Book Sales Accounting – When Reality Sets In

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Many of us have been here already. Right before our first book launches, we have about five thousand copies, a book tour set up, and our suitcase packed with optimism.  As the year moves along and book sales slow down before we break even on our investment, we realize two things:

  1. We didn’t do as good as we thought
  2. We spent the money we got from book sales celebrating.

If you are finding yourself in that spot when reality sets in don’t despair, you can recover from it! If you are working on your first book launch, you are still in time to avoid a sour moment of regret. Below are some tips on how to spend your book sales money wisely.

  • Save it all! Yes, I went there…you do not need to spend it! Put it in a separate account and hold on to it for at least 6 months. Watch your account grow as you sell your books one by one. Remember, this is not a hobby anymore. You are now in the business of writing and publishing, and as such you need to create your business capital.
  • Record selling expenses before touching sales dollars. Forget that you are cashing in for a while to give your capital a chance to grow, and in the meantime make note of the cost of selling your books. These are not production costs…those you should have recorded as you invested in writing and publishing the book already. I am talking about traveling, fees to bookstores for shelf placement, consignment discounts, personal image, marketing, promotions, etc. Make sure you know the total cost of producing and selling a book.
  • Budget before digging into your sales money. Nope, you still shouldn’t spend your sales money celebrating! Chances are that you sold between 500 to 2000 books during the first year. If you did, you most likely didn’t break even. Yet, you are fortunate as a huge number of first time authors do not even hit the 500 mark. If you were strong enough and did not touch your sales money, pat yourself on your back as you now have a startup dollar amount for your next book, which already has a platform – an experienced author and bookseller (you), and a realistic budget plus a bunch of contacts in the industry!

If you are looking to publish your book as a hobby, then these tips do not apply, but if your goal is to make a career out of writing and publishing your books, and/or being a public speaker on your topic of expertise, then remember that a business is built over time, and as such the income needs to be re-invested in order to grow.

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