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Can You Make a Profit With a Single Book?

Can You Make a Profit With a Single Book?

One thing Mark doesn’t tend to say, is that you can make a profit with just one book.

It’s not unprecedented, but the examples are outliers. Mark teaches us that we can run paid ad campaigns aimed at book 1 and use ‘read-through’ to generate our profit. In other words, you may spend $100 on book 1 in a series and only sell $75 worth of books, making a loss of $25. But if a percentage of your readers move on to books 2, 3, 4 and so on within that series, you very quickly earn a profit.

So, for authors like me who only have the one book out so far, it’s important we don’t set unrealistic expectations.

In fact, I like to equate it to the first years of a start-up business. Year 1 (book 1), you make a loss. Year 2 (book 2), you break even. Year 3 (book 3), you turn a profit.

My first book, The Final Flight, came out at the end of April 2021. I’ve completed a first draft of book 2, but it won’t be out until early summer 2022 (hopefully!). So, understanding what Mark has told us, I decided my strategy for The Final Flight would be to run ads, garner readers and reviews, and expect to make a loss. I didn’t want to lose my shirt on it, but I figured I could afford to lose £1,500 ($2,000) in the first year, which is £125/month ($167/month).

Not an inconsiderable sum, but I saw it as an investment. I would build an audience, build reviews and build a mailing list, all while writing book 2.

What surprised me, is that I followed Mark’s detailed instructions in Facebook Ads for Authors (part of the Ads for Authors course) and instead of losing £125/month, I ended up making a small profit. To the end of December I had spent £4,917.51 ($6,692) on Facebook Ads and recorded KDP royalties of £4,950.48 ($6,737) – a grand profit of £32.97!

OK, so I’m not going to open an account in the Cayman Islands to hide my stash of £32. But the point is, all I wanted to do this year was build my readership for the future. I was prepared to pay to do this, but with the right technique, I’ve been able to do it at no cost at all (not counting my time, of course).

So far, I’ve sold around 3,000 copies (including readers on Kindle Unlimited), gained 400+ reviews on amazon.co.uk and added 250 sign ups to my mailing list via a link at the back of the book. Exactly what I set out to do.

How did I do it? As I mentioned above, I followed Mark’s expert tuition in Facebook Ads for Authors. A typical campaign for me targets UK men interested in similar authors, such as Tom Clancy, or those interested in the Royal Air Force, and further narrows down the audience by those interested in Amazon Kindle.

I make the creatives myself using elements of the book cover and bookbrush.com. I spend time coming up with variations of the copy, and I am fairly nerdy at looking at how the individual elements have performed. I then kill the bad performers and allocate extra budget to those that work.

One top tip: don’t fixate on particular stats and always go back to the bottom line – sales. For instance, the campaign I was running for the first half of January was doing pretty well, with £0.20 cost per click or below (don’t worry if these expressions don’t mean much to you – if you do the course, you’ll be carefully introduced to it all!).

However, I noticed that my targeting was slightly wrong. My ad was being served to men who like Royal Air Force OR Amazon Kindle, instead of men who like both. I corrected the targeting and since then the cost per click has gone up. It nearly doubled, in fact. However, sales have gone up as well. So rather than kill the campaign, I’m letting it run at the less efficient spend. It’s very possible that these more expensive clicks have a much higher conversion rate of sales. So in this case, a more expensive looking campaign will make more revenue than a more “efficient” one.

This is the sort of ‘down in the weeds’ stuff that the Ads for Authors course will introduce you to.

Although I’m a part of SPF and I help put the courses together, I do want to thank Mark Dawson for teaching me how to get my book into readers’ hands and set me on the path to profit. You can learn the exact same techniques I used by signing up for Ads for Authors here.

James Blatch

James Blatch

James Blatch is co-host of the Self Publishing Formula podcast. He is a former BBC Television News reporter and is currently writing his first novel, a military thriller set in 1960s Britain.