This author needs a budget. . .

The thing about self-publishing is that profits are a trickle, not a flood. Making a little more than a $1 a sale for eBooks (and that's with a 70% royalty rate) and only slightly more for paperbacks (production costs eats up most of the $7.99 I sell my books at.), they just seem so tiny that "budgeting" seems silly.

Thankfully my expenses are likewise tiny and most of them are one time or yearly expenses. My membership and domain name purchase for took the largest chunk early in the year, but other than that, my only expenses for the longest time were the $6 I'd spend on proof copies in the final editing stages for my book (I've done this about three times) and any hard copies I would purchase for myself. Still, it took several months to make back these expenses.

Then last month things started really looking up financial wise. I was in the black for the first time.

royalties earned for the last 30 days

My  profits actually started to  impress Matt, and he's a hard man to impress. I'd do my little dance every time I made a sale, show him my climbing graph, he'd joke about me finally being able to buy us dinner.

But then some unexpected (and somewhat expected but delayed) expenses related to my writing came up. My friend who did my  cover art for both of "The Dragon and the Scholar" books had been really nice about not asking for payment. It was a "when you feel you've made enough, give me what you think is fair" sort of arrangement, but with two remaining book covers needing to be done and already in debt to her for two, I went ahead and "cut her a check" (not actually a check. Nobody wants checks anymore.) for what was probably a small amount by industry standards but weighed against my profits still seemed like a lot.

Still, money was still trickling in, and good cover art is a reasonable expense. EBooks don't sell with poor cover art.
The next expense happened because I read an article on self-promotion that said I should always have copies of my book on hand in case the opportunity to talk about them presents itself, in my purse or the trunk of my car, so I sprang for 10 copies of each of my three published books. Even with the discounted rate I get from createspace, that cost a decent amount of money, and I didn't really purchase enough to even stock a good sized booth at a craft fair (I am not aware of any craft fairs around here anyway).

The final expense has been giveaway copies. I did two good reads giveaways and have given away a lot of blogger copies and that's added up more than I expected. I've always done giveaways, but it has been maybe one a month, and I don't really feel that, expense wise. This month I have given away a ton of copies, and it probably added up to over a hundred dollars.

I'm not looking forward to telling Matt about these expenses (he doesn't read my blog). He's not controlling when it comes to finances or anything, but we've been talking about budgeting a lot lately (there have been a ton of household and unexpected expenses lately and we had some minor flooding last week which means we'll have to replace the carpet in the two lower level rooms), and admitting I spent a fairly good chunk of  money on my writing is not something I wanted to add to that right now.

So, lesson learned. I need to budget things like review copies and giveaways and spread them out more so my royalties have a chance to rebuild so I'm not going into the author-red (for the sake of this post, author-red means where my royalty income is lower than my writing expenses. I probably didn't need to explain that, did I?). I need to  anticipate cover design expenses and try and put that aside.

It is just hard to budget when you don't know how much will be coming in and when. If I assumed that every month forward would be like this month, with me making $50+, I'd end up in the black this year, even with the recent expenses, but there is no guarantee of that.

So, I'll just have to wait and see how this turns out. Wish me luck.

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar)

Dragon's Debt (The Dragon and the Scholar)