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In darkness. I lost my direction and clarity and I need your advice.

VentureVoyager

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Hi.
I’ve been going through a very hard and dark period in my life. I am very confused, and I need some perspective.

Here’s my intro thread:
INTRO - Hello! from a location-independent self-publisher. My journey so far

Since then, I was able to get to $11k in sales in the beginning of 2018 and keep that average for a long time.

From the outside it looked like I more than doubled my business in a year – but I also started spending much more on AMS ads, so it didn’t exactly double. But it was still a significant progress. The hustle gave tangible results.

I was also happy knowing that I’m at $11k with less than 20 books, where many other publishers can’t get to that level with 150+ published books.

Finally, things started slowly going my planned direction. My goal was to get to ~30k a month and keep it long enough to save $1M (that would be around 3-4 years). I believed that I was finally in the vehicle that was going to take me to my first million dollars. But then life came in.

Come March 2018 I started feeling totally miserable. Nightmarish. It’s not a medical forum and I don’t want to get too much into it in this thread to avoid chaos, but I had problems with extreme anxiety (generalized anxiety, I literally felt like I was in hell for about 5 months, afraid to get out of bed). Turned out it probably was untreated Lyme disease. After many struggles I finally got rid of the anxiety and Lyme (according to blood tests) and bam…got (accidentally) diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.
It's an autoimmune disease that destroys your thyroid, gives you mood swings, weight swings, depression, brain fog, falling hair, candida skin infections, vision problems and other attractions – not fatal by itself, but incurable according to academic medicine, so they usually tell you that you're f*cked for life. The diagnosis itself is enough to break many people, not to mention the symptoms.

There were also countless other problems (existential crisis, for the reasons listed above and many more) and my life turned into mess. Long story short, I didn’t accomplish too much in 2018, other than publishing two perma-free books (to grow my mailing list and dominate my niche's search results a bit more) and one short-read. Fortunately, I was able to still maintain my income on a similar level. It’s one of the things that was keeping me afloat mentally. I’m in the middle of the storm, but at least the income’s fine, even though I can’t focus on my biz like I used to.

In 2019 I went back to working on a more regular basis, but still most of my energy went to my health struggles, planning how to recover, how to get better, and to other life issues. One of them was (still is) being homeless, as I planned to stay in my country for just 2 months and go back to SE Asia ASAP – but I ended up staying for over a year, living on many different Airbnb’s, at my parents’ and on friends’ couches (as I rented out my place to some family), running from one clueless doctor to another, from lab to lab, from one herbalist to other guru, spending lots of money (I estimate I spent around $20k on doctors, supplements, treatments etc. in 2018 and 2019) trying to figure out my health...it was more than totally exhausting).

Where I am at now: as some of you might know, Audible removed their Bounties program, which instantly removed about $2000 USD monthly from my income. That’s around $24000 yearly down the drain, quite a lot. That was the first problem.

Then I realized that AMS (amazon PPC ads) started converting rather shitty, the overall ACOS went up.

I also saw that my ability to save slowed down significantly. I re-calculated my costs, and it looks like they went up from ~36% (yearly average of 2018) to over 50% PRE-TAX. That’s a lot for digital products.

In late 2018 I moved my company and tax residency to Cyprus where I now live, so tax is literally just a few percent (as I’m banking on royalties), but the overall situation still sucks. I moved here participating that I would quickly start making much more, not less, so that it generates some nice savings. I wasn’t planning for a failure.

So - I fell from 11k with 36% costs to around 7-8k with 50% cost in matter of months. Income-wise I literally went back in time 3 or 4 years in few short months. The good ole commandment of control.


Now, I’m not the only one with this problem. Everyone profiting on ACX bounties lost a lot. Many people in this biz lost five figures in income overnight. The truth is we were just lucky in the first place, it didn't even make sense for ACX to pay so much for it. Too good to be true, as they say.

But the difference is that many of these people were able to save millions or at least hundreds of thousands in the process. They are now financially safe, or often practically retired. I am not. It makes me question my venture overall.

