We're still working through my list of the many professions successful Indie authors will have to be able to assume. Original post: Original post January 8th, 2015
9. Accountant – because this is a business, someone needs to keep track of your income and expenses. Who else but you can know what those are? I’m lucky that in my working life, I was a pay-mistress with a goodly amount of bookkeeping experience. But that doesn't help the rest of you.
Right from the beginning of this late-in-life career, I've understood that I’m not just an author who writes books, but a woman who has started her own business. Because of my background, I've always measured success on whatever profit I see each month. It’s made it easier for me to make the choices I have to when faced with hard decisions. Do I want to give up any of my control over my product or not?
Yes, your books are your product and don’t ever think differently unless your earnings and the bottom line don’t matter to you. And there are many authors who feel this way. Seeing their book in print feeds something in their ego and it’s enough.
Not for me!
It’s true that in any new business, you must put the majority of your earnings back into the pot for the first few years. Then work hard to finally see black at the end of a that period. But the more you invest (in good covers, top editing and lots of paid promotions) you’ll see the differences in your sales. It’s really that simple. A slow, hard-working process but nonetheless, a winner if you stick at it.
And… by keeping clear, concise records, you’ll be able to see your expenses versus your income. That should show you where you've made good investments and where you might like to rethink things. For example: For the first few years that I was an Indie author, I promoted with a group called the Freepartay. Every month and then eventually, every couple of weeks, I was handing over anywhere from $100 to $200 for the opportunity to be involved in their very convoluted advertising set-up. The thing is, at first, I didn't really make a huge amount of money. But what I did see was that I was getting thousands and thousands of people downloading my free books and the backlash gave me enough sales, that every month, my bottom line grew. Within the year, not only was I earning back my investment, I was gaining readers.
And I was able to compute that because I kept records. I did my accounting and made sure I always knew where I stood. I understood what ROA (Return on investment) means and how to assess it.
And I judged the importance of gaining readers versus the cost not repaid. It’s a long-term kind of a business, isn't it? We need to think ahead and know that the number of books we have circulating with that wonderful “Also Author of…” page will do its magic. That when the satisfied reader who just loved your book goes to see what else you've written, he/she will find the list that shows a prolific author who has a lot to offer. More sales ensue and the business grows…and grows.
Slowly! But it grows.
Then wham!! New York Times list!!!