Jun 14th, 2021
Do you know how well your books are selling? We mean really know?
Without accurate sales and royalty data, you can't make accurate assessments on advertising, read-through rate, or how well that last giveaway did. Join us as we discuss some of our favorite book sales trackers and how exactly to use them.
Check out the book sales trackers we mention in the episode!
- Book Report: https://www.getbookreport.com/
- Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/
- KDP Reports Beta: https://kdpreports.amazon.com/
- BookTrakr: https://www.booktrakr.com/
- Bundlerabbit: https://bundlerabbit.com/home/worlds
- Draft2Digital: https://www.draft2digital.com/
- Abacus: https://publishdrive.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360026379074-Abacus-for-Co-Authors
Drop us a suggestion for our question and answer show at https://www.amwritingfantasy.com/contact/
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Read the full transcript below. (Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).
You're listening to the am. Writing fantasy podcast in today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need an literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing. Join two best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them now onto the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt, and Jesper Schmidt.
Hello, I'm Jesper
And I'm Autumn
Is episode 129 of the Am Writing Fantasy podcast. And I think This should be an interesting episode because it's a topic which we haven't touched upon previously, as in ever,
that's pretty good at 120 some episodes, and we have a topic that we've never even touched on. And that's that's I can't complain about that. Yeah. That's pretty good to talk about book sales, trackers and why it is helpful to be organized.
Jesper (1m 8s):
Autumn organized my own methodology with how you track your sales and also which tools are available to do so. So yes. Yeah. Maybe you will actually pick up some good points from this episode. Autumn.
Autumn (1m 23s):
I have, I have I'll have, you know, I use three different sales tractor trackers, and because of the limitation, it was more the organization stuff.
Jesper (1m 34s):
I just looked at your script file before this recording. So I know, I know what you mean. What do you mean when you say organized and what I mean when I say, well, you have a very high standard in the organization. I don't think I do too badly. I know where everything is in my household. I am the organized one. So let that terrify you. Oh my God. But how are things on your end? Oh, it's good. We finally are hitting look short sleeve. We're hitting warm weather. Wow. And we're going to be, it's actually dry. We need some rain. I already see like the stream is starting to dry up and that's so sad, but it is nice to have some like shorts, weather and t-shirt weather, no coats.
Autumn (2m 19s):
So that is nice. But yeah, we need some rain and we were in a drought last year and I think this year we we're already in a drought again. It's just kind of sad to see everything drying up. Well, it's supposed to be green. Yeah.
Jesper (2m 34s):
That's not good. That's not what you want.
Autumn (2m 36s):
No, no, but yeah, it was cause I was good at some things like, we're not, I'm not going to computers, but I have not figured out how to call rain yet, but I'll work on that. But maybe that's sort of one of the advanced level, phase skills that you haven't acquired yet. I think I just need to concentrate on it more and put out some more honey dishes or something. I'll figure it out. I'll keep working on it. Okay. Other things for you and your side of the Atlantic?
Jesper (3m 7s):
Well, this is one of those very, very busy weeks, but at least I did manage to finish up the plotting for book two in our new series. So that's pretty good. It's really exciting. Yes. I got to look over it and gave some feedback and we figured some most stuff out and yeah. Now you're ready to start writing. That is so exciting. Yeah. And you caught some good stuff in it as well. That needed to be beefed up and corrected a bit. So that was great. Yeah. That's why it's so awesome to work with someone else. You get to have someone looking over your shoulder going really, instead of hitting a plot hole, they pointed out before you yeah, right. Yeah. Indeed. Or just in some of the cases, it wasn't necessarily a pothole. Some of it was also just more just strengthening the logic behind things, you know, that it makes a bit more logical sense and so on.
Jesper (3m 55s):
So at least I might not be organized, but I'm very logical. That is a plus that you are absolutely, you're very good at that kind of thing. But I was also out refereeing this past weekend. Why experience really? So you hear that even though, you know, COVID well, in some places it's easing up in some places it's getting worse, but I mean, people are actually getting together and they can play sports now in Denmark and happy there should be happy behave, right? Yes. Well actually sort of by the final whistle we had the two teams almost fighting each other, so yeah, I was not too good.
Jesper (4m 41s):
So do you want a short story about what happened? Let's go since I don't see anything interesting going on in my life at the moment, that's your about yours? Well, because the weird thing is that I still don't quite understand it. Right. So yeah, so we were, we were three referees because this is, I can't translate it into an anti-American terms, but it's sort of like, it's not the pro levels, but it's sort of just below, slightly, not just below, but slightly below pro level. So they're, they're, they're not amateurs as such, but so they're pretty good, but they're not pros either. So it's somewhere in the middle. Right? So because of that level, then you are three referees.
