You don’t have to sell a million copies of your book — or even a single one — to make money from it.
You see, a book is much more than a single product to be read. A book has become the new business card. It is a tool you can use to generate leads, get people to buy from or hire you, and build your brand.
Most writers, though, don’t take advantage of the opportunities their books give them. Instead, they focus on simply selling the book to the customer, the reader, forgetting that there are others who need their information.
I was reminded of this recently when a new client signed up for us to edit and design her book and get it ready for publication. As I talked with her about some of the additional ways her book can make her money, she was silent. Then she said, “I hadn’t really thought of it that way.”
It requires a different mindset
She realized thinking of her book as a way to do other things could be the means to turning her book into something far bigger than she had ever dreamed. I’ve written in this space before about how authors can make money from their books, but this post is about the mindset.
Don’t look at your book and see its potential resting only in sales. Your book’s potential is far greater than this. But it takes an entrepreneurial mindset to see it. You have to be willing to see your book as a product, and not just as an artistic expression. You have to be willing to market your book and your work, rather than sitting back expecting readers to flood you with purchases out of nowhere. In the book business, if you don’t tell them, they will not come. I repeat, if you don’t tell them, they will not come.
And since you are already marketing the book, why not build a product or service around it or as a result of it? When you do this, you open yourself up to making more from your book. In fact, the sales of products and services, including speaking and courses, can far outpace whatever you make from direct sales.
That certainly has been the case for me. I’ve sold thousands of books, but that’s nothing next to what I sell as a result of having the books. I sell my expertise. I do that via speaking engagements, e-courses, and book mentoring, not to mention my book ghostwriting, editing, and design business.
It even applies to fiction authors and poets
Nonfiction authors have a more direct route from their books to selling their services or products related to those books, but they are by no means the only ones who can do this. Any book author can. Yes, even fiction authors and poets. It’s not so much about the type or genre of book. It’s about what you can teach or entertain people with coming from that book.
So you’ve written a book of poetry. How can you turn that into an additional product or service? Well, maybe you can teach a course on the topic of your poetry or speak about matters related to it. For instance, let’s say your poetry is about your angst-ridden teen years where you felt different and alienated from the world. You might find the audience to be quite limited, when you look to sell the book itself. But what if you expand your thinking? You may be able to develop a speaking series around the topic of teen issues, peer pressure, or being yourself in a world that wants you to conform. All of those are issues that are relevant today. And there are groups, organizations, conferences, etc., that pay people to speak on such topics. Suddenly you realize your book can make you a lot of money.
It takes creativity and that entrepreneurial mindset to see how you can turn your book into a business. Book sales are only one — often small — piece of the equation. Sure, it’s possible to market your book and sell lots and lots of copies. But it’s also possible to use that same marketing effort and sell higher-dollar products and services that allow you to bring in more income, build greater influence, and create a whole new writing life.
Some entrepreneurial authors don’t even look to book sales as an income source, preferring instead, to give away copies of their books. They use the books as marketing tools to bring in other benefits and income. They invest in producing the best book possible, with the intention of turning that book into business opportunities.
How can you use your book to build greater income?
Photo: Svilen Milev