So here I am.
29 years old (or young?), with business that I don’t really control, that seems to be slipping down, and I think I lost love for, with my health on a roller-coaster that I can’t control either even though I'm trying hard, and with plethora of other problems there’s no point expanding on right now.

I was on the roll travelling the world and “living the life”. Suddenly life become complicated and heavy.

I feel like I’m running in circles. Not only in business – in life in general. I am not even sure anymore if I’m an entrepreneur, or an artist who got really lost as he got disconnected from music and his true purpose (insert all this hippie spiritual mumbo jumbo here, but it might be true for me, I don't know).

But let’s focus on the business for the sake of this topic. Maybe your suggestions and thoughts will light my way.

I realized it’s been five years into this business. Sixth year running right now. That’s a long time. Many people been making their fortunes in less than 2-3 years.


I’m still not a millionaire and far away from it. I know that things take time, and things usually go slower than expected, and that you have to be patient and grateful...
but still I used to believe that this KDP vehicle might make a millionaire in the next few years.

Now I am not sure anymore if I will ever be able to get there with self-publishing. It destroys my motivation.

I’m 29. Around $160k saved. I don’t even know if that’s good or not anymore.
Maybe good in the scripted world for someone my age, but considering the “Fastlane” was my plan, it doesn’t look too impressive – I don’t know… I guess maybe I just lost my perspective.

I’m not planning to sit down and cry, even though I struggle with depression and mood swings. I push back. I already have a plan that might allow me to go back to my previous level in the next months.

However – what If I hustle super hard and manage to climb up to, say, 25-30k in the next year or two (IF I can), only to find that Amazon changed something again (maybe they decide that 70% in royalties is too much and will cut it to 30%?) or removed my account, or whatever randomness? I don’t know if it's worth it anymore.

Point’s being, the time and focus I’m putting in this business is the time and focus I’m not putting into something else, something that could possibly grow to be a super big thing in the coming years. Or something that I could sell. It's not easy to sell a KDP account as far as I know (I might be wrong).

Maybe I'm limiting my vision here, and keeping myself from bigger possibilities, by sticking to my comfort zone?

Considering it’s been so long and I’m still not even 1 / 4 there, what would you do if you were me?

Dump this business to pursue something new, or stay consistent and keep pushing?

Give myself a pre-determined time-frame to get to somewhere and dump it/sell it if I fail again?

They say that the best thing to predict future is to look at the past.
If it took me 5.5 years to get here, it means that I still won’t be there in 2024, supposing I keep the same peace.


Here’s how the chaos in my head looks like:


/Even though it looks like self-pub is getting harder and harder, I know there’s still lots of money in this biz. There are opportunities.

I have a list of things to improve upon and ideas to try, I just need to execute on those.
I know a few guys making 25-50k monthly, with ~20% costs. Some of them are projecting to get to 50-80k monthly next year. If they could do it, I guess I could too.


->BUT
\these guys are unicorns, and obviously nobody will be willing to tell me everything, so you never know what's going on behind the curtains. Most self-publishers ain't making shit on their books. Can I get there? Maybe. Or maybe not. I failed to do so (reach my financial goal) in the last 5 years. I feel slow. I don’t know what I can control and how fast I can progress anymore.

<-BUT
/I already know this business. I already have the momentum, the traction and a list of 15000 subs. It already made me some good money that most people my age simply do not have. It makes no sense to start something entirely new. There’s still money to make and I know which steps to take in order to increase my income

->BUT
\What’s good in increasing my income again if I still won’t be able to control vast majority of it? Even if I start making money outside of Amazon, they still own the biggest part of the market. So my biggest focus would still be on Amazon publishing, because the leverage is there and it only makes sense if I want to progress fast. If they change something again, I might lose another 4 years or so of progress and hustle. How likely it is things will become even harder or that Amazon decides to screw the authors? Quite likely.

