Seventy Second Income Report – March 2019 ($2,890.36)
Are you curious about a 3-month delay? I explained it in my first income report.
In March 2019, I could fully appreciate the flexibility of being a business owner, even if I still worked quarter-time in a corporation. There were three milestones in March 2019 which divided the month into weekly chunks.
New KDP Account
This time I allowed KDP to figure out the problem for one month. From what I saw they weren’t any closer to finding a solution. So, at the beginning of the March, I created a new email account in my domain, a new KDP account, and ordered migration of my books.
On the 7th of March, my new account was fully functioning. I spent a couple of hours creating the template ads for my books – 10 for Kindle versions and 12 for paperbacks if I recall correctly. Then, my team got very busy. In the next week, they created well over 1,000 ads for my books in the US.
It certainly helped the sales. I sold 226 Kindle copies and 108 paperbacks in the last two weeks of February. The figures for the beginning of the March were much worse (like 50% decrease). Creating new ads got the sales almost back to February’s levels.
On 15th of March I went on a 3-day retreat in the Polish mountains.
I went to the office a few hours earlier than usual so I could catch a train to Krakow at12:45 pm. When you work only quarter-time there is very little need to be in the office at specific hours. I told my supervisor that I’d be working different hours on 15th one week in advance and that was all.
Nowadays, I don’t even need much flexibility since I can plan my own stuff on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I’m not at my day job. I love it anyway.
I was immersed in spiritual activities for two days. Prayer, meditation, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and two days of fasting -this was a great time.
Part of the retreat’s agenda was to be closer to God through nature. I went for 1-hour lonely walk into the mountains. The last time I did that was during my family get-together in December 2017. And I cannot recall before when the previous time was. Probably when I was still in high school. I love walking in the mountains. I loved that experience.
I was invited to this retreat by my childhood friend. We haven’t seen each other for 5 or 6 years and kept communication open only via phone. He has been going through a very hard time in his life and marriage and I was glad we met and I could at least hear him out.
I worked a little bit during the retreat, but it was minimal activity compared to my normal frenzy. I wrote, checked on my coaching clients once, touched base with my sister and was busy creating orders for ads on a train to Krakow.
A week later my daughter had a standard dental procedure that went terribly wrong. I don’t even know the proper dental vocabulary in English to describe it. But I can tell you the end effect. About 5% of her face got paralyzed.
It was Thursday evening. The next day I traveled to the capitol early enough to try to setup up an appointment in the clinic. I didn’t take my daughter with me which was a huge mistake. They admitted patients only till 1 pm. My daughter wouldn’t arrive on time.
So, after work, we went to the dental emergency center. The prick on a duty told us it’s not life-threatening so back off.
Fortunately, my wife’s friend is a dental technician. She made a few quick phone calls with dentists she worked with and came up with procedures and medicines that should help before we finally meet with someone knowledgeable on Monday, when the clinic will be open again.
I won’t bore you with more details. The point is, this emergency situation consumed my time and attention. My wife went bonkers, she is really good with coming up with nightmare scenarios in her head, so I had also to take care of her.
BTW, the therapy recommended by my wife’s friend- a dental technician- was the exact same prescribed by a doctor at the clinic.
Again, thanks to the flexibility of my online business and quarter-time corpo gig, I could arrange my work around those events. If I would’ve had a normal full-time job, I would have to take 1-2 days of furlough to deal with this emergency.
I delegated a few chunks of my Resurrecting Books process to family members. It was a great experience. Well, not delegating per se, it’s always a pain in the ass when you try to teach someone else the process you know by heart. The end effect however – the saved time – felt like a luxury.
I recorded two videos about managing Google sheets for my father. He watched them and learned how to duplicate monthly sheets for existing customers and how to create tracking sheets for new customers using the existing customer’s sheet as a template. Finally, the whole data gathering process was hands off for me.
I recorded a video for my sister explaining how to create orders for ads for my team with a few data points. The overall process needs the same data points, but arranging the order in the form that is understandable for people who create the ads takes a few minutes. Telling my sister which order to create takes me less than one minute. I just send her the customer’s name, the books’ name, the bid and point out which template keyword files we will use. And we are going through about 100 orders a month and this number is increasing every month. Thus, in reality, I saved a few hours a month by delegating this minuscule task.
At the end of the month, I trained my son, this time in one on one setup, in calculating profits of my customers using the tracking sheet filled by my father. This is another process that consumed up to 10 hours of my time every month. In March, my son made calculation summaries for several of my customers. I saved a few hours. The next month the process went even smoother.
