Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish Part 2: Not Preparing Financially

I once paid $300 for a book cover. At the time, I couldn’t afford to spend that kind of money on a cover. Not only did I not have the money, but even if I did, I couldn’t afford to invest it into a book cover when there were, as I saw it, much more severe priorities in front of me. But, I was young and excited, and I wanted to publish this book, and I wanted that cover.

But I was broke, broke.

So, what did I do?

I set up a GoFundMe.

I went around to people I knew and explained my vision and why I was raising the money. I (and get this) talked to people.

And I don’t like talking to people.

Not only did I make enough to purchase the cover I wanted, but I also made that money right back at a Book Signing in Chicago.

It was 2014, and we were at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel. I had just released my first screenplay, which, interestingly enough, is the book that inspired The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen.

I made that $300 back and then some.

You might be thinking, “But, EC, if you couldn’t afford to pay for a book cover, how did you cover editing?”

I didn’t. I had a friend edit the book, which is why it is retired today.

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Photo by Annelies Geneyn on Unsplash

Self-Publishing is an area where the term, Proper preparation prevents pissed poor performance holds much weight. We don’t talk about it enough, but financial planning is part of the basics of Self-Publishing.

Self-Publishing requires a mindset shift regarding how you feel about yourself and how you look at your finances. One of the first things I’ve noticed in my journey is that most first-time Self-Publishers haven’t decided if they are publishing this book for themselves or publishing the book for others to read.

Did I confuse you there? Read on.

Publishing for Yourself vs. Publishing a Book that Sells

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Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Publishing a book for yourself means you fulfill your dream of becoming a published author and want to give copies away to family and friends. It means you are not selling the book or wanting to create a business out of it; rather, you want to satisfy a desire for something you’ve always wanted to do.

In this case, it would not be necessary to put a lot of money into this project, mainly because you are not getting the money back through sales since you are not selling the book. You may decide to get your book cover made using a cover template from KDP or Lulu or a homemade cover from Canva. You might choose to have a friend edit the book for you or use free software for formatting. This would be sufficient for a book you don’t want to sell. There are tons of economical ways to publish a book for this purpose.

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But, suppose you are publishing this book because you want to leverage your business, spread your message and get it into as many hands as possible. Suppose you are a speaker and want to sell copies at your event, see your book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or get the book stocked at bookstores, libraries, and schools.

What if you are writing this book because you want other people to read it?

In this case, you must prepare for this journey from the mind of a business person and not only an author.

When you publish a book you intend to sell, you consider other factors outside of what you want from the book because this book isn’t only for you. You think about building a platform, the market, and you consider the financial obligation necessary to bring the vision forward. 

This isn’t to say write a book that doesn’t speak to your soul. It means you publish a book that speaks to your soul and the soul of others. It means you are publishing a book you see is needed in your community.

“You may have a robust knowledge of quantum computing but if everything the audience wants from you is how to use Microsoft Excel, give them just that. You write no book about quantum computing until you are able to build an audience around it.

Most self-published authors don’t do this. They do the exact opposite. They write what they like and try to figure out how to shove it down people’s throats.”

-David O, Entrepreneurs Handbook

Publishing a Book You Want to Sell Requires A Financial Investment

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Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Spending money on your book is only an investment if you have put a strategy in place designed to ensure how you will sell this book. This, in my experience, is the difference between publishing for yourself and publishing a book for other people to enjoy as well. Many authors who venture into Self-Publishing ignore the market, so the book doesn’t sell outside of close family and friends because they have written a book no one wants to read. 

When was the last time you bought a book by an author you have NOT been following for some time, on a subject you really don’t care about?

This is called Indie Author Basics because we focus on laying a strong foundation (a well-written and packaged book) to make it easier to build everything else on top of it. Too many new Indie Books are not attractive, not well-written, poorly produced, and is about topics no one cares about. As a result, the average self-published author makes less than $1,000 per year, according to a survey by Guardian in 2015, and a third of them make less than $500 per year.

What does this have to do with preparing financially?

