April re-cap

In my last post, I said March was my best month ever, but April was even better!

Without further ado…

Official April sales figures: 

Sales: 211
KU Pages: 262,594
(Equivelent of 855 total sales/full reads)

Amazon.com$1620.96 USD
Amazon.co.uk£54.25
Amazon.ca$18.38 CAD
Amazon.com.au$40.01 AUD

So yeah, things are looking pretty good from the publishing point of view. That money will land in my bank accounts at the end of June. It’s small fry compared to what a lot of authors I know make, but I’m still pretty stoked that I can pay my rent and all the bills for the month out of that! And still have some leftover!

Real life job:
We got a slight raise this term going from $300/day to $305.40/day.

We had two weeks of school holidays for the first half of April, so no money there, and then I got 5 days work in the second half of April. The first week back is usually a bit slow, and then there was a public holiday in the second week back (teachers get a bit of grief if they call in sick on a day next to a public holiday, or the first day back of term), so I wasn’t overly disappointed with my 2 days/week ($549.80 after-tax) for the first two weeks. It’s ramped up a lot since then, but that’s for May’s re-cap heh.

While I mostly have decent days at work and even enjoy it at times (when I don’t have teenagers with attitude leaking out their rolling eyeballs), I do not want to do this job for more than the next 12 months. It’s a good casual job, and it gives me flexibility, but it’s just so draining and not bringing me any closer to my goals (apart from keeping a roof over my head and food in my belly which is pretty important).

The future – goals and plans: 

We’ve decided to shake things up a bit and step out of the rut that life in Melbourne has become. I am ambivalent about my job (it’s not leading anywhere, I don’t want to be a career teacher), my fiance really doesn’t like his much. He had a few days off recently and the change in his mood was very noticeable – he was just so much happier, pleasant, excited, lively and enthusiastic on the days where he didn’t have working hanging over him. Yesterday, his mood plummeted. It was hard to watch. It sucks seeing someone you love so miserable.

Our current Plan A is to move to Japan for a year on the JET Programme. I’d be an Assistant Language Teacher at a Japanese school, and he would do whatever he bloody well wants. It would utterly depend on where we ended up (you can be placed anywhere in Japan from the middle of Tokyo to a remote island that takes a 24-hour ferry ride to get anywhere! – we’re hoping for somewhere in between those extremes heh) as to what he would do, but he’d be able to get permission to work part-time. Or perhaps he’ll study. Or go to jiu-jitsu 3 times a day. I dunno. That’s all in the future! He’s been working so hard for the past 4 years, and been pretty miserable for most of it – he deserves a break.

Most ALTs seem to have a lot of downtime at work and spend a good few hours (at least) of their day desk-warming. Obviously, I would use that time for writing (and studying Japanese) and continue to grow my publishing backlist.

While it would be a step backwards for us financially… well, actually, not backwards, but it’s a step down in income. We’re making over $100k a year between us at the moment, and we’d be going down to just ~$40k. The plan is to just live on my JET income, and not touch our savings, and also to save all of my book income. I’m aiming to have that match my teaching income next year, if not outpace it. The cost of living in Japan (as long as we’re not in the middle of Tokyo) is relatively cheap, and from all accounts, we should be more than fine on just my income for the year. I know a couple who are on the program this year and they’re managing to save a good portion of her income as well. All depends on where we end up. While Tokyo would be a blast, we would prefer somewhere smaller and cheaper. Anyway. Trying not to think about it too much – we wouldn’t even find out until April 2019 if we are going or not, and not until late May 2019 WHERE we are going. Applications are due in November. Interviews in January. It’s a drawn-out process, and no guarantees that I will even be accepted. I think I have a reasonable chance, but you never know.

We both think it will be a great opportunity to reset, have an adventure and really figure out what we want to do/be. We have said we can’t just come back to Melbourne and go back to me CRTing and him working in logistics.

Trying to come up with a feasible Plan B as well if JET doesn’t pan out.

