Finances 3: Little Victories

Here we are at the start of a new month—and the launch of a whole new experiment for us, a Kickstarter campaign! What better time to assess our finances and share them with the world?

Yes, folks, it’s time for another numbat numbies numbers post.

The numbat, official mascot of actuaries everywhere. (Photo by Martin Pot, Martybugs at en.wikipedia)

The Big Picture

If you’re some sort of weirdo who hates reading detailed financial breakdowns, here are the headlines.

  • We left Kindle Unlimited and entered wide distribution
  • Wyngraf #3 had a slightly stronger release than #1
  • Wyngraf #2 earned out its budget!
  • Wyngraf #1 continues to sell
  • Romance Special 2023 taught us about Amazon ebook pricing
  • Bard City Blues marks our first foray into crowdfunding

Let’s take ’em one by one.

Wyngraf #2 Earns Out

Cover by Shafer Brown

At the end of March, the second issue of Wyngraf was $1.14 away from earning its total budget ($702.90) in profit. So we hopped on Twitter and shamelessly begged politely requested that someone snag a copy and put us over the top. Someone came through—in fact a few people did—and as of April 4th, Wyngraf #2 is officially in the black!

If you’re keeping score, the issue was released on October 1st, 2022, so it took pretty much exactly six months to earn out.

The best thing about this news is that everything the issue earns from here on out is gravy, or put another way, all its profit will go to funding future releases.

Wyngraf #3 Arrives In Style

Cover by Alicia Ramos Castillo

The third issue of the magazine released on March 15th to much fanfare (at least in our minds). We were a bit nervous about how it would perform, especially because we increased our author pay with this issue, which combined with a slightly chunkier wordcount to swell the budget to $1100.19.

Would it release big and break even in under three months, like Wyngraf #1? Or would it be a slow-burn seller like #2? So far, signs point to the former. Sales numbers for the first month were comparable to the first issue, but a tad higher all around.

  • Amazon Preorders: 29 (Issue 1: 28)
  • First Day Sales: 39 (Issue 1: 34)
  • First Week Sales: 74 (Issue 1: 62)
  • First Month Sales: 99 (Issue 1: 98)

This success is likely thanks to a renewed promotional push. We got some amazing support from book bloggers, YouTubers, and TikTokers (TikTokkers?) for this release, and it shows in not only the higher overall numbers, but the fact that they clustered closer to release day. Simply put, more readers knew when Wyngraf #3 was coming out.

Wyngraf #1: Still Great?

Cover by Sâmara Lígia

As we mentioned in our previous finances post, Wyngraf #1 continues to be a steady seller despite releasing almost a year ago now. It’s closing in on earning twice its original budget, even counting the extra we paid for global rights. With the launch of issue 3 behind us, it’s not unusual for issue 1 to sell better than its siblings on any given day.

We’re still curious why this is. Do new readers always go for the first issue, rather than the most recent? Is there something about the cover that grabs people?

Whatever the reason, Wyngraf #1 is a wonderful engine of prosperity, enabling us to continue putting out new content.

Romance Everywhere

Cover by GetCovers

Valentine’s Day saw our first non-magazine release: the Cozy Fantasy Romance Special 2023, featuring two short romance stories.

The idea here was to celebrate fantasy romance—and give a home to a couple great tales we couldn’t find room for in issue 3—with an inexpensive ebook release. We paid the authors the same increased rate as the folks we bought for #3, but kept costs down by using an inexpensive cover design company rather than commissioning custom art.

With a total budget of only $149.98, we hoped the Romance Special would break even fairly quickly. What we failed to reckon with, however, was Amazon’s royalty scheme.

Amazon really doesn’t like it when you sell stuff at a low cost, and they enforce this by reducing the royalty percentage if your cover price falls below a certain point. So at $0.99 for the ebook, the Romance Special only earns a hair under 35 cents per sale on Amazon—as opposed to the usual royalty of about 65% after Amazon applies their fuzzy math.

Going Wide

When we realized this, it spurred us to take a step we’d been contemplating for months: moving to wide distribution. We pulled everything from Kindle Unlimited (which demands exclusivity for ebooks, but where we’d never really caught on) and signed up with DriveThruFiction and Smashwords, which distributes to all the major non-Amazon ebook vendors.

There’s a lot to like about going wide. Other vendors don’t slash their royalty on low-cost ebooks, so the average sale of the Romance Special at, say, Smashwords earns almost twice what it does on Amazon.

It also gives our readers options—particularly, the option not to support Amazon.

The main drawback was another learning opportunity for us. Because Smashwords coordinates with places like Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, they can’t offer the same instant sales reporting that Amazon does. Kobo sales take about a month to appear, for example, and an additional month to actually pay out.

This makes tracking our sales numbers more complicated, as we have to go back and adjust past months pretty often. The nice thing is that it only ever means more sales!

Overall, we’re glad we made the move.

By the Numbers

All in all, things are looking good for Wyngraf as we sail into the uncharted waters of our first novel release and first crowdfunding campaign. Despite a major (and expensive) release only six weeks ago, we’re barely in the red. Here’s the profit breakdown as of May 1st.

  • Total: -$54.68
  • Wyngraf #1: +$640.59 (budget $842.14, revenue $1,482.73)
  • Wyngraf #2: +$17.43 (budget $702.90, revenue $720.33)
  • Wyngraf #3: -$591.83 (budget $1100.19, revenue $508.36)
  • Romance 2023: -$120.87 (budget $149.98, revenue $29.11)

Flipping the Script

Cover by Cris Puga

Finally, we come to the question of crowdfunding! The Bard City Blues Kickstarter launched today, and if you’re considering backing it, you should get in now. Day One backers get their names on a special backer list in the book and a unique “Day One – Always True” sticker in their paperback! Plus you’ll automatically receive all the pledge perks we haven’t announced yet…

So why crowdfund? Financially speaking, if we succeed, we’ll have all the revenue we need to fund the project right away. That saves us from waiting months to slowly earn back an up-front budget—which in turn makes it much easier to release more books, quicker. (And from an artistic perspective, we get to do things Amazon can’t, like pocket paperbacks.)

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! As always, we hope it was educational and useful. Check out the Kickstarter, and we’ll see you in the summer for Wyngraf #4…

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