When authors publish books they intend to sell for reasons outside of themselves, they are mentally prepared to invest the time and money to produce a high-quality product because they know they will get a return on their investment if done right.

Again, an investment isn’t just putting your money into something. Investing is putting your money into something you know will yield a return, either financially, mentally, or spiritually. It is the act of allocating resources with the expectation of generating an income or profit.

That’s why we had to talk about if you want to even publish this book to sell it first because not everyone wants to publish a book to sell it, but for those who do, financial investment is necessary.

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My dope $300 cover for my first screenplay

My books do not sit on the shelves with major traditionally published books (and sell) because I’m the best writer or because I have the best books or even the best marketing strategy. I also put good money into producing my books, among other things. I wasn’t going to say this, but it needs to be said that I practice what I preach.

It also needs to be said I am on a budget just like most of us, but I prepare early for this so that what I do invest into publishing my book isn’t coming from the money I need to grocery shop or pay bills. It is coming from the money I have saved and put away specifically for this project since I first decided I will publish the book. That’s how seriously I take my writing.

I am not saying spending lots of money on your book will guarantee sales. It won’t. You first have to publish a book people want to read.  (Although I got my money back from what I spent on the cover from the screenplay, the book did not continue to sell after that.) But, after that, making sure the book is well packaged plays its part too.

I am also not telling you to sell a leg to publish your book. There is nothing wrong with finding economical ways to publish (premade covers are cheaper than custom made), but if you try to find the cheapest way possible or skim on editing because you don’t want to put in the work, it will only cost you more in the end.


CLICK HERE FOR MORE INDIE AUTHOR BASICS WITH EC!

One Way Indie Authors Leave Money On the Table

Due to how the royalties are structured, an author with a 99cent ebook on Amazon will only get about 35 cents per sale. For books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, there is a delivery cost for the ebook file (based on the size) for each book sold.

You also pay Amazon a sales commission based on your royalty rate.

  • 35% royalty: the Amazon sales commission is 65% for books priced below $2.99 and above $9.99

  • 70% royalty: the Amazon sales commission is 30% for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99

What about taxes? 

You pay that too. 

These are just a few reasons why it can benefit you to sell your book directly to readers from your website.

While I have only made a few dollars in ebook sales from my new book, my print book preorder sales from my website are doing far better, and I am close to making money back from the cover art. By the time the book releases next month, I expect to make back what I paid for editing.

I am going to make this post real short because it’s real simple.

The hard truth is that if you are not selling books through your website or worse, you don’t have an author website, you are leaving money on the table.

While some authors have chosen not to deal with Amazon at all, it’s smart to make sure your book is on Amazon for a few reasons.

To start, Amazon is a giant. To have your book available there is just good sense. People trust Amazon, so some people will look for your book there before they look anywhere else. And with the pandemic, people use Amazon regularly. It’s all about making it easy for your readers, and being able to tell them to go to Amazon isn’t only super cool, but it’s also super easy.

But while Amazon is easily accessible to your readers, the relationship between Amazon and you as the author is a bit different.

There are tons of authors making good money from Amazon, but they are not the majority.

Here is an example from an author about his Amazon royalties:

“One month, I sold 5 paperbacks at a list of 13.99 each. The report stated the manufacturing cost was 5.33 (I assume each), and I’m on the 70% royalty. I got a total of 1.30 cents. That’s 26 cents a book. The next month I sold 1 paperback at 13.99, and I got a 3.13 royalty on it.”

The 2021 Guide to Amazon Fees and Royalties for Kindle eBooks and KDP Print, 2019, Comment Section

This is where your author website comes in to pick up the slack.

What if he had sold five paperback copies of this book from his author website? Since he would have to calculate shipping, let’s just round it up to a cool fifteen dollars per book. That’s $75 in his pocket. If he sells 20 books, that’s $300.

It might not sound like much, but it adds up if he sells books at this rate daily.

Even with website transaction fees, authors can still add more to their bank accounts by having their books on their websites alongside Amazon.

