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Monday, March 15, 2021

My Next Projects (Including MMT In Space!)

The electronic book launch of Modern Monetary Theory and the Recovery has gone well, and I am waiting to approve the paperback edition. This means that I am now in the mode of considering my next steps. I am unsure what the subject of my next book will be, but I have a short-term project: develop an agent-based macroeconomic simulator. The first application of this simulator will be building a core MMT model - in space! To support my open source software projects, I have set up a Patreon, which I explain below.

E-Book Launch

Excerpt from Amazon Sales Rank
March 12, 2021
Although I will have to wait to see what readers think of the book, the initial sales have gone well. At least temporarily, I had two books in the top 25 sellers for Kindle in the Public Finance category on Amazon. (Before anyone gets too excited by that, I would point out that the Public Finance category has somewhat lower sales than YA fiction.) My guess (based on what have seen of sales ranking data) is that The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton is a definite outlier in sales performance for the category.

Understanding Government Finance was released in 2015, and it has plugged along sales-wise, achieving respectable sales rankings despite the obvious fact that I am not a household name. My other books cover niche topics, and sales are more erratic. At this point, I have a fairly good idea of my potential sales volume, although I still hope for some improvement.

Other Book Formats

The paperback edition should be arriving “soon,” I need to approve formatting. 

I also get requests for audio book and PDF. The issue with PDF is that I distribute via online retailers - to avoid tax complications. (If I start selling products directly to consumers, Revenue Canada will be all over my tax situation. I also avoid issues with sales taxes.)  Most retailers do not support PDF delivery, and it is not worth my time to open a new channel for what is likely to be a handful of sales. As for audiobook, I do not believe that I would sell enough to justify the expense of recording (about $2000). My books also rely heavily on referring to figures, which does not translate well into audio. I would need to re-write passages to add more information describing the information within the figure.

Next Book(s)

Until now, I largely wrote my books based on ease of writing, and I wanted to experiment within various niches. The results have been to show that some niches are just too small. I would need much higher prices for such reports. Although I might follow that strategy, I will focus on topics where I can hit a wider audience. This also means simplifying my texts.

I have not finalised plans, and I might start looking at a few projects in parallel. For now, my expected priorities are the following.
  • An introductory book on inflation. There is a lot of silliness floating around on the topic of inflation, and it should be easy to write a book taking that silliness head on. I was planning on doing a more comprehensive book about inflation theories, but my experience with the topic of recessions is that I need to narrow the subject further.
  • The second volume of recessions. I thought that the text would be much shorter than it ended up as, which I only found out once I started to assemble the manuscript. Given that we are at the beginning of a new expansion, the subject is less topical than it was when I started. I would rather do some research on a more relaxed basis than force out the second volume.
  • A primer on banks, taking on the silliness about fractional reserve banking.
  • If there is an interesting macro topic that can be dealt with quickly, I could pivot to writing about that.  

This Website

There has been a migration towards Substack by many writers. Although I probably need to update the look of my website, I believe that I need my own URL to support my publishing business. 

I do not want to charge for my articles, as I monetise my writing via book sales. Rather than supporting me by paying a subscription, you can buy my books -- and hopefully leave positive reviews. I want as many people as possible reading my drafts, as they provide me with useful feedback before they get bound into a book. I have experience in and consult for firms in the financial research business, and I much prefer the model of selling readers completed works instead of attempting to sell them subscriptions. 

My website is not a high volume site, which is not too unwelcome. I do not see a huge commercial advantage in having people having flame wars within the comment sections of my articles. Most of the comments (and contact requests) are spam, which is not hugely attractive. Most of my social media presence is on Twitter.

The website only directly makes me money via Amazon affiliate links, which are useful for book reviews (I get a full colour cover image) and for hawking my books. Other adverts just slowed my page and were often for sites that I would not want to associate with.

Open Source and Patreon

I started a new pair of open source projects on GitHub, which are based on an agent-based macro model. The first is the simulation engine, which could be used in research. The second is a project that uses the engine to build a (2-D) space trading game. The initial goal is to build a macro model that is The Monetary Monopoly Model, but set in space. The Monetary Monopoly Model is a core MMT model, as described in my latest book. Thus, I have take to calling the project as "MMT in space."

To support my open source projects, I created a Patreon. The new modelling project is described in a (free) article here

I would definitely prefer that my supporters buy my books, as doing so raises my sales rankings. However, my open source projects are too niche to be supported by books. So I have created the Patreon to allow people who are interested in my open source projects to contribute. It also provides me a forum to post articles about programming that do not really fit in with this website.

I have two tiers, one at C$3/month, and the premium one at C$9/month. (The membership fee will be translated by Patreon to the user's local currency.) There is no option to make a one-time contribution, but my working assumption is that many patrons will subscribe for one month, and then cancel after the payment has gone through. They will have access to all the content for their tier for the month. 

I see the following reasons to contribute to my Patreon. 
  • They just want to support my projects. Thanks! For them, the actual delivery is more the projects on GitHub (which are free), as well as the ability to see what I am doing on them. They are in a good position to offer suggestion as to what I might work on next. For these supporters, the Patreon site is essentially a tip jar.
  • I will make relatively clean design and tutorial documents that will be exclusively for Patreon. Patrons will be able to download those documents. However, it must be understood that these documents do not yet exist. If this describes your interest, you obviously want to wait until the documents appear. 
  • I use the "platform" project to do my own research. It is a high productivity research environment, and even if researchers do not want to use it directly, they might be interested in how to apply the principles to their own work environment. The premium Patron tier is mainly intended for anyone who would fall into this category.

Concluding Remarks

I would like to thank my readers for their support, and I am looking forward to new research challenges (and online squabbling).

(c) Brian Romanchuk 2021

2 comments:

  1. Inflation book sounds promising.

    It's funny to me how many highly paid money managers get caught up in the latest investment theme based off household budget thinking for governments or central banking "money printing." Maybe that's why so many of them underperform their benchmarks?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only people whose job depends on getting inflation right are inflation-linked traders, and they are a small subset of fixed income. For everybody else, they rarely make money off inflation or duration calls - their “alpha” is usually from relative value, credit or volatility. So they can say whatever they want about macro, since it is detached from their daily work duties.

      Delete

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