How to Make Money as an Author

Ever wondered how the likes of John Grisham, Stephen King, and J. K. Rowling make money? Ever thought about what their journey might have been like from humble beginner to world-renowned author?

One thing that should be your guiding star is the understanding that you will make money as an author, not from the proceeds from the sales of your book, but from the good relationships you create with your books.

Therefore, make sure you use your book to create rewarding and lasting relationships with readers. Let your book introduce you to your readers and help them get to know, like, and trust your content and you as an author.

Even the likes of Grisham make more money when TV and film companies run adaptations of their books than they do from book sales. Producers pay authors a lot of money just for the opportunity to capitalize on the loyal following authors forge with their readers. Producers also use this rare chance to give the author’s fans a deeper experience with the stories and characters they’ve come to know and love.

While it’s great to be inspired by the success of other authors, comparing yourself to them and falling short can be a “thief of joy,” as President Theodore Roosevelt put it. The best approach is to be aware of your competition while you focus on producing the best book, not just for yourself, but especially for your readers. You will see your efforts paying for themselves over time.

Figure out a win-win strategy where what you do for your audience ends up benefiting you, too. What can you do to make this process worthwhile and enjoyable? How can you sell not just your book but your brand also? How can you guarantee your book will produce long-term gains?

Think up creative ways to take the relationship forward and make your readers stay in your corner permanently. When you have a great relationship with your readers, you can experience a lot of growth through book sales and cross-selling. 

So what’s the best way to make money as an author?

The trick to making money as an author is to position your book in the perfect light for your audience. Put your readers (who will become your fans) first,  and then the rest who may need to take note of your book for other purposes.

a.      Write to market

The most important thing you do as an author is tailoring your book so it speaks directly to your market. Once you identify your target audience, you will be able to work out their preferences and nail them in your book. As you do your research, consider reader reviews for previously published books in your niche and capitalize on addressing the shortcomings their readers complained about. Also, remember to pick up on what the readers liked about the competing titles, and ensure your book meets those needs as well. Looking up related keywords on various social media platforms will help you understand what readers really want and help you align your work accordingly.

b.      Invest in professional editing and cover design

A well-packaged book will go a long way in selling itself. Quality begins with the cover design and goes on to include the content. Invest in a professional editor and cover designer. An experienced editor will polish your text so it really shines. But make sure you edit your manuscript yourself first, before passing it off to a professional. That way, you can iron out any obvious errors and minimize editing costs. Do not underestimate the power of a professionally designed cover in getting your book to fly off the shelves.

c.       Consider writing a series

The more books you can present to your market and sell, the more money you’ll make, and that works best when those books are part of a series. Especially if you are writing fiction, remember your audience will always be eager to find out what happens next in the lives of their favourite characters. If you decide to publish a series, be sure to capitalize on character building and suspense to ensure your readers remain glued to your story. For non-fiction works, readers are likely to want to know what other insights you have in the area. Begin by introducing a topic in your first book and, towards the end, hint at what more is in store for your readers in the next book.

d.      Offer related services

As I said earlier, most author income comes not from direct sales of books but from related services. Apart from having your book adapted for reproduction in different formats (audiobooks, translations, screenplays, etc.), you can offer one or more services based on the topic(s) you write about. For example, if you write non-fiction self-help books, you can provide services such as these:

i)                   Coaching or consulting

If you are an established author, you can offer guidance to budding authors to help them along. This could be in the form of developing project work plans, giving honest feedback on their writing, and helping them sail through the publishing process. You can also offer consulting services on a non-fiction subject you wrote about, as being published presents you readily as an expert.

ii)                 Courses and seminars

This is quite like coaching or consulting, but instead of doing it on a one-on-one basis, you engage with groups of people in workshops and seminars. This not only saves time, but also ensures you make more money per session, as you will be hosting more than one person at a time. During these sessions, your audience can pick your brain on a number of issues related to your theme—and who knows, you might just get an idea for your next book!

iii)               Ghostwriting or editing services

If you have a few hours to spare on a weekly basis, you can consider writing for other authors to pick up some extra cash. Ghostwriting and editing can be lucrative, but these activities can be very time consuming. Be sure you have enough time available before taking on such a project.

iv)    Speaking Opportunities

With an established brand, you can begin building your rate card and cashing in on speaking at various events. This is an especially profitable option for best-selling authors. For beginners, fees range from $5,000 to $10,000. You can begin to create your niche around your market and establish the kind of speaking events you would like to be invited to. Be open to pro bono speaking events to cement relationships, show off your knowledge, and build referrals.

e.       Give out freebies

What is better than a good book? A free good book! One way to reach an even wider audience is by giving your book away for free. What does that mean? Well, it means exactly that. Today, books are available in many formats. For example, on Amazon, you can sell your book as a paperback, an audiobook, or an e-book. How about giving away the e-book for free to readers who are willing to share their email address with you? You can use these addresses to build your mailing list, and then capitalize on this avenue by sending your subscribers regular marketing emails to promote your other products and services. This could easily translate to significant additional revenue!

Start Making Money

The key to making money as an author is positioning your content to the right audience in such a way that they not only like and believe in what you publish, but they trust you and have confidence in all of your work, not just your book. Once you have cracked the code for the kind of content your audience likes and packaged it correctly, you will be one step closer to their hearts. The next step is to keep building your relationships to create ongoing loyalty. If you follow this proven process, you will be well on your way to achieving your revenue goals as a published author.

Become a Best-Selling Author

Do you want to discover the steps that can take you from a book idea to a six-figure funnel? At Leaders Press, We can show you how to position your book as a best-seller, turn your ideas into an amazing manuscript, optimize your book for online sales, and many more. Excited to take the next big step in your journey? Chat with us today!

Discover the 17 Steps to Creating a Best-selling Business Book

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