In closing, if you are a Self-Publisher, you can buy your books in bulk and sell them in bulk to companies and corporations like schools and independent bookstores.

Heck, you can sell the books out of the trunk of your car if you want.

The sky is not the limit of what you can do when you control the distribution of your own work.

Considering you are not signed to a publisher or are not restricted to any outside contracts that may otherwise prohibit you, you don’t have to be exclusive to Amazon. Instead, you use Amazon as one of many options.

For digital, you can set your book up on Draft2Digital to distribute it to several digital platforms outside of Amazon. For print, you can set your book up on Amazon KDP but also Ingram Spark for distribution to bookstores and libraries.


Ready to publish that book? I can assist with that. Click here.

Enjoyed this post? Check out more Indie Author Basics Here but hurry. I am changing things up soon. Details to come.


Don’t Forget to Preorder Your Copy of The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen! June is right around the corner.

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.

Preorder Now

Tightening Up the Business Structure of Your Writing

I have had this post sitting in my drafts since October 2019. I didn’t want to publish it until I had tightened up my own business structure and then Corona hit and I thought, “Maybe this isn’t appropriate right now” and I put it off. I have a habit of meditating on what I have to do throughout the day before I get up from the bed. This morning I thought, “Wait a minute, this could actually be the perfect time to present this information.”

Even though there aren’t many people working and the world is sick, this could be the perfect time for us to plan, organize, and restructure some things. The other day we cleaned out a closet that had served as the junk closet since we moved in, and Moshe (Husband) organized the garage. These days, we are paying attention to things we have neglected to give much attention to. Why not include our writing business too? Whether you will use this information now or later, this is an excellent time to give it some thought.

In the Beginning

For Self-Publishing a book, things are relatively easy in the beginning. You create a KDP account, connect your bank account (so you can get paid your royalties) and you are set. You can also create a PayPal account to collect funds from books bought through your website or blog and get a card reader to accept payments on the go, such as at book signings.

UPDATE: Card readers are becoming more outdated as apps like Cash App and Zelle become increasingly popular. I highly recommend authors to have a Cash App for book signings and festivals.

Next Level

Depending on your financial situation, it may be necessary to level up if you’ve been at this awhile.

How do you level up from this basic structure? How do you go from author to authorpreneur?

Author + Entrepreneurial Practices = Authorpreneur

An authorpreneur is an author with entrepreneurial practices. 

If publishing a book is like opening a business, you can do things to make sure you are running it like one.

It’s not 2008 and Self-Publishing is not what it used to be. The standards are higher.

Anyone can publish a book today (even if they aren’t good writers), by uploading a Word Document or PDF to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. In the past, this has brought down the quality of the prestigious process of book publishing and, specifically, Indie Book Publishing. Today, though, the stigma attached to Self-Publishing is fading, and authors who publish top-quality material are being separated from those who do not.

With the current Pandemic ravaging the world, realizing the value of Indie Publishing, social media, and doing business online is apparent now more than ever. A lot of brick and mortar bookstores are closed, and some will not reopen.

The basic system I started this post out as is good initially, but the Indie Author who goes beyond the bare minimum will set themselves apart from the pack.

Create a business name/structure that is legal and connected to a business bank account.

When your business grows, you will discover how important it is to have a legal business structure. It has done wonders for me and helps me keep up with how much is coming in and going out, which helps me have a realistic picture of my ROI or return on investment.  You work hard to write these books, publish them and spend good money to get them out into the world. Don’t let all this hard work go to waste.

You can get away with using a Pseudonym or creative business name at first, but if you are serious about using that name for specific projects, you will need it to be legit. What happens if someone sends you a check in your fake business name and you have not made it legal? Without a business bank account in that name, you will not be able to cash it.

    • Decide if you want to be a Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Corporation, Non-Profit (if you publish books for charity) or any other structure that suits you.

* Most people do not recommend a Sole Proprietorship, but it will work just fine. I am all about keeping things simple.