<-BUT
/If I can rebound and increase my income significantly and keep it there for some time (e.g 35 k sales with 20% costs, maintained ifor 3 years), I might save a $Mil or close to it and then it doesn’t matter. I can invest it in real estate or something and become financially set and achieve some peace of mind (not having to worry what IF something happens to my self pub biz).

->BUT
\At the same time, I might be losing time investing it in something I can’t control and still raping the commandment of control.
And I think I kind of lost passion for this. I can spend hours producing electronic music and feeling in the state of total flow. I can travel the world with backpack and take photos with my camera. It makes me feel alive. Would it be possible to make it into a business? But after all these years, self-publishing often feels like a job, I’m not very enthusiastic about it anymore.


<-BUT
/All businesses have ups and downs…. Nothing's perfect. I don’t even have any other good idea on my mind, just fantasies, I have no idea if I can make a decent living producing and selling music, isn't it silly?…

->BUT
\I don't even think this business taught me a lot. It's a very hermetic system. The skills and "marketing" (amazon seo) skills don't even really translate outside of it, apart from basic email marketing and writing skills/content creation (but I'm outsourcing now anyway). I don't feel I'm evolving. Just growing a money system that isn't mine, doing the same thing over and over again to generate more income and savings. The only thing I built that is mine is my mailing list...


BUT…
BUT…BUT…BUT....


And so it goes. A never-ending inner conflict that I haven’t been able to solve for the last few months.
(And it's only one of the life areas I'm currently struggling with).

I was never good with decisions, and now it’s even harder when I’m through all this health bullshit.

My questions:

  • What would you do in my place? I am just being hot headed and not perceiving things clearly because of my depression and the overall life mess? Where is the line between being a quitter / money chaser AND someone who quits because it’s the right thing to do?
  • Did you ever have a situation where you had to/decided to abandon one business that was still making money and had a potential (in theory), just to chase something entirely new, in order to give it 100% of your attention?
  • How do you actually make decisions in such situations, knowing that there is no guarantees, when the inner darkness and doubts-storms make any decision-making super hard? It's been a bad trip, these last several months...

P.S I am not asking anyone to make life decisions for me.

I just need some perspective, maybe a different view at my problems. I was very hesitant to post it, but I feel that I need to vent out, and there's so many awesome people here, maybe I will get enlightened to some extend or be able to find some clarity knowing that someone was able to make their way through a similar storm..
cheers
 

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RazorCut

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Wow, that was a long read. Sorry to hear about your health issues. I'm sure you probably gained some clarity just getting it down on paper.

You have discovered the hard way what building a house on sand is all about.

For me you should first concentrate on this:
This:
/Even though it looks like self-pub is getting harder and harder, I know there’s still lots of money in this biz. There are opportunities.

I have a list of things to improve upon and ideas to try, I just need to execute on those.
Make the improvements and see what happens but make these knowing this is just scaffolding holding up your current business while you make an exit plan by building another business on the side. One built on granite i.e. where you have total control.

You have a wealth of skills you have developed in this space so look for a complimentary business model where you can best utilise your current skill set to best advantage so you can fast track the new business.

Some questions for you:

Where does the pre-occupation of hitting a million come from? You are now living in Cyprus? Why did you move from Bali? You can live very well on your current earnings in Bali can't you? What is the fixation with $1M? What will that do for you that, say, 500k couldn't?
 

MTF

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As you well know, I'm in a similar position to you business-wise. My income now is just 15% of what it was during my best months and perhaps 25% of what it was during my average good months (I feel depressed just thinking about it...). I did manage to save money, but I'd say that seeing your income dropping to just a fraction of what it was feels the same (or at least similar) regardless of your savings.

We've already talked about it, but your post got me thinking and perhaps I can offer a different perspective...

I feel like I’m running in circles. Not only in business – in life in general. I am not even sure anymore if I’m an entrepreneur, or an artist who got really lost as he got disconnected from music and his true purpose (insert all this hippie spiritual mumbo jumbo here, but it might be true for me, I don't know).
I have a feeling that you're motivated by money, so art in itself without money wouldn't change much. It's also hard to really enjoy your "true calling" if you're struggling financially. But I might be wrong. For me personally, without tangible results I eventually lose enthusiasm and start looking for something else.

