So, you want to earn a nice five figure or even a six figure income as a nonfiction author?
Many writers hope to earn a full-time income from book sales and royalties and fail. Here’s why…
Most authors just don’t understand what it takes to actually earn a significant income from book sales.
What it Takes to Sell Thousands of Books a Month
You must 1) create massive value for your audience regularly and 2) focus on a large, receptive market.
Without doing both of these things, it’s going to be very difficult to earn any serious income from royalties.
For example, I have a friend who hires ghostwriters and publishes 30-50 ebooks a month in various small markets and niches. Each little book only does about $50/m in royalties, but since he has so many, he earns a nice profit. At $50/m, you would have to write 100 books to earn $5,000/m (or hire ghostwriters to write them).
In many niche nonfiction markets, you would be lucky to even earn $50 a month from book sales with no platform or audience.
Why would you be lucky to earn $50 a month from a parenting ebook or a book on dog training?
Because 1) it’s a small market and 2) you have no audience, no following, no one who knows who you are, and no email list or system for following up with your readers and staying connected with them.
The 80/20 Rule of Book Sales
Furthermore, book sales, like almost all product sales, follow the 80/20 rule. That means 80% of your sales will come from only 20% of your books.
Unless you have several books, you might well be stuck with only the 80% of books that generate 20% of your profits and have very little sales simply because you don’t have enough published content.
This is a common mistake of authors who write only two or three books, see poor sales figures, and then quit. Luck plays a huge part in publishing despite what many authors, publishers and agents seem to think, especially when the author has no platform or marketing systems in place.
You never know which book will be the one that brings in most of your sales until it’s all written and published.
So, if you want to earn more money and sell more books, you can choose a bigger market and potentially earn more from your books.
The three biggest nonfiction book markets are:
1) Health and wellness
2) Money and finance
3) Dating and relationships
But if you write for these markets, then you have a lot more competition. And so you must learn how to stand out from all those other authors.
The only way to guarantee you can do that is to constantly be creating valuable content for your audience.
In addition to writing books, this could be creating a valuable email newsletter, educational or helpful videos on YouTube, creating a podcast show where you provide educational information or interview experts in your field, blogging, social media, public speaking, and more.
If you want to earn a consistent six figure income from book sales, you would have to publish numerous books in a big market and build an active following and platform using one or several of the above-mentioned tools on a daily basis.
That takes serious work and commitment above and beyond simply writing a book. You have to become “the expert” in your field and be constantly creating great stuff for your audience to attract new readers and keep them coming back.
How will readers find your books?
How will you build a loyal fan base and continue to stay in touch with them? Without an email list, blog, video channel, podcast show, social media, or a combination of all of these, you’re simply playing roulette.
Maybe you get lucky and your book goes viral and you sell a few hundred thousand copies. But then sales will fizzle out and disappear because you have no way to build or maintain your platform without a channel or medium for your customers to stay connected with you such as an email list, YouTube channel, social media page, blog, etc.
Anyone can publish a book and get lucky. Creating sustainable, consistent income and growing your audience takes commitment and dedication far beyond what it takes to write one or several books.
Without doing all that marketing, your only other option to earn a consistent six figure income from book sales is to write literally hundreds of books with each one only selling a few copies a month on average. To do so takes little to no marketing talent or skill, although it does require an awful lot of writing.
Regardless of whether you decide to self publish or sign with a traditional or independent publisher, you will still have to learn how to build your platform and stay connected with your audience regularly to maximize your income.
You must understand that your publisher cannot do these things for you.
Can your publisher respond to emails from readers on your behalf? Can they build your email list for you and write regular, entertaining and educational messages to your email list? Can they regularly write blog articles for you? Can a publisher manage your Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages? Can a publisher create and maintain your podcast show and YouTube channel for you?
Of course not!
We can provide training videos and educational materials to teach you how to market yourself and your books, but at the end of the day it’s you who must build your own author platform.
That is what you as an author-entrepreneur must learn to do. You don’t have to do it all. But doing nothing other than writing a book is a sure way to fail to earn a significant income as a nonfiction author.
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.