If you’re a subscriber or regular reader of InkwellEditorial.com, you know that I derive a significant portion of my income (more than half) from writing and self-publishing ebooks. As the eve of the ebook writing and publishing tournament approaches, I thought it appropriate to answer the following query from a recent subscriber, who wrote in asking about self-publishing.
He wrote, in part:
Reader Questions about Making Money Selling Ebooks Online for a Living
On 3/27 I purchased “How to Write an Ebook in 3 Days or Less, Market It & Get Your First Sale Within 7 Days” on Amazon for the Kindle. I want to sincerely thank you. I found this book highly informative, instructive and definitely a good value. I’ve been unemployed for over a year now. I am considering writing an ebook, just for some sort of income. I realize, from your book, that it’s not possible to project the income from any one particular book, but could you give me some probability estimate?If I could write and promote an ebook and generate a couple of thousand dollars in a year, I would consider that a success. (I have a friend who is a copywriter and thinks I could do it.) If I wrote an ebook and performed all that promotional work, and it didn’t generate anything, I’m not too sure I could psychologically deal with another failure. (You can understand my mindset after numerous interviews and rejections over the past year.)Do you find an ongoing, royalty stream from your ebooks? Or do the books require constant promotional activity?Do you write your promotional articles as you’re writing the book?I realize I am asking a lot. Thank you very much for your consideration. May your kindness by returned to you many times over.Ken
My Initial Response to Questions about Self Publishing (Making Money Selling Ebooks Online)
I gave a short response (just below), but as I promised him, want to go into more detail. I initially responded:
Re Profitability: This depends on so many factors that I couldn’t even begin to give you an answer (eg, niche, your marketing ability, competition, author credibility, price, etc.).
Ebooks require constant promotion, and I do quite well with mine. BUT it’s b/c I’ve been at this a long time. I published my first ebook in 2004 and have published over 20 titles to date. FYI, writing (and promoting) my ebooks are basically my FT job.
As for article writing, yes, a lot of my article ideas come from my ebooks. But no, I don’t write the articles while I’m writing the ebook. Usually, I will go back and use excerpts from the ebook for articles.
Hope this can tide you over until next week’s newsletter.
Subscribe (there’s a sign-up box on every page of the site to the top right) to get it when it comes out.
As your unemployment situation; I sympathize, I’ve been there.
Just FINISHING an ebook is a grave achievement. To make even ONE sale puts you lightyears ahead of millions; all most ever do is TALK about writing a book, they never buckle down and do it. So focus on the positives of the process, not possible failure because again, even completing one book is a MAJOR achievement.
MY DETAILED RESPONSE
Following is a more detailed response.
EBOOK WRITING /SELF-PUBLISHING QUESTION: I realize, from your book, that it’s not possible to project the income from any one particular book, but could you give me some probability estimate?
As I told this potential ebook publisher in my short answer, profitability depends on a plethora of factors, so it is literally impossible to assure him with any certainty that he would make “a couple of thousand dollars in a year” (what he wants to make to consider writing an ebook a success).
All I can tell you is this:
No one can guarantee that if you wrote a book – on any subject – how many copies you’re going to sell. Trust me, Random House, McGraw-Hill and all the other major publishers would have published “the formula” — if there was one – to state that you’ll sell “x” copies of this type of ebook.
There just are no guarantees of success in publishing (never mind self-publishing, which brings a lot of novices to the table).
BUT . . .
There are certain types of research that you can do beforehand to guarantee a modicum of success, eg, keyword and niche publishing research.
I discuss this in the ebook pullout, Make Money Selling Ebooks: How to Make Sure Your Ebook Will Sell Before You Write It.
There are a whole bunch of things surfers online want to know about. Many of them present prime opportunities for wannabe self publishers to write an ebook about. It all starts with keyword research.
Again, while no one under the sun can guarantee you a certain number of sales when you write an ebook (or any type of book), there is a way to gauge what your potential audience will be BEFORE you sit down to write.
