Six weeks still left in 2016. For me, however, the working year will end in two days already.
On Wednesday I’ll leave for Nepal, where I’ll spend the rest of the year living a simple life of a backpacker in the Himalaya Mountains.
The trip should help me restore my mental and physical energy levels. Typically it works, and I really need to restore them. I need to spend extended time in the nature at least twice a year, to maintain my inner equilibrium. Forgetting all world problems and leaving my personal challenges, pleasures and duties behind, these backpacking trips allow me to function normally and work hard for the rest of the year. The rest of the year is when I do not travel. 🙂
Occasionally I may connect the two, writing while traveling, but it won’t be the case in Nepal. . . .
First donation to Red Cross
I wanted to make a first donation before leaving Slovakia. So I counted all money we received for the sales of the University of Solitude, from 2nd May 2016 to 15th November 2016. It included:
- Royalties from various Amazon stores (for e-book sales)
- Createspace.com royalties (for our print sales)
- Extra money people gave when purchasing English edition, or Slovak edition, directly from me. This happened on a few occasions when I spoke in front of an audience, and signed and sold books afterwards. Example: I was offering the English print for 13.5 euro (the printing and shipping costs of the book, including the profit for Amazon and our royalty for Red Cross), but a person would give me 15 euro, not wanting the change. In such a case an extra 1.5 euro goes to the Red Cross fund… )
You can see the exact sums of money made on various markets, from May to 15th November, on the picture:
As you can see, we made 84.2995 euro from all markets. I decided to add an additional 16 from my own pocket, and finally proceeded to donate 100 euro to Red Cross.
I would like to say THANK YOU to all of you who bought the book, and participated on this donation to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Quoting the donation FAQ from University of Solitude website:
“Q. What are the limits? How much could you donate?
A: There are no limits. Whether we make $10 or $100,000 from royalties, all money will be donated.”
When writing these words back in April, I had no idea whether we would be closer to $10, or to $100,000, when making our first donation.
Now, half a year later, understanding the book market somehow better, and actively trying to promote the University of Solitude for six months, I can say that anything above $1,000 would be a totally unrealistic estimation. An unknown author indie publishing his first book could not make that much on royalties, regardless of their nationality, niche, or writing skills.
Am I disappointed?
I would be disappointed only if I did not try enough, if I just published the book on Amazon and waited what would happen next.
If you followed this blog, however, you’d know the time, energy and creativity I have invested in this project. It was a lot, and another citation (this time directly from the University of Solitude) feels fitting:
“In every moment, every struggle, be it at home or in prison, or inside our own heads, we should try and understand what we can control, however partially. We should do all we can to achieve our goal. Give it everything and enjoy life regardless of our success. There is nothing more we can do. The final outcome is, ultimately, not only up to us. After all, success lies in the honest effort to achieve something, not in the actual achievement. That is fate’s realm. “
I tried, gave it my best. Considering that I do not live in the US, do not have a support of a professional publisher, and that I finance everything from my own pocket, I don’t think I could do much more. On the top of that, our main marketing strategy requires a lot of time, and can’t be completed in a few months.
What’s more, we also have other goals for the University of Solitude Project: http://universityofsolitude.com/our-goals/ . These goals are being fulfilled every time someone reads the book, and I feel very blessed and thankful for having a chance to work on these goals!
Plans for 2017
I will continue working on my long term marketing strategy, consisting in SEO, YouTube marketing, and personal brand building. We made some progress in all of these areas, but they require more time than just a few months—especially SEO requires time. Search engine optimization can yield great results in terms of recurring targeted traffic, but it takes time to build backlinks properly and to rank the website. I haven’t worked on the most important part of my SEO strategy yet (a private blog network, I’ll build it in 2017).
Few other things to look ahead in 2017:
– An IRANIAN film director, living in exile in Prague, contacted me with an interesting proposal. He wants to work together on a documentary movie, mapping my case and imprisonment in Evin. I hope we will find the way to do it, get some funding, and make the documentary in 2017.
– I also plan to publish my second English book in 2017. It is called “Outsider” and maps an amazing and eye-opening journey of two Syrian cousins who decide to flee to Spain.
This time, however, I’ll do it differently. I will translate the book myself (I already have the Slovak manuscript), hiring only a proofreader to polish my version and correct the errors.
Of course it would be nice to do it all again with my team, including Martina, but I just can’t afford it financially right now. Plus it takes too much time for the translators to do the work…. On the top of that, reading the excerpts from best selling books in various Amazon niches convinced me that neither writing style nor English quality determines whether the book sells a lot of copies or not.
After all, if situation changes, or if the book gets really popular, I can always decide to hire a translator/editor and make a second edition of the book with perfect English.
A new domain
I may start a new domain, matejvaluch.com, in 2017. I’ll just write something about myself and post the links to the book page and blog. Why would I do so? The search analytics report from Google search console will answer the question:
As you can see, 64 people looked for my name in the last 28 days. However, NOT A SINGLE ONE clicked Universityofsolitude.com. Why? They didn’t click it because we do not rank on the first page for this keyword (we rank on 13th position). People interested in my name clicked other websites and news pages, articles that rank higher for “Matej Valuch”.
I do not want to lose this highly targeted traffic, and since we try to optimize University of Solitude landing page for other keywords, not my name, we will need another website. If everything goes well I’ll start matejvaluch.com and hopefully manage to rank 1st position for “Matej Valuch” in Google. It is definitely doable with this domain name (I already purchased it :)).
So, that’s it for 2016. Have a great time, try to find a good balance and live in harmony, and we see each other in 2017. Once again, thank you for the encouragement and support!
P.S. My being away doesn’t mean that we won’t sell any copies of the book in the last weeks of 2016. The book landing page will continue getting some organic traffic from various search engines, from my YouTube channel, from the blog comments I posted, from ongoing free banner campaign, and from other traffic sources we worked on since May, all of them described on the pages of this blog. We will see how much money we can make for the Red Cross while I’ll be away. That’s an interesting experiment itself :).