Jesper (5m 22s):
You don't have like the main head referee and then you have two running the line. And in this match, I was, I was on the line, which means that you will, well, in my case, I was next to the, one of the benches and one of the coaches and the other linesman was on the other side with the other bends and the other coach and substitutes. And then all of a sudden, like there was probably like 10 minutes left. And then all of a sudden the coach on my side, he starts yelling and screaming and like five or six players sort of go Spisak as well, jumps up and screams. And I'm still, I don't what happened. And, and he's, he's yelling at me because I'm on his side, right on his side of the pitch show.
Jesper (6m 5s):
I'm, I'm sort of the one he, he needs to approach if he needs to say anything or if also just in general, w w if he wants to substitute, somebody has to get my permission to do it. And so on. So he, he, he addresses me and he starts shouting like, eh, we are not gonna, you know, accept this kind of behavior and screaming and shouting. And I, I still don't know what's happening. So I'm like, what? What's wrong? And he's scraped, well, the other bench over there, they, they calling, you know, calling racist names to our players and stuff like that. And that was like, really, what did he say? And I'm not going to say it here, but he's had some, he said that the other coach over there said some really nasty word that you just don't use.
Jesper (6m 51s):
I'm not going to repeat it here, but you can imagine. So I, and there is a linesman over there, another referee, right. So, but he's sort of going berserk. So I shout to him that he needs to sit down right now and then I'll take care of it. So, so he's, he does, he sits down and then I flag the main head coach or the main referee over. And I asked him, so what is going on? Because if it's true, what he's saying, you need to stop just showing some yellow and red cards now, because this it's not acceptable. If it's correct what he's saying, but I haven't heard anything because I'm on the other side of the pitch. So I don't know what they freaking out about. So he goes over and talks to the other linesmen, and then he comes back and save.
Jesper (7m 34s):
The other linesman, says that he's standing right next to the, to the coach over there. And he didn't say anything. And then I'm like, okay, then I don't understand. So why, why is six people freaking out at the same time? Nothing was said, I, I just can't make up the logic. And still, I can't make up the logic. So we never figured out what happened, but, but then 10 minutes later, we, the final whistle blows. And then they storm over to the other events and they almost have a fight over there. And, and, and so something must have happened. I mean, I, I just don't understand, but so why did the other linesmen not hear it? The other linesman was then he was a quite young guy. He was like 17 or something.
Jesper (8m 14s):
It was probably his third match or something. So he was when they stormed over there, very courageous, I guess, from him, he was, he started to try to put himself in the middle and push them apart. And I just went over there and winged him a wasted, come over here, just leave them alone. And we take our notebook and we make notes of who does what? So we can report it to the union. If somebody hits somebody, we know who hit who, so just don't get involved. Don't stand in the middle of it. Let them fight if they want to fight, but we just take notes of who does what, nobody hit anybody. They were yelling and shouting and pushing each other. But it's just like, yeah, it's weird. Right? When you, you don't even know what happened. I still don't understand.
Jesper (8m 56s):
Maybe people have been cooped up too long, but yeah, that just seems weird that something obviously sparked off some kind of anger and no one else heard it. Something came out of the void and only these six people, apparently there was a Fe coming or something. It wasn't me. I was, if I was in Denmark, I would have done something else that day, not riled up soccer players.
Narrator (9m 24s):
Oh, a week on the internet with the yam writing fantasy podcast.
Jesper (9m 29s):
I don't know if you noticed all of them, but the was a very, very funny post by Jason in the am, writing fantasy Facebook group that you notice that how she's had a few this last week. So no, which one was this one? He had, there was like an image. I I'm sure he got it from somewhere else. I at least I assume, but it was a comparison of Lord of the rings with the Teletubbies. So there was like, that was the images next to each other, like, like the Hobbit hole. And then the whole top piece with also has this grass await and then the characters, the hobbits, and then the four Teletubbies. And then there was the eye of Sauron and then the sun from Teletubbies where there's a face in the sun as well.
Jesper (10m 13s):
Right. Oh, that's fantastic. No, I totally missed that line. That, that doesn't surprise me about the group or Jason, who is one of our moderators. And he's obviously a very fun sort of moderator. Oh, I'm going to go find that one. Now that'll give me something to do when I get off. Yeah. It's very good. It's very good. I, yeah, it's just a lot of fun stuff going on in the Facebook group. So if, if you deal, isn't not having joined yet then just so it's 4:00 AM writing fantasy in the group section of Facebook, and then you will find us, but something else I wanted to mention as well, autumn, because we've been asking, we've been asked, I should say Radha.
Jesper (10m 53s):
We've been asked by some of our listeners to record an episode where we talk about our own group to publishing.