As for not knowing what to do in life, I'm struggling with the same thing. That's why I started writing fiction recently, hoping that I can combine business with a new passion (although I'm having doubts about it, too).

I realized it’s been five years into this business. Sixth year running right now. That’s a long time. Many people been making their fortunes in less than 2-3 years.
It makes no sense to compare yourself to others. It took me about 4 or 5 years trying various things before I discovered self-publishing and another 2 before I started making good money.

However – what If I hustle super hard and manage to climb up to, say, 25-30k in the next year or two (IF I can), only to find that Amazon changed something again (maybe they decide that 70% in royalties is too much and will cut it to 30%?) or removed my account, or whatever randomness? I don’t know if it's worth it anymore.
I find it unlikely they'll reduce royalties anytime soon, if ever. In the last few years, the biggest changes that happened were the changes in the KDP Select payouts (I'm wide so I don't care, but it did hurt a lot of people initially) and now the change in the ACX bounty system. Everything else (as in, the fundamentals like royalty rates and pricing) are still the same.

If you're thinking about the future of the industry, you should also think about potential opportunities like:
  • new markets emerging,
  • new platforms,
  • new marketing tools (for me personally, BookBub ads were a game changer),
  • various new ways in which you can use your existing content,
  • new needs and problems of fellow authors that perhaps you can solve yourself, creating a new business but still staying in the same industry and being less dependent on Amazon.
Or something that I could sell. It's not easy to sell a KDP account as far as I know (I might be wrong).
It's possible, but more likely when you have a publishing house and outsource writing than when you're selling an account mostly with books written by yourself (which makes your business easier to sell than mine).

Maybe I'm limiting my vision here, and keeping myself from bigger possibilities, by sticking to my comfort zone?
Just to play devil's advocate: maybe you're limiting your vision by thinking that there are no big possibilities in self-publishing anymore?

If it took me 5.5 years to get here, it means that I still won’t be there in 2024, supposing I keep the same peace.
You shouldn't assume linear progress in a business like this. Exponential results are also possible if you find a new possible way to make money. You know that there are still many possibilities here, it's just a question of finding them.

these guys are unicorns, and obviously nobody will be willing to tell me everything, so you never know what's going on behind the curtains. Most self-publishers ain't making shit on their books. Can I get there? Maybe. Or maybe not. I failed to do so (reach my financial goal) in the last 5 years. I feel slow. I don’t know what I can control and how fast I can progress anymore.
You're a unicorn, too, because as you said, most people don't make money at all in this business. Everyone who treats it as a business is a unicorn because most authors don't know anything about positioning, marketing, etc. Of course, in some niches there are more unicorns than in others, but generally speaking, you do possess skills and traits you need for breakout success in this industry.

How likely it is things will become even harder or that Amazon decides to screw the authors? Quite likely.
I agree with that because I'm seeing it in my own business, too. At the same time, where things get harder, the barrier of entry grows larger and it might actually become a safer business over the years as it will become more and more difficult for new people to enter it (while those who stay in it and keep going will have it easier).

And I think I kind of lost passion for this. I can spend hours producing electronic music and feeling in the state of total flow. I can travel the world with backpack and take photos with my camera. It makes me feel alive. Would it be possible to make it into a business? But after all these years, self-publishing often feels like a job, I’m not very enthusiastic about it anymore.
I don't think it's possible to be very enthusiastic about the same business after so many years. All businesses eventually end up feeling like a job unless you have access to endless resources and can change the world like Elon Musk.

What are the average results an electronic music producer get? Would it even be possible to live off royalties or would you have to perform? I have a feeling that it's a very hard job and even the most passionate people would eventually struggle with it.

Having said that, I do also have doubts and worries about this business, but I think that we're in a lucrative, expanding industry that despite some problems (like Amazon's dominance) is still a very good Fastlane vehicle.

