Are you tracking your expenses? A few weeks ago I shared a post on being aware of people scamming authors for money and I didn’t realize that not many authors had any idea on what or who they spent money on. Money is one of the reasons authors invest so much into marketing.
Let’s face it we all want to generate as many sales as possible. Too often we’re buying the swag, bookmarks, and stationary we don’t need. When the credit card bill finally arrives, we wonder when did all this happen. Especially as you get serious as an author, it may see like a swipe here, a few dollars there, but in the end it all adds up and over a year, you’ll see a dent in your wallet.
I’ll give you three reasons why you should track expenses.
The first reason is because an expense tracker can help you understand where you’re heading. Are you earning as much as you spend? Are you breaking even? If you’re lucky are you registering profits? What is the percentage margin you received from each of your works? I started a tracker at the beginning of 2017, because it was quite clear, my costs had escalated with running a website, hosting a podcast and doing professional work. Now eleven months later I can see how I’m doing financially. Were all my decisions sound? (No!) Did I make the right investments? Am I losing or losing more? 🙂
The expense tracker can also help you identify where you’re wasting money. It can point to all the extravagances you can ill-afford. For example, in my case, I was spending money on advertising on Amazon and that didn’t yield much in the form of sales so I pulled the plug on that and started doing giveaways. I have one coming up in December, watch out for that. I also realized I was bleeding money on transcription and decided to trim the length of my podcast episodes. Either way it helped me identify the leaks in my expenses.
The expense tracker also helped me see which books were generating revenue. It helped me see the source of my income. Which books, and what form of work was providing a steady reliable stream for me, in my case that was my short story sales, for now. It also revealed where I could make more effort. For me, a more streamlined marketing strategy for my Christian non fiction became more obvious, something I wouldn’t have realized as I got busy querying and editing my sweet romances. Either way the tracker showed me areas I could do much better with a little more work.
I know lots of people build complex trackers where you can create complicated charts of each book, and publisher. I also realize that there are complicated software to help authors do this. But like I said, since I’m still in the red and far from breaking even, I decided to make a single excel spreadsheet with the date, the expense, credit and debit and any special comment. Nothing too fancy. I’ll make do with what I got for now. If you haven’t made one I suggest you do, even if you’re just starting out. It will make the world of a difference once your books start to move.
How are you tracking your author expenses? I’d like to know.