How to Make Money by Writing Books: 8 Tips for Success
Of course, releasing well-received and well-known works is the ideal way to earn money from creating books. But for the majority of authors, it also entails turning on a number of sources of revenue that are related to your writing job. Many authors are able to leave their 9 to 5 occupations and make a living by boosting their royalty income with additional writing-related activities.
Here are 8 suggestions to aid you if you want to write books to earn money:
Write A Lot, & To Market
Contrary to popular assumption, a bestseller isn’t enjoyed by all people; rather, it has a devoted following. Bestsellers “target a pre-made audience,” as best-selling novelist Suzy K Quin puts it. A book’s “pre-made” audience may consist of readers who read in a certain genre or subgenre or who fall into a particularly particular demographic. Eat, Pray, Love was written with single women in their 30s in mind, and their passion for it helped generate buzz, as Quin noted in her discussion at SPS Live 2022.
To put it another way, it’s essential to write for a specific audience that will actually connect with your book if you want to publish one that sells. At the same event, Reedsy’s Ricardo Fayet remarked that this is the startup world’s version of “Product-market fit,” which is when a firm develops a product that is ideal for a certain market.
Touch on themes that resonate with your genre’s readers
Each genre has a tendency to be linked to particular themes, such as justice, oppression, and freedom in science fiction; good and evil in fantasy; hope and love in romance, etc. So, looking at the themes connected to your genre is one way to make sure your book is well targeted to your market. If you’re unsure of how to approach this, think back on the books in your genre that you’ve previously read and try to make connections between them in terms of common plot themes.
Consider using genre tropes
Since readers frequently seek out new books with the same tropes they previously enjoyed, genre fiction frequently uses tropes that readers are already familiar with. In fact, a lot of the popularity that books gain on TikTok is based on well-known tropes, such as the “enemies to lovers” romance trope or the “reluctant hero” fantasy trope. Tropes have also grown to be important enough for authors to start using them in their marketing, as can be seen in this piece of promotional material from author Ali Hazelwood.
Release new titles as often as possible
Writing for the market is only one aspect of the puzzle. Writing numerous volumes or a trilogy or series that keeps people interested is the only way to create a buzz about your works that will generate substantial income. So keep writing and don’t give up if your first book doesn’t become an overnight sensation. Visit our article on writing quicker for additional information on increasing your writing output.
For fictitious series, take into account:
- After the events of this book, what might happen to your main character(s)? Is their tale actually over? Their story in Book 1 may merely be the beginning of a much longer adventure; a longer series may develop from this.
- Could you change the main character to a supporting one? Writing sequels based on supporting characters from earlier books in a series is another typical strategy, particularly in the romance genre. This keeps the cast recognizable while giving the plot a new angle.
- How about a brand-new tale set in the same world? Though it would officially be considered a new “interlinking” series, readers of the original books would still be drawn to it.
Alternatively, for a series of nonfiction:
- Do I need to say anything else about this subject? Is there anything you didn’t have enough time or room to investigate or elaborate on? Make it the focus of your subsequent, connected work.
- What follows naturally from here? Consider your books as instructions. Let’s say your first book is about starting a small business, and your second is on how to expand that business over the following five years.
- What else would interest my readers? Go back to your target market and discover what they desire! If your first book was a real crime story, for instance, you might discover that your target readers are devouring more of the same, which might inspire you to write a second book about a different case.
Check out this course on creating a writing schedule to help you maintain your writing pace and publish new books on schedule:
Polish your manuscript with an editor
There’s a reason why all of the highest-paid authors use editors who have experience. Authors typically lack the years of experience that an editor may contribute to the endeavor and are frequently too connected to their novel to objectively notice its shortcomings. A developmental editor can point out any plot holes or unfinished character arcs, as well as how your book stacks up against other books in its genre. They can also tell you whether your work’s overall trajectory makes sense.
In the words of author Catherine Pettersson, “What I truly needed was the insight of someone who also understood what the competitive publishing business demanded – and Clare certainly delivered.” Her advice brought my book to a completely new level. She not only pointed out how my manuscript’s lack of suspense hindered its ability to be published, but she also provided me with a road map for improving it to publication standards. Working together with her editor helped Pettersson get a book deal.
Keep as many of the royalties as possible
Whether you traditionally or independently publish your book will affect the income you get. While self-publishing necessitates an upfront investment in editing, cover design, and book marketing, you retain ownership of your book and receive a far larger share of the royalties, which may be quite profitable for novels that are widely read.
