Can you make a career as a self-published author? Here are some tips to developing an author career that will bring you a steady, dependable income.
Be Ready to Invest the Time as a Self-Published Author
Few writers can become self-sufficient as a self-published author immediately. If you’re very lucky, you can write a book that captures the public’s imagination and becomes a huge hit. That’s what happened with the self-published author of Fifty Shades of Gray, which was a work of fan fiction that became a best-seller and a series of movies.
You can’t count on that same luck. If you want to develop a career as a self-published author, you must invest time in writing, producing books at a steady pace, and building an audience. It can be done, but it probably won’t be overnight.
Understand How Royalties Work
Royalties are the way authors make money from their books. A royalty is a set percentage of every book sold. Most publishing contracts have a 10% royalty. If your book sells $100,000 worth of copies, you get $10,000.
Some publishers also offer advances. Typically, these advances are reserved for celebrity authors or those with a proven track record. It’s not typical to offer an advance to an unknown, first-time writer.
Why does the publishing company get 90%? Remember, a publisher must pay for:
- Cover design
- Author promotions
As a self-published author, you’re responsible for paying for all these things yourself.
How Does a Self-Published Author Make Money?
There are three ways you can make money as a self-published author. You can sell e-books on your website, you can sell on a publishing platform, or you can print your book and market the hard copies.
In self-publishing, you can expect royalties of 70% or more. That’s because you’re responsible for the production and printing.
How to Make Money Selling E-Books
E-books are a popular way for a self-published author to market themselves. Most e-books on websites are nonfiction how-to books on a subject the author is an expert on.
Some people sell their e-books on their websites. For instance, on a blog about natural health remedies, the author may list a book for sale on herbal remedies and another on using acupuncture to heal ailments. If someone is on that website, they are presumably interested in those topics, and they may be interested enough to pay for and download a book on the topic.
Some writers give their e-books away free in exchange for a customer’s email address. It’s a marketing tactic designed to build the writer’s email community. Many use these emails to send weekly or monthly newsletters. Newsletters build audiences and can lead to interest in other things the writer offers later, including courses, paid memberships, and books.
What are the benefits of selling e-books?
- It’s a form of passive income. Once you write the books, you can keep selling them to new readers with only a little effort on your part. Focus on getting a large e-mail list to grow your fanbase.
- You can prove yourself as an expert. If you want to market your work, you can point to books on the subject that you’ve written and that people have paid to read or downloaded for free.
- The cost is low. Writing an e-book means you don’t have to spend money on printing. Your main costs will be building a website and marketing it. You can use your e-book to develop a loyal fanbase.
- You can write them on any subject. The best subjects are those that don’t change often, so you don’t have to worry about constantly updating your book.
What are the downsides of selling e-books?
- There aren’t that many. This model tends to work better for nonfiction books, however. Most people who want to download books right away are looking for practical guides. They’re not looking for fiction. Online e-books are an excellent way to build a self-published author career, especially if you are selling nonfiction books.
How to Make Money on Self-Publishing Platforms
Almost every self-published author has considered a self-publishing platform. It’s possible to build a self-published author career using one.
A self-publishing platform allows you to offer your book to the world in an online format. There are two types: retailers and aggregators. Retailers sell books directly to readers. Aggregators sell books to large numbers of retailers through a single service.
Which one is right for you?
With a retailer, you upload your book and begin marketing it directly to individual buyers. The cost is low. The downside is that each platform requires a strict format for your book, and failure to use that format means your book won’t be accepted.
Choosing an aggregator means you only have to upload your book one time. It will be sent to many different retailers, and the aggregator will take care of the formatting. That saves you a lot of time, but you may have to pay other fees or part of your royalties.
Choose your platform
In the world of retail platforms, you also have two options. Do-it-yourself (DIY) platforms and one-stop platforms. If you use a DIY platform, you must handle the formatting, cover art, proofreading, layout, and marketing. If you choose a one-stop publishing platform, you pay a flat fee to have someone else do all that for you.
The most popular DIY retail platforms are:
- Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)
- Apple Books
- Barnes & Noble Press
- Google Play Books Partner Center
Your choice depends on the amount of work you want to put into your book. If you want a successful self-published author career, you must commit to producing high-quality books with great covers, attractive layouts, and no proofreading errors. You must also commit time and money to marketing your book.
Benefits of publishing on a self-publishing platform
- It has options for all budgets. If you want a high-quality book, you can spend the money you need to produce and market it. If you don’t have a large budget and just want to see your book in print, you can do it for little cost.
- You’ll make higher royalties. Royalty payouts on self-publishing platforms are high. You will typically make 70% or more of your sales.
- You have control over your book. When you are a self-published author on a platform, you control the design, marketing, artwork, and distribution.
Downsides of publishing on a self-publishing platform
- There is a lot of competition. The self-publishing world has exploded. If you want your book to stand out, it must be professionally designed and have a solid marketing campaign behind it.
- You must make an investment in your self-published author career. You must be prepared to spend the money necessary to produce and sell your books.
Should you offer books online, in print, or both?
Everyone loves options, and many readers still prefer to read printed books. If you want to reach the largest possible audience, offer your books in both formats.
How to Make Money Selling Your Printed Books
Getting your book professionally bound and printed is an exciting process. It also helps you create a “real” book at a price that may be less than using a self-publishing platform.
There are several ways to become a successful self-published author using this method. Here are some proven techniques.
- Set up an author website. An author website is a proven way to establish yourself as a self-published author. Build an attractive website, and focus on building a readership, e-mail list, and other ways to promote your writing. Sell your books directly from your website to readers.
- Use social media. There are many ways to reach your audience. Start a podcast dedicated to the genre you write in. You’ll attract listeners who want to talk about books and writing, and they’ll be a built-in audience for your book. Set up Facebook groups. Promote yourself on Instagram and other sites.
- Attend book fairs and fan conventions. Rent a booth at a bookselling exposition or fan gathering. Use it to display and sell your book.
Advantages of selling your own printed books
- You keep all the money. Once you’ve spent the money to produce and print the book, you keep all your profits.
- You’re in control. Self-publishing gives you control over how your book looks. Selling it yourself lets you decide how to market it.
- You can combine it with other selling methods. Use all the methods we’ve listed here in combination. That will give you the winning edge in your author career.
Disadvantages of selling your own printed books
- It can take some time. If you’re a first-time writer, it may take a while to get your name and your book recognized.
Boost Your Self-Published Author Career with Professional Printing
Getting your book professionally printed is the first step in producing a beautiful book you’ll be proud to sell. Contact Dazzle Printing to get started.