Most wannabe authors cannot handle the truth
A student on a Writing, Publishing, Marketing, and Selling Your First Book course I teach online recently asked me how quickly they could expect to earn $5,000 on the various eBook and Print on Demand publishing platforms I recommend working with.
Wow, there are so many unknown variables here, this was a question that was almost impossible to answer.
It was time for a “tough love” response because I doubted the motivation my student had for becoming an author was coming from the right place and I didn’t want my student to waste their time and money chasing false hopes.
Writing a book is difficult and despite countless online publishing gurus telling you otherwise, it’s not a quick route to fame and fortune and the dream of giving up the nine-to-five.
The average self-published book will be lucky to sell more than a few hundred copies. Most won’t even get that far. If you really want to write a book, you should probably judge your success by the fact you have actually finished your manuscript and some people (beyond your friends and family) have expressed an interest in reading it.
If that’s not put you off and you still want to write, consider the following:
First and foremost, you’ll need to write a good book that people will not only want to read but also want to tell their friends about. A badly written book will soon out itself and be next to impossible to sell and may negatively impact on your reputation. Nobody wants this. Those cut and paste, get rich quick solutions to finding success as an author will always be sub-par and so are always best avoided.
However, even writing the best book you can won’t guarantee your success.
You’ll have to put in the work to actively sell your book to anyone who shows the slightest interest in your work. It will almost certainly help if you have a large social media following and/or email marketing list to promote your work. You’ll need to place your book into the hands of the media, attend every possible speaking engagement, and fight for every positive review you receive.
BTW — If you want to see how one of the authors I work with hustled her way to publishing success, check out this post about Lowri Madoc.
Yes, writing a book is difficult but selling one is even more difficult.
If your first thought about writing a book is how quickly you can make some serious money, you’re probably in the wrong game. However, if work hard to write the right book and get it into the hands of the right readers and good things will follow.
Those good things won’t always be royalties from book sales. They might present themselves as opportunities in other forms.
Writing my first book (I’ve written another four since then) was the best thing I’ve ever done both creatively and professionally. It’s opened so many doors for me. It created opportunities to travel the world and meet and work with interesting people, who were inspired by my book and in turn helped inspired my later books. Yes, it has helped me generate an income — but that all took a lot of hard work and required an element of risk and, at the end of the day, and like most other authors, I’ve never given up the day job.