Autumn (10m 60s):
Yes. For summary. A lot of our fans, I think it was actually, one of them was on Facebook and the other one was a request like the same week on Patreon and saying, Hey, you've interviewed all these other people. You talk about, you know, how to write and this and that. You never talk about your own writing and like what books you have out and all of those things. And we're like, oh really? We haven't mentioned that good point a hundred and something episodes in and yeah, 129, this one is okay.
Jesper (11m 35s):
Yeah. Yeah, indeed. So I wanted to make a request to your listener because I don't really feel like making a podcast episode where I'm asking all them questions that I already know the answer to. And then I guess vice versa as well. I, it's probably not very exciting for autumn either. And I hope as you've probably pick up from these podcast episodes that we try to have fun with it. We enjoy doing it, but I don't want to record something about a topic that I don't enjoy. So what I want to do is that I want us to be answering your questions. Yes. So please, if there is anything you want us to, or you want to ask us about why we started writing, I don't know.
Jesper (12m 21s):
Some of the obstacles we've come found along the way or our collaboration, whatever, you know, then please send us your question. We've placed a link to the contact form on am, writing fantasy.com in the show notes. So you can just click there and just use the contact form to post your question. And then we will add them all together. And if we get enough of them, then we will record a podcast episodes asking or answering questions.
Autumn (12m 52s):
Sounds like, but we've done sort of something similar once, but we were, it was different questions. So this will be really fun. We already have a few coming in, so it'll be exciting to see what else we get.
Jesper (13m 3s):
Someone really gets something juicy. I never would have thought of asking you. That'd be really fun. Yeah. Yeah. Well maybe funny if it goes to you, that kind of question. I feel like I can ask the question, but, huh. Okay. Well, I'll start here. We should probably point out that what we're going to share is not an exhaustive list. There are definitely more options available out there to us north compared to the ones that we're going to mention here today. So if you think we have missed some important ones, then just leave us a comment. So everyone else also becomes aware of your suggestion.
Autumn (13m 46s):
Absolutely. And this is such a handy tool because if you are selling books on like Amazon and you go into just the regular dashboard where you're your KDP dashboard and you try to follow along with your books. I mean, I remember when you have one or two books, that's okay. But once you get a series, once you get a couple series, once I think I'm up to 20 something books, oh, freak. That it's just too hard. You need to use one of these ways of really tracking things and drilling down. Especially if you're going to run AMS ads, Facebook ads, you need to know how books are selling. You need to have a baseline. You need to know how things are going. You have to keep track.
Autumn (14m 26s):
See, I do know what I'm doing with these reports. Yeah. And I think it's also worth mentioning upfront here that if you're just starting out, this is probably not worth your time and effort to worry about right now. But I do still think it's probably good to listen in because then you are, you are aware of what you need to think about down the line. And I think that'll be helpful as well, even, even if you're just starting out. Yes. And if you are just starting out, there is actually a new feature on Amazon for KDP sales that we can mention that I think works just perfectly specific spiffy. If you're just starting out and want to have something better than the KDP dashboard report, which that little bar chart that's just blocked.
Autumn (15m 13s):
Just totally blessed. Yeah. I dunno. I don't have so much trouble with it, but I'll explain why once we get to the end of the episode, but I mean, why do we want to keep, or why do we want to track and keep some sort of organization around book sales will? Well, of course we all want to know how many books we're selling. That's sort of a no-brainer right. But I think what it also comes down to this stuff is really the time that it takes to collect the data, like you just touched upon and there are actually some services out there that will do this thing for you and then save you the time and effort, which you can then spend on writing and stuff.
Jesper (15m 55s):
So that's, that's pretty nice, right? Yeah. Yes. And I think it's so important. I know, even when I first started doing ads and stuff, you really need to take a baseline. You need to see how your ads are being successful. You're going to spend money on marketing, even if you're going to do like whether it's Amazon or an AMS ad through Facebook, or even just do a newsletter swap or, or sales swap where you're pointing them to a newer release or even doing something like a one-shot deal, like a free Booksy or bargain books. So you something like that or how heck BookBub, if you get one of those, you need to be able to track what before and after to see how effective it was because you're spending money and he told these things get expensive and you don't want to just be throwing money and actually find out you would have been doing better.
Jesper (16m 40s):
If you hadn't spent that money on ads, that would be really bad. Yeah. The other thing as well that you want, or the reason why you want to track it as well is so that you can start calculating read-through. Yes. We're not going to go into read through here and what it is and how to calculate it and all that. But if you're interested in that go all the way back to episode 53, I interviewed Adam Croft because he actually explained everything in episode 53 of the am writing fantasy podcast. So just go back there, listen to that one. If you want to know more about read-through but excellent keeping track of your sales will allow you to calculate your read-through, which is important. That's explained in episode 53.
Autumn (17m 23s):
Gosh, I don't even remember that one. That's really sad. I might have to go back and listen to it myself. That's a long time back. Yeah, it is. I do know Rhea throw though.
