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How to Make Money in Self-Publishing in 2018: 7 Tips from a Self-Published Author of Almost 100 Books

Sometimes when you blog, it can feel like you’re blogging into ether because it seems like no one is listening. My blog has never gotten a lot of comments, but every couple of weeks, I’ll get an email that will just blow me away. It reminds me that there are some listeners are there; that people are not only listening, but actively taking the advice and using it to change their lives.

The following is one such email I received from a self-published author – who broke the six-figure mark. And, she credits posts she read on this blog for that, and for getting her into self-publishing in the first place.

Following is part of what she said, and why I wrote today’s post. The dawn of a New Year is when many of us turn our attention to goals we want to accomplish. And while “now” is always the best time to start anything in my opinion, if the New Year is what spurs you, then I hope this post inspires you to get going.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

A Self-Published Author Breaks the 6-Figure Mark (You Can Too!)

First, I want to let you know – again – how much I appreciate your blog. You’ve inspired me on so many avenues about writing and kept me moving when things weren’t so good. As you know, it’s easy, as a writer, to undercharge for our services and/or give it away for free and you have encouraged against this so many times. You were so right.

I struggled many years and I’ve done it all – copyediting, academic ghostwriting, transcription, article writing (for pennies) – but it didn’t all click until about five years ago when I actually sat down and wrote my own book. BAM! I would love someday to be like you and live in the Caribbean where I can live and work:) Many years ago, the first article you wrote about doing that…you were either thinking about it, planning the book – caught my attention and I’ve been reading your blog ever since.

[Earning] $100k only happened once (last year) and hopefully I should be close this year as well. It’s been going up and up and, like you, I’m all about making multiple income streams. That’s the fun part! I added coaching sessions based on my blog and book and it was THEN that things took off.

Next will be an online course and I’m recording podcasts for that right now which I am excited about. I will likely take YOUR course about it to learn more. Also, about once or twice a year, someone that I coach will have a great book idea (for themselves) and I will encourage them to do it and then help with that. …

I’ll do all the editing, some ghostwriting, and all areas of self-publishing. This has really proven to give my income a boost. So, although it’s not all about the self-publishing, everything I do has come to pass because of that. I’ve got several fiction stories half written and plan to do that too…. THIS is why I’ve got to break down and get the help for the tasks that bog me down…lol. Now you’ve motivated me to do that as well…thank you!

Working for ourselves just rocks and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. …

Super inspiring, right?!

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How to Make Money in Self-Publishing in 2018: 7 Tips

I was floored when I read that email and actually got a little teary. So if self-publishing is something you’ve been wanting to do, following are seven of my best tips on how to make your author dreams a reality in 2018.

I. Prepare Mentally for the Slog

I start with this because I firmly believe that if your head is not right, you’ll give up before you even get started. So prepare for this to be a marathon, not a sprint. Your first book might do well or it might bomb, but don’t even worry about it. Celebrate the fact that you finished a book, then get going on the next one, which is always your best marketing tool by the way.

My first romance novel bombed, and it took almost a year before I wrote the next one. But I’m glad it happened, because as I explained in this guest post on HorkeyHandbook:

Well, that first flop turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it’s what made me do some research on exactly what it takes to make money writing romance.

Forty-five romances later – some with googobs of sales; some selling nota single copy in months — I’m still writing. Money in self-publishing is made in volume for the most part, no matter your niche. So be prepared for this – and keep writing.

II. Decide on a Niche/GenreHow to Make Money Self-Publishing Ebooks: Tips from a Self-Published Author of Almost 100 Ebooks

I write non-fiction and fiction (romance). My fiction outsells my non-fiction by a landslide. Because I write in the number-one selling book genre of all time (romance), it’s hard NOT to get sales.

If you’re a decent writer (you don’t even have to be a very good one); and can create characters readers can relate to, you can find an audience as a romance writer. That’s just the truth.

I’ve seen some horrible self-published stories on Amazon – but you can tell by the numbers, they’re selling. Now strive to be better, of course. But don’t think it’s something that can’t be done. But, I digress.

Staying true to the title of this post, if you want to make a living as a self-published author, do your research on niche. Choose one where it’s easier to make money; notice I didn’t say easy; I said easier.

For example, I happen to know that it’s harder to make money writing horror than it is to make money writing romance. Now I’m not saying that if horror is close to your heart and that’s what you love to write don’t go for it. You can never, ever discount passion.

But maybe make that your second niche — for now. If making money is important to you, go the easier route. Select a popular niche where it’s easier to find an audience and start earning.

III. Have Prolific Output

Once you get your niche down, then it’s time to put the pedal to the medal and start pumping out titles. I once wrote 44 novellas (short fiction romance) in 22 months. I don’t advise that, but I also know of authors who’ve written 100 titles in a year (also shorties). And yes, short fiction sells.

