This is one of those things that several authors refuse to look at.
“I know I’m not making any money yet, so I’m going to invest what I have to make it work.”
Let me just tell you they don’t teach this management method in any school. Why? Because it’s unsustainable and will get you into trouble.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE WHEN MY BUDGET PUTS MY CAREER INTO TROUBLE?
I’ve seen how a failure to budget an indie author career can have drastic consequences. A lot of authors don’t think any of this could happen to them, but the truth is, you just don’t know until you’ve passed the point of no return.
What does a failed budget look like?
You can’t publish as many books as you had planned for a successful year.
You have a bevvy of covers you may not have the money to finance books for.
You have to cancel edits or outlines.
You receive poor reviews based on quality.
There’s more stress at home because of money issues which can lead to fights, domestic violence, and divorce.
HOW DOES BUDGET REALLY IMPACT MY CAREER?
There’s a myth out there that states you have to have a lot of money be successful, but most of those authors started with very little.
You need consistency and planning to remain on budget. Your budget supports your schedule. Your schedule supports your publishing consistency. Your consistency supports your brand. Your brand supports your launching power. Your launching power supports your success. Your success supports your budget.
And the circle comes back around again.
HOW CAN I USE MY BUDGET TO MAKE DAILY DECISIONS?
One of the reasons several service providers have disappeared or have admitted to struggling in the past few months is because the authors they depend on are not using their budget in their daily decisions. Why do we care? Because they're our partners.
But the good ones aren't affected.
I wish that was the case. The sexy ones are unaffected.
What's causing this and is this trend going to continue? Why should I care if they're not on my team?
First, when they say they're suffering, it's a signal that authors are failing in their schedule and budget, which means they're suffering in their productivity, which means they're not producing the high-quality books the industry needs. When they're not producing, they're not making money. When they're not making money, they get desperate. When they get desperate, they make poor choices. When they make poor choices...
They close shop.
Yes. We need to be concerned when our service providers start dropping like flies.
We’re currently being inundated with sexy and wildly attractive covers and concepts. It’s super easy to talk yourself into getting a cover or a concept when they launch. You tell yourself that you’re incredibly lucky to get this cover or this concept. You tell yourself that it’s going to make you a lot of money.
If it’s in your budget, you could be right.
If it’s not in your budget, you’ve just signaled a domino effect of budgetary failures and impacts to your schedule which have consequences that will be dramatically felt by your publishing company, your service providers, and your readers.
I’ve had authors spend thousands of dollars on pretty covers and then turn around in that same day and ask me for payment plans on an invoice for the work I completed for them the previous week.
This “premade” industry is great for the service providers who are providing the “hot” products, but it’s making it incredibly harder on the other service providers who provide what the authors need, not want. Authors are choosing to buy that sexy cover because “covers sell” and, to make their budget happy, they save money on edits. They either hire a new, untried, and inexpensive editor or they self-edit. They ask for friends to barrage their readers with their books because they don’t have the money for ads. They ask for favors of their service provider or author friends…
To support their cover habit, basically.
So, your budget is a tool that should be used daily.
But it needs to be realistic to you and your situation so that it doesn’t put undue pressure on your family and your daily life. Don’t spend so much that you have to eat crap food for a year because that has catastrophic effects on our health.
HOW DO I GET THE RIGHT INFORMATION TO CREATE A BUDGET THAT WILL WORK FOR ME?
Document how much you spend on planned covers, edits, outlines, blurbs, formatting, and marketing.
Be honest with yourself. We like to “hide” our spending from ourselves because we shame ourselves for our spending habits.
Document how much you spend on life-sustaining things like rent, food, utilities, etc.
A lot of authors like to tell me that they know this. That’s great, but until you document it, it’s just mind math.
Document what you spend when you’re angry, depressed, or bored.
We waste a lot of money when we’re emotionally in the “wrong” place. We need to document this to come up with viable solutions to manage this.
Document how much you spend on “shiny” things.
Shiny things are the premade covers you have no plans for or can’t use until 2022.
These are dangerous because they can be quite pricey.
Additionally, cover trends change, sometimes drastically. It might be a pretty cover now, but will it work effectively in 2022? What about 2021? What about late 2020?
Once you have your real metrics, then and only then can you create a real budget.
Keep in mind that your budget very well might alter your production schedule. Don’t feel bad about that. Be forgiving of yourself. You’re building a sustainable best-selling career that you can manage.
Once that budget is in place, use it in your everyday decisions.
Can you really afford that gorgeous cover? Can your career afford it? Or should you let someone else take the cover while you continue on with the plan you’ve carefully crafted for you?
This is your career, so treat it with the respect you deserve.
Document, document, document.
Share budgetary issues you have and see if there’s anyone who might have solutions you can use, like strategic plans to use for meal prep.