I don't see myself doing something else because it would mean creating EVERYTHING from scratch. It takes at least a full year to understand the basics of a different industry and probably a few more years to start making good money in it (if you can make it work). Meanwhile, you already have all the assets in this industry and just need to find a way to grow it.

As discouraged as I also am now, I'm going to keep looking for new opportunities. I think that you should give it at least a full year of full dedication (doing all the things you have on your list) before you consider trying something else.

I think that overall it's easier to grow an existing business by 50-100% and make additional several thousand dollars than go from zero to several thousand dollars by starting a completely new business in a different industry. These are trying times for self-publishing but are there any industries where it's all smooth sailing all the time?
 
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VentureVoyager

VentureVoyager

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Thank you guys for your great input.
And yeah, sorry for the long post. I tried to make it shorter but couldn't.

Where does the pre-occupation of hitting a million come from?
Apart form my ego wanting me to hit that millionaire status when I'm still young, I calculated that one mil invested properly could generate 4-6 k passive income monthly, and that's the minimum "retirement wage" I could be satisfied with. However, when I think of it now, I'm not sure what I based my calculations on.
It's just something I noted down in my "financial freedom spreadsheet" some time ago.

Maybe it was from Unscripted? Idk, I have to re-read the last part of the book (or maybe all of it).

Basically, I don't really care about exotic supercars, 50k watches etc. The only two things that I want are
1) Financial safety (so I'm 99,9% sure I will never have to get a job again, and I have money systems that earn good money even if I'm in a coma for 40 years). I think it's easier to generate satisfying income from 1M than from 500k.
2) Beautiful sea-view house. Doesn't have to be big, I care about the views and location more. Btw, in Thailand you can have an amazing small sea-view villa, 150-250 sqm, for 300-400k (something that looks like a $4M LA mansion, or better). It's not very easy to find, but possible.

However, as I'm getting more insight, I'm not even sure if I want the sea-view house anymore. It's like I'm now questioning and re-thinking everything my life stands on.

You are now living in Cyprus? Why did you move from Bali? You can live very well on your current earnings in Bali can't you?
I'm originally from Poland. I just lived on Bali for 4 months in total, 16 months in SE Asia in general. I moved to Cyprus for tax purposes, as by the end of 2017 I was just a few thousand GBP away from hitting the VAT threshold in the UK, where my company was registered. It would create many new problems and decrease my ability to save.
I was also not sure what the Brexit would bring.

Cyprus also allows you to really save a ton (no dividends tax for 17 years, and super low taxation on royalties instead of the 20% of corp tax) if you're making above a certain threshold (because it also costs to maintain the structure).
So starting a company in Indonesia or anywhere in SE Asia certainly wasn't one of my ideas. On Cyprus I can have a company, tax residency (useful when you're constantly moving to at least know what is your tax residency should any government ask you to prove it with documents), amazing taxation and nice weather all year round, and it also officially requires you to be here at least 60 days a year, giving you the freedom to travel quite freely. The only better place tax-wise could be Dubai, but it's outside of UE and comes with its own set of problems.

You have a wealth of skills you have developed in this space so look for a complimentary business model where you can best utilize your current skill set to best advantage so you can fast track the new business.
I'm not sure about the word wealth (as I said, I often feel that this business didn't teach me that much considering how much time I've spent doing it), but yeah, for sure I have some understanding of the market and already developed some kind of intuition about what might or might not work.

I've been thinking about many different ideas within the same industry (publishing/self publishing/tools for authors/courses etc) but can't seem to decide for anything or fully develop any given idea into an execution plan.

My best bet was to create an exclusive course (only for the pre-selected people), or some kind of high ticket coaching, but first I need to make sure that I can succeed again in an entirely new niche.

Otherwise I wouldn't feel good not being sure if my students could be successful in any niche they decide to pick. I don't want to be another crappy self-pub guru selling old tricks that used to work in 2014.

I did manage to save money, but I'd say that seeing your income dropping to just a fraction of what it was feels the same (or at least similar) regardless of your savings.
I would argue with that. I have a feeling that I would be much calmer knowing that I have saved a significant amount of money and have money systems working for me.
But at the same time, it might give me more motivation to act.

