Are you curious about a 3-month delay? I explained it in my first income report.
February 2018 was an interesting month. I started officially working half-time in my day job!
And it was a disaster. My productivity went through the window. It was especially visible in my publishing schedule. Well, there was no schedule and it was visible. I published maybe a couple pieces outside of my blog and three posts on the blog.
Compare this to 30 pieces published during the Real Artists Don’t Starve challenge, and you get what I mean by a “disaster.”
My wife just loved to have me around and boss me around. I didn’t mind seeing kids off to school, making her the morning coffee, doing small household chores and so on. I only minded that it all left me little time for anything else.
And I hated distractions. My wife loved to drop into my home office to show me some meme from Facebook.
I’m an introvert. I thrive when I’m alone. I do my best work alone.
I wasn’t alone anymore, and it showed in my output.
Writing to a Drawer
Nonetheless, I kept writing. Only, I had no time to process my work. So, I accumulated drafts on Quora and other articles on my hard drive. I couldn’t find the time to send them to my proofreader. I sent her only one batch, but a huge one, with about a dozen Quora answers.
I’m writing this report at the end of March, and I still haven’t published anything written since the beginning of February (other than a few blog posts on ExpandBeyondYourself and one or two book reviews).
Part of the reason why I had no time to process my writing was an onslaught of authors. I replied to dozens of emails and got three new authors. I started ads for one of them only at the beginning of March, but the whole preparatory process took place in February.
The second customer had three crime novels and, after running ads for the whole month, we concluded that they don’t break even. I think we lacked five bucks to balance the sheets. We split at the end of the month.
The third customer had one nonfiction book to advertise and it did pretty well, finishing with over $70 profit after running the ads for only a couple of weeks.
Also, one of the past customers returned to me with his book. He dropped the price to 99 cents in hope that it would sustain his sales, but he had no luck with this tactic. So, we priced it again at $2.99 and restarted ads for the book. Unfortunately, Amazon still didn’t like his book and didn’t give it many impressions.
One of the prospects who finally declined my AMS services was interested in rewriting her 4 book descriptions. I gave her a prohibitive quota, but she happily accepted the price. So I outsourced the work to my proofreader/copywriter. I took care only of generating HTML for formatting the descriptions in the KDP dashboard.
I also used this opportunity and tried to out-cheat PayPal.
PayPal, with their ‘transparent fees’ eats up about 6% of my earnings. About 3-4% of that are their outrageous currency rates exchange. And I’m forced to exchange currency each time I withdraw money into my bank account, just because they say so. I don’t buy even a word from their explanations, because their competitors happily let me withdraw money in any currency, and their fees are lower.
So, I created a bank account in the USA via Transfer Wire. I created the USA PayPal account and connected it to the TW bank account. The two verification transfers went through without problems. But when I tried to withdraw $1,000 to the USA bank account, PayPal said that the bank refused the transaction. I called Transfer Wire support. They said they didn’t even notice an attempt to transfer a larger sum.
And PayPal blocked my American account for half a year. My attempts to resolve this issue resulted only in canned autoresponder answers from their support.
I ended up with the advance for book descriptions frozen for a half a year, and I had to pay my copywriter out of my pocket.
Thank you PayPal. I’m going to ask my biggest customers to pay me via wire transfers.
Steep Decline of Book Sales
My sales would have dropped 30% month to month if not for a single event that I’ll talk about at the end of this post. They dropped 20% nonetheless. The decline was mainly a result of a lower ads performance in February 2018. It hit my customers even harder. My AMS revenue (read: their revenues from ads) declined by 36%.
Well, it was at the all-high level in January 2018, and I was busy dealing with new prospects and fighting with my sudden lack of productivity. I did almost nothing to reverse the situation.
“Almost” refers to testing about 30,000 new keywords. But it took time. I ran them for my books and a few books of my customers. In February, it didn’t result in anything more than material for reassuring messages to my concerned customers.
And I didn’t need to be immediately concerned because in February, I received Kindle royalties from December 2017 and CreateSpace royalties from January 2018 – the two fattest month of the year.
Create Space revenue was still artificially inflated by the pricing trick. Only 2-3 books enjoyed the higher prices sponsored by Amazon, but it provided about 40% boost in dollars.
And, despite the decline, my AMS income was still high enough to replace my wife’s past day job salary. For the time being, I had nothing to worry about.
Advertising on Amazon.co.uk
On 26th of February, I discovered how to create an AMS account in the UK. By 7 pm my time, I had a couple of ads for my 10 books running there. Before midnight, I sold 5 copies. That was about as many as I sold in the whole of February till that point in time.
Needless to say, the next day I spawned a few dozen campaigns. My Kindle sales in the UK reached 39 and 51 copies on 27th and 28th of February respectively.
It was like striking a gold lodestone. Ads in the UK are a bit different than in the USA. The main difference is that they have no blurbs. All that is displayed are a cover, a title and the review rating. I’m definitely a subpar copywriter, so this actually increased my chances. And I had thousands upon thousands of keywords tested in the US.
Lack of blurbs meant that more people clicked on ads only out of curiosity. The click-to-purchase ratio was low. I was used to it. That was my basic assumption when running low-bid ads in the USA.
I was able to capitalize on everything I learned in the last 1.5 years of running ads in a single day.
The number of impressions and clicks were unbelievable. And the best was that I got free £100 for advertising for creating the account! I made about $300 from it. The free credit lasted for only 3-4 days for me.
And I haven’t even mentioned paperback sales that exploded as well. Running those ads added about $300 to my bottom line in just 53 hours of February.
That was a really happy end of the month.
The Income Report Breakdown
Amazon royalties: €1152.98 ($1429.69)
CreateSpace royalties: €1389.11 ($1722.5)
Coach.me fees: $509.35
Draft2Digital royalties: $17.86
Audiobooks royalties: $161.19
PWIW personal coaching: $263.69
AMS service remuneration: $1421.87
$29, Aweber fee
$20, InstaFreebie fee
$111.1, royalties split with co-author
$105.53, my editor’s share in profits
$714.35, Amazon ads
$84, RAs’ (RAs = Real Assistants; my sons 😉 ) remuneration
$80.8, pre-event fee for April’s retreat
$250.77, website hosting renewal
Net Result: $4029.6