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The first six months of self-publishing: costs and income

I realized the other day that the only thing I've spent more on this year than self-publishing is eating out.

This has been hard to rationalize. I am very strict about not going into debt for this. And I haven't. This was money that was for "fun" so I chose to spend it on my writing instead of clothes or cable. The question is, do I believe in myself enough to think that I'll make that money back (so I can maybe also get the clothes and cable at some point)?

I am releasing part 2 of my book in a few days and I wanted to get all of these thoughts, feelings, and numbers out before then. Everyone says publishing more - especially finishing a series - will help with sales. While this is not technically a series, I'm obviously very eager to see if this makes a difference.

I also wanted to detail how much I have really been spending. It's easy to forget about a recurring monthly charge and think "Oh, I only spend $20 on a promotion this month" when in reality, you're way over budget for the month. I use a great online budgeting tool (get a free month by using my link!) and I made a category for book expenses, so I have an easy way to find the total.

As of the end of September, I have made about $58. That's total since I published in April, not just for the month. During that same period, I have spent about $1336. This seems really high to me, considering just a few months ago, I was at $400.

At six months in, I am in the red for $1278. I still have no idea if this is normal or not. People so rarely mention numbers in the beginning, but I think a loss is to be expected in any new business. I have a feeling that I am on the low end for expenses, since editing and covers especially can cost at least twice as much as I've been paying. I am most certainly on the lower end for sales. Had I started building a list and platform before launching, as well as planned out a series rather than doing a 2-part book (which was unplanned), there would probably be a bit more income.

Here's the breakdown of what I spent by category:

$450 - editing and covers

$309 - website, mailing list, Bookfunnel/Instafreebie

$227 - marketing/promotions

$88 - tools/books

$116 - Nick Stephenson Facebook group

$146 - Amazon and Facebook ads

After looking over my expenses, I decided to stop both Instafreebie and Nick's group. This will save $50 a month that I can put into covers or editing. I really feel like I'm at a point where I can read all the craft books in the world, but without a developmental editor and/or writing class, I'll be stuck not understanding important parts of writing.

My goal for my first year was to make $2000 (not every month, just overall). Right now, I am about $3300 worth of sales away from that, assuming I stop incurring any new expenses, which is obviously not realistic. I am learning more every day, and have some big ideas for early 2018, so I am feeling confident I can get pretty close to breaking even this first year. Hitting the $2000 goal will be nice, but if I don't make it, I know what I can do in year 2 to make it happen.