Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Why You Don't Have to Be a Bestselling Author to Get Financially Free

Why You Don't Have to Be a Bestselling Author to Get Financialy Free
(Photo: Alfred Cunningham)

To Make a Living as a Writer, You Only Have to Publish Books Well.

Why keep beating your head against a perfectly good brick wall?

Look over some facts:
  • Some bad books sell well.
  • Some great books sell poorly.
  • Less than 1 percent of all books ever attain bestseller status.
  • Most authors make less than $500 per year from their book.
The logical conclusion:
If you want to make a living writing, you have to increase your book sales - by becoming a better publisher.


Here's the old mantra again (repeat after me):

Writing feeds the soul, Publishing pays the bills.

This I found by my own struggles.

My own story began after I left a suffocating corporate cult in late 2000 and returned to the family farm in Missouri. While operating the farm part time, and researching/writing part time, and holding down a part time day job (or going to school for some degrees) - my life was pretty full.

From then until 2013, I published all my books and several public domain works (as related references).  And even now, my own books don't sell well.

But I changed my perspective in 2013 when I started researching why my books don't sell. My tests in publishing made me financially independent, and I ditched any day job because my book sales started paying all my bills.

In about 18 months, I went from having a day job to not needing one.

It just took me over a dozen years to figure out how, then only a few months to make it happen. Yes, that's a happy coincidence. But happen it did.

This blog (among many) chronicles that adventure. So you can look it up, if you dare.

You don't have to be a bestselling writer, you only have to be a good-selling publisher

I'll repeat that as many times as necessary to help you understand it.

What did I change in 2013 that made my life so much easier, that allowed me to "turn pro"?

I looked up what bestselling authors did to make their income.
  • They published in series.
  • They published a lot.
  • They published new works regularly.

It's that simple.

I published several lots, in series, to see what would happen.

The money started coming in. Somewhere between 1-3% of my published books started selling well. (My unpublished works, of course, never sold.)

I don't expect you to do what I did.

Look up the most famous authors if you want - you'll find in our modern age, it takes about five years after their first book is published (providing they publish at least one book a year in a series following the first) they start making a living at it. Enough to quit any day job they had to have up to that point.

It doesn't take into account how long it took to write that book, it only says that when they published consistently for five years, at least once a year, they got financially independent, if not downright wealthy.

In my case, I ended up publishing more than a hundred books by other authors - but it only took about 18 months.

The punchline is this: I did no marketing beyond cover, title, description, price.

Meaning - I did what any publisher would do. Publishers leave the promotion up to the author. Always have. Since (except for my own books) everyone I published was either dead or anonymous, that meant these books got no marketing.

Here's another interesting point: Only about a dozen were on Amazon. I was paying my bills with books published everywhere else. When one of my books got a bestseller status on Amazon, the money came in better - but that same book was already selling well everywhere else.

Cover, Title, Price, Description. Nothing else.

This means: Financial Freedom.

Which meant I had time to do more research and writing (which was funneled into blog posts that became more books.)

Weird, huh?

I'm right now working out exactly what marketing needs to be for books - and it hardly resembles what authors are being told to do these days.

It does give a program that publishers should be following to actually market their books.

Once I have it polished a bit more, I'll give it to you for free. Even the spreadsheet it sits on.

Because your financial freedom (and freedom in general) is important to me. The Golden Rule says (loosely) that you have to give before you can get (or that you only receive as well as you give - same thing). If you want more freedom, you have to help others get it - first.

The point of this is that you can get your financial freedom as a writer if you become more effective as a publisher.

  • Books don't sell unless you publish. 
  • Books sell best if published in a series for a specific genre. 
  • They also sell best if you sell everywhere possible at once.

Test it for yourself:

  1. (Self)publish everything you already have. Edit into shape, get some great covers, write some enticing descriptions, price them to sell, publish them everywhere. 
  2. Now write some more related books in that series and publish them.
  3. Keep this up until you have at least five books out there. At least.

Contact me once your fifth book is published and we'll compare notes. Just don't talk to me unless you have killer covers, decent prices, and fascinating descriptions.

I'm not saying you'll get rich (or any guarantee, really). The point is that if you work this hard for your dreams, then you have a much better chance at getting enough income to cover your bills - maybe enough to quit your day job.

Up to you.

The question is not how well can you write - it's how well can you publish? That is what pegs your book income.

Writing feeds the soul. Publishing pays your bills.

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