I promised I would log the steps of my journey for those interested. The big step I took this week was setting up a business account so I can keep my writing expenses and income separate from my personal accounts. It's too expensive to incorporate yet, although that is safer, so I have a sole-proprietorship. However, having a separate account should help me out at tax-time. I deposited $150 to maintain the account. Good practice would have been to deposit the money I needed in the account, then draw out my expenses. I haven't done that. I won't take any money for expenses out of the account until I see money actually going in.
I registered on Amazon's CreateSpace program under my business name and linked the royalties to directly deposit in the account.
I have kept an ongoing balance sheet:
Cover Art: $15
Interior Design: $10
Publishing and Distribution
Amazon Pro: $40
Webpage: $100 (one year at Wix)
Booktrailers: $0 (so far)
I budgeted a maximum of $1000 and there are still some expenses I haven't had to pay for yet, but probably will. However, I originally thought editing would be $400. I was delighted when it was less. (Probably because a lot of these stories have been published before and needed minimum editing.)
Now, how much do I expect to make? The real answer is I HAVE NO CLUE. But that's not business-like, so I'll give you an OMAF (Out of My Arse Fact).
I read that one can expect a sell-through rate of about 3% on an average list. I have a list of about 1000 people -- that is how many people I can reasonably and reliably expect to tell about my book. If three out of every hundred who hear about it actually buy the book, I will sell thirty books.
Yes. Thirty. That's how many books I expect to sell.
I will be making $2 (net) on each ebook. So I expect to make $60.
60 - 340 = -280
That leaves me in the red to the tune of $280. This may be why my husband objects to my business plan.
I need to sell 170 books to break even.
Certain factors could improve this picture. I will do a blog tour, to try to tell more people about the book. And if readers like the book and start telling friends about it, that would be wonderful. I have no way of controlling word-of-mouth, besides trying to write as compelling fiction as I can, and packaging it as beautifully as I can afford. Even if I never earn out my advance (so to speak) I hope to give those who do read the book an enjoyable experience and a lovely object of art.
Another way I could do better is if I had a higher buy-in from my list. If out of my 1000 something internet buddies, there was buy-in rate of 20%, I could sell 200 copies, make $400 net, cover my costs and make $60 profit.
Bottom line, I don't expect I can make much more than lunch money on one book. That's why I already have plans to bring out more ebooks.
Of course, I hope my sales of Conmergence will be better than I've estimated. With ebook sales increasing by 193%, from $89.8 million for 2009 to $263 million in 2010 this is a great time to publish an ebook. But other people's success doesn't guarantee mine. Conmergence might do worse. I imagine it's possible a month could go by and find me selling only 3 or 4 copies. If that happens, I will cry. But I won't give up.
I am trying hard to behave like a grown-up and approach writing as a business venture, and I hope one day it will help me support my family. But I am still an artist, one with more hope than financial sense, and I'll keep trying even when a realistic look at the numbers dictates quitting now.