The best thing about delegating those bits and pieces is that I DON’T HAVE TO DO THEM EVER AGAIN! I easily got 15 more hours a month to dedicate to something else than mundane tasks. ‘Something else’ may be other mundane tasks, but the ones I hadn’t had time to deal with previously. I need to distribute my books to more stores, I need to upload my audiobooks to stores other than Audible, I need to add more of my books to Fibreread, I finally want to dabble with ads on Quora – there is a zillion things I may do with this additional time. Or I can simply spend more time with my family.
During a mastermind call, one of my buddies expressed a wish to be held accountable on a daily basis. I heard that also from another guy from our group. I offered my help, sent them instructions and opened my coaching on Coach.me.
What the heck? Well, one changed his mind and didn’t tell me about this and another was so busy that he finally tried to sign up after a week or so.
In the meantime I got four new coaching clients I didn’t intend to have :/
Two of them just wasted my time. The initial exchange of messages is always the most taxing and they both quit after a few days trying to fit in the free period on Coach.me.
Another client was a weird case. He complained a lot, then reported some success and disappeared. He didn’t answer any message for over two weeks. I canceled that coaching with relief.
The last guy worked with me for a month, got some results, gave me a nice testimonial and went his way. It was a pleasure to work with him. He was very responsive and consistent.
Another of my coaching clients, who worked with me for many months “graduated” and canceled. At the end of the month I found myself with only three paid clients. And I finally got the buddy who was slow to start on board.
Speaking of coaching, I was forced to quit on a couple of Resurrecting Books customers because my ads couldn’t generate enough results for their fiction books. However, my test runs gave me insights into their AMS dashboards and I saw their ads were a mess. I offered them Pay What It’s Worth coaching instead of ads. I hadn’t much time for any of them, you read above how interesting March was, but I saved both of them from overspending several hundred dollars a month.
I saved the best for the end. One of my Resurrecting Books customers asked me about running his ads in other markets. I was about to tell him that the UK is available, but in Canada we cannot run the keyword ads. Considering the course of events from today’s perspective I’m convinced it was God’s grace that prompted me to double check this on my own account before sending the email.
To my amazement, I could run keyword ads in the CA store. It wasn’t possible in May 2018 when I tried the last time and abandoned that store afterwards. I quickly created two dozen ads for my books. That was on the 19th of March. In the evening, I checked my Canadian sales and I couldn’t believe what I saw: I sold six copies in Canada! I was amazed because I sold exactly three copies in March in Canada before starting the ads.
The next day I ordered the full stack of ads from my team. And I sold 26 copies with my two dozen ads! The ROI was an incredible 500%. I also realized where those amazing results came from: I was practically the ONLY author advertising in the personal development genre.
I quickly notified a few of my friends about the possibility of running keyword ads in Canada and urging them to start their accounts.
Canada is a very shallow market. I had the store for myself, at least the personal development & wellness part, and I was able to generate only about 1.5-2 million impressions a day. There are no blurbs for the ads, like in the UK market, so the actual conversion rate sucks. Getting one sale for less than 25 clicks is a decent result.
But the clicks are dirt cheap. No competition in the auction setup meant I paid the lowest price for at least 80% of clicks. The average Cost per Click was 3-4 Canadian cents.
I sold 234 Kindle copies of my books in Canada in March. Three copies till 19th of March and 231 copies since the 19th of March.
Seriously, before I broke into the Canadian market doom & gloom were looming in my mind. The ROI in the States and UK was going steadily downward. Also, it was close to impossible to scale the ads. They were getting “old”- Amazon allocated fewer impressions to them – very quick. The results of my customers were dwindling in the same way. The new customers for whom I created the first ads were doing fine, but books of the ones who were with me for months and years got hit exactly like my books. I was scratching my head thinking how to pay bills and mortgage in three months.
Thanks to running AMs ads in Canada I made a few interesting observations:
1. Canadian paperbacks are produced in the USA.
I’ve seen a jump in my Kindle sales in Canada starting from day #1, but there were no paperback sales indicated in CA in the KDP dashboard. However, my USA paperback sales showed an immediate increase. My hunch is Canadian orders are produced in the USA, thus KDP shows them among the Amazon.com sales.
My author rank in the USA reflected that. It jumped at the 19th of March and reached a higher level. On the other hand, it doesn’t affect the paperbacks’ ranks in the USA store. They are separated from the CA ranks. My paperbacks in Canada skyrocketed in ranks and a few of my paperbacks got the bestseller status in Canada.
2. It’s easy to get the bestseller status.
The paperback of “Making Business Connections that Work” sold a copy one day and another copy on the next day. It became a bestseller in the Business Ethics category (for a short period of time admittedly). I’ve seen this phenomenon many times. Almost all of my books got the bestseller badge in Canada at one time or another.