The get out of debt project: 

It’s coming along. I’m still on track to be debt free by July (well, apart from HECS). I was debt free for most of my 20s, but stupidly let myself grow a credit card debt the last couple of years, and I owe my Mum $2500. I’m paying her back $1000 at the end of this month (book money!), and then another $1000 the following month, and the final $500 when I get my tax return back. It’s gonna feel bloody fantastic when that debt monster is off my back and I can actually start saving properly again! I love seeing my money grow!

 

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Offical March self-pub numbers

Woo! Amazon official reports are out! I now know exactly how much I made last month, and how much I can expect to land in my bank account at the end of next month!

*drum roll* 

BEST MONTH EVER!!!!!!

Official March sales figures: 

Sales: 215
KU Pages: 225,873
(Equivelent of 767 total sales)

Amazon.com: $1461.81 USD
Amazon.co.uk£50.43
Amazon.ca: $7.67 CAD
Amazon.com.au: $38.96 AUD

Hitting $1000+ a month has been a goal since I started this gig, and to have finally made it feels bloody fantastic!!

My newest release has been carrying most of the earning burdon. I really need to get the sequel out ASAP. I need $1000+ months to become the new norm, not the exception!

March was not great on the writing front. I ended up working for the whole month with a proper almost full-time teaching load. Lots of tests to mark, classes to prepare, and reports to write and just generally dealing with all the emotional and mental energy that teaching full-time zaps from me. My March word count was a pathetically low 4455 words.

Trying to do better for April! I really need to capitalise on the interest that the new book has generated and follow up with the sequel sooner rather than later. I’m currently re-proofreading it in preparation for the paperback release. Not sure if I’ll actually sell many/any paperbacks, but it’s nice to have the option.

So far, April is shaping up to be similar to March sales-wise, so that’s great and I’m hoping it holds steady until the end of the month!

Financially, things are looking up for us. I’m on track to be completely clear of debts (pay back my mum the money I owe her and the credit card debt) by the time I get my tax return back in July.

I was on track to be clear of debt without the book money so this little windfall will make the debt repayments go faster, and proper savings start earlier. I’m excited to be able to start saving properly again.

Term 2 for school starts on Monday. I’m aiming for at least 3 days/week. That would be perfect. After tax, I would get paid about $770 (we’re getting a pay rise, but I don’t know exactly how much yet…) each week for those 3 days work, and I’d still have 4 days a week to focus on the book side of thing. Term is 11 weeks long, so if I do get the 3 days every week that will be $8470 + the ~$4800 from the books I’ll get paid during that time and things aren’t looking too bad! Plus my tax return will most likely be around $3000, so yeah. Should be able to start the new financial year with a clean slate! It will be a good feeling!

 

Achievment level unlocked

I just passed a nifty little milestone – 1001 books sold so far this year!

It took me over three years to hit my first thousand sales. With this new book, I’ve sold over a thousand in less than 3 months.

Breakdown:
Book #1 – 38
Book #2 – 20
Book #4 – 2
Book #5 – 941

Book #3 has sold nothing all year. Sad book.

The books have earned me approx. $2560 for those 1001 sales.

Making this happen isn’t feeling so crazy anymore. I can do this, right? I can be a full-time writer? Right?

New level up goal: sell 1001 books in a single month!

Feb re-cap

It’s mid-month! That’s often an exciting time for us Amazon authors – we find out exactly how much money we made last month!

February was my best publishing month, BY FAR. That is, until March rolled around – we’re only mid-month and I’ve already passed Feb’s figures 🙂

Without further ado…

Official February sales figures: 

Sales: 75
KU Pages: 122,686
(Equivelent of 386 total sales)

Amazon.com: $682.96 USD
Amazon.co.uk: £34.90
Amazon.ca: $1.38 CAD
Amazon.com.au: $19.85 AUD
Amazon.de: €1.32

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 7.51.50 pm

As you can see, it was Kindle Unlimited that made this month the best month so far. I’ve had months early on with as many sales (although from memory, they were at 0.99 or 2.99…. most of this months were at 3.99, so more revenue), but this was by far my best KU month.

The dreaded 30-day cliff never materialised (touch wood), but sales and rank actually became stronger.