  • Set up a business bank account – You can set up your bank account once you have your business structure in place and monitor just how much is coming in from your book sales and other author endeavors separate from other forms of income. You will get a business debit/bank card and checks to use for your business. You can even establish a line of credit.
  • Creating a business structure can motivate you because you get to see your writing as a real business and not just a fancy play-name. You can get logos made if you want and do transactions under this name which comes in handy when completing W-9 forms and other paperwork that may be required for you to get paid.

Stay Legally Compliant

  • With a business structure, you will need to keep your business compliant with state and federal business laws. The requirements will vary based on your business structure. (For instance, the conditions are more strict for corporations than LLC’s). An example is that you may have to file once a year with a filing fee of maybe $30 to stay in compliance. The process is not tedious, and you may even be able to do it online. For details on staying compliant, you can visit the small business administration website here.

If you don’t stay compliant your business will fall into an inactive status.

Publish Your Books Under Your Own Imprint

Once you have your legal business structure and business bank account in place, it is time to publish your books like you own your business.

  • Buy Your ISBNs – The ISBN is a unique identifier for a book issued by an ISBN registration agency. In the US, this agency is Bowker.* In some other countries, the ISBN is free, but in the US they are not. They are expensive, so it’s best to buy them in bulk if you can. You can buy a block of ten which would cover ten separate paperback or hardcopy books. KDP, Lulu, and other POD (Print on Demand) companies do provide ISBNs for free if you absolutely cannot afford to buy one

But…

Free assigned ISBNs belong to the company that issues it, such as KDP or Lulu. This means they (KDP/Lulu/Other said company) are listed as the publishers of that book, not you.

*There are tons of fake ISBN companies out there. If you are in the US, be sure you purchase your ISBN from Bowker.

Once you have your own company, you will want to have your books listed under your company name. If you are the publisher, you should be listed as the publisher. If ownership is important to you, buying your own ISBNs is something you might want to look into.

With your company name legalized, your business structure secure, your EIN in hand, your bank account set up, and books under your ISBN, you have positioned yourself as a serious business person. It is now easier than ever for high-profile people to do business with you.

It’s easy to go the free route, but free is limiting, and it does not always set you apart. Creating an actual business complete with the necessary paperwork makes it easier for you to stay organized, file taxes, rise above the crowd, and stand out as a professional author.

Extra Tips

  • Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created. Don’t let scam publishing companies fool you by saying “Keep 100% of Your Copyright.” This means they are promising you something you already have. For publishing rights (different from copyright) all you have to do is buy your own ISBN. If you want to go the extra mile and register a copyright with the copyright office you can do that inexpensively at copyright.gov.
  • When tightening up your writing business, be sure you have both a paperback and a digital version of your book available.

I talk a lot about paperbacks because a). I have personally done better with paperbacks and b). authors can sell paperbacks through their own author website along with cool author swag and things instead of relying only on Amazon. However, that doesn’t negate the importance of having digital versions of your book available too. We are living in a digital age, and with everything being online, authors without digital books will be left out. Brick and Mortar bookstores without an online presence are struggling right now.

For those who sell paperbacks, consider lowering your print book price if you do not see sales. I love buying paperbacks from Indies, but a lot of them are also costly. I am not saying you can’t raise your price (I have a separate post about that here), that there aren’t people who will buy at that price, or that your book isn’t quality enough to sell that price.

I am only saying to be realistic.

Who is buying a $30 (plus s&h) 100-page paperback from an unknown first-time Self-Published Author?

Do what works for you, but make sure you are being practical.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

When I first drafted this post, I watched a video of Tyler Perry advising entrepreneurs. I am not a big Perry fan, but when people are advising about business, I listen. Perry talked about entrepreneurs learning when to let go. Here, he meant letting go of business practices that no longer serve you once your business grows. He spoke of not being so used to how it has always been done that we are not open to change. For example, Perry’s sister used to keep receipts in a folder, but as Tyler’s business grew, that kind of accounting system no longer worked for taxes. Not when you have over 400 employees.