To Make Money Selling Ebooks Online, Here’s When to Ignore “Research”
I always advise potential self publishers to write what they know about and/or have an interest in – regardless of what research says. Why?
Because when you’re passionate about a topic, no one can bring your “verve” (for lack of a better word) to the topic. And, as the success of an ebook is 90% marketing and 10% writing, you have to be passionate about the topic to do what’s necessary to get sales after the writing is done.
You see, in ebook writing and self publishing, the REAL work comes after the darn thing has been written. To promote it, you have to write articles (article marketing), answer buyer queries, do press releases, blog, etc., about it.
This leads us to the next question . . .
EBOOK WRITING /SELF-PUBLISHING QUESTION: Do you find an ongoing, royalty stream from your ebooks? Or do the books require constant promotional activity?
In 2010, for the first time, over half of my annual income came from products I created (ebooks/seminars). I expect it to be more than 75% this year. And yes, they require a helluva lot of promotion.
I blog, write and distribute two newsletters, engage in social media, write press releases, answer questions, do guest blog posts, etc., to get the word out about my products. As I told the gentlemen who wrote in asking these questions, it’s practically my full-time job. So, I’m fortunate.
I put this out there so you, as a potential ebook author, will know that it’s not like you can just write an ebook then sit back and wait for sales to come in.
I don’t care how great your ebook is, if you don’t promote it, you’re not going to make very many (or any) sales; that is, unless you’re some guru who has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and//or who subscribe to your newsletter. Most of us aren’t this lucky.
Consider this: did you know that Americans receive anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 marketing messages a day?
How in the world will yours get through? Constant marketing; that’s how.
It’s the same reason Nike, Burger King and McDonald’s still advertise – out of sight is out of mind, especially in today’s world of multimedia. So even the giants still have to fight to stay present in their customers’ mind.
EBOOK WRITING /SELF-PUBLISHING QUESTION: Do you write your promotional articles as you’re writing the book?
If you do your research beforehand, your chapters will be organized so that you will answer “natural” questions that anyone who is interested in your subject matter will want answered.
Writing and Selling Ebooks Online: What Makes an Ebook “Saleable?”
These are the questions that you should address in your ebook. This is what, by the way, makes a great ebook; one that answers obvious questions. This material will also serve as great content for articles. So, while I don’t write promotional articles while writing my ebooks, I do write with the idea of “reader questions” in mind.
Remember, what makes a great “promotional article” is the dispensing of helpful information. This is the EXACT material a good ebook should answer.
So if you write with your reader in mind, you will have at hand the material for a great ebook – and the material for great “promotional articles” as well. The two are not mutually exclusive; they are, in fact, simpatico.
I hope this has given you some insight into what it takes to be a successful ebook self publisher.
Imagine Receiving Royalty Payments from Worldwide Sales for Ebooks You Created – Every Month
Just this month, I received my first payment from Amazon EU (European sales); Amazon trails 60 days behind in payments received/actual payouts. This was in addition to my regular Amazon ebook sales payout (American sales only).
And, the amounts are increasing each month. I can’t begin to explain to you what it feels like to receive “royalty payments” on books I created. And, this is with only 7 titles to my name to date.
This makes me work that much harder to get those 50 titles on Amazon by year’s end.
Seeing dreams come true; dreams you set your mind to and work towards tirelessly toward – well there’s just about no greater reward. I told my sister:
I can easily see breaking 4 figures a month within a year, and 5 within a couple of years.
If self-publishing (even one title) is a dream of yours, join us in the next ebook writing and publishing tournament coming up next Monday. You won’t regret it, I promise.
P.S.: Start Building Your Own Information Empire: The Ebook Writing Tournament is Less Than a Month Away (May 9th): Write an Ebook in 3 Days! FINALLY get that ebook you’ve been wanting to write done in Inkwell Editorial’s “How to Write an Ebook in 3 Days Market It & Start Getting Sales within a Week” Ebook Writing & Publishing Tournament.
P.P.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please? Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.