Usually, it was enough to sell 2-3 copies two days in a row to hit the #1 spot.
3. Reviews matter.
What a surprise, right?
I impressed Steven McEvoy, the Top #500 reviewer in Canada and all of my books got his 5-star review. For some of them that was the only review they ever got.
When I started advertising my customers’ books in Canada I quickly noticed their results were not as good as mine. Their books hadn’t shiny reviews from Steven.
4. AMS is consistent across different stores.
Nonfiction tends to do much better than fiction when it comes to allocated impressions. At the same day, I started advertising 4 books of two customers. The nonfiction book of author #1 got 1,600,000 impressions, while fiction books of author #2 got 1,079,000 impressions.
Fiction also tends to get fewer sales because of the Kindle Unlimited program. Most clicks convert into borrows and pages read. Which is OK. The wrong thing about this is that authors cannot track borrows and KENPs in the AMS dashboard. You cannot connect the dots. You don’t know if your ads are effective or not. That’s a huge disadvantage.
The ads get old. Even though I owned the store and I had no competition, my ads got less and less impressions with time. After a month, they were getting only about 20% of the impressions from the first days.
Shooting Fish in a Barrel
I notified a few of my customers about SP ads in Canada. They tried to create their own AMS accounts. My author friends, who already were operating their accounts in the UK and US tried too.
No one succeeded.
In 2018, I opened the Advantage account and connected it to the AMS account. You cannot repeat the same process in 2019. There is no link between the Advantage and AMS in Canada anymore.
It dawned on me: It’s like shooting a fish in a barrel. I truly had the whole Canadian store to myself.
Having the Advantage account, I could advertise every eligible product from the Amazon store. I could advertise my customers’ books under my account.
I had to pay for their ads out of my pocket and my clicks were priced 23% higher because of Polish VAT tax, but considering how cheap the clicks were in Canada it was a steal anyway. I offered this service to my customers and some of them have nothing against such a setup. Before the end of the month, I created in Canada the ads for about a dozen books of my five customers. Most of the time, they were competing only with my ads.
Collecting those badges was pure fun. Now, I can truthfully say I am a multi-time bestseller author in Canada
I’m particularly proud of the “Learn to Read with Great Speed” performance. This little book written and published back in 2013 became #1 in the Study Guides category. It became my biggest money maker in Canada! It sold 50 paperbacks in the USA+CA market between the 19th and 31st of March.
Books ARE immortal.
The only book that never “made it” from my catalogue was “Slicing the Hype.” Other books with meager results found their moment or their market. Especially the books I published at the beginning of my career – small booklets sold for 99 cents – weren’t doing much good for a long time. “Learn to Read..” has a very good launch (at least as my launches were going), but after a year or so it was selling just a handful of copies a month. I was able to increase the sales a bit when AMS allowed for advertising paperbacks.
But it really exploded in the Canadian store with ads.
Another book from 2013 – “Release Your Kid’s Dormant Genius…” – was doing even worse. It never had a good time… till I started advertising its paperback in the UK. It’s not a blockbuster, but it sells 20-30 copies a month in the UK.
They weren’t bad books. They simply had no opportunity to shine before. Once I got some eyeballs on them, they started selling decently.
This is what allowed me to advertise my books and my customers’ books with success in Canada. Lack of competition and cheap clicks were just a nice bonus. But I made all those sales because I could apply what I learned about AMS in the US store.
I already had a robust database of 42,000+ keywords which were getting traction from day #1. Having the CA store just for me, I also used the less effective keywords – tested in the past and providing marginal results. This batch was 150,000 big. In the empty store, even those marginal keywords provided great results. They generated about 40% of my overall sales.
March was a good time for spending time with my family. I went to a theater with my wife. I went to a cinema with my kids a few times. I found many entries in my journal about spending an evening in front of TV with my wife. And one evening we visited her friend, the dental technician who helped us so much with our daughter’s condition.
The Income Report Breakdown
Amazon royalties: €2617.91 ($2932.06)
Coach.me fees: $159.02
Draft2Digital royalties: $26.27
Audiobooks royalties: $40.27
PWIW personal coaching: $292.8
AMS service remuneration: $1540.58
$49, Aweber fee
$34.53, royalties split with co-author
$895.79, Amazon ads
$500, ISI mastermind
$267.23, RAs’ remuneration (RAs = Real Assistants; my team)
$100, 12WY coaching
$30, SiteLock fee
$95.09, an obligatory monthly fee for LLC
$70, my accountant’s monthly fee
$58.99, screen-recording software
Net Result: $2890.36