Do best-selling authors become millionaires? How can a writer make money outside of selling books?
In this episode, I want to talk about this false belief society has instilled into the public mind about writers not being able to make money.
I know millionaire writers, which proves that you can earn a generous amount of income practicing this art. However, you have to look beyond publishing and be willing to establish a long-lasting relationship with your readers.
Stick around until the end of this episode, as I share the different ways you can boost your income, credibility, and influence in the world as a writer!
If you haven’t listened to episode 2 where I talk about the ways you can see more stories like yours on the bookshelves, then go back and check it out!
I want to know who you are and where you’ve been! Come hang out with me in the Writers Squad Facebook group and over on Instagram @laurenmariefleming. I can’t wait to chat with you there!
You can also stay tuned for new weekly episodes @businessschoolforwriters, and if you want to spread the love even further, consider subscribing, rating, and reviewing!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
– Don’t waste decades of your life waiting to publish your book!
Path To Publish is a step by step roadmap to help you get your story out into the world. Check it out HERE.
People are spreading a nasty rumor. It’s one I’ve heard my whole life: “You cannot make money being a writer.”
I’m here to tell you that is absolute bullshit.
If J.K. Rowling didn’t give away most of her wealth, she would be one of the richest people in the world. In the world! Move over tech dorks, book nerds are taking over the rich lists.
Now you might be saying, sure, but that’s Harry Potter, come on. My book could never be as popular as that.
Maybe that’s true. But JK Rowling isn’t alone in her success. Stephen King, Danielle Steel, EL James, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, and Rick Riordan are just a few of the authors listed on Forbes Magazine’s list of millionaire writers, all of them having done at least $11 million in book sales in their lifetime.
And that list doesn’t include the countless entrepreneurs who have used books to amplify their voices, build brands, and sell other things like coaching, online courses, retreats, and physical products.
I know millionaire writers! But I don’t know a single person who make a living from book sales alone.
I’m going to repeat that because I think writers need to hear it more: you will not make it on book sales alone.
All of the people I named above had movies, TV shows, speaking gigs, courses they taught to boost their income. And in turn, those things boosted book sales.
When you’re looking at publishing a book, you have to think about what it means beyond just the immediate book deal with a publisher or royalties, or self-publishing sales. You need to think about more than just that one book you’re selling to that one reader.
Think of your book not as the final destination, but as the first conversation you have with someone, a way of welcoming them on a journey they’re going to take with you.
For example, my book, Bawdy Love: 10 Steps to Profoundly Loving Your Body, was a part of a larger personal and professional effort to get people to let go of what society says their body should look like and embrace themselves as they are, right now, right here.
I wrote the book for three reasons: First, I wrote it because I personally need a physical manifesto out in the world, a declaration that I would no longer hate my body but instead love it. I created it as a program for myself first, and then shared with others, which makes for the best books, in my opinion.
Second, I wrote it because I was constantly asked being asked “where can I start on my journey to self-love?” Now, I had a book I can hand people when they ask me that, instead of sending them to a confusing list of all of the blog posts I’d written over the years.
Third, and most importantly monetarily, I wrote it to indoctrinate people into this business around self-love that I was creating. So then they’d come to one of my retreats or hear me speak at a conference or buy some of the merchandise or programs I created around the book.
My book not only became a way for me to share my message of self-love, but it also was a way for me to make a living as a writer.
If you’re writing non-fiction, this tends to be an easier concept for you to grasp. You’ve got a book, maybe personal development, maybe instructional, and in that book you’re teaching something. So, it’s easy to build other things around that teaching.
Courses. Coaching. Retreats. These are the typical and most popular options for that.
But this works for fiction as well.
How many times have you read a book and been so sad that your time with the characters is over that you’d have paid money to explore their world more? Think about the kind of bonuses you could offer your readers. Character portraits, offshoot short stories featuring minor characters, backstories not included in the main text.
For example, as I write my latest yet-to-be-published-novel, I’m collecting backstory, images, and deleted scenes to package up and give to readers once it’s out in the world. My characters are rich and famous, so I’ve got outfits I put together for them or screenshots of mansions I based their homes on. I like to create backstory essays so my characters have depth, so I keep those and add them to the list of bonuses available to readers on my site.
Once the readers download those bonuses, I’ll have their email to send them updates on my courses, programs, or this podcast.
I’ve done this before, and readers love it. It’s like the deleted scenes or directors cut bonuses you get with a movie. Fans love that stuff.
All those things your editor made you cut, you can package up and sell to readers or give away as a bonus to get their email address, which you can then use later to sell your next book, course, or whatever you decide to do to help boost your income beyond just books.
One of the biggest ways writers I know make money is on speaking at colleges and conferences. Having published a book gives you the credibility and access to press, speaking bureaus, and conference panels in a way just being an “expert” who did not write a book does not.
Plus, getting on stage helps you sell more books, so it’s a symbiotic relationship between book sales and getting yourself our there in other ways to make money as a writer. One supports the other.
So, to answer the biggest question I get: can you really make money off of book publishing? My answer is a resounding YES!
Having a published book out in the world can significantly increase your income, credibility, and influence in the world, but you have to think of it holistically, like an entrepreneur, as a part of a larger plan for your brand and business.
I hope this has inspired you to ditch that starving artist cliché and thrive.
If you’d like more support making money as a writer, check out my Writers Squad Facebook Group at facebook.com/groups/writerssquad. It’s full of writers like you looking for creative and financial fulfillment.
Hope to see you in the Writers Squad. And I cannot wait to read your book.