Help Selling More Books – Multiple Buckets (or – why you’re not very bright if you aren’t doing audiobooks)

Sorry for the clickbaity headline, but I’d like to get some more traffic. 🙂 So yeah, really not a bit sorry.

When I talk to writers nowadays, sometimes I’ll have the conversation with people about audiobooks that goes something like this –

Writer – “Do you really make any money off audiobooks?”

John – “It’s almost 20% of my annual income, so yeah, I make some money off audio.”

Writer – “I don’t know anything about how to do it.”

John – “I have the technical skills of a tree frog and the patience of a hummingbird on meth. You think I edit any of that stuff? I hire people to do it.”

Writer – “But it’s expensive!”

John – “I usually work with my narrators on a royalty share. That way I don’t lay out anything up front. It’s not as lucrative for me in the long run, but I don’t have to pay a couple grand to get a novel narrated, and I don’t have to do it.”

Writer – “It sounds hard!”

John – “Now you’re just being lazy. I tell you that you can make a grand a month with no upfront cost, and all you have to be able to do is the equivalent of listing something for sale on eBay, and you still don’t want to do it? What the hell? You’re totally paying for lunch, just for being a buttmonkey.”

Disclaimer – I don’t think I’ve ever called anyone a buttmonkey, but I will almost certainly start.

That’s a brief example of the way I feed my family – I have multiple buckets out to catch the rain. If you have one bucket out in your yard, and you need ten gallons of water, then it needs to rain for a long time for you to get all that water. But if you put twenty buckets out in the yard, then you can get ten gallons pretty quickly.

In case you missed it, the rain is money, and the buckets are revenue streams. Just in case you missed it.

It’s increasingly important to have as many revenue streams as possible, especially for someone trying to make a living as a writer. You can’t just depend on one check twice a year from a major New York publisher. That’s crazy, unless the check is ginormous!

Here are the ways I get paid –

Monthly

Amazon – This is the biggest bucket. I have books for sale on amazon in print and ebook. This makes up about 2/3 of my income. Amazon pays monthly. That’s kinda what I budget my life around. Most of my monthly living expenses are covered through Amazon.

Other sites – While I have a lot of titles listed in Kindle Unlimited, I do still have a few things floating around out there across other sites. I use Draft2Digital as the aggregator for those sites, and they also pay monthly.

Patreon – My patrons are wonderful, and they provide about enough money each month to cover the cost of the conventions I attend. This is quite helpful, especially when I have four cons in eight weeks, like I do right now.

Audible – Audible also pays monthly, which is very helpful. Most of this money goes into a savings account for emergencies or taxes, but if there are lean ebook months, I’ll dip into this.

Autographed books – negligible, although I do hope that since I’ve redone that page on the website, that will start to be a reasonable little dribble of money.

Convention sales – let’s face it, if I break even at a convention after I’ve paid all my expenses, it’s a really good con. I’ve been very fortunate this year that sales are going better than normal, but I still mostly pour all the money back into inventory, so on a good month, it’s a wash.

Quarterly – 

Other publishers – I still have a little work out there with other small presses that pay me quarterly. It’s not a lot, but about enough to buy dinner for me and Suzy, or maybe a trip to the movies.

Semi-Annually – 

Bell Bridge, the folks that publish The Black Knight Chronicles, pay me twice a year. This is like clockwork, and it also mostly goes into savings for taxes, but also helps defray the costs of cons like Dragon Con, which are way more expensive than normal conventions, and I don’t sell there.

Intermittent Income – 

Sometimes I’ll do a story for an anthology that has a one-time payment associated with it, or have a small royalty check from some random work I did a while back, or pick up work that has an advance tied to it. Those are pretty much gravy, and they either go towards erasing credit card debt, or go into savings for taxes.

So I have a bunch of buckets out there trying to catch the rain. Not as many as some people, but a good half dozen revenue streams working. That’s how I can afford to make a living writing, and maybe not write much of anything in June, because I can count on another strong month out of the last Harker novella, and the latest two Harker audiobooks to carry me through any lulls in productivity or sales.

The point of this is not to say “Look at how awesome I am for having a bunch of diverse ways to make money!” I mean, let’s face it, you’re here reading this – you already know I’m awesome. 🙂 It’s more to say that you need to explore all the different ways that you can monetize your work. If you are with a small press that doesn’t do audio – do it yourself. If you are self-published, and haven’t done audio – get on it! It’s a huge market, a growing market, and one that needs to be tapped.

I don’t know what the next thing will be that’s like audio, but you’d better believe that I’m looking for it. So get out there and make some more buckets!

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