I’m not sure what inspired me to write a book. A number-one selling book, by the way, but, I didn’t write a book to make money as an author.
Let me explain.
I sold my business in October 2017. That business was like my child. I started the business when I was 23 and barely out of college.
Running that business was the only job I ever had.
My last day as president of the company was December 31, 2017.
I’m sitting at my desk in early January 2018 with nothing to do. I have some small projects, my real estate and investment portfolio that I manage, but I was officially “unemployed.”
Truth be told, I had no intention of ever getting another job. So the prospect of keeping busy with something other than running a large company was appealing.
Looking for a Hobby and I Found Chandler Bolt’s Publishing School
I went for a long walk on the beach in Florida and listened to a number of different podcasts. I’m not sure why I decided to listen to Chandler Bolt’s Self Publishing School podcast, but I did.
Not only did I listen to that one Chandler Bolt podcast. I listened to every podcast. Chandler talks about, among a number of things, how to write a book, and how to make money as an author.
Chandler has something like 40 podcasts, and I listened to all of them, each about 30 to 45 minutes long. That’s a lot of podcast listening.
I listened in the car, on the beach, at the gym … for 15 consecutive days.
By the time I was finished, I was convinced I could write a book.
The crazy thing is, Chandler gave away so much free information on his information-packed podcast that there was no need to take his expensive course (I often wonder why bloggers and people do that, but, I digress). And his course was really expensive. It wasn’t just $299, otherwise, I would have taken it as I really grew to respect Chandler.
I finished writing the book by the end of February 2018. It took me about 45 days to write a 50,000-word book.
Once I was finished, it was time to find an editor to edit my book, but before even doing that, I had to understand how to market it.
Reader Magnets, Nick Stephenson, and a Review of Your First 10K Readers Course
One of the podcast interviews Chandler Blot did was with Nick Stephenson. Nick has a course titled Your First 10,000 Readers. What I learned is that it is harder to market your book then it is to write your book.
Nick teaches you how to market your book, and how to make money as an author.
One of his suggestions, in fact, his main suggestion, so I can save you the $499, is to create a smaller version of your book. Offer that small book for free. And by the way, I did take Nick’s course, but, I wouldn’t waste your money on this definite “thumbs-down” course.
Nick suggests that you market the heck out of the book. Get as many people to download the small book as you can. Nick covers methods like Facebook advertising, For the privilege of downloading the book, the person needs to provide their email address.
Alternatively, if they download your book through Amazon, you should have something that Nick calls a “reader magnet” (more on this shortly).
Once you have enough email addresses, and a bunch of raving fans, you have your ready-to-go market. When you launch your real(big) book, which you sell for real dollars (not a free giveaway), you can make your fortune.
So that was my plan.
I “Sold” 40,000 Books, and Became a Number One Best Seller in Non-Fiction
I carved out a section of my big book, sent that for major editing, and by late May, my 20,000-word book was officially on Amazon.
Then 8,000 email addresses, 2 months, and a full blog later (this one in fact), according to Nick’s theory, I was ready to market my real big book to my audience.
By mid-June, my small book was number one on Amazon in both the business and non-fiction sections. It stayed there into July.
I sold thousands of books. To date, over 40,000.
But actually, I didn’t sell anything. I gave away 40,000 books – in exchange for an email address.
Now, there’s a problem. How do you get email addresses from Amazon purchases? Fear not, Nick Stephenson has a solution.
With regards to the Amazon downloads, Nick suggests you have something in your book that he calls the “reader magnet.”
A reader magnet is something that encourages someone to come back to your website, enter their name and email address, in order to get your free give-away. In my case, I offered a real estate investment spreadsheet.
Of the 8,000 email addresses I received, I estimate approximately 2,000 were from Amazon.
How Much Do Authors Make For a Best Seller?
In my case, the income was residual, but, in fairness, I wasn’t trying to make money off my free give-away. I did bring in a number of consulting clients though, and it has resulted in a fairly large blog following.
Authors like James Michener who write books for a living can do extremely well, but if you look at the overall population, and look at how many authors make a living writing? The answer is probably very few,
How Much Money Can You Make From a Book?
The royalties from a book can vary depending on whether you have an agent and book publisher, vs. publishing the book yourself as a self-publisher. I chose the latter of course, and since I didn’t officially sell my book, but rather, gave my first book away for free, I didn’t make
anything directly off the book itself. Should I decide to launch my second book, which I will likely someday do, then I will go the self-publishing route, and launch on Amazon.
I have the second book written. It’s called The Kickass Entrepreneur’s Small Business Growth Strategies.
I intend to sell the book for $9.99, and I will keep roughly 70% of the total book sales, but, that amount varies depending on the final sale price. I suspect I might be able to sell 5,000 copies, so, my total revenue on the book will be 5,000 copies X $9.99 = $49,950 X 70% = $34,965.
