Past Breakeven on Old Audio

One of the tricky things with self-publishing is knowing where to put your effort. Should you put your books out in print? How about large print? What about audio? What about video?

And, as is the way with self-pub, you will hear about someone who killed it doing one of those things. Which ups the pressure to also do it. Look at the growth of audio year-to-year, you gotta get in on that.

For me, I also like to learn something new each year. So I did print one year. I went wide one year. I paid for audio one year. I did large print one year. I did video courses one year. I did my own audio last year.

If nothing else, I figure I learned a new skill.

And some of those options paid off. Some…did not.

Back in 2016 I paid a narrator to have my first title put out in audio. And it did well! I think it broke even within a few months. So I put more titles in audio. And then even more. And…they did not all do well.

So here I am, seven years after doing that, and I just noticed that I have made $63 in profit from all of those older audiobooks where I paid other narrators to do the audio.

That includes one series that made $720 (on an expense of $625), another that made $680 (on an expense of $1140), one that made $20, and five that lost amounts varying from $140 to $570.

Ironically, the one that’s lost me the most money is also the one that’s my third-highest earner. It was costly to produce and never sold enough to make that back. Also, I found that my novels sold through ACX earned me the least per unit compared to my short non-fiction.

So, lessons?

If you keep going, ultimately you do hopefully slowly earn more money over time and break even or better than that on those early projects that didn’t pan out initially.

Writing very much follows the 80/20 principle where 80% of your income is going to come from 20% of your books.

Take risks, but never take risks so big you can’t swallow the loss if you get it wrong.

Keep an eye out for changing situations. That worst title is better now because it had a Chirp deal last year.

And remember that just because others are having success at something doesn’t mean that you will, too. Sometimes, absolutely, that does work out. But often they have different books or a different number of books or different resources they can throw at their titles than you do, and so they’re not lying when they say they did well with something, but they also don’t understand how your situation is vastly different from theirs.

But, anyway, yay, $60 in profit. It’s better than zero.

Author: M.L. Humphrey

M.L. Humphrey is an author who has been published under a variety of pen names and across a variety of subjects and genres. You can contact M.L. at mlhumphreywriter [at]

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