As professional Indie Authors, we must have the same mindset. This may not be ideal for everyone, but if you fit one of these categories a legal business name and account may be worth it:

  • You’ve been publishing awhile and you are making a significant income from your books and services.
  • You want to separate your personal funds (finances from your day job or other income) from your book business.

Want more Indie Author Tips? Visit the Indie Author Basics with EC page here!


My Author Presence online now looks like this. Please take note of the new twitter handle and Facebook Page.
👉Instagram: @yecheilyah
👉Twitter: @yecheilyah

Indie Author Tip: Consider Raising Your Book Prices

My new book releases on May 30, 2018 and is $12.00 to pre-order the paperback (this includes shipping within the U.S.) and I am not ashamed of that. I am worth it. Surely, those who support me can spend $12 in support of an Independent Author who does it all herself. I am not signed with a traditional or small press publisher, Literary Korner Publishing is my business (spelled with a K on purpose) and I run it myself. This book will be available for pre-order in ebook soon at $2.99 and will go up once the book is out. This thought led me to an Indie Author Tip I thought I’d share.

UPDATE: Revolution is now available. ORDER HERE.

There’s nothing wrong with charging what you’re worth. There are lots of books on Amazon that are free. According to Google, there are between 40 – 60,000 free books swimming in the Amazon sea. Many of them are also poorly edited (if at all) and mediocre in production. If you’ve been publishing awhile, consider raising your book prices. Usually, when people pay for something, they invest their time in it because they don’t want to waste their money. Even if they dislike the book and feel like they did waste money, they still read it. Paying for anything adds value and when people buy something of value they feel committed to not wasting it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to sit on people’s Kindles. I write books so that people can read them. Not so that I can say I’m an author and feel awesome about myself. No. I write to be read.

  • People are more invested in things they pay for. Higher pricing means higher quality
  • Pricing is positioning
  • Pricing is not length but value

If you’re not a new author (meaning you have multiple titles out) consider raising your ebook prices above 99cents and I would go as far as to say to do this for preorders as well. The reason is like I already said, there are tons of books available for 99cents already and they are poorly produced. Even if you sweat blood writing your book, paid good money to edit your book and paid good money for a decent cover (not to mention if you paid for formatting), to some readers it won’t matter. They will see your price and ignore it on the way to the “good” stuff.

Some people are also brand buyers. This means that they only buy stuff that are named-brands. This could be a book, a shoe or an article of clothing. But many of us are not famous writers and we are not well known (yet). For this, we are inferior by definition. We are not actually inferior of course, but brand-buyers don’t care how cheap the book is if they never heard of the author or are not familiar with the writing. They are not going to buy the book no matter how cheap it is.

I am no one special and you don’t have to listen to me. I am sure there are better articles written by better writers. However, I do pay attention and my suggestion would be that if you are a new author (never published a book before), set your price to 99cents for pre-order for the ebook and then raise the price (not too high though, remember no one knows you yet) when the book releases. If you are not a new author (multiple titles out) and you know that your book is a good read (you got good feedback on it, you got it edited and all that) I would say to start setting your ebook pre-order prices higher than the 99cent price point.

I would recommend 99cents or free only for a limited time. Maybe your book is free for one day or 99cents for one week but I would recommend putting a limit on it. I think that Indie Publishing has progressed tremendously and that better quality books are expected. You would not see a famous traditionally published author (who actually writes good books) with an ebook for pre-order at 99cents and as a reader, I notice that books above 99cents are the books that are actually worth the read.


Nora White

Mock Book Two

Can you afford to be an Indie Author? | Angela J. Ford

Finances are a big deal when it comes to Indie Book Publishing. For those who want to do it right, it pays in more ways than one to have a budget for every book you intend to publish. Check out this article from Angela Ford on ways to break it down and later, I’ll publish a separate post on how I break down the costs for my very own books. Until then, enjoy:

“Can you afford to be an indie author? As independent authors, we have to be aware of the way cost plays into self-publishing. Cost can mean the difference between turning book publishing into a business versus having a very expensive hobby. The question is, how much is too much? When do you know if your books are bringing in a positive return on investment?” – Angela J. Ford

Keep reading through to the original article here.