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 12.09.56 pm

Rank has been holding pretty steady. No idea how long this will last, but I’m stoked while it does!

Most of my income came from the new book, but a bit came from some of my older books. The new book had 357 sales/full reads, my oldest book had 19, and it’s sequel had 10. My other pen name had a grand total of zero. It’s been very quiet there for a few months. I’m contemplating whether to retire it, or try one more release and see how that goes.

I did not get much writing done in Feb, mainly because I was teaching a lot. Feb is usually rather quiet on the CRT front, but I actually worked quite a bit which was good for the old bank account, but not so good for my creativity.

I’m still finding it difficult to do anything worthwhile in the evenings. I’m just so tired and mentally drained once I get home.

School holidays are fast approaching so I will have a chance then to recharge my creative batteries and put pen to paper. In the meantime, I’ll keep on keeping on.

The stable, predictable path or the unknown?

Life feels like a series of forks in the road. We make decisions each day that can fundamentally change our lives. Sometimes these decisions seem small and petty at the time, and it’s only looking back later that we can see it was a massive turning point. Other times, the decision is obviously a huge one and requires a lot of thought and consideration.

Those little decisions are the ones that freak me out the most – you know, the ones like which side of the street to walk down (do you pick the street where the wall collapses and you die, or you actually get to your appointment and read about the wall collapsing on the news), which bar to have a drink at while you’re killing time (do you meet your future husband, or do you miss out completely and never meet), which flight to catch (unlucky enough to be on a plane that crashes, or do you get to your destination safely)… decisions that you have no idea if they’re going to be Hugely Significant in your life (or death), or just another mundane decision that you’ll forget about 5 minutes after the fact…

Some huge forks (that I’ve had an element of control over) have been:

  • Going on student exchange for a year in 2002 (Yr 11). I went to Japan for a year when I was 16/17. I don’t think I really made the most of the opportunity in hindsight (immature), but the act of doing it definitely changed the course of my life. Due to being out of the Australian school system for a year, I was forced to ‘repeat’ a year – I finished high school a year later than I otherwise would have, which led to a complete change in friendships and university experience…
  • The university I chose, and the Halls of Residence I chose. While my actual degree was interchangeable with that of any other old Bachelor of Arts I could have completed at a myriad of other Aussie unis, it’s the people I met in my years at Monash. I met my lifetime best friend at Halls in my first year (2005) who has had a big impact on some of my later life decisions, and my uni boyfriend (who I wrote about previously) who really did change my life for a few years there, and put me on this current path. I have no doubt I would have met some equally awesome people if I’d gone to a different uni, but I’m pretty sure life would be rather different right now.
  • Backpacking around Europe in 2009. After I graduated from my Bachelors in 2008, I was pretty aimless and had no idea what I wanted to do, career-wise. I wanted to be an author, even back then, but it was pre-KDP days and it just seemed like a rather unrealistic dream. I decided to follow in my parents’ footsteps and do a big Europe trip. Mum had done her Katmandu to London trip in the late 70’s, and Dad had partied his way around Europe and North America in 1980 and I’d grown up hearing all about how much fun they’d had. My initial plan had been to work in the UK for half my trip and then backpack around the Continent, but then thanks to the uni boyfriend, I made a bunch of money from the stock market and that was no longer necessary. I was free to just travel around and not really worry about money. The uni boyfriend and I parted ways before the trip, and I had a great time galavanting around the UK, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Prague, Amsterdam, and Belgium. I also happened to meet a cute American in a hostel in Vienna who I had a crazy whirlwind romance with over the next few months. It didn’t work out (thankfully), but I honestly don’t think I would be here where I am today without that crazy whirlwind romance and subsequent heartbreak.
  • Moving to Canada in 2010. The end of 2009 found me back home in Australia, miserable over the collapse of aforementioned whirlwind romance, and at a loss as to what to do with myself. I’d half-heartedly applied to do the Master of Teaching at Melbourne Uni for the following year and had been accepted, but I wasn’t super stoked on the idea. It just seemed like the responsible thing to do. Safe. I definitely didn’t want to go back to my insurance call-centre job, which I was still technically on leave from. I still had a nice pile of cash in my bank account that was enough to support me comfortably for a year or two. My best friend and her partner were planning to move to Canada for a year or two, and suggested I come too. It really was a decision made on a whim. I didn’t think about it very long or deeply, it just sounded like something fun to do and put off having to be a ‘real’ adult for another year. I arranged with the uni to defer my spot in the course, and off I went to Canada in March 2010.
  • The sharehouse I ended up in. By the time I arrived in Vancouver (after a couple of weeks detour in LA, Vegas, and San Franscisco), I settled into my hostel and quickly realised that I was utterly over hostels. I’d spent half of the previous year sleeping in dorms (well, not sleeping so much as lying there awake listening to the epic snorers and people who like rustling around in the bags at 4am) and I was just over it. My initial plan was to stay in the hostel for a few weeks while I got to know the city and found a place to live. The finding a place to live plan got put up to Top Priority and I started stalking ads on Craigslist like a mad woman. I knew what I was looking for – a big sharehouse with a nice mix of people, on a Skytrain line and within $400-600 a month. The first house I looked at fit all those boxes. It was a big house with two stories and 7 bedrooms, and a split between half Canadians and half foreigners, mostly all in our mid-to-late 20s. It was two blocks back from the Skytrain and there was a supermarket a few minutes walk away, and a bigger shopping mall about a 15 minute walk away. The rent was $550/month, everything included. And it was available straight away, and already had a double bed in it, score! I took it. I got lucky. My housemates were all freakin’ lovely and took the new Aussie under their wings. I had a built-in social network from the get-go which made life a lot more fun.
    Anyway. The reason why this somewhat random decision had a huge effect on my life was because I don’t think I would have met my fiance without one of those housemates…
  • Going to that particular pub at that particular time in Vancouver in April 2010. I was hanging out with the aforementioned housemates and friends at a pub in New Westminster. One of the British housemates and I decided to head Downtown to meet up with his girlfriend (another housemate) with a couple of girls we’d just met who were killing time before they had to catch a train back home to wherever they were from in rural B.C. We picked a pub next to Waterfront Station to have a drink before the girls had to catch their train and we had to meet our housemate. It was busy. There were only a few stools left at the bar. We snagged them. I sat on the edge of the group and had an empty stool next to me. A trio of boys came in after we’d only been there a few minutes and took the spot next to me. They ordered a lot of drinks and I made a smart-arse comment to one of the blokes. He laughed and we started chatting. I was vaguely aware of the two other young men behind him. The first guy disappeared off to the toilets, and one of the others snagged the stool and started talking to me. All I remember is thinking his name was a bit weird and he made me laugh a lot. I was happy and tipsy and I gave him my number when it was time to go. I wasn’t in the habit of giving strange Canadian men my number, so I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to do it that night.

    Eight years later, and we’re still together. I stayed in Canada for an extra 3 years to find out if this easy, stable, exciting relationship with this awesome guy was worth fighting for. It definitely is. He followed me back home to Australia where we’ve now been for over 4 years. Our crossing paths was so random. I’m grateful that we did. It would have been so easy to miss each other and never have met. I don’t believe in soul mates or anything, and I’m pretty sure I would have landed in another relationship or two or three if I hadn’t met him, but… I’m glad we found each other. We compliment each other extremely well and being with him is just easy… in a good way. We’re a team and we have each other’s back. I kinda feel like I had to go through those more difficult and shitty relationships to fully appreciate what I have with him.

