Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  Topic of the Night,  Writing in Public

Cost and Benefit of a Cash Stream

Cost and Benefit of a Cash Stream

Around here and with other writers and at WMG Publishing, decisions are constantly being made about the costs and the benefits of chasing a new cash stream. Thought I would just do a bit on the basics and then maybe come back some night with a full topic. So see below.


The Day

Standard Monday with errands to do, then got to WMG office and worked on a cover for a collection I am going to be doing. Actually lots of collections, but worked on the cover template. Almost done.

Then home to take a nap and cook dinner. Then in here to do the workshop assignments.

All done around 11 p.m. and managed to get in 900 words of writing before heading to watch some television.

Back in here around 1:30 a.m. I got 1,050 words done before 2:15.

Then a short break and 1,200 words by 3:15.

Another short break, then 1,100 words by 4 a.m.

Still humming along on the book, no idea where it’s going, but after tonight it is 4,250 words closer.


July Workshop Schedule

All July workshops have room. All are limited to five writers max. But at the moment there are very few in any of the workshops. No surprise in this time of great forgetting. This way every year.

All details at

Class #1… July 5th … Author Voice
Class #2… July 5th … How to Write Thrillers
Class #3… July 5th … Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #4… July 5th … Plotting With Depth
Class #5… July 5th … Character Development
Class #6… July 6th … Depth in Writing
Class #7… July 6th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #8… July 6th … Cliffhangers
Class #9… July 6th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #10… July 6th … Teams in Fiction

Classic Workshops and Lectures are also available at any time.


Topic of the Night: Some Basics on Cost and Benefits

of Getting New Cash Streams 

This post is about the decision to try to add in a new cash stream. And this post is only basics, nothing more. I hope to do a much longer post in the near future on this.

Anyway, a cash stream in publishing is exactly what it sounds in the name. It is something that flows money to you regularly.

Amazon US is a cash stream. Or if you wanted to break it down even more, every title you have licensed for readers through Amazon US is a cash stream.

Every title through Kobo, Amazon international stores, B&N, iBooks, Smashwords, D2D, Overdrive, and so on and so on.

WMG Publishing has over 650 titles now. Each is a cash stream in all the places we have them licensed for sale. See why WMG can afford nine employees?

Each license of copyright generates a stream of income, you hope. And those streams are put together and sent to you monthly (for the most part) from each store.

Paper books are cash streams for each of your titles, especially since paper books are not finite anymore with print runs, but are like electronic books, licensed one-at-a-time for production.

At WMG Publishing some of our products also have subscriptions, which is a cash stream. And we sell to brick and motor stores and sell WMG books through our own store as well. All cash streams.

Our stores are cash streams. Our three ebay shops are cash streams. And on and on and on. You get the idea.

More cash streams flowing, the bigger the river of money.

But it seems that every day almost, there is something new to try to decide about. Some possible new cash stream. And that’s where the cost/benefit analysis comes in.

Let me give an example:

A month or so back I put up on YouTube an entire online workshop that had been retired for a year or more. I had no information about how it would do and I put it up basically to gather more information.

The information I got was this: In the two plus months it has been out there available, a number of people have watched it all the way through, all six weeks. That worked out to be about $28 through AdSense for the ads. (A lot more than I expected, actually.)

It took me about six hours of my time, one hour per week of videos, to get them to YouTube.

Now, if that was where it all ended, I can tell you this, six hours of my time is worth a ton more than $28.00. (grin)

But those videos, it turned out, brought some people into the online workshops. Now I have cut the online workshops back to only five per workshop maximum and they were still not filling by a long ways. In many workshops these days I give private lessons to people.

I don’t mind, but honestly at some point we will get back to my time and income analysis there. At some point. So the YouTube videos introduced a few more people to the online workshops. So the value of my six hours turned out to be worth it.

So the basics of looking at any cash stream are these:

  1. Look to see where the work might bring in cash. Realistic.
  2. Count the amount of time it will take and value that time.
  3. Count the actual money it will take to start the stream.
  4. Compare your costs to the possible income and make the decision from the numbers only.