What are the average results an electronic music producer get? Would it even be possible to live off royalties or would you have to perform? I have a feeling that it's a very hard job and even the most passionate people would eventually struggle with it.
See, that's really hard to say. It's like asking what's the average result an author can get. Zero? 500 USD a month? 20 MIL a month?
I wouldn't even know how to draw averages from that.
I know a guy who claims he was able to get from zero to 300k a year in less than two years making hiphop beats and remixes, and he's not even that talented if you ask me. He however lives in LA where it's easier to make connections in music industry. I bought his course about music marketing and I'm gonna investigate the possibilities. I know it's possible to make money from streaming platforms, such as spotify, apple music etc, but you need to be known in your niche (genre) with lots of monthly plays in order to pull it off.
It's more an active kind of studio work. But if I really love doing it...?
As much as I would rather not use this word on this forum, I'm really passionate about it, which should make it easier to progress and learn new things as it's more or less effortless if you love doing it.

The problem with that is that making music for a living keeps coming back to me time and time again and I find it hard to resist. It also subtracts from my ability to focus.

Earlier this year I saw how much the other guitarist from my ex band progressed (and how much I regressed music wise) and it felt like seeing a girl you have a crush on with someone else. Very deep and very strong feelings.

I have a feeling that you're motivated by money, so art in itself without money wouldn't change much. It's also hard to really enjoy your "true calling" if you're struggling financially. But I might be wrong.
That is possible. Making money is awesome. My ego is quite big. To think that my 9-5 friends make more than I do on my biz would hurt.
At the same time, if God descended from heavens to promise me I could easily make 5k a month producing music, I think I would take that offer. I'm really torn apart as you can see.
For now I will explore the options and see what might be possible, how much time it would take and how I feel about it in general. I have yet to finish the course.

I find it unlikely they'll reduce royalties anytime soon, if ever. In the last few years, the biggest changes that happened were the changes in the KDP Select payouts (I'm wide so I don't care, but it did hurt a lot of people initially) and now the change in the ACX bounty system. Everything else (as in, the fundamentals like royalty rates and pricing) are still the same.
As far as I know, ACX rolayties used to be much higher, around 70 or 60%. Then they went down to 40%.
They could also just change their search engine to favor the big publishing houses and screw self publishers or make the AMS ads PPC prices suck even more. Idk. They are already screwing the FBA people as far as I know, copying their products, sourcing them cheaper and undercutting their profit margins.

If you're thinking about the future of the industry, you should also think about potential opportunities like:
  • new markets emerging,
  • new platforms,
  • new marketing tools (for me personally, BookBub ads were a game changer),
  • various new ways in which you can use your existing content,
  • new needs and problems of fellow authors that perhaps you can solve yourself, creating a new business but still staying in the same industry and being less dependent on Amazon.
That's quite optimistic, yeah. Thank you!

Just to play devil's advocate: maybe you're limiting your vision by thinking that there are no big possibilities in self-publishing anymore?
That might be. I mean, there surely are possibilities.
But sometimes I just really feel burned out about it.
But it's very possible that it's because I'm not creative enough in this area, trying the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, and staying within the same niche, not expanding as much as I could and not learning new things. Something to think about.

You're a unicorn, too, because as you said, most people don't make money at all in this business. Everyone who treats it as a business is a unicorn because most authors don't know anything about positioning, marketing, etc. Of course, in some niches there are more unicorns than in others, but generally speaking, you do possess skills and traits you need for breakout success in this industry.
Thanks!

At the same time, where things get harder, the barrier of entry grows larger and it might actually become a safer business over the years as it will become more and more difficult for new people to enter it (while those who stay in it and keep going will have it easier).
Hopefully!

