• Counting the Cost

    Posted on July 7, 2012 by in Marketing, Publishing

    If you look around on the internet for tips as to what an aspiring writer should do to help build their audience, you’ll see that quite a few experts talk about the need for a blog.  I began writing mine nearly a month before Redemption was first released.

    The problem with trying to regularly update a blog (which you need to do if you hope to continue having people visit your site to read it) is content.  I don’t know about you, but my life just isn’t all that interesting. I work a full-time job (with plenty of OT hours). Then I go home, play with my dog. have a bite to eat, and put in another three to four hours working on my writing (or the things I need to do to support that writing). I’ll go out with friends, of course, from time to time. And I travel as much as I’m able. But day-to-day? Not the stuff of riveting blog reading.

    So as best I can I’ve tried to follow the examples of people like Joanna Penn, CJ Lyons, David Gaughran and Catherine Ryan Howard. I read all their blogs and have been impressed by how forthright they are and the level of detail they’re willing to share when it comes to numbers–sales, pricing, costs, downloads, etc. Their information has certainly been helpful to me  and oftentimes an inspiration. Maybe my experiences can/will help some other writer.

    I’ve talked about my sales figures before. So it seems only fair to share what I’ve spent since launching this venture in March.  Mind you, much of this expense was only incurred after I saw that Redemption was selling well.  In the beginning, I was very frugal.

    Before I got the idea to do this, I hadn’t done any kind of tally (even though my tax accountant had warned me such a reckoning was on the horizon). I could have guessed what I’d spent to date, but that’s what it would have been–a guess. When I started reviewing receipts and punching the numbers into my calculator, I was surprised by what I learned.

    I divided my expenses into the following categories:

    • Photos/Videos – $605.03
    • Website – $130.97 (web hosting, theme, anti-spam plug-in)
    • Marketing – $258.98 (website exposure, widgets, etc.)
    • Cover Design – $649 (for Redemption [print], Ashes [ebook and print], Impressions [ebook])
    • Print – $275 (expanded distribution on CreateSpace, and pack of ISBNs)
    • Professional Development – $148 (training and memberships)
    • Music – $34.95 (for book trailer)
    • Editing – $528.29 (for Ashes)
    • Tools – $32(Scrivener)

    As way of explanation: photos were used on the website, in marketing, and for cover design. I broke them out as a separate category because of this overlap–oftentimes a single photograph was used in multiple locations.

    I’ll be honest–I was surprised by the amount of money I’d spent on files from iStockphoto, Shutterstock and Masterfile. Yet, if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I believe image counts for a lot when you’re trying to build a brand.

    The rest the spending broke out much as I’d suspected. Cover design would have made up a larger piece of the pie if I hadn’t designed the original cover for Redemption on my own.

    Is there anything I would have changed? Yes, the marketing monies spent. I didn’t see any noticeable impact from the websites where I had a presence. I won’t be doing that again moving forward.

    What does the breakdown look like overall? I’ve got a nifty graphic below.

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2 Responsesso far.

  1. Ann Benjamin says:

    Very informative! You’ve clearly laid out exactly how much it is for an allegedly ‘free’ activity. I think your cover artwork, while the most expensive, is partially responsible for sales and a very good investment.

    Back in the day, I made a much more rookie mistake and went via iUniverse. Those are funds I’ll never see again, but lessons learned!

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