I did an experiment with that old workshop on YouTube. If I had to spend the weeks of time to record a brand new workshop for YouTube, I would never do it. No return on the time and money spent.

But using an already recorded retired workshop cut my time down to about six hours and thus, with the new people finding the workshops from the YouTube videos, it made it worth the time.

I might even put up another of the retired workshops later this summer or this fall. It might be worth doing after the time of great forgetting.


The Writing of The Taft Ranch: A Thunder Mountain Novel

Day 1… 1,050 words.   Total words so far… 1,050 words.
Day 2… 3,300 words.   Total words so far… 4,350 words.
Day 3… 5,250 words.   Total words so far… 9,600 words.
Day 4… 5,350 words.   Total words so far… 14,950 words.
Day 5… 4,350 words.   Total words so far… 19,300 words.
Day 6… 4,250 words.   Total words so far… 23,550 words.


Totals For Year 3, Month 11, Day 20

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,006

— Daily Fiction: 4,250 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 48,800 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words 

— Blog Posts: 900 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 12,500 words

— E-mail: 26 e-mails. Approx. 1,800 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 316 e-mails. Approx. 21,500 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 2 Covers


You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

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And thanks.

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  • Leonard

    Hi Dean!
    I’m still very much a baby writer and struggle a lot to put working stories together, but I do find the business aspects fascinating. Cash streams from 650 titles, in different countries, bundles, formats and territories … wooh, that’s a lot of possibilities.
    Anyway, to make matters more complicated 😉 – I learned a ton from the workshop on youtube and went on to buy some of your and Kristine’s books. I can’t think of a good way to track things like this in a cost/benefit analysis – but is there?

    • dwsmith

      Leonard, thanks for doing that and letting us know. How to track any of it? Honestly, doubt it would be possible.

      So much of the new world of publishing is outside tracking. For example, I just had two writing books in a great bundle with some really good writers in it, including Lawrence Block.

      I know how many copies that bundle sold, how many copies of my two books got out to people, and the other writers in the bundle know and the owner of the bundle service knows, but that’s it. No one else knows and those sales can’t be tracked by anyone but the authors.

      I was in another bundle a couple years back that the sales of which would have put everyone in the bundle in the middle of the New York Times list. But again, not tracked.

      So things like YouTube referral sales can’t be really tracked either. They can be tracked as just part of regular sales, but where each reader comes from is often a mystery. The key is just get the books out and let readers find them the best way they can.

      And, of course, all of this is why you pay little attention to bestseller lists on Amazon or anywhere when trying to figure out what an author is selling. All a silly game.

      Thanks again.

  • Robin Brande

    Dean, it was really useful for you to put that note at the top of one of your weeks of the Originality workshop to leave the ads on the screen unless they were bothering us. It never occurred to me before seeing that that leaving an ad up would result in more money to the person whose videos I was enjoying. You changed my viewing habits!

    I hope you will continue to stick that note at the top of your videos. I’m sure there are many viewers like me who would love to reward your work in a simple way by putting up with something we normally click off.

    I’ve enjoyed so many of your lectures and workshop series and have happily paid for them, but the Originality series felt like a wonderful bonus. Thanks for putting in the time and going to the trouble of making it available–and for free.

  • Maree

    I’m one of those people who worked their way through the whole class on youtube. I learned more than I expected, and as a bonus ended up writing several short stories based on some of the assignments. (I sent them all out too! Rejected so far, but your advice has also lowered expectations for that, so I’m still excited, and sent them on to other places.) I also defined exactly what I like to read, which was an interesting side benefit. I just used that definition to tell an author why I loved her book, and she asked me if I could please post that as a review, because it was so specific. So the ripples continue outward!
    I didn’t immediately go and sign up for one of your classes, but it’s moved from a maybe some day, to within the next six months. Having a sample class out there lowers the risk for me. I’m sure it’s the same for others, so hopefully you’ll see an uptick in enrollment over the next few months.