I suspect that I can sell 5,000 copies because I have a fairly good audience through this blog, thousands of subscribers, and I’ll work diligently at the marketing.
And that brings me to …
Change of Plans
Fast forward to September 2018, and I got busy with other projects.
I’m enjoying semi-retirement enough, that I’m not completely up to the effort of completing, editing, and marketing the next book.
The thrill of writing a book and the personal challenge of seeing that book as number one on Amazon has somewhat dissipated.
My new challenge is to see if I can get my blog to 1,000,000 monthly page views by December 2020. I have a long way to go but expect that I should be able to get to at least 500,000.
So now I’m listening to blogging podcasts, in particular, The Blog Millionaire by Brandon Gaille.
How Do You Make Money As an Author?
The title of this blog post is somewhat deceiving.
How Do you Make Money as an Author? How I Sold 40,000 Books and Became a Number One Selling Author
Well, I did sell 40,000 books but didn’t make any money off the books. And, yes, my book was number one on Amazon, but again, any revenue I made was residual income as a result of the popularity of my book. Consulting income, for example.
Chandler Bolt, the owner of Self Publishing School, will have you believe that it’s quite possible to make money as an author entrepreneur, or as an entrepreneur making money as an author.
He interviews a number of guests: Nick Stephenson, Joanna Penn, and many others. They all provide a step-by-step approach to marketing, selling, and becoming a number one selling author.
Most of his guests are in the book publishing industry and make money off the healthy supply of people who spend big dollars, and time, on trying to make it big in the book publishing industry.
Chandler sells a course, for example, so does Nick (which I discussed above), and so does Joanna.
I’m not begrudging any of them for making a living. In fact, they all seem to be doing well writing and selling books and courses on how to write books.
So Can You Make Money As an Author?
Absolutely, and as I said above, I suspect, had I released my big book and sold it for under $9.99, I could have sold at least 5,000 books to my current audience.
I am an entrepreneur and a huge risk-taker. Not only do I believe in entrepreneurship, but I write about how to start and grow a business, how to improve profitability, and how to create wealth.
I am a small business champion. I applaud entrepreneurship and encourage anyone who believes they have the stamina to handle the trials and tribulations of small business ownership to dive in.
I’m also a realist, though, and understand how hard it is to start and build a successful business. I encourage people to follow their passion and do whatever they love doing.
Writing a book and becoming an author entrepreneur is a tough way to make a buck.
Yes, you can make money. Many people do. Many people make money writing a blog. But, once again, I’ll tell you there are many easier ways to build a business and make a buck.
If I were counting on this blog to provide for my family I would have gone out of business a long time ago. Yes, I’m having fun, but there are many easier ways to make money.
This blog (and the book) was a hobby project. And I say that as a seasoned entrepreneur.
So let me answer the question, how do you make money as an author?
I’m going to be somewhat facetious and say don’t. Find another business.
And what’s the real answer?
Take a page out of Chandler Bolt and Nick Stephenson’s playbook.
5 Steps to Market and Launch Your Book
- Launch a small book – writing a book requires discipline, diligence, focus and determination
- Take a subset of your larger book and launch a freebie small book
- Collect as many email addresses as you can and build your raving fan club with you reader magnet
- Build a marketing machine to market your book and get the number one Amazon designation so you can say that you’re a number one selling author. There are some tricks and ways to get into the easier Amazon sub-categories
- When you’re ready, launch your real book and market it to your fan club.
And what’s my honest answer?
Find another industry. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the experience of writing a book, but it was a hobby.
So if you’re writing a book as a hobby and not counting on making any money, then go ahead. If you want to build a business with recurring revenue and retire to the beach sipping margaritas, start another type of business, because being an author entrepreneur is a tough gig.
Yes, be an entrepreneur, just find another industry.
Now, the next question:
How Much Money Does an Author Make Per Book?
If you’re selling the book privately, and not through a publisher, then Amazon keeps approximately 30% of the book fees. If you’re selling your book for $5.99, and you keep approximately $4 per book, and you sell 1,000 books, then you net about $4,000.
And selling 1,000 books is no small feat.
So why would anyone want to write a book?
It’s an amazing conversation starter, and you’ll earn a lot of credibility. If you’re a published author, and you show up to a client meeting with a book in hand, there’s instant industry credibility. It’s a marketing tool and a potentially good one at that.
I found this video really helpful on how to write your first book:
Whatever you choose to do, good luck with your author entrepreneurial venture.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy this one: How Much Money Do You Need To Never Have To Work Again? Let’s Do The Math.
You should also consider subscribing to my blog. I publish one article a week on small business and wealth creation. You can subscribe here.
Also, I published a book during the summer of 2018, “The Kickass Entrepreneur’s Guide to Investing, Three Simple Steps to Create Massive Wealth with Your Business’s Profits.” It was number 1 on Amazon in both the business and non-fiction sections. You can get a free copy here.