Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Ben Oakley
I like numbers but I don’t love them but when it comes to a self-publishing formula then I’m all in, especially the 10 books/£5 per day one.
I’m no mathematician, and if I were then I’d be writing about that subject instead. When it comes to publishing, self-publishing, producing, creating, whatever you call the venture within the art of writing, numbers underpin it all.
It’s nice to see book sales figures, royalties, and detailed graphs in relation to the work an author puts out. It’s encouraging to see excel sheets full of numbers that show sales on the move, preferably up or remaining consistent.
I recently stumbled upon a formula that traders use called the 10% profit increase. It was a theory – never normally workable – that showed how you could gain profits slowly by increasing your overall trading account by 10% each week. And by the end of the year, you would have a substantial amount of money.
Trading formulas don’t work in the publishing sector for many reasons. Publishing is an organic market, influenced by a wider set of factors that each have their part to play.
But if you could adapt a trading formula to work in the book market, even as a target, isn’t that worth using?
Publishing is an organic market
I’ve known authors consistently making 3-4 sales of their book per month, for three years. But with the right set of factors; marketing, advertising, word-of-mouth, algorithms – and luck – sales could rocket at any time. The shelf-life of a book has no expiration date.
On the other hand, I’ve seen some fantastically well-received books fly out of the gate, receive critical acclaim, and sell tens of thousands of copies.
But then, as the self-created frenzy dies down, book sales dwindle, and it languishes around the two-million ranking level on Amazon. The fifteen minutes of glory and fame has come and gone.
What if I told you that to make a full-time wage, your book only needed to make £5 a day! This is the 10 Books/£5 Per Day self-publishing formula.
What is a full-time wage?
According to the British Government, the average yearly full-time wage in the UK is £38,131 (2021). Which, dare I say is – what’s the word? – unreliable.
The national minimum wage in the UK (over 23yo) is £9.50, which equates to £17,290/year based on a full-time 35-hour week.
According to the Government, you’d need to multiply that wage by 2.2 to meet the ‘average’ UK wage. There are few people I know making £40,000/year, and they’re certainly not in average jobs.
I’m digressing and will stop before my alarming mathematical skills are exposed. The point is, if you were earning the national minimum wage of £17,290/year – and I know many who are nowhere near that – then it is considered a full-time wage.
I live in Camden, London, so I work with GBP and UK averages. Other countries would be different, and you can always substitute the GBP for where you are. For example, at the time of writing, that £5/day in the UK would equate to $7 in the U.S.
The 10 Books/£5 Per Day formula
If you have ten books that are earning £5 per day each then you will earn £18,250 per year. Which is £1,000 more, give or take, than someone on the national minimum wage.
You read that right, just ten books, each making £5 per day, can get you an income of £18,250 per year. The simple calculation to work that out was 10 books x £5 x 365 days in a year. Told you, I’m a mathematical genius!
This is known as the 10 books/£5 per day self-publishing formula.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Depends how you look at it. Firstly, you might not have ten books, as let’s face it, not many people will publish ten books in their lifetime. Unless you’re one of these zero-content ‘I’ve authored over 1,000 notebooks’ publishing ‘gurus‘.
You might have ten books published with one of them making over £5 a day but struggling to shift the others. How you get those books to £5 per day is your journey to take, but you could do no wrong by reading the best book marketing guide on the web.
Those factors I mentioned above are the core ways to increase sales – including luck!
Averaging out the formula
Formulas don’t work for everyone, and I see them more as a guidance and initial target than anything else. I use the 10 books/£5 per day formula because it works for me, but I don’t let a bad month get me down.
For example, let’s say I had two months of bad sales, it’s not going to bother me as much as it would someone who lives month to month. By that I mean, someone who might give up at the first sign of zero sales.
You could have had a multi-thousand-pound month in June and a zero-sale month in August. But when it comes to doing your accounting and sales reports at the end of the year, you can average out! Those bad months are then bolstered by the exceptional sales of the good ones.
A comparison would be the accommodation market where the Summer months are packed and the money’s rolling in, while the Winter months are as sparse as the trees outside. What matters are the end of year numbers.
Getting to 10 books
So, there we have it, having ten books making on average of £5 per day each can bring in a full-time income. For many, getting to ten books is a big stretch but it is possible.
The key is to keep working and keep writing – think of it as a full-time job before it becomes a full-time job. That’s if you want to make some serious money while writing and have it replace the normal 9-5 doldrums we are led to believe we must exist in.
A lot of successful authors talk about having series, and they’re right to do so. Having a series of books – or multiple series of books – can boost royalties and increase visibility of an author name. If you’re expecting massive sales from your first or even second book, then you’re going to be disappointed.
I know that writing is not all about selling, that’s what publishing is. But if you’re a writer who self-publishes then you’re already a business, and businesses survive by the money they bring in.
Whichever formula or target incentive you use to keep writing, beyond the love of the craft, remember that you are better than your greatest critic.