For 2018, my goal is to write one book per month. Totally doable as mine tend to be in the 20,000 to 30,000-word range. I’ve written them as short as 10,000 words, and as long as 40,000, but my comfort range is 20,000 to 30,000 words (usually about 25,000 words).

Again, in my experience, money is made in self-publishing by volume, especially in romance. So pump those titles out.

Tip: Write sequels. If a book 1 does well, do a sequel. Readers love them (if they’re written well) and it’s an easy way to make more money seamlessly as a self-published author.

Four of my best sellers are sequels: A Lover for Beth, Ruthless Love, A Taste of Tara and Priced Out of Love. None of them were planned. I waited to see if the first book was going to sell well. Why?

Because there’s nothing more soul-draining than writing a sequel to a book that did poorly in sales. It saps my creativity. So I wait for sales on book 1; if it does well, then I know that a percentage of its buyers will buy a book 2, and so on.

IV. Daily Word Count

As in, hold yourself to a daily word count. This will ensure that your output is consistent. To write 12 books in 2018, my daily word count is going to be 1,500 (I only count writing 5 days a week).

This is more than enough time to turn out a 20,000 to 30,000 word book, and get it proofed and uploaded. FYI, here’s an easy way to distribute your books in lots of places.

V. Line Up Help

Sites like Fiverr make it hella easy to find things like affordable proofreaders, copy editors, cover artists, etc. Don’t even get in the habit of trying to do everything yourself.

I did it for years and it’s one of the biggest mistakes I made as an indie author. Hire help. Even if you set aside just a $100 to $200 budget initially, it can be used to get some cover art done and hire a proofreader. That way, you can outsource these functions and get started on your next book.

This also means you’re much more likely to treat yourself-publishing career like a business from jump. Businesses spend money to make money. And if you’re spending money, trust me, you’ll work like hell to make it back!

So plan to spend a few bucks. It’s an investment that could pay off bigger than you ever expected.

VI. Don’t Worry about Sales

I know this may sound counterintuitive, but don’t worry about sales early in your self-publishing career. Yeah, keep an eye on them to see if you should, for example, write a sequel or do a spin-off (another great way to sell more books by the way), but don’t stress about them. It makes it too easy to talk yourself into giving up.

Here’s why? Most of your sales will come from just a few of your books. In the research I’ve done, this holds true for almost every author – self-published and traditionally published. What this means is a couple of things:

(i) You’re much more likely to have a “hit” the more you publish; and

(ii) A lot of the books you write won’t sell well.

If you know and accept this going in, writing will be much more fun because you’ll more likely to take the long-range view of “Maybe this will be the one.”

Another thing you should know is, you can’t predict what the breakout book(s) is going to be. When A Lover for Beth took off, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. I didn’t think it was my best book (I think my first one is better – 3 Weeks til Forever), but readers like what they like.

If everybody knew the formula, trust me, the Big 5 or 6 New York City publishing houses would never publish another dud. But nobody can predict it, so don’t rack your brain trying. Just keep writing and let the chips fall where they may.

VII. Keep Publishing

Keep writing and publishing, for all of the reasons cited herein.

My best month as a self-published author of romance was approximately $3,200. I hit the $2,000 mark in exactly six months. In my opinion, I would be earning five figures per month if I hadn’t stopped publishing romance in 2016. I took a break because I was burned out, and when Amazon starting offering its subscription service in 2014, it killed sales for a lot of self-publishers – me included.

I was discouraged, and I let that affect my business decision-making. Big mistake!

Companies are gonna do what they’re gonna do. I should have taken some time off to assess with a cooler head (instead of my “creative” heart). Romance sells – a lot. It always has and always will. I had built up an audience. My income didn’t depend totally on my romance sales. And even though my sales tanked, they held steady after a while.

All of that said – I should have continued to publish. Now that I’m back on the bandwagon, I’ll never quit again.

Bonus Tip

Create multiple streams of income, eg, write for clients or do affiliate marketing , or become a VA while you get your self-publishing career off the ground. It’s all in the freelance/writing realm. And, if you have steady money coming in, you’ll be less stressed and more likely to stick with your self-publishing dreams through the tough times.

Conclusion

I’ve been self-publishing ebooks since 2002. To date, I’ve self-published almost 100 (fiction and non-fiction). Yesterday, I finished my 45th romance novella (first one in over a year). Woot! Woot! And one of my goals for next year is to published 12; one per month.

And the reason I do it is because it’s a way to make money practically on auto-pilot – separate and apart from client projects. And ebooks (especially fiction) can sell forever. Even though I hadn’t published a romance novel in over a year, I still earn $200 to $500 per month from the ones I published mostly from 2014 to 2016.

Here’s to achieving your self-publishing dreams in 2018 – and beyond.

P.S.: Learn How to Start a Successful Romance Writing Career.

Free Ecourse: How to Make Money Writing Romance

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