Figured I’d tackle something that seems to be pervasive in the discussions I’m seeing, but might not necessarily be caught as much by people who aren’t as tapped in to discussions.
Let’s be clear, I’m not the first person to discuss this. I’ve seen posts in 20booksto50k, Wide for the Win, kboards and heck, the Six Figure Authors Podcast just did a podcast about it.
How much is the drop? I’d say from the discussions I’ve seen around – and with the clear understanding that this differs for each individual and probably genre – the drop seems to be around 20% in revenue.
Yeah, that’s not great considering if you’re an independent author, that’s a 20% drop in revenue but not a drop in expenses.
In fact, let’s talk about the other side – expenses. The current inflation rate (including gas and food) is around 8%. In some countries (Europe I believe, UK included) it is around 10%.
Assume you made $5,000 a month last year. You are now making $4,000. Your expenses were $2,000. Now, it’s $2200. You are now earning $1,800 instead of $3000 per month.
Let me repeat that. From earning $3000 a month, you’re now earning $1,800. That’s a 40% loss in earnings.
If you (as a publisher / author / independent business owner) are feeling this, how do you think other businesses are doing? Even if a salaried employee, who hasn’t seen a drop in their salary but has seen a 2% raise… Well. They’re not doing that great.
And then there’s all that uncertainty, the interest rate rises, the constant changes in political and climate… climate.
Yeah. Okay. So people are pulling back on spending because they’re either nervous or they just don’t have.
What can you do?
– Some of the same things as everyone else. Drop expenses. Reduce what outgoing cost that is discretionary and push it off till next year or the year after. Watch how everything plays out.
I’m going to cavaet that. If you are in a place that you can afford to pay your contractors / employees / etc. more – consider doing so.
– As an author, if you can, write more and publish more. Keep your expenses down when publishing, but publishing is one consistent way for us to generate more revenue.
– Consider some other forms of putting out your work. The serial to patreon roadway, if you hit it big (or even moderately sized) has the advantage of being consistent. Also, with serials, you only need one cover even if it’s a 300-500k word book, which is nice.
Short, fast reads (novellas in the 20-40k region instead of giant epics) might help goose the Amazon algorithim. If dumped into KU, it can also mean that people will see you putting something out consistently which can be a useful awareness tool.
– Kindle Unlimited, as much as I have issues with as a program, has the advantage of being basically free once you’re subscribed. So books in KU might have an advantage at this time.
– Revamp your backlist. New covers can give old work life (if it was selling moderately). If your cover is more than 3 years old, you might want to check if it’s up to current trend. The advantage of a new cover is that you can often run paid newsletters and other promos again and catch a whole new group of people who might not have realised what you had to offer and/or ignored your work earlier.
– On the backlist too, consider other forms of promotion. Was your work all in KU and not selling much? Maybe move it wide and make book 1 permafree. Is one of your books no longer selling well (standalone / anthology/etc.)? Make it free and give it away to readers to spark interest in you and the rest of your work. Is your book wide but not getting anywhere? This might be the time to go into KU (warning, you might lose any momentum you had in KU).
– On being wide, or staying wide – don’t forget to tell your readers to hit the library. If your work is available in libraries, this is a great time to tell your readers to visit them and pick up your work there. You still get paid, they get to keep their money, etc.
– If you have the funds, consider diversifying. Having work in other markets (other languages) and other formats (hardcover, paperback, audiobook) can help diversify how global changes effect you.
As an example – I got hammered by the pound dropping in value since I earn like 17% of my income from the UK. On the other hand, the CAD$ is doing horribly against the US, so I’m actually earning more (and that’s my biggest market).
– If all this isn’t working, a second job isn’t a bad idea. Part-time work can lead to new experiences and new story ideas, it can fill the hole where dropping income and rising costs create and you don’t have to stop writing, even if you stop publishing for a bit. This might be the time to build up the backlist to hit the genre with a rapid release of a new series.
– Lastly, on advertising. This is the time to watch your advertising cost like a hawk, with a very clear idea of what you need to earn. Expect there to be a drop in effectiveness (It doesn’t help that FB messed up with the algos again); but know how far you are willing to let it drop.
Just remember, there’s a very consistent trend and research showing that those companies who consistently advertise during a downturn often come out better and faster during an upturn. Awareness is increased when everyone else is shouting less. Again, publishing fast is another way of doing this.
Alright, those are all my thoughts. What are you doing for the upcoming downturn? Any plans? Anything I didn’t cover? Anything you think I’m wrong on?
Like the business blog post? Want to support me writing more of them? Want to read ahead (2 weeks) of others? Become a Patron and choose the $2-tier to be able to read the business posts only and ask questions about the business side of writing.