Self-Publishing Earnings 2016 written by Iain Rob Wright on 2nd February 2017.

Hi there, writers!

So I just sent off my accounts for the year and was pleased with the figures I was seeing. It’s all very well for me to herald myself as a success, but I know it would be of interest to many using this website if they knew the specifics of how I measure ‘success’ along with some cold hard cash. While I am certainly not earning the most money in self-publishing, I am definitely earning more more money than I ever thought possible–and by doing something I love no less.

So in the tradition of blogs like Smart Passive Income and the Newbies Guide to Publishing, I will now reveal and breakdown my self-publishing earnings 2016 (my year goes February 16 to January 17).

Self-Publishing Earnings 2016

Overall – £63567.39 (about $80k currently)

  • Audible – £2307.38
  • Draft to Digital – £17.37
  • Printful – £164.84
  • Pro Writing Aid affiliate sales – £557
  • Bluehost affiliate sales – £95.66
  • Infected Books (The Yacht) – £277.89
  • J.A.Konrath 50% book split (Holes in the Ground) – £2353.80
  • Amazon Associate Affiliate sales – £959.34
  • Signed Paperbacks– £29.47 (I sell most at cost)
  • Createspace – £985.35
  • Amazon KDP (ebooks) – £53724.60
  • A-Z of Self-Publishing Subscriptions – £2095.27

Self-Publishing expenses 2016

Overall – £10400.93 (about $13.5k currently)

  • Zapier – £281.02
  • Book Report – £22.22
  • A-Z of Self-Publishing Bonuses – £769.73
  • Artwork – £900.01
  • Editing– £1010
  • Website fees and set up – £428.62
  • Mail Chimp (email) – £889.98
  • Book Funnel – 19.40
  • Social Oomph – £130.80
  • Amazon Advertising – £406.77
  • Facebook Advertising – £2470.57
  • Equipment and supplies – £2840.72
  • Getdrip (email) – 231.09

Summary of Self-Publishing Earnings 2016

While it’s clear that a massive segment of my Self-Publishing Earnings 2016 comes from ebooks and Amazon, I did earn over £7k via other means such as audio and affiliate income. This is significant, because my income from A-Z of Self-Publishing and many of the affiliate schemes I joined didn’t start until midway through the year. One of my goals over the next few years is to achieve a liveable income from non-ebook revenue. I want this so that I am not completely dependant on Amazon, which currently has enough of a hold over my earnings to ruin me. Not good. The flip side is that it shows that Amazon, as a company, are solely responsible for the life I am being able to lead. For that I am eternally grateful.

In 2017 I intend on refocusing on my online course with a view to make £5k profit. I also expect affiliate sales to increase in line with that to around £2000. It’s interesting to note that I made more than £500 just from recommending Pro Writing Aid. This is a program I love, and I would promote it to writers regardless of if I was being paid. By taking the initiative to join their scheme, I make some decent money. There is more money to be made, I am sure, by looking at the other tools I recommend and promoting them through my websites and on You Tube.

£985.35 in paperback sales compared to £53724.60 in ebook sales shows the massive skew in self-publishing towards digital sales, and I see paperbacks as a small miscellaneous revenue stream, rather than a part of my main strategies to make money. Signed paperbacks might be something I re-focus on as I now sell them directly though my website with a shopping cart.

I dabbled with merchandising with Printful, and found that there is money to be made, but not easily. I am now part of Amazon’s invite-only merchandise scheme, and I will try to gain a foothold with this in 2017. I believe authors can make some good money via merchandise, but it needs focus and hard work.

I made just under a grand for Amazon Associate sales, which is essentially money for nothing. This mitigates most of the cost of paying for my email list, which continues to grow. Most of my Associate income comes from email links.

In 2017, I will be making an effort to earn through You Tube and hopefully this will pay off. I have several channels that will provide regular content. This is my only new venture intended for 2017 at the moment.

Writing Improvement Software

Summary of Self-Publishing expenses

My biggest cost in 2016 was advertising at £2877.34 when combining Amazon and Facebook. This was predominantly spent to grow my mailing list, which sits at just over 13k people today. I spend what I can on Advertising as I feel it is a vital tool to gain new readers. The amount I invest will scale with what I earn, so I don’t see this cost as either too high or too low. I find Facebook ads are generally a better investment than Amazon but will continue to experiment.

My email costs when combining MailChimp and Getdrip were £1121.07, which sucks, but is a necessary evil. As this number increases, I need to check it against what my email list yields in terms of profit. There are other platform I can move to, but ultimately I will have to pay for my email lists wherever I go.

My Equipment costs are high because I spent £2500 on a new computer that can power the Death Star. My normal equipment costs most years are nominal.

My website fees were also higher than normal as I had to launch A-Z of Self-Publishing and this included up front yearly subscriptions to services such as Vimeo Pro. This year costs should be about the same or lower.

A-Z of Self-Publishing bonuses will not cost as much in 2017 as I found they didn’t affect sales as much as lowering the price of the course. I may drop the course price to $297 and include just one bonus instead of several.

Editing and artwork cost a couple grand, and I expect this to stay in line for 2017. If I write more the cost will go up, and vice versa. These costs are not optional and I am lucky to pay so little as these services are vital to self-publishers.

My various subscriptions to services such as Book Funnel and Social Oomph added up to a substantial chunk, but most of them are necessary. I will cut costs here if possible. Ultimately, I feel my costs are reasonable.

Final Thoughts

2016 was a good year for me. Of the six years I have been doing this, I have only failed to improve year on year once (2015 matched 2014 rather than exceeded it). As I look at new revenue schemes, double down on my course, and continue to write more books, I hope that 2017 will improve on 2016. My next financial milestone is to earn £100k in a year. I hope to do it in 2017, but I have given myself 3 years to achieve this. The exciting part is that it is very much achievable if I work hard and smart. I am not stuck in a dead end career with no hopes of earning more. My fate is my own, and that is why I love Self-Publishing.

Also, the above earnings come to £53166.46 after expenses and before tax. Not bad considering I work about 30 hours a week and had four months off to be with my daughter. Think how much I could have earned if I had worked 60 hour weeks?

Hope these figures are useful, and don’t hesitate to ask questions about Self-Publishing Earnings 2016 in the comments.