Jesper (17m 33s):
Yeah. Okay. So let's go through these and share our thoughts on them on, on what we have here. And we haven't necessarily used all of them ourselves. At least I haven't found the ones that I picked. All of them. We, well, I have better things to do than testing out tracking software, but I'm still gonna share some reflection on them though. So I don't know if I do want to start out daughter.
Autumn (17m 55s):
Sure. Do you want me to start? I have two that I'm not sure if they're on your list that are the two. Well, actually, like I said, I have three that I use and one of them is kind of cheating, but if I do what I like to cheat, I have to, we haven't even started the list yet.
Jesper (18m 10s):
And you already say you're cheating.
Autumn (18m 11s):
I am. I think it's fair because some people don't realize the features that are already available. And I think one of them is the new, there's a KDP report. That's in beta testing. I'm not well, you and I have discussed it. And I'm not sure if it's outside of the U S or it's just inside the us. No, I don't think I see it on my end. I don't think I see it. No. If, if you have access to it, when you go to your KDP dashboard and you go to the reports section, right at the top, it'll say, Hey, try out the new KDP dashboard or the KTP reports beta, and you can click on that. And it takes you to a much swankier KTP site that has like a nice side call 'em and actually showed you book pictures of like those sales and for that day and all these stats.
Autumn (18m 57s):
And yes. And so it's visually, it's so much better. It's much easier to see what's selling. It does when you go into your there's a royalty estimator there, which is fantastic. So you can really drill down and see how your books are selling by, you know, separating out your author names. If you have a pen name or other author names, uploaded the book, the format, a lot of the same stuff you see in a regular KDP dashboard. So that's fantastic. I think my only complaint and one of the big limitations I see with it is your choice for time periods to look at, or this month and last month, that's it? That might be just because it's in, it might be B beta.
Autumn (19m 38s):
I think they like that.
Jesper (19m 40s):
Yeah. I'm hoping it's just because it's in beta, but at the moment, it's like, no,
Autumn (19m 44s):
it looks so cool. It has this great information, great much nicer charts and graphs charts, and a lot more information than your regular dashboard or at least the same information. But normally you have to do the drop down menus and it's so time consuming, this is all click and visual. It's very nice. But yeah, that's the worst thing I could say about it is that it's just like, I look at it. I'm like this month, last month, that's it. And today, and that is it. So you're supposed to live in the present. Isn't that what you said? Yes. So I have to get my Zen going. Yes.
Jesper (20m 19s):
Don't worry about the past. Who cares?
Autumn (20m 22s):
Right. So if you want me to keep going my favorite one and the one I do use a lot and have for years, at least 2018, I don't know, maybe 2017, I've been using a book report. And so that is a fantastic one. It pulls the information from your KDP. So you actually have to give it permission to go into your Amazon files. And that one literally goes back to the day, uploaded your first book. So you can get your royalty is from forever. Even if you like just got it today, it'll pull the history. So you can see what you sold last year. You can narrow it down by book. It has reviews. Some of the features are it admits it's not a hundred percent up to date, but hopefully they'll maybe sync it a little bit better and it'll pull in reviews and your current book, ratings and rankings, all of those things are accessible through one dashboard.
Autumn (21m 15s):
The worst thing I can say is that it is only for Amazon books. And I think that's unfortunate. It is also kind of cool because it's alive click. So you see, so you see someone got a book and it says it was given away as a freebie because it lists freebies and sales and it gives you your royalty amount right there without you having to deduct or try to figure out what your royalties are. So you can click on that and it'll take you right to Amazon. So that's kind of cool. So you can go check on books really quickly. I sometimes forget that if you buy my paperback, you can get what my ebook for free. And I'm like, how'd they get that book for free? And you click on it. No, everything looks fine. Oh right. I have that set up. So you can get that for free. If you buy the paperback because seriously, I don't buy the paperback. You should get something besides obviously an awesome book that you can put on your shelf.
Autumn (22m 0s):
So I do love that. And I think book report is just a simple Chrome plugin, right?
Jesper (22m 7s):
It is, it is a Chrome plugin. I think there's an app for your phone as well. I can't remember now, but it is nice. And it's one of the cool things is it's a very informative, very, I think it tells you a lot, especially we're selling mostly on Amazon or you gotta run AMS ads.
Autumn (22m 22s):
It has a ton of information. And if you are selling less than a thousand dollars a month, it's free. And I think if you're over a thousand dollars, it's only like $10. It's, it's not 19. I couldn't remember what it, if it had gone up, but it's just not, if you're selling more than a thousand dollars 19, it's not that it's not a lot. I just, it's still, I just appreciate so much that it is really a very informative plugin, even if it is only KTP. I mean, that is usually even if you're wide, that is normally where most of your sales are coming from. And if you're running AMS ads, you need those specifically. So that it's free for under a thousand.
