Want to retire early with earnings from your writing?
That’s exactly what I did on September 12, 2021, on my way to a $384,000 KDP revenue performance for the year. Whatever your goal is for 2022: to increase your earnings, retire from your day job, or finance an entire vacation with your writing, you can do it.
This month, I sat down with post-apocalyptic thriller writer Zach Bohannon, co-author of Three Story Method: Foundations of Fiction. We discussed building effective email lists, advertising for profit, and choosing the right genre for life-changing revenue.
Listen to our full conversation here, or check out the Creator Dad Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and more.
From Day Job to Full-Time Author
Ah, the romanticized life of an author – sipping on a hot latte in a cozy corner of a cafe, putting words to paper (or screen), while the rain patters softly on the window. Sounds dreamy, right? But here’s the twist – I’ve lived it, and I can tell you, it’s totally achievable. I started just like many of you, juggling my writing dreams with a day job that paid the bills but didn’t fulfill my soul. So, let’s dive into how you can go from daydreaming at your desk job to writing full-time. And trust me, in today’s digital age, it’s never been a more feasible dream.
The Reality of Being a Full-time Self-published Author
When people hear “self-published”, many still imagine authors selling copies out of their garage. But the game has changed! With platforms like Amazon, Apple Books, and Kobo, we’ve got a digital highway straight to our readers. No middlemen, no expensive publishing deals. Just you, your stories, and a world of eager readers.
Before you think it’s all roses and rainbows, let’s lay it all out. Yes, you can earn well, even fantastically. But it’s not just about writing. It’s about marketing, engaging with readers, and sometimes, dealing with a bad review (ouch, but it happens!). But don’t fret! By the end of this guide, you’ll have a roadmap to navigate the highs and lows of this thrilling journey.
Understanding the Goal: Why Four Novels a Year?
You might be thinking, “Four novels? Is that a magic number?” Well, kind of. This isn’t just a random goal. Regular releases keep your name popping up, remind readers you’re still around, and algorithms (like the ones on Amazon) favor regular content. Plus, with each release, you have another chance to catch a new reader’s eye!
By the time we’re done, you’ll have a blueprint for making your author dreams come true. Whether you’re just starting or looking to up your game, buckle up; it’s going to be an enlightening ride!
The Power of Consistency: Publishing Regularly
Remember the old tale about the tortoise and the hare? Consistency was the name of the game. In the world of self-publishing, it’s not much different. Sure, we’re not racing against a smug rabbit, but we are racing against time, market shifts, and reader attention spans. So, let’s chat about why publishing regularly is your golden ticket to staying ahead (or at least, not falling behind).
Why Four Novels a Year Matters
Now, four might sound like a daunting number. I mean, that’s a book every three months! But here’s the deal: Publishing consistently, especially in the realm of four novels a year, keeps your readers hooked.
With the sheer volume of content available, readers have countless options at their fingertips. Regular releases remind them that you’re their favorite storyteller. It’s like releasing episodes of a TV series; it keeps the audience coming back for more.
Benefits Beyond the Reader: Algorithmic Love
There’s another key player in our story, and that’s the mighty algorithm. Platforms like Amazon have a simple aim – keep users engaged and buying. If you’re releasing content consistently, you’re telling their system, “Hey, I’m here, active, and people like my stuff.” This can result in better visibility, more recommendations, and, in turn, more sales. It’s a win-win!
Maximizing Your Writing Output: Some Handy Tips
Alright, let’s get practical:
- Daily Word Count Goal: It’s like setting a step goal on your fitness tracker but for words. Find a number that’s achievable and stick to it. You’d be amazed how quickly it adds up.
- The Art of Outlining: This might sound school-ish, but having a rough outline of your story can speed up the writing process immensely. Instead of wandering around your fictional world, you’ll have a clear path.
- Master Your Time: Whether it’s setting aside a dedicated “writing hour” daily or finding small pockets of time, consistency in your schedule can greatly enhance productivity.
Mastering the Art of Book Marketing
So, you’ve got your manuscript ready, polished until it shines brighter than a new penny. Awesome! But here’s the thing—writing the book is only half the battle. It’s like preparing a delicious meal; if no one knows it’s ready, who’s gonna eat it? Enter: Marketing. Don’t let the term scare you. It’s not as complex as it sounds, and with the right tactics, it can even be fun!
Understanding Your Target Audience
Ever heard the saying, “You can’t please everyone”? In the world of book publishing, this rings especially true. Your book, no matter how splendid, has a specific audience. Recognizing and understanding this audience is key. Here’s how you can nail it:
- Reader Profiles: Think of your ideal reader. What do they like? Where do they hang out online? This mental sketch helps in tailoring your promotional efforts.
- Engage on Social Media: Join reader groups, participate in discussions, and feel the pulse of your audience. Bonus: It’s a great way to make friends who love books as much as you do!