In order to give you an idea of how much money authors make, self-publishing allows you to keep 50-70% of the royalties, while traditional publishing pays you 5-20% (presuming you “earn out” your advance). Indie authors frequently choose to publish independently because they may get a larger cut of the profits, not because they were rejected by established publishers. Our one-minute test can help you choose which route to publication is best for you if you’re unsure:
Build up your author platform
You need to don more than just your “author” hat if you want to be financially successful. This entails “handling your work as a business,” as Darren Hardy (Amazon’s UK manager of Author and Editorial Programs) underlined at SPS Live 2022.
A long-term investment in your writing career is creating an author platform. While having a website and being active on social media is helpful, building an author mailing list wins the prize for producing results. A mailing list can help you engage your audience, let people know about new products, get pre-orders, and forge enduring bonds with your devoted followers. It enables you to make offerings to those who already know you and are interested in hearing from you while also establishing your authority and reputation.
Not sure how to proceed? No problem, just register for our free email list setup course:
Make your books accessible to more readers
By making your book available in a variety of forms, you can reach a wider audience of potential readers. For accessibility reasons, some people can only read ebooks, while others can only browse in-store (and many people just listen to audio for the fun and convenience of it). In other words, publishing your work in multiple formats could increase the number of people who read it if you don’t already.
The same idea applies to marketplaces in other languages; by translating your book, you can reach new audiences of readers that enjoy your genre. Independent authors typically find success in the German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Indian, Chinese, and other markets; other markets, like Greece, not so much (Greeks somehow never fell for ebooks).
Wherever you are located, you might even think about how to best advertise your English-language book across the pond since the American market offers enormous possibilities for British authors and British audience is always a welcome extra. Consider making a marketing push in a new area while taking into account elements like digital ads, the design of your book cover, and the title of your book.
Promote new releases as well as your backlist
You may significantly boost your overall sales by promoting both your backlist and your most recent release. This can be accomplished by putting together a book package and selling your previous works at a discount to readers who purchase your most recent work. This is particularly helpful if you have a series and discount the first few books so that readers have to pay full price to find out how it all ends. Get new readers interested in your collection by grabbing their attention.
You can experiment with various pricing points, but make the offer time-limited and make the reduction clear. Make the most of social media, your newsletter, and your email list to spread the word about this. Another common strategy used by authors is to offer their most recent book for pre-order followed by customized advertising efforts. This contributes to creating some talk about your book even before it is published.
Looking for additional marketing guidance and ideas? Below, you can download a free copy of Ricardo Fayet’s How to Market a Book.
Offer services related to your product
Although authors do make money from creating books, once they have established a platform, they may also profit from all the ancillary services they can provide. Speaking engagements where you discuss your experience as an author, seminars and classes that teach the technique of writing or even consulting services, could be some of these (especially for non-fiction authors).
The Common Cents Club founder Val Breit didn’t anticipate receiving any paid speaking invitations: “Without mentioning speaking on my website, social media, or in my book, I received invitations to speak just a few months after publication. Although nerve-wracking, I made new connections with readers, grew my author platform, and even managed to cover some expenses.
Mention your interest in speaking engagements on your author website’s contact page if you are already aware of it. There are several methods for doing this:
- “Please contact me at [email address] with any speaking inquiries.”
- “X, Y, and Z are topics I am available for speaking engagements on.”
- Photos or videos of you speaking are displayed after the “Previous Speaking Engagements” section.
Coaching or consulting (if you’re a nonfiction author)
Many well-known authors give coaching services to aspiring writers, helping them with things like project ideas, writing criticism, and navigating the complex publishing landscape.
Additionally, you can get paid to consult on a book you’ve authored provided it’s nonfiction. You’ve already established yourself as an authority in your industry by writing a book (or several books), so it makes sense to use that position to get consultancy work.
Courses and seminars
Although private coaching and advising sessions are fantastic, holding courses and seminars that many people may attend at once may be a better option. For these, you would create more detailed, broadly applicable content on a topic of your choice, such as “How to Write Sparkling Dialogue” or “How to Turn Your Blog Into a Book,” and promote it to other authors through a multi-part course or an interactive presentation.
Ghostwriting and/or editing services
If you have the necessary abilities to support yourself, ghostwriting and editing can be highly lucrative careers. However, completing jobs can take a lot of time, so if you choose this path, plan to dedicate at least a few hours per week. You can find a dependable source of freelancing assignments on Reedsy’s market:
Study how other authors make money
Whether it’s initiating a crowdfunding campaign or selling books directly to fans, many authors today are coming up with innovative ways to increase the revenue from their novels. For four books he wrote during the pandemic, Brandon Sanderson raised a record-breaking $41 million on Kickstarter. Many other authors can use their fans to fund their works. Join our free course below if you want to find out how they do it.
Direct sales is another strategy that independent authors are beginning to use, as Joanna Penn said at the SPS Live conference in 2022. This entails selling your book directly to readers using online marketplaces, enabling you to keep the entire profit rather than just the royalties.