The Broke Author’s Secret Weapon – A Guest Post By Yecheilyah Ysrayl

What’s the broke author’s secret weapon? My guest blog post with Kevin Morris.

K Morris - Poet

Thank you to Yecheilyah Ysrayl for the below guest post:

Can we be real?

Self-Publishing has opened the door for writers to finally make their dreams come true. Dreams that were hindered by way of jobs that got in the way of writing, Traditional Publishing rejections, children that parents needed to raise first, a school that needed to be finished first and a slew of other reasons that has stopped the passionate writer from producing a book.

Not only all of this but finances also play a part.

Self-Publishing has allowed people who have always wanted to write books an easy way to do so. With the industry changing and demanding more in the way of excellence and professionalism for the Indie Author (stigmas are fading and authors can no longer afford to produce mediocre work), it is no secret that financial strain is what stops many writers from either…

View original post 1,991 more words

Writing and Financial Stability – The Harsh Reality

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When I was in the eleventh grade, Mrs. Labno, my AP Lit teacher, gave us our end of the year assignment. We were to write an autobiography or rather, a condensed version of where we saw ourselves as adults. I still have that paper today and looking back on my own words I laugh. I was a trip. Having written it at sixteen and to be a published author today makes me feel two ways:

(1) I’ve kept my eyes on the prize, pursued my dream and made it a reality. Unlike many who evolve into wanting to be a writer, I’ve wanted to be an author since I was twelve. My career choice has never changed.

(2) I can see what my teacher was talking about and will be forever grateful for her insight about what I’d then rolled my eyes to, which was this:

When Mrs. Labno, the little lady whose students towered above her, saw that I wanted to be a published author with the big house on the hill and white picket fence, she was the first to give me the realness about money and writing: “You may want to do something else on the side.”

“What?” my sixteen-year-old self, rolled my eyes and concluded that Mrs. Labno didn’t know what she was talking about. I was brilliant, obviously. Who did she think she was to say that my dreams weren’t going to come true? Just wait until I publish my first book and it hits The New York Times Best Sellers List. I’ll show her.

Of course, I was at the age where we knew “everything”. This was also years before Amazon and Kindle so my aspirations were to be published the traditional route and I had no idea of queries and agents back then. In fact, I knew little to nothing at all. Except that I was going to be a famous writer.

Fourteen years and eight published and two unpublished books later I’m still waiting.

Though not talked about often, financial stability is the elephant in the room and a huge determinant for writers who consider doing this full time. By full time I mean to write exclusively, as in not having other streams of income. What’s frightening is that many ambitious writers do the unthinkable. They decided to Self-Publish a book so they quit their jobs and waited for the money to start pouring in. They are still waiting.

Is it possible to make enough money writing and publishing books that you can do it exclusively? Absolutely. Is it possible you will go broke quitting your day job after publishing your first book? Absolutely!

Mrs. Labno wasn’t saying that it was impossible to make enough money as a writer to live, but she was saying that it will take lots of time, hard work, dedication, and many books before an author sees the kind of return that will give them the comfort to quit their day jobs (Exception: write a killer book that gets you a major book deal from which you then start your own business and then live happily ever after).

Mrs. Labno was telling me that I should not put all my eggs in one basket, that I should have something else on the side that can help contribute to my income until my writing takes off instead of rely on writing alone. Thanks to her, I didn’t come into this field with the mindset that I’m going to make lots of money and neither do I write for these reasons. In fact, before I graduated college I started work as a Phlebotomist while I was writing. Because of this piece of advice, I didn’t come into this naïve and saved myself some heartache and guess what? I want to save you the false financial expectations too.

