Monday, January 13, 2020

Self-Publishing Income Versus Outgo.

It's time to talk about the thing I hate most - Income versus Outgo.  What I've made versus what I've spent. 

As you might have guessed, I keep it all in a spreadsheet.  Every time I spend money on the writing business, I put it in there.  And every time I make money from the writing business, I put it in there.  Of course, since I hate looking at this, I hadn't then taken those incomes and outgoes and transferred them to the sheet that does the math on it all since last January. I did that on Saturday, so I figured I'd share the results with you here today.

At first glance, the income and the outgo nearly match with income coming out a little ahead.  This is because for 'incoming', I also put down any money I've contributed to the process from other non-writing sources.  The reality of 'sales' versus 'outgo' is the depressing part.  The reality of it is that I am $8K in the hole.

:shrug:  That's the reality of this self-publishing thing I'm doing.  Some writers have it better.  Some have it worse.  I expect a lot of writers are about the same.

Okay, so how does outgo/sales break down by year?

2015: -$4958.94 / $1357.92
2016: -$2079.18 / $786.15
2017: -$1525.56 / $318.92
2018: -$2329.14 / $627.53
2019: -$428.00 / $468.80

On the upside, last year is actually showing in the black by like $40. 

I won't bore you with the actual 'by book' numbers.  The book I've made the most money on is Dying Embers.  I assume because this one has been out the longest and my first year was my best year.  The book I've spent the most on is Wish in One Hand - because I had to do the cover art twice and I spent a huge sum on the first cover.  The book that is closest to being in the black is Accidental Death.  Another $100 in sales without spending any more on it and it'll have paid for itself. 

Of course, I've spent $300 on two books that aren't even out yet - covers for Ugly and the Beast and Cinder Ugly.  Maybe I'll start recouping some of that in the first half of this year.  We'll see.  I'm still playing with the idea of publishing those without sending them through the editor.  If I go with the editor, add another $400-$500 to each of those.

So, there are the hard numbers for my first five years of publishing.  Like I've said before, if you're in this for the money, you'll probably be sorely disappointed.  Then again, maybe you'll break out and soar.  Your mileage will probably vary.  Good luck out there and may 2020 be a better year for us all.

And here's the point where you can ask questions.  I'll answer them if I can.


  1. The way you track sales and expenses really puts me to shame. I'm going to try to do a better job with this in 2020.

    From my experience, my sales starting really picking up after book 3 in a series was out...hoping you'll experience the same boost.

  2. Yeah...I don't even want to think about 2019. And you are so organized. I should work on that too. I'm not going to talk numbers. I'll just end up depressed again. Every day is a new possibility. someone bought 3 books today--1/3 of all the books I've sold this month. I'm taking that as a good sign and going back to work.

    Hang in there! We do this because we love words and stories, and hope--in the back of our minds--that we find the "break-out" book. If we don't write, that book won't go wild. Right? *HUGS*

  3. Numbers are too depressing. Period. I keep them in my Quicken accounting program, but I'm afraid to run those numbers. Sigh.