  • Being lonely and drunk and replying to Platonic Friends Craigslist ads. I met a few lovely girls that way, but only one of them affected my life in a big way. Things were going great with Keenan, we’d moved in together, but most of my friends now lived a good 1-2 hour bus ride away from me. I’d been in Canada for about a year at that point, and my funds were starting to run low. I’d decided to stay in Canada, but I was facing the reality that I couldn’t afford it and would need to go home to Australia if I didn’t get a job soon. I’d applied for hundreds of positions, but wasn’t getting any bites. I’d had a hard look at my finances and made the difficult decision to go home if I still hadn’t landed anything within the next month. Keenan obviously didn’t want me to leave and said he’d support me, but he was only making something ridiculously low like $14/hr at the time and it just wasn’t feasible.
    I met a funny Irish woman and had a grizzle about how difficult I was finding job hunting. I couldn’t even get a look in at a $10/hr supermarket job. What was wrong with me? She commiserated, and then a few days later sent me an email offering me a temporary job at her software company as a junior tech writer. I couldn’t believe it! I was saved! And it paid $20/hr, so I was pretty stoked at my good fortune. I ended up working there for the rest of my time in Canada. Replying to that ad and agreeing to meet up was a random choice that turned out pretty damn well for me. I got a job that I enjoyed, and I got to stay in Canada with the best guy I’ve ever met.

Anyway, this is my really long-winded way of saying I was faced with one of these choices again. An obvious one, not a random one like the choice of pub or drunkenly replying to craigslist ads.

I was booked to teach at a school for the first three weeks of term. The original teacher had got another job and quit just before school went back for the year. I was there to fill in while they found a permanent replacement. In week 3 the school did their interviews and hired someone to take over, so I said bye to the kids and handed it all over and went back to day-to-day CRT work. But something about the teacher they’d selected wasn’t quite right for whatever reason and they decided that she wouldn’t do after all. They re-advertised and the head of department found me a few times and heavily encouraged me to apply for the job and said that I was almost guaranteed to get the job if I put my name in the ring. The kids loved me (not entirely sure why), and had been complaining about the new teacher and how they wanted me back. A lot. Had kids constantly coming up to me in the yard and begging me to come back.

I’ll admit, it was good for the old ego.

It was a full-time, ongoing position. The things teachers dream of. Ongoing! And it was a relatively easy load.

If I actually wanted to be a career teacher I would have leapt at the opportunity.

I seriously did consider it. Financially, it would make a lot of sense. I’d be easily able to pay off all my debts and save up a nice chunk of money.

Keenan and I talked it over multiple times over the weekend. He asked me if I thought I’d still be able to write five books this year if I took the job. I seriously doubted that I’d even be able to write one. Whenever I’m teaching full-time, I become so consumed by all the extra work and preparation and I’m utterly exhausted each night and I can barely manage to write a word of fiction.

We talked about our goals for the next few years. We worried that me taking this job would end with us stuck in a safe rut. Just one more year, one more year. Tied to a safe income and before we knew it we’d be in our forties and miserable.

My new book has done better than I expected. It made a bit over $900 last month, and I’m already at $650 for the first ten days of March. Over a thousand dollars this month doesn’t seem so crazy all of a sudden.

Perhaps if the new book had only sold a handful of copies then I would have taken the job. But with it doing relatively well, we can see the possibilities.

I felt like I had a choice – chase this author dream. It might work out amazingly, it might all fizzle out. Or take the safe path and take the full-time teaching job and put the author dream on the back-burner.

I’m lucky enough that I have an extremely supportive partner, and that we’re in the position where I don’t need to be bringing in $67k+ a year. We can get by comfortably on Keenan’s wage and the ~$30k I bring in from CRT work. I’m lucky enough that I can do a flexible job like CRT work which pays $50/hr and I have some control over how much and when I work.

Maybe I will look back on this decision and regret it.

The sensible thing to do would take the job. Save up a deposit for a house. Buy a house. Have a baby.

But that’s not the path we want. Publishing has the potential to make a hell of a lot more than I ever could teaching. Or it might never take off. I have no way of knowing. But if I look back on my life when I’m old, I know I would regret not trying.

2017 Publishing Recap

It feels far too futuristic to be writing 2018 in my journal, but it is what it is!

2017 has come to a close, all too quickly. Where did that year even go? I have no idea. 2016 and 2017 have blurred together in my mind. I need to make 2018 different!

As is usual for me at this time of year, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and pouring over my numbers and stats for the year.

