When they think of writers, many people think of book authors. But writing books as a way to make a living is a lousy proposition for most people. It simply doesn’t happen. In fact, most traditionally published authors — those who land a book deal — don’t earn back their advances. Specifically, about seven out of ten books don’t earn back their advances. That means the authors never sell enough to make more money other than what the publisher initially paid them for the rights to publish their books.
And self-published authors don’t do any better. Most self-published authors sell fewer than 100 copies of their books.
That’s nowhere near what it takes to make a living writing books.
Yet, you can make a very good living writing books. You’ve just got to be smart about it.
Direct ways you make money writing books
Of course the direct ways you make money writing books include selling those books to buyers. You can find your target audience, market the heck out of those books, and ring in sales.
This means being very focused and sure about what you are saying and who your target audience is. Forget trying to cast a wide net. When it comes to selling books, focus is much better than trying to appeal to everyone.
And while selling books one by one is the thing that most authors try to do, look for opportunities for bulk sales. Many companies make bulk book purchases to use those books as premiums. They then may give the books to employees as part of training or they may give them to customers as part of rewards programs, promotions, or other such activities.
Selling books by the caseload is always more preferable than selling them one-by-one.
Indirect ways you make money writing books
But selling the books to readers is only one way to make money writing books. You have a slew of indirect ways to make money from your books. One way is in creating other products and services based on that book. Another indirect way you make money from your books is in the credibility writing a book gives you. Use that credibility to book speaking engagements, grow your business, or position yourself for media attention and appearances.
In this case, your book serves more as a brochure or sales tool than as the thing you are focused on selling. That’s not to say you aren’t interested in selling copies of your book. Of course you are. But you may be more interested in making more money from what the book offers you.
While I’ve made money from selling my books — both those I’ve self-published as well as those published under a book deal — I’ve made way more money from the credibility and opportunities the books provide. My books give me an excellent bit of credibility to book speaking engagements. And one speaking engagement earns me way more than selling an entire case or more of books.
My books have provided an excellent calling card for my business. I’ve gained clients because of my experience as a book author. Those clients pay my company anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a healthy five figures for services. And that all started with my book writing.
Writing books for others
And that brings me to yet another way to make money writing books: Ghostwriting for others. Ghostwriting is not for everyone. When you are a ghostwriter, you are writing an assignment for someone else. So you don’t pick your topic or project. And in most instances, you don’t get the credit, unless you include a byline credit in your contract. But for writers who can put their egos aside and who realize they don’t have to love every single project that comes across their desks, ghostwriting can be a really good way to make money writing books.
In fact, ghostwriting can be a lucrative undertaking. You get to help others’ book dreams come true, and for that, you get paid handsomely. You can make enough money ghostwriting books for others so that you only have to write a few projects a year. It can even give you time to also fit in your own pet book projects because you don’t have to chase down $50 writing assignments.
I’ve ghostwritten books for business owners, professionals, politicians, preachers, and others. These have all been worthwhile projects that have helped the authors — my clients — position themselves as experts or as knowledge sources in their industries. I enjoy ghostwriting books because I know it’s a valuable service. I get to share my God-given abilities to help my clients help others. And I get paid well to do it.
So you can make a living writing books. You’ve just got to be intelligent and figure out which path you’ll take.
What is the best way you’ve found to make money writing books? Tell me in the comments section below.
If you like this post, please share it on Twitter and on Facebook.