Measuring the Success of a Low-Budget Book LaunchLike most writers, I dream of six-figure book sales that make all our concerns about money disappear.  Maybe some day I’ll get there, but it won’t be because I simply publish a book and then let is find it’s way. Publishing a book and making money on it – any money on it – is a labor of love, a task of perseverance, and a strategy of careful intent.

It also doesn’t hurt to have some cash to throw at the process. . . although you don’t NEED cash to self-publish. Still, it helps. A lot.

I Love Joanna Penn, but I Have Not Her Bank Account

I don’t have the kind of budget folks like Joanna Penn have. In her ad campaign to hit the USA Today bestseller’s list, she spent $4,965 in that campaign. And that was just for the ads. That total doesn’t include her costs to publish the three books in the box set she advertised.  I LOVE that this was true for her, and I truly am thrilled.

Still, I don’t have that kind of cash to give to advertising. I don’t even have that kind of cash to give to the pieces of publishing.  I have to run a much leaner launch. . . and even as I write that, I realize that some of you will need to be even leaner still.

So in the interest of transparency and to put a lower-budget option for launching into the world, I’m going to tell you all the nitty gritty of the costs involved in my two launches this fall – one for my book Discover Your Writing Self, which just came out this week, and the other for my novel Charlotte and the Twelve, which will be out on November 18th.  I’m hopeful that if I am as clear and direct as I can be about what I do to publish and promote and the costs involved, you may find a way that works for you, no matter your budget.

The Nitty Gritty on the DYWS Launch



  • Proofreading – $275 – a colleague did my edit, and we bartered for $50 of the cost – True Cost – $325
  • Formatting – $0 – a colleague formats my work for free because we are friends and assist one another with projects
  • Cover design for ebook – $50 – a colleague created the ebook cover using an image I selected from Pixabay, a free source for copyright-free images.
  • Cover template for ebook – $57 – I bought a cover template from Book Design Templates because I find getting the layout right for print covers is so hard.
  • Total – $387


  • 10 print copies to give away on Goodreads and in my online line party – $20.67 + $10.50 shipping=$31.17
  • 4 gift cards to use for promotion – $100
  • 10 ebooks for an Amazon giveaway – $9.90
  • Total – $241.07

Overall Total – $628.07

Income as of 10/5/16 at 9:00 a. m EDT

eBook Sales

  • Amazon – 108 copies at $0.33 royalty = $35.31
  • Kobo – 1 copy at $0.56 royalty = $0.56
  • Smashwords – 1 copy at $0.56 royalty = $0.56
  • iBooks – 5 copies at $0.56 royalty = $2.80
  • Barnes and Noble – 2 copies at $.056 royalty = $1.12
  • Total – $40.35

Print Sales

  • CreateSpace, which aggregates sales for all print retailers – 7 copies at $3.32 royalty – 23.24
  • Total – $23.24

Total Earned To Date – $63.59

Why I’m Not Panicking

Even if you’re as slow with numbers as I am (my computer calculator just got a good workout for those numbers), you’ll see that I am sitting at a definite loss right now, a loss of $564.48. I have a long way to go to recoup my money.

I could panic right now, but I’m not going to because here are a few things I keep in mind.

  • I am already 10.12% of the way toward breaking even, and that’s after only 5 days when the price of the eBook was $0.99.
  • The price of the ebook will climb to $3.99 on Monday, and then, not only will I make more money because the book costs more I will also be able to draw a 70% royalty from all Amazon sales, which means I’ll get $2.79 per book instead of just $0.33.
  • I am making sales across multiple retailers in higher numbers than ever before.
  • Also, I have broken even and now make money on every other book I’ve published.
  • I am garnering other benefits as a writer and business owner that do not have direct monetary benefits.
    • New email list subscribers.
    • Customers who might buy my other books.
    • Speaking opportunities that sometimes pay me and often allow me to sell books.
    • More followers on social media who may become customers.
    • Most importantly, the opportunity to talk with writers about writer in a way that does not use shaming or “shoulding” when talking about a writing practice.

What I’m Learning from this Launch

While I am confident that I will make my money back and also begin getting profit shortly, I do have some things I want to do differently for the launch of Charlotte and the Twelve (C12) in November.

  • First, I need a bigger launch team. My team for Discover Your Writing Self is superb, but there are only 28 people there. I already have over 100 people on the launch for C12, and I’ll be looking to grow that number even more in the coming weeks. (Contact me if you’d like to join that team and see how I do that launch.)
  • Second, I need to create vibrant images and quotes to use on social media. I didn’t do that this time, and I can see the impact. (I may yet do that though.)
  • Third, I need to connect with influential people more to get them to help me spread the word about the book.
  • Fourth, I need a longer lead-time for future books so I can get more of these pieces in place.

Am I pleased with this launch? In many ways, yes. . . I’ve been in the Top Ten for two categories on Amazon since the day the book came out, and I’ve had a better starting sales record for this book than for any other.  BUT I can do better, and since I have another launch just around the corner, I will do better.

It’s a constant learning process, this publishing thing, but I wouldn’t trade it for any other job in the world.

Now, what more would you like to know? What questions can I answer? How can I help you get your book into the world and into your reader’s hands? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below. 

I’ll be sharing updates about my sales figures here on the blog over the next few weeks, so be sure to subscribe to get the latest. 


Discover Your Writing Self

You can get your copy of Discover Your Writing Self at:
Amazon –
iBooks –
Kobo –
Smashwords –
Barnes and Noble –