Challenge,  publishing,  workshops

Getting Set Up for 2022

Cleaning Up a Desk Cluttered with Yellow Notes and Legal Pads…

Amazing how many notes I have on this desk around my internet computer. And I am working to clear those off. For example, I found a note about Motivational Monday idea and then a legal pad where Kris and I worked out the details and the first few videos. Tossed away the note, took the details and transferred them to a notebook where I will actually be keeping track of what videos I have done every Monday and when. I will do it that way for a time, then will transfer that to a spreadsheet at some point.

Remember, first videos for Motivational Monday appear on Monday of this week.

As for all the workshops, been transferring notes to a notebook as well, far more organized. Backing up some of the videos on Drop Box, older other ones just tossing.

On another front, I sat up a sheet of my eating, my milage each day, and my weight each day for the next ten weeks leading up to the Las Vegas Half Marathon in late February. I have lost 6 pounds in the last three weeks and maintained close to five miles of walking a day and have been eating very well. In fact, my biggest splurge on eating was today when I had two Sushi rolls at lunch. About 700 calories. But I made up for the extra calories at dinner so back on pace for the day. So in two weeks I will add in some running, mostly at a couple of New Year’s Fun Charity Runes. Then keep the running in the mix for all of January and into February. Barring injury.

If all goes well, I am going to do another marathon on the second of April. So got that training finally organized. Takes me three weeks of actually doing it before I feel confident enough to actually organize it all on paper.

Cleaning up files on my internet computer as well. These story files are where I bring a new story or novel from my writing computer. I want them very organized for the challenge. And I am going to be adding to my Smith’s Monthly spreadsheet for short stories for all the new ones.

I am going to be adding some fields. I need to know the topic and length of each story. Right now I know the series or character name and which issue it is in and if it was in a collection and which one. But if I am going to do 365 more stories, I also need a topic field and a word length field.

And since I am going to do covers for every story, I’m going to keep track of all of those by the month in folders. So back on the main spread sheet, I also need a field for date written so I can easily find the cover for the story.

Since I don’t mail out stories to markets (I have my own), I don’t need all the stuff that many if not most of you do that keeps track of markets.

So now to a question to many of you who are more advanced. How are you keeping track of sales per title?

I know there are a number of programs out there, wondering if they work. Or if this is just a data entry nightmare? This question is easy if you have less than 50 titles, so don’t bother to answer on that level please. But if you are dealing with over 50 titles selling wide in multiple markets, do you keep track every year of numbers of copies each title sold? I am curious on this how it is being done these days. Haven’t checked in on this question in four or five years, to be honest.

So my Friday evening clean-up is going great. Besides having to spend 15 minutes tossing the ball for Angel (are new white cat who fetches), things are good. Feels good to be in here like this and getting physically and systems read. Still can’t see the glass top of my desk yet through the yellow notes and notebooks, but getting closer.


  • Mihnea Manduteanu

    So Dean, will you go into details about your spreadsheet,for people who want to try a challenge like yours? Fields, organisation and whatnot or it’s something personal?

    • dwsmith

      Nothing personal and based toward Smith’s Monthly. I’ll go into detail once I add in the other stories. No problem. Just data entry.

  • Mary+Kennedy

    Ugh. I still need to finish cleaning my desk. I started it before Thanksgiving, but didn’t really finish. (I never really finish, I just reduce the chaos, but it’s getting out of control now.)

    For keeping track of sales, everyone I know seems to be using ScribeCount and loving it. I don’t use it yet, so I can’t personally vouch for it, but it definitely seems to be _the_ program at the moment. And it definitely saves on data entry.

  • Tom

    Putting a plug in for Michael LaRonn. He put together a custom Access Database to track his inventory and sales. He also worked on a custom Excel macro that would take in all of the different formats of sales reports from the different retailers and standardize the format. He needed the macro in order to load his data into his database but once the data is all standardized it could be used wherever/however. He mentioned on his old podcast that he had intended to make the macro available, but I can’t remember where that landed.

  • Johanna Rothman

    re sales/title: I don’t find it easy, even with only 25 titles. (It stopped being “easy” at 5 or 6 titles. It’s a nightmare now, especially because Amazon reports revenue per title in the currency in which the book sold. Even though Amazon pays me in my currency.

    If you have a PC, you might be able to use Trackerbox. (

    I use ScribeCount, My only problem right now is that they don’t separate print from ebook sales. Since most of my titles are nonfiction, I sell a lot of print.

    I hope more people chime in, because I want to know what other people do.

    • Marsha


      PB sales are separated out on the Scribecount page that shows sales numbers for each book by retailer. New feature maybe?

  • Suzan+Harden

    Dean, if you find a good tracking program, please share it! I’ve been using spread sheets, and they are becoming a bit unwieldy. Square is great for keeping track of physical inventory, but not so much IP licensing.

  • Debra Kincheloe

    I’d like to know how you keep those kitties of yours off your keyboard and out of your files. My pencils and post-it notes end up on the floor and down the hall. My kitty doesn’t spell well at all. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!