Positives:
– 2017 was my best sales year ever. I sold 802 books, which was twice as many as the previous best year (2013 with 401). That surprised me because I didn’t actually have any new releases, and it was mostly my two oldest books doing the heavy lifting.
– I wrote 155,215 words of fiction. Less than I aimed for, but better than other years.
– My income is trending (mostly) upwards;
2013: $545.04
2014: $114.28
2015: $456.80
2016: $703.55
2017: $1260.14

Negatives:
– I didn’t publish a single book. I still only have 4 books out, under two pen names. I was planning to grow that a lot more last year. Disappointed in myself that I haven’t.
– I didn’t write enough. Some months were good, others were abysmal.

I was exclusive with Amazon for all four books in 2017. One of my pen names has been pretty quiet over there the past six months or so, so I’m going to take those two books out once their current Kindle Select term is up (you need to enrol for 90 days at a time) and try them wide with Apple, Kobo and other retailers. Not sure if they’ll do much there either, but only one way to find out!

Looking forward: 

I have a new book coming out in a week. I quietly put it up for pre-order, mostly to give myself a kick in the pants and actually get it done. Haven’t told anyone at all about it yet, but have managed to get 8 pre-orders. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but that’s 8 strangers who have decided to buy my book based purely on the cover and blurb! Fingers crossed the launch goes well, but even if it doesn’t I will keep my head down and keep working. The more books I have out there, the more money I make and the closer I get to reaching my goals. Plus, writing is fun 😀

I’m on school holidays for the next month, and I’m planning to write the sequel before school goes back.

Tally ho!

The current state of my life

First post, woo! Welcome, welcome.

My name is Bec, and I’m a writer. I’m also intensely interested in personal finance and my long-term aim is to achieve financial independence, preferably through my writing.

This blog is a way to track my progress, thoughts, setbacks, and whatever else floats my boat.

I’ve had a taste of financial freedom in the past (I’ll post about that another time), and I want to get back there. Not having to worry about money sure feels good!

Current situation:
Age: 32
Marital status: Engaged, living together.
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Job: Part-time CRT (Casual Relief Teacher), part-time author.
My income: Varies. I make AUD$300/day from the CRT work. I usually work 2-4 days/week as a CRT, while schools in session. My author income also varies from month to month depending on sales. At present, it’s only bringing in around US$60-180/month. This is an area I am aiming to grow. Last financial year my taxable income was about $25,000. Not counting any publishing income, I’m on track to make $30k+ this financial year from CRT work. Publishing money is a bonus at the moment.
Partner’s income: He makes around $80,000 a year working in warehousing for a major international food company.

My finances are pretty sad at the moment.

Debts:

  • $2500 that I owe my mother.
  • $1500 I ‘owe’ my partner (the cash is going in the joint savings account, but, still…)
  • $4616 I owe on a credit card (0% interest until June)

Total debt: $8616 + $25,730 HECS debt (this is not a priority to pay off at present – payments get automatically taken out of our pay once we earn over the repayment threshold – currently somewhere around the $58k/year mark)

My partner is smart and has no debt (yet). He also has no degree (yet) so this situation may change if he ends up going back to uni once his Aus Citizenship comes through (he’ll be able to get a HECS loan).

Assets:

  • Superannuation $10,300 (this is pretty low for my age, but I worked 4 years in Canada and was paying into the Canadian Pension Plan during that time, instead of my super…). My partner has about $18,000 in his Super account (only been living/working in Aus for 4 years).
  • My personal savings $500 – depressingly low at the moment, and something I need to rectify in the coming year! Fiance is doing much better on the savings front…
  • Partner’s savings ~ $40,000

 

Goals: 
Within the next 12 months:

  • Pay off all my debts (apart from HECS).
  • Not go any further into debt!
  • Make twice as much money in 2018 as I did in 2017.
  • Have $10,000+ in savings by the end of the year.
  • Publish 6 more books.

Within next 3 years: 

  • Make a living from my fiction. CRT only if I want to, not because I need to.
  • Have over $100,000 in savings between the two of us.
  • Get married.

Within next 5 years: 

  • Buy a house?
  • Pop out a kid?
  • Be earning enough from my fiction to support us both.

Some of it feels very far away at the moment, but that’s where I want to be. Come along for the ride?