Autumn (23m 1s):
Jesper (23m 4s):
Yeah. No, I quite like it as well. I've not used it myself, but I've seen it in use many times. The only thing I think is the downside. If you can call it that, it's the fact, like you mentioned that you have to lock into your KDP account. Otherwise it cannot collect the data, which I think is it's a bit, it usually you usually have to do it only once I've had problems. I have my Amazon on second level of validation. Of course, it's my books. Of course I have that like locked down tighter than anything. But so every once in a while they get out of sync and you have to click a button and then refresh it and it takes all of five seconds. It really isn't too bad, but yeah, it is giving a secondary app up, you know, they can go and read the, so you have to make sure you've got to trust this feature.
Autumn (23m 48s):
I agree with you there.
Jesper (23m 51s):
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So I have a couple of will to go through. I wouldn't say that I'm cheating, but it goes into a bit of different territory as well, because I think there's more to this topic than, than just tracking sales. It is also about saving the time, which means that the, some other tools can actually do that for you as well. So I'm going to go through some of those as well. But the first one I wanted to mention is actually called book tracker, but it's T R a K book tracker. I'm like, yeah, that's a bit different way of spelling.
Jesper (24m 31s):
So this one will actually log into all of your accounts every day. So it doesn't matter if you are publishing via Amazon, Google, Kobo, drafted, digital, whatever. But book tracker will log into all the accounts and check your sales numbers every day. And then it compiles all the data and presents it to you in some pretty looking charts. And it also sends you like a daily email summary. So that's quite nice. There is some things that I don't like though. Really? Yeah, because when you go to book trackers website, if you want to start using it, they don't show what the cost is anywhere.
Autumn (25m 13s):
Oh. And that just feels wrong to me. I don't like it. You know what I mean? It's like, they're trying to hide something. Yeah. It's that, there's an old joke that says, well, if you have to ask what the price is, you can't afford it.
Jesper (25m 27s):
So well. Yeah. So I searched around quite a bit and I was unable to locate the pricing information from the website. Maybe it's somewhere hidden, but I, at least I could not find it, but I got through some other sources that mentioned that book tracker costs $5 per month. If you want to receive the daily emails and then $10 a month, if you want to also use it to track new reviews and it track your rankings and so on. So if it's $5 a dose of that. Yeah. I mean, if those prices are correct, which I'm not a hundred percent sure about, but if they are then the pricing is not too bad, but it just rubs me the wrong way that they don't show it on the website.
Autumn (26m 7s):
It should be clear. What, what does it cost? How could you have a 14 day free trial? Isn't that, that's sort of the thing, isn't it?
Jesper (26m 16s):
Yeah. Yeah. Correct. And then the other thing is cost that I don't like about this is the fact that, of course, for it, to be able to log into all your accounts every day to collect the data, it has to know all your passwords, which also I don't like, so there is that. Yeah, that is always an easy and I would say, oh, that was, that actually reminds me.
Autumn (26m 37s):
I did have a third one. So if you use a distributor, you're probably going to mention one, I use Smashwords and they have two different features in there. They have a daily sales that gives you your sales by all of the platforms they distribute, as well as books. You can also break that down really well. And they also have a, more of a historical, that's a much more cumbersome spreadsheet that you have to really like spreadsheets. And I don't like spreadsheets, that's your job. I don't go into that one much, but it actually tells you, you know, if you had sales, how much you had sales and if like Barnes and noble has gone ahead and paid Smashwords yet, or if they have not sent the money yet. So you can really get some nitty gritty, fine tune details with that.
Autumn (27m 19s):
So I have obviously been in there and looked at it and said, oh my God, this is scary. I ran away. But the daily sales chart, which again, you can back that up. I think 60 90 you can put in a day amount. So you can back it up really far and see like your spikes, where you were, things were happening. So that was one of the advantages of using a distributor. Obviously that doesn't give me my Amazon stuff, but it gives me everything else. And I will say that it is a very good and very up-to-date and from what I've seen, very accurate way of seeing where all my other sales. So I literally, if I wanted to, I go to two places, I can go to book report slash Amazon KDP and Smashwords, and I see those two and I know what I'm selling.
Jesper (28m 3s):
Right. Okay. So the next couple of ones that I have is a software that will get the job done, but it's not in its origin, really designed for book tracking in the sense that it's not as neat as book report, you know, book report is designed for that purpose alone. Whereas the stuff that I'm going to mention now will get the job done, but it's not what it was intended for in, in that sense. And the first one using software,
Autumn (28m 32s):
how dare you?
Jesper (28m 34s):
Yeah. I don't know.
Autumn (28m 35s):
I'm a rebel at heart. I knew I would rub off on you.