“As I’ve said many times before, most authors will be lucky enough to make enough from their writing to cover out-of-pocket cash expenses, let alone any kind of a profit at all. I’ve argued long and hard with those who express disappointment at the meager return they’ve seen, if any, for all their labor, but I am going to repeat again here—money should not be the reason you write or publish.” – Susan Toy

If you have not listened in at The Publishing Success Summit (Comprised of 65 Book Industry Experts – Published Authors, Author Platform Mentors, Designers, Editors, Literary Agents and Publishers) at the close of last year that I am sure you’ve seen floating around WordPress, then you have missed out. Well, sort of. I’ll be quoting some of those people in this article. Speaking of quoting, multi-millionaire Tom Antion’s interview was the most real to me. In it he said:

“Books are the high credibility. If you’re an author people give you credibility. But the bigger money is in the CDs, the coaching program, and the mentor program, and all the other stuff that you can sell.”

I’m not going to say successful authors because you don’t have to make lots of money to be successful. Instead I’ll say authors who are well off financially, do not just write books even if they did get that book deal. They may go on to:

  • Open and run their own publishing house
  • Travel and speak
  • Found their own product line of things outside of books

Sometimes credibility can create a deceptive view of an author’s financial success. What I mean is that sometimes for those of us who aren’t where we want to be, it’s easy to look at someone we perceive as “doing it” and think they’re making  a lot of money. It’s the reason you don’t ever compare yourself. You don’t really know how people are doing or what they really know. They can be far behind what you perceive or admire you when you think you are admiring them. Sometimes you can say something to someone assuming they don’t know anything and it turns out they are a well of information. Don’t assume people don’t know what you know and don’t compare your success to someone else. Stay humble.

Anywho, a lot of stuff looks good on paper but when it comes down to what authors actually make that’s when it becomes apparent most writers don’t make much.

Too many people are not being real about book publishing. Instead, we’re recycling information like vacuums and leaving out the realness. The truth is that everyone has bills to pay and unless you can pay your mortgage or rent, light bill and Comcast bills (they be tripping with those prices smh) off the back of your book sells alone, you may not want to quit your day job. It’s no different than starting any other business. The exceptions are:

  • Someone invests some serious money into your writing career. Like say if EC happens to meet and impress Oprah *Waves to Oprah* 😉
  • A Spouse who makes enough to take care of the both of you while you get your career off the ground (Can you say a blessing??).
  • You already own a business or receive government funding (retirement, SSI, Disability) that brings in considerable income.

Unless you are in one of these categories I mentioned, if you quit before you have a financial plan in place that will help you to live until your writing takes off, then you will have to beg people to buy your book just so you can put food on the table and unfortunately for you, book buying is not like other businesses.

It’s a lot more work to get someone to sit down and invest their time in reading a book than it is to convince them to buy a bar of soap or try this new recipe which is the real reason it’s hard to get reviews to be honest. People must invest their time into reading your book which tends to be a lot more expensive than money. If it does not look interesting no one will take a chance on it. It’s simply just a waste of their time. I don’t want to sound discouraging here but that’s just the truth. People will always put their happiness first. Before me and before you. Sad, but true. At the end of the day people are out for themselves.

Authorpreneurship

In my own journey to self-sufficiency, I’m learning that the best way to make a real financial gain from writing is to not just focus on writing and publishing books alone but to also consider what I can offer readers that are beyond the book. This has led to what is now being called Authorprenuership, or the combining of writing books with a business model.

Since writing books is a business, Authorprenuership is something that should be second nature for writers but unfortunately for many of us, it’s not. Instead, we tend to learn about Authorprenuership after the book is written instead of years before. Though a new term, Authorprenuership is the common business sense that’s been around forever. The term is new, the concept is not. It includes, but is not limited to:

  • Paid Public Speaking Engagements
  • Monetized Blogs
  • Podcasting
  • Videos
  • Online Courses
  • Radio Show Appearances
  • Coaching Programs
  • Mentoring Programs
  • Small Publishing Companies
  • Products such as Bookmarks, Coffee Mugs, T-Shirts, Ink Pens, Notebooks

The idea is to secure other streams of income around the book.