My conclusions so far:
1. I will take one year to focus 100% on my current business to see where it will take me if I commit fully again. I will execute on my to do list to increase my income and get into a new niche(s) to see where I can succeed.
2. Once my income from my first niche is stabilized and I'm already making money in the new niche, I will take more time to think about other biz ideas in this industry.
3. At the same time, I will investigate the music market possibilities. I love music but I know nothing about the industry itself, apart from the fact that it's not easy to make a living from it. But it is possible, so let's see.
4. I also realized that I'm EXTREMELY tired. I promised myself a 100% idle time in 2018 and still haven't delivered on that promise. I have a big tendency to overwork and to whip myself when I'm not succeeding according to my high standards.
I need some quality vacation time. In September, I will take 2-3 weeks off in some awesome resort and unplug from the online world to just read books, swim, eat, sleep, exercise and think. I need really need this after all that bullshit that happened to me.

Thank you again for your feedback guys! I really appreciate the fact that you took time to go through such a long post.
 
Last edited:

MTF

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I would argue with that. I have a feeling that I would be much calmer knowing that I have saved a significant amount of money and have money systems working for me.
Well the savings certainly help, but I'm pretty sure that once you hit a million you'll still want to make more. I think that deep down you're a person who needs to stay busy and get results, so whether you have a million or not, when your business struggles, you'll struggle personally, too (which is a skill that I should definitely develop in myself, it's not healthy to define your self-worth by your business performance).

I know a guy who claims he was able to get from zero to 300k a year in less than two years making hiphop beats and remixes, and he's not even that talented if you ask me. He however lives in LA where it's easier to make connections in music industry. I bought his course about music marketing and I'm gonna investigate the possibilities. I know it's possible to make money from streaming platforms, such as spotify, apple music etc, but you need to be known in your niche (genre) with lots of monthly plays in order to pull it off.
Yeah that was my point - how hard it is to pull it off if you don't have connections. It's fairly easy to do so in self-publishing (you don't need to know the right people to become a bestselling author), but I'm not sure how it is in music, which I guess might still rely more on the traditional approach of kissing the right asses (which is thankfully no longer the case in self-publishing).

As far as I know, ACX rolayties used to be much higher, around 70 or 60%. Then they went down to 40%.
Yeah, that's true, I forgot about that. But I think it happened more than five years ago. Anyway, that's true. At the same time, more people listen to audiobooks now so maybe it evens things out a little.

But it's very possible that it's because I'm not creative enough in this area, trying the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, and staying within the same niche, not expanding as much as I could and not learning new things. Something to think about.
From my experience, I definitely feel more excited now that I'm working on my novel. Even if it only makes me a few hundred bucks, it will still be something new to me and what's most important, it will be money I'll make by selling something I made up (which is really crazy when you think about it as a non-fiction author). Planning new non-fiction niches to test is also something that makes things a little bit more interesting that will also lead to a lot of growth.

1. I will take one year to focus 100% on my current business to see where it will take me if I commit fully again. I will execute on my to do list to increase my income and get into a new niche(s) to see where I can succeed.
I'm glad to hear that. I think that if you get some new results, it might be what you need to keep pushing (hoping the same for myself).

4. I also realized that I'm EXTREMELY tired. I promised myself a 100% idle time in 2018 and still haven't delivered on that promise. I have a big tendency to overwork and to whip myself when I'm not succeeding according to my high standards.
That's a very good idea, definitely do that.
 

Matt Sun

Contributor
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Oct 21, 2017
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Ok so i think the next steps could dramatically improve your health, but you won't hear them from any SCRIPTED doctor because no big pharma company makes money on them:

1. Work out 4 times a week, calistenics, yoga, etc
2. Go plant based diet, be sure to consume your omega 3, from chia, flax or wallnuts, prevent nutrition deficit with www.cronometer.com , ditch sick causing foods such as meat, diary, eggs, sugar, white flour.
3. Practice some kind of meditation, less stress equals stronger inmune system
4. Try some plant medicine, you can start with CBD oil, explore further... plants are powerful healers but can't be patented, so big pharma lobbys against them.
5. Consider triying MMS, clorine dioxide
6. Sleep 8 hours every night.
7. Practice intermitent fasting
8.Get a good amount of sun in your skin, vitamin D
9. Manage your emotions, one way is, again, with meditation.