Jesper (28m 43s):
Yes. Well, at least I haven't started breaking things yet. So as long as I don't break software, then it's okay. We'll see. We'll talk about the first one I want to mention is BundleRabbit. And this is actually one of the tools that we were looking into as well considering using, but we steered away from it because to use Butler rabbit, you have to publish through Ponta rapid, and then it's basically sort of like draft to digital. So you, you use them as an aggregator and then they, they keep 10% of the royalties as part of the service fee for what they're doing.
Jesper (29m 23s):
Of course you don't have the concern about sharing your passport passwords anymore because you only access panto rabbit. And then they distribute to everybody else, including Amazon. So that's good. And the good news is as well that if you sell new books, it doesn't cost you anything because they only take 10% off the royalties. Right? So if you don't get paid royalties, there's nothing to take anything off. So you can actually sign up for it and start using it. And it's not an, unless you earn money, they don't earn any money. So that's quite nice. And you can definitely use punter rabbit to track all of your sales in one dashboard across all the retailers.
Autumn (30m 2s):
Wow. So that is a real advantage.
Jesper (30m 4s):
And it's probably how you can also use it to split payments between several different authors. That's also a very nice feature. And that was actually originally why we looked at it because, well, we have royalties to split, so we were looking at it. But then when it became apparent that then we have to publish through butter rabbit, then that's where I saw it said, no, I don't want to do that. But it's possible if you want to, if you don't mind that, then you can do that. And you can get all the tracking in that one dashboard, which is very nice.
Autumn (30m 35s):
That is, I'm curious though, since they distribute to Amazon, can you be choose KDP select and do like your, your free days? Or is it like just, just generic, Amazon KDP?
Jesper (30m 49s):
You can, it's a good question. I would think not, but that's a good question, actually. I don't know. No, because I was thinking, that's why, that's why, like, it's very similar to Smashwords. I think Smashwords can sell, send to Amazon if you want it. I believe. Or at least they were working on that at one time, but I never used that because not that I'm doing KDP select, but you don't have that option if you go through a distributor.
Autumn (31m 17s):
So no, you probably can't know because it is exclusive with Amazon and then you go through the KDP dashboard, at least that's my assumption, but maybe somebody will know and they can let us know in the comments, I guess, logically, if you're just doing KDP select, you don't need the rest of the link. So you would just go to KDP select.
Jesper (31m 37s):
Yeah, correct. Correct. I think that one through, but the, the nice thing with BundleRabbit as well and where it is different from draft to digital with system X, one, I'm going to touch upon the difference here is that you can also tell Bundlerabbit that this author here I have co-written with, and this author needs to get 50% of royalties and I need to get 50% and then Butler rabbit will split that automatically. Cool. So, so, so you don't have to do anything yourself in terms of splitting royalties with somebody else. So that is very nice, but of course they are going to eat those 20 10% off the top every time. So that's the, that's the payment. You have to give them to afford the service.
Jesper (32m 19s):
So, yeah, but then let's, let's move on to draft digital because this is basically exactly the same as bottler rabbit. I probably most listeners already know draft to digital and they also know that they also take 10% off the top as a part of the service draft to digital, as far as
Autumn (32m 37s):
I know, I think they have quite come out with a royalty share option as well. Just like bam, Butler rabbit. I think that they can do this nowadays as well.
Jesper (32m 46s):
I think they call it drafted digital worlds or something like that. Not a rip off of Kindle worlds at all. So I'm using Draft2Digital myself and not bundle rabbit. So yeah, I'll go out on a limb here and say they're probably extremely similar. Yeah. Those two services and drafted a digital, of course, if you don't, if you're not using it, they can get to Amazon as well. So again, you can get all your sales in one dashboard.
Autumn (33m 17s):
That's pretty cool. So, yeah. So I guess those are sort of like the three big distributors that kind of do it. Smashwords drafted digital and bundle rabbit. Yeah. And then the next one here is quite different, but again, it'll get the job done.
Jesper (33m 36s):
And this is one we actually used for a little while only. So this is Abacus and we only used it for a little while and I explain why in a moment, but it basically Abbott cost costs you 2, 2 99 a month per book with the first title is free forever. Okay. And what really drew us into using Abacus in the first place was because you, you're not only tracking your sales in that because, but also your costs. So for instance, let's say that you you're running BookBub ads or Facebook ads or something like that.
Jesper (34m 16s):
And especially when you're collaborating with somebody else and you need to pay royalties and split the royalties. Abacus is basic. Let's say, for example, let's say that I have paid for a cover design, for example, or something. And then the, I would have to deduct that cost from Autumn's royalty share because she needs to pay part of it. But I was the one who shelled out the money in the first place. So in Abacus, I would just add in the cost for the cover design. And I will just mark that this one was paid by me and then Abacus will automatically take out Autumn's part of the cost and subtract that from her royalties and even it out so that everybody gets to share out the royalties, but also pay their part of the cost.