I wrote this article weeks ago, and it has sat in my Blog Post folder on my laptop for some time. After reading it repeatedly, I hesitated to publish this because I’m still on my own journey and I really wanted to make sense to you before presenting this information. It wasn’t until yesterday, while preparing for a radio show, that I decided to blow the electronic dust off this article and get it out of the drafts folder. While scrolling through twitter I came across Income expectations for self-publishing authors by Lieze Neven. I’m a big component of confirmations (meaning that when I pray on something I wait until the answer is confirmed before I act. A man may plan his way, but it is YAH Almighty that orders his steps, but I digress) and this was another one of the many articles I’ve come across about writers and finances. In it, Neven  provides a breakdown on how much authors make on Amazon and the rankings:

  • Most books on Amazon sell LESS than 10 copies a year. If you would price your book at $0.99 this would mean you get $3 per book per year. Auwch.
    At least 90% of the books on Amazon will make LESS than $100 a year says John K.
    A small handful of books, not more than 1000 – will hit the gold mine.

Here’s a breakdown of the Amazon ranks and what they mean.

Rank = 10: Avg daily sales to maintain rank = 1,289
Rank = 100: 191 daily sales
Rank = 1,000: 28 daily sales
Rank = 10,000 : 4 daily sales
Rank = 100,000 : 0.6 daily sales.

Even if these numbers aren’t exact, you get the point.

“Is it Worth It?”

I noticed in Liezen’s comment section that someone said that if these numbers are true then it’s not worth it except as a hobby. I disagree. Writing is always worth it!

Here’s the deal: Where do you want to be? What do you want? Imagine it. Write it down. Pray on it. Work toward it. Prepare for it. In the words of Oprah:

“I don’t believe in luck. To me luck is preparation meeting the moment of opportunity.”

What she said. Even though you may not be making the kind of money you want to right now see right now as an opportunity to prepare. You don’t want to wait until the door is open to have things together. You want to have your business plans and everything already in place when that moment comes, not scrambling to adjust. You want to have an engaging blog, engaging social media, book reviews, someone somewhere other than yourself talking about your work BEFORE the opportunity arrives. You never know who is watching you, reading your blog posts, your social media, or your author website.  So prepare for your time to shine.

  • Have a professional author photo across your social networks
  • Have business cards
  • Have an author website
  • Have a blog
  • Have an email list
  • Have a business plan
  • Have an author media kit or portfolio
  • Have book reviews
  • Have bookmarks showcasing your book covers
  • Have author interviews and guest posts
  • Host live book signing events and take pictures. Add this to your portfolio.

Have something ready to show that special someone that you are already working. Be professional. Be ready. (And authors? Please don’t leave a review or rating of your own books! As much as possible, let others do that kind of thing for you.)

Thirteen revisions and many weeks of putting it off later, I decided to put my big girl skin on and publish this post because I think it’s time we start being all the way real about the financial aspect of Self-Publishing. Yes, this is a great time to publish a book but in the words of Nina Amir, the marketplace is flooded, and flooded is probably an understatement. The marketplace is a Hurricane Katrina of books. If I throw a penny into the sea, unless that’s a special penny, it’s not going to make any dents. This means that unless you are willing to do the work (producing an excellent quality book, writing the book, promoting the book, building platform, speaking networking, blogging, etc.) then people will forget you.

I hope this has been helpful for those considering this route. Writing and publishing is both exciting and liberating but before quitting your day job remember, it takes time and security of multiple income streams to be able to be realistically financially independent. It takes establishing strong author platforms and building a business model around the book you wrote. The book is important because it gives you credibility and authority, establishing you as an expert on your topic. What gives you money? All those other things.

The moral of the story?

Don’t come into this hoping to make lots of money out the gate. That takes time. If you’re writing specifically for financial gain writing and publishing books is not the place for you. You’re in the wrong field.


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is an author, poet, blogger, book reviewer and author of “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) and other works. For updates sneak peeks of other projects, nuggets and tidbits, video tutorials, writing inspiration, and more, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.