That's it. Get out of the logic of being sick for life, of needing a pill for life. Be your own doctor if necesary, empower yourself.
 

Tourmaline

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You compare yourself to others waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much.
 

Rabby

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What can you do to make your business independent of Amazon or any other "platform?" Is it really a given that people only buy books on Amazon, Kindle, and Audible? I buy a lot of books that way too, but the very best and most valuable books I buy almost never come from those sources.

What’s good in increasing my income again if I still won’t be able to control vast majority of it? Even if I start making money outside of Amazon, they still own the biggest part of the market.
I think the idea that someone owns the biggest part of the market, and therefore there's nothing to be done about it, is dumb. I don't care if it's Amazon, Microsoft, or Mussolini. F*ck them. You own the relationship with your customers, and you should build it, maintain it, and expand it.

can spend hours producing electronic music and feeling in the state of total flow. I can travel the world with backpack and take photos with my camera. It makes me feel alive. Would it be possible to make it into a business?
Yes, it's probably possible. Is there a way to work it into your current business? What are your books about? Who are your customers?

But after all these years, self-publishing often feels like a job, I’m not very enthusiastic about it anymore.
Everything feels like that when you do it for long enough. That's proof that you're an entrepreneur... or an artist... or both. Some people seek novelty, and others seek the same day repeated over an entire lifetime. Whenever you can, get people from the latter group to help you with the repetitive stuff. I know you're cash-strapped right now, but document things and make sure you're ready to hand them off when the opportunity comes up. The people you hire will never get bored with sending your emails and re-ordering supplies. You can feel happy that you're giving someone the job they want (and the job you don't want).

I don't even think this business taught me a lot. It's a very hermetic system. The skills and "marketing" (amazon seo) skills don't even really translate outside of it, apart from basic email marketing and writing skills/content creation (but I'm outsourcing now anyway). I don't feel I'm evolving.
You need to try different things. Riding a whale like Amazon is probably fine when you're getting started, but you have to learn how to swim without them. It's an adventure. Make a website, collect payments yourself, make new shipping arrangements, make deals with non-profits, schools, educators, small businesses, consultants, or whoever, and build some independence.

My questions:
  • What would you do in my place? I am just being hot headed and not perceiving things clearly because of my depression and the overall life mess? Where is the line between being a quitter / money chaser AND someone who quits because it’s the right thing to do?
  • Did you ever have a situation where you had to/decided to abandon one business that was still making money and had a potential (in theory), just to chase something entirely new, in order to give it 100% of your attention?
  • How do you actually make decisions in such situations, knowing that there is no guarantees, when the inner darkness and doubts-storms make any decision-making super hard? It's been a bad trip, these last several months...
1. Anything that decreases my dependence on a publicly traded or venture capital backed company. They're monsters and you should never let them control your life.

2. I abondoned freelancing for my current business. It was an unexpected opportunity, and by all analysis it looked like a completely terrible opportunity. However, my intuition and a bit of sentimentality overrode rationality and I pursued it. It worked out.

3. Decisions don't have to be right. That's it. There's no reason why you have to be right every time. You just have to keep making decisions, as best you can with the information and energy you have right now, without wearing yourself out.

I realized it’s been five years into this business. Sixth year running right now. That’s a long time. Many people been making their fortunes in less than 2-3 years.
Many? How many? Everyone posts the glowy brag-posts on social media. If you meet them for coffee they tell you all the best things that happened. They're all in hiding when they're depressed and nothing is working. You're just unusual in that you admit it when things aren't going well (at the moment)... lots of the people you're observing are probably faking it. F89k them and their uncles too, you do what you need to do.

Last thing... are you sleeping well? If not, fixing that makes things look a lot brighter.
 

NursingTn

Bronze Contributor
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Jan 30, 2019
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Mad respect to you for hustling.

It sounds like a nightmare.

I'm here for you if you just need to vent.
 

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