Jesper (35m 2s):
So it is basically like more like an accountant system, to be honest than it is a pro book tracker service. But you can use it for book tracking because you have all your royalties for all of your books in there, and you have all your costs in one place as well. And it will tell you by the end, I would like it to be better in terms of actually generating a full like royalty report. I would like it to do that. It doesn't do that very well, but it will tell you, this author should get this amount of dollars and this author should get that amount of dollars. It will tell you that, but it's not a blank. It doesn't show you a pretty report about it though, which I think is a bit of a shame because thinking about the fact that you will probably most use Abacus, if you co author stuff, right.
Jesper (35m 46s):
And hence you would normally also need to send some sort of summary or something to the other author to show them, this is the royalties. These are the cost and this is the distribution of it. Right. So I would think if advocacy could generate a report like that, that would be incredibly useful, but they don't.
Autumn (36m 5s):
Yeah, I agree. That's sort of like the whole point is like you get all this data and you can sell someone like you only get this or you get this much royalties and they're like, I want to see the accounting. I mean, you kind of want to be able to show that to them indeed.
Jesper (36m 19s):
So there's no real good way of doing that in Abacus. So, but let me just get, get back to the point from before. Why did we then use Abacus for a short while and then stopped using it? Because again, and basically it is very neat in the sense that you download your KDP royalty report and then you upload it to Abacus just as it is from the download from Amazon, you don't do anything with it. You just automatically upload it to Abacus and Abacus automatically extract the data and automatically identifies the books and put the royalties into the different buckets. Okay. You had this book had this many ebook sales, this book had this many paperback sales and so on. So all of that happens automatically, which is very, very nice.
Jesper (37m 2s):
Yeah. But, and here's the big, but the huge spot independence, the downside is that all the non-Amazon platforms, let's say that you have a book where you show the copy on Kobo, for example, right. But you did not sale sale, a copy of the same book on Amazon in that particular month. I know in like Fata majority of the cases, that will never be the case because most of your sales will be on Amazon. But we have, we had an example where we did sell some books on Kobo that didn't sell in that month on Amazon. And the problem is that Abacus forces you to upload your KDP role, to report a step one in the process.
Jesper (37m 47s):
And that means that it populates the books that sold on Amazon. And then you can go into those books and you can add, okay, then I also sold for $400 on Kobo, or I had $50 of cost on Amazon ads on that book. And you can go in and add all that in. And then everything works fine. But if the book wasn't indicated KDP royalty report, it does not get populated in Abacus for that month. And there's no way of manually adding a book in Abacus for that month. So you start trouble. Yeah. And that's really annoying. And that's why I, in the end, I sort of said to autumn, I'm done with this stuff because it's basically not working.
Jesper (38m 31s):
Right. Because especially when you're co-authoring and you need to share royalty reports, you can't have, like, you told you sold for a hundred dollars on cobalt, but you have no where to show it. Right. That doesn't work. Right.
Autumn (38m 42s):
And you're like you said, it's probably unusual, but it does happen. It's possible for things to happen like that. And the fact that you can't manually add it, or I know you'd have to trick the spreadsheet and like use some last months data and it just would be messy. And that's really frustrating. And the last thing you want to do to me, the spreadsheets are frustrating enough. I just want it to be simple and it gets to dose in a second. Excellent. And I would say at first the price of 2 99, a book I'm like, oh, wow. But I guess if you're selling enough books, if that has less than 10% of the royalties for that book, that could be a good price. It could be high. It could be a little for you, but that's something to keep in mind is like all the other ones seem to be 10% of your sales.
Autumn (39m 27s):
So if you're selling more than what would be 2 99 a month, advocates might be cheaper or it might be three times as much.
Jesper (39m 39s):
Oh yeah. Yeah. For me, I think the other solutions are better if you, unless you really need a detailed accounting system where you can put in cost as well. Then I would say draft two digital or bundle rabbit is probably better if you're trying to split royalties with somebody else. But if you need the accounting system, advocacy is definitely usable, but just be mindful that you have this problem about the fact that if the book didn't sell on KDP and you're stuck for that month, which is stupid to me, but that's the way it's designed. At least maybe they changed the someday. I don't know. But I made sure to let them know when I canceled our accounts, that this was the reason. So whether they do something about it, I don't know, maybe it'll benefit some of the listeners one day when, when they change it.
Jesper (40m 23s):
I don't know. Okay. So two final other options. The first one very short here, you could, of course, if you can afford it to, I know this is probably for those who are quite further along, but if you can afford it, there's always the option of having a virtual assistant taking care of this stuff for you and just keeping track of the book sales and going into the dashboards, collect the data and summarize it for you. That's perfectly fine.
