My First Two Years as an Author

It was roughly two years ago today that I started my blog and released my first short story, DAISY, and set my first nonfiction work, Understanding IT. I wanted to take a step back to look at the performance of my various projects, and I realized something very important:  Advertising is incredibly important, and something that I've completely neglected. As a result, this analysis was incredibly unkind.

I kept a running total of all of my expenses to try to give myself a realistic investment amount for my budding career in independent writing: $4,523.  This includes everything from the $16/mo blog costs, the one time (!) investment of $200 in advertising on YouTube, inflation (I'll explain why later), and publishing costs, they are located below:

Total Costs (Running Totals)


It's important to know that included within the Publishing Costs is: Incurred Wages, Editing, Cover Art and Illustrations within the book.  These are broken out, per book, below.


Understanding IT

I chose to include Incurred Wages to ensure that I was positively valuing my time, to see if this career was a viable option.  While the point of this, for me, wasn't financial independence, I can't completely ignore the cost of my time; neither should you, or any other author or hobbyist. Writing is not, nor will it ever be, completely motivated by financial gain.

As a result, my figure to reach was $4,523, the out of pocket expenses were quite a bit lower (about $1,175); which is good because my actual revenue from the hobby was pretty insubstantial for the first two years. There are three objective and measurable income streams from my writing career: Affiliate Advertising, Google Advertisements, and book royalties.  They total a whopping $95.


Total Revenue (Running Totals)


The revenue sources above are also running totals for every-other-month, and while there were a few subjective benefits (e.g. possible job offers extended), they're the only three reliable and consistent sources of income that I could directly trace to my efforts as an indie author.  These numbers, by themselves, don't really provide us with much information though.

  • What if I had invested that $1,175 in a low yield bond?
  • What if I had gotten a job that earned $4,523?

Investing the $1,175 in a 2% bond would have offered $47 in profits, about half what the writing career did.  Earning the money from a part time job would have taken 301 hours, or 38 weeks.  It would have cost me $623 in taxes, but I would have earned $3,900; clearly more profitable - but not exactly passive.

The key take away from this article - if any - is two-fold.  First, neglecting advertising is a terrible, horrible, no-good mistake. I'm not sure why I haven't invested in advertising, everyone whose made it as an indie author foot stomps this, but I am where I am.  Second, the first two years (and probably many more after them) are painfully depressing from a numbers perspective.  So, if you're not doing this to augment your financial independence, but as a career - you should use me as a case-study for some lessons to avoid learning on your own.

Advertise your work.