Improving productivity is fundamental to maximizing your ability to become more prolific, and make progress on projects such as writing and publishing books! 

If you want to learn strategies for doing that, then I strongly encourage you to join my signature program, Productivity Powerhouse—you can do that at SaganMorrow.com/powerhouse. Link is in the show notes. 

So, there you have it! My behind-the-scenes recap of how 2020 went for this author in terms of hours spent writing and marketing books, dollars spent promoting books, number of book sales and downloads, and dollars earned from book sales… as well as the importance of embracing all forms of success and how you can step into your own productive, prolific self. 

I hope you enjoyed this opportunity to get a glimpse at the reality of what book sales and dollars earned can look like. 

Being an author is hard work. It’s a labour of love! This is also why supporting your author friends by buying their books, spreading the word about their books, and reviewing their books, is SO important. Each one of those activities—buying books, spreading the word about an indie author’s books, and reviewing their books—contributes to where that book lands on the algorithms in e-bookstores, and it helps ensure that your favourite authors have a larger platform so that they can continue writing and publishing books, faster and more frequently than before. 

And that, my friend, is a wrap for today’s episode of Indie Author Weekly! Access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources, at SaganMorrow.com/podcast.

Thank you so much for tuning in. Please take 2 minutes to rate and review Indie Author Weekly on Apple Podcasts—I really appreciate your support. 

Until next week, this is Sagan Morrow, signing off the Indie Author Weekly podcast.