Autumn (40m 52s):
And definitely something you can get somebody to do, but yeah, let's leave that alone for now. Collaborate with someone like Jesper, who does it for you and it's fantastic.
Jesper (41m 2s):
Well, yeah, because that's the last, that's the last option? Well, that's called writing with me 200 people starting to wanting to call them. No, no, no. But what I wanted to say is the way that I do it now, which to me honestly, is the easiest and the best way of doing it. And I know miles will wear it here and not everybody will agree and that's okay. But just to share how I do it, because I've been through several of these different solutions, I've looked multiple different passports and try to figure out how to do it best because the thing is, I want to spend as little time as possible every month, collecting royalty reports and figuring out how much money I own to auto autumn and transfer the money to her.
Jesper (41m 51s):
Right. I, I don't want to spend too much time on it because that's time away from writing. And at the same time, I also need to produce a royalty report to autumn so that she can actually see that I'm not cheating her or something like that, that she could follow. But it's only fair, right? I mean, when you have money between people, you should also account for w how does that money go in and out of the accounts? So I need to do all of that every month and I need to do it as easy as possible. So what I ended up doing was that I set aside two full working days because that's how long it took me. But to, to basically build an Excel template, which has automated formulas to handle everything like currency conversions, revenue, cost, and cost management.
Jesper (42m 42s):
So basically it takes automatically. I just put in what the exchange rates are in the Excel sheet now. And it automatically starts calculating for each of the currency, how much that is in dollars. Nice, because I always paid autumn in dollars. So it automatically starts calculating that. And then what it does it then is as well that I plug in how much sales we have from each of the dashboards. So that's the, that's the, the time-consuming pot that I go into each of the online distributors, I download the roll to reports and I manually type it into the Excel sheet, like, okay, for this platform, we had this many sales and this amount of royalties, but then Excel automatically starts calculating converting it to dollars.
Jesper (43m 29s):
And when I then type in the cost, I have automated formulas that takes all the royalties and subtract all the costs and do the 50% royalty split between myself and autumn. So at the bottom of the sell sheet, it just tells me this year, this is the amount I need to transfer to autumn. And that's it. So it's actually pretty easy. And of course, I've made a show that I can just copy out all those calculations and put them into a document and send it to autumn. So the Roger report is actually the easiest part nowadays that takes like five minutes. So I would say all in all to do this once a month, I probably spent like 90 minutes, I would say to do the whole thing once a month. And that's not too bad.
Jesper (44m 13s):
It took some time in west investment upfront to spend two days playing around with, I mean, if you were like the world champion with Excel, you can probably do it much quicker, but I was playing around with it quite a lot to get the, all the formulas to work just like a one or two. So it took me two days, but that was a one time and time investment. Right. I don't have to do that again because now I have to template and I just plug into data every month and that's it. So to me, that is the best way of doing it. I don't have to spend, you know, some part of a revenue to some other tracking service, or I don't have to pay somebody some software somewhere transform nothing.
Jesper (44m 56s):
Yeah. I just collect the data, put them into my Excel sheet and boom, I'm done. So, yeah, it's 90 minutes a month. But on the other hand, there are limitations on these other software that we have mentioned anyway. So they don't do the full job. Most of them, anyway, a book report for example is wonderful, but it's only Amazon. Some of the other ones will tell you the royalties, but then you have to give them your past codes and they will take, take a fee or 10% and so on. So on. So yeah, that's my thoughts on that. I think that sounds fair. And especially like, if you, even if you want to use like bundle rabbit or something, but then you want to have like maybe the first book in a different series in KDP select, you now got to account, and it's also confusing.
Autumn (45m 43s):
And I definitely the, your self-made spreadsheet, which I noticed you haven't let me touch, which is probably not going to get anywhere near that accidentally erase. It always keep backups. That's the rule, but I think your spreadsheet works marvelously and it does what we need. And yeah, 90 minutes is a crunch, but at the same time, once a month for stuff, I mean, you run the AMS ads, you run a lot of the Facebook ads. So, you know, you're spending time doing that. It's part of the LA life of being an author is also the marketing part. So 90 months over an entire month, it's not so bad.
Jesper (46m 25s):
No, I don't think so. And we've of cost made sure to add links to everything we talked about in the show notes so that you can easily check out any of those solutions that you might be interested in, but I think that's it. And next Monday
Autumn (46m 41s):
We will be back to talk about actual writing. And this time we explore the emotional plus, what is it how to use
Narrator (46m 51s):
If you like, what you just heard. There's a few things you can do to support the, an writing fantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join Autumn and Jesper on patreonn.com/amwriting fantasy for as little as a dollar a month, you'll get awesome rewards and keep the M writing fantasy podcast going, stay safe out there and see you next Monday.