  • M.L. Humphrey

    For sales tracking I created an Access database for myself ages ago. It currently has about 200 products but could scale to thousands easily.

    It uses a Master Title listing that drives all the tracking, so for each release I just have to add the latest title info to the master list and it all rolls up to my reports.

    Each month I upload the sales reports from the major sites and I have an other ebook and other print table where I put things like con sales or StoryBundles or things like that that are more one-offs for me. I also upload ad spend per month. That lets me look at my profit and loss by author, series, and title for each month, each year, and lifetime. I also have total sales by title and by type (print, ebook, audio, video). It took some effort to set up, maybe like two days of getting it all to work, but then on a monthly basis it’s probably two hours of effort. An hour of that is the ad spend tracking because AMS doesn’t give an Excel report and I advertise probably thirty books there each month and get billed multiple times per month so have to manually input all of that.

    Most people are not insane enough to build something like that but I enjoy playing with the numbers and running my own Access database means I can create whatever report I want or add in whatever sales platform I need as I need it. It also helps that I built it very early on so didn’t have to go compile monthly historic data for each vendor to set it up. Some make it easy to do that, some do not.

    This year (?) ScribeCount came out and people seem pleased with it but I don’t think it has full coverage yet (and probably no commercial solution ever will entirely). I believe there may be another competitor out there that’s still in beta, but not sure. I’d heard good things about TrackerBox a while back, but that seems to have fallen off in the last couple years. Something about a failed Kickstarter maybe that was meant to make it available on Mac? I didn’t need it myself, so wasn’t paying close attention.

  • Dawn Blair

    A couple years ago, I learned the basics of PowerBI in my day job so that I could simplify horrendous royalty statements for a musician and take 3-6 hours of data entry down to 20 minutes.

    After doing that, I started thinking about all the royalty statements I was getting and the different formats. I thought PowerBI would be a workable option. About a year ago, I started working on it. It’s still a work in progress and all goes fine until a distributor decides to change their statements. I have most of 2020 in and all of 2021 and am trying to slowly get all the statements in for back years. It has simplified my data input into QuickBooks where I just do simple invoices for everything.

    I’m also trying to work on the invoices from AMS so I will know what my ad spend per title is.

    Building a PowerBI system is not really an option I recommend unless you really love Excel. I do it because it keeps me learning new things. And when I’m finished, I’ll have massive amounts of data from each distributor at my fingertips. It keeps me interested in the business side.

    I do have to remind myself of the WIBBOW test so I don’t fall into working on this for days.

    I keep all the information about my titles on a separate spreadsheet. It does feed into PowerBI too, but I spend a lot of time in that spreadsheet by itself.

    No one should be crazy like me. Someday though, I will have all the data. Mahahaha!

  • James+Palmer

    You might ask Craig Martelle how he keeps track. He has over 50 titles and keeps spreadsheets for his spreadsheets, so I’m sure he has come up with something manageable.

    • dwsmith

      That’s where I am heading. Spreadsheets for my spreadsheets. Actually just seems simple if I don’t get behind in the data entry.

  • Nicholas Erik

    For anyone using a database, Excel sheet w/ macros or PowerQuery, or a tool like Google Data Studio / Tableau etc. you can streamline the time spent manually inputting numbers from Amazon Ads. This data is all exportable in raw Excel (CSV) form.

    Go to the top left of the Amazon Ads dashboard and click Reports. Then do the Advertised Product report – it has the ASIN in it, so it’s easy to tie to the sales reports / any other reports you have for a title. That only goes back 90 days, so if you want data up to 2 years back, you have to use the Campaign report. You have to input the ASINs into this report manually, so it’s a bit of extra effort and less accurate (if you have multiple books in a campaign, the Campaign report won’t show you how that breaks down, so you have to assign all the spend to a single title), but still saves a ton of time.

    These are are exported based on region, so it’s easy to tie the ad spend to a specific region as well.

    This also allows you to see how many clicks / sales etc. you’re getting from ads and track that by title / region.

    These reports can also be automatically sent to your email on a daily / weekly / monthly basis – whatever you want.

    • ML Humphrey

      Nice tip, thanks.

      My personal issue is that I started out inputting info based on the billing reports which are PDFs and haven’t wanted to move away from that because I didn’t want to miss adjustments/taxes etc that hit the invoice but not the reports on spend. Then again I’m not using it for tax purposes so it doesn’t have to be exact. So maybe that’s a good project for 2022. Looks like I might have to manually input for Sponsored Brand ads still, but even there the reports could save a bit of time. Thanks again!

  • Alex

    Thanks for asking the question; it’s been interesting to read the respsonses.
    I use long, convuluted and linked spreadsheets:
    * numbers and dollars for sales of each edition (ebook, paper and hardback)
    * dollars for sales v income (and accounts payable) v expenditure for each title
    * hours invested in each title
    * magazine submissions and publication status

    While I’ve streamlined as time has passed, it still takes half a day to import the figures and collate at the end of the month.

    I tried creating an access database, but it didn’t work. Might do better if I invested in a class.