Cover Design and Book Descriptions: First Impressions Matter
Your cover is the first thing a potential reader sees. It’s the window display of your story, so it’s gotta be eye-catching!
- Professional Covers: Consider investing in a professional designer. They know the trends, the nuances, and can translate your story into a visual treat.
- Crafting Enticing Blurbs: Your book’s description should be intriguing, concise, and leave readers wanting more. Think of it as the movie trailer for your book.
Leveraging Advertising Platforms
Alright, let’s talk about getting your book in front of as many eyes as possible:
- Amazon Advertising, Facebook Ads, BookBub: These platforms can push your book to the forefront. Start with a small budget, test, and scale up.
- The Art of A/B Testing: Try different ad images or descriptions. See what resonates with readers and adjust accordingly. It’s a bit of trial and error, but oh so worth it.
Building a Loyal Reader Base
Alright, storyteller, let’s get into the real secret sauce of sustainable authorship: your readers. These are the wonderful folks who’ll be eagerly waiting for your next release, recommending your books to friends, and maybe even dressing up as your characters for Halloween (hey, one can dream!). But how do you turn a casual reader into a die-hard fan? Let’s unravel this mystery together!
Mailing Lists: Your Golden Ticket
Picture this: a direct line to your readers where you can share updates, release teasers, or simply chat about your favorite books. Sound like a dream? Welcome to the magic of mailing lists!
- Growing that Subscriber Count: Offer a slice of your world for free—maybe a short story or a prequel—to entice readers to sign up.
- Engaging Content: It’s not just about bombarding them with sales pitches. Share anecdotes from your writing journey, snippets from your daily life, or even book recommendations.
Encouraging Reviews and Feedback
Feedback is the breakfast of champions! Here’s why and how to encourage it:
- ARC (Advance Review Copy) Teams: These are your frontline soldiers. Offer free copies of your upcoming release in exchange for honest reviews. It’s a win-win: they get a sneak peek, and you get early feedback.
- Goodreads and Other Platforms: Engage actively by responding to reviews, participating in discussions, and hosting giveaways.
Creating Reader Magnets
Ever seen those tantalizing “bonus scenes” or “exclusive content” tags? Those are reader magnets, and boy, are they effective!
- Freebies and Novellas: Offer a side story or a background tale that complements your main series. Readers love diving deeper into the universes they adore.
- Collaborate and Cross-promote: Team up with fellow authors for bundled offers or shared universe stories. It introduces your work to their readers and vice versa.
Building a loyal reader base isn’t about seeing people as dollar signs. It’s about creating a community, sharing in mutual excitement, and forging connections over a shared love for stories. It’s a bit like building a friendship—you’re there for them with amazing tales, and they’ve got your back with their support. Keep it genuine, keep it passionate, and watch your reader community flourish! 📖❤️
Diversifying Income Streams
So, you’ve started making some dough from your books. High five! 🙌 But here’s a pro tip from someone who’s been around the block: Don’t put all your eggs (or in this case, books) in one basket. Just as a savvy investor diversifies their portfolio, an astute author diversifies their income. Let’s explore how you can spread your wings and not just rely on eBook sales.
Expanding Beyond Amazon: There’s a Big World Out There
While the giant that is Amazon might seem like the ultimate destination, there’s a whole world of readers outside its realm:
- Other eBook Platforms: Dive into Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play. Different platforms have different audiences, and it’s always good to expand reach.
- Subscription Services: Consider platforms like Scribd where readers pay for access to an entire library. It’s a different model but has its own set of loyal readers.
The Audiobook Potential: Your Story, Now in Stereo!
With the rise of platforms like Audible, audiobooks have boomed. They’re perfect for the busy reader on-the-go:
- Finding the Right Narrator: Your story deserves the perfect voice. Platforms like ACX connect authors with potential narrators.
- Royalty Share or Upfront Payment: Tight on budget? Look for narrators willing to work on a royalty share basis, where they get a share from each sale.
Merchandising and More: Wear the Story
Ever thought of seeing your book’s catchphrase on a t-shirt? Or a beautiful artwork poster of your book’s world? Well, it’s possible:
- Branded Merchandise: Websites like Teespring or Redbubble allow you to create custom merchandise with minimal upfront costs.
- Courses and Workshops: If you’ve got the marketing knack, consider teaching. Offer courses on platforms like Kajabi, Udemy, or Skillshare about writing or self-publishing.
Diversification isn’t just about raking in more money. It’s about resilience. When one stream faces a hiccup, others can keep the boat sailing smoothly. Plus, it’s a fabulous way to reach new audiences and even tap into your existing ones in novel ways.
If you follow these steps, write stories your readers love, and learn something new every day, you’ll put yourself on the fast track to writing for a living.
As always, if you want advice or ideas about how to increase your author earnings, write me anytime. Or leave a comment below. I’m happy to help!
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