"CAN I MAKE MONEY WRITING"
If you are reading this post, you are probably interested in the topic regardless of whether you are a new or existing self-published author. It is a bit lengthy, but loaded with valuable information and worth the read. None of what you are about to read based on my opinion. It is based on facts and data. I've wanted to write about this for some time and share what I do know, and what is already known that many do not take into consideration. I will create reference links to other articels along the way. This post is a cumulative summary of many hours of verified research. In addition, ou won't want to miss my video blog post next week on the topic, "Who Are Out Characters," as they related to the writer.
When it comes to social media, I don't care whether every one of your followers is real or bought. Whether every one of your likes is real or bought. The data does not change. Everyone wants to look popular. Personally, that is why I DO NOT believe in like buttons. In no way does it reflect whether your content was liked or not because many do not hit the button, and it also does not reflect the number of people who saw it. Therefore, too much importance is placed on that little stupid button. I scroll through many posts on my social media platforms. At times, I will nit that dreaded like button. However, retweeting or sharing a post is much more of an important feature because your presence is now amplified to others through others. When I speak at a book club, I impress the importance of retweeting and sharing. That is what increases your presence, and will get you more followers.
Many users scroll through and read what they want. As stated, many NEVER hit the like button. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, the number of likes does NOT represent the number of people that read your post nor does it reflect your popularity. When you purchase likes, you completely remove your ability to gauge what content is working and what is not. Millions of people purchase likes. There are dozens of companies that do it. If people did not buy them those companies would not exist. Therefore, do not always be impressed becuase your post only received one or two likes and someones else's may have received thousands.
For example, I might make a post. On one social media site, is gets many likes, and on another, not so much. That is how you determine what content works for each social media platform. It takes time to determione which content works for different platforms. However, keep in mind it still does reflect the number of people that viewed your post. One of the problems with analytics is, they only reflect what posts were clicked on. On many platforms, unless it's a video, a post does not need to be clicked on to be read. Most videos start automatically if you stop on them. Analaytics works great if you have a link button that a user can hit. At least you will know how many clicks it received. On YouTbe, that is how monitization works.
The take-home message being, STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHETHER YOU ARE POPULAR OR NOT. Unless you are a major public figure who talks about very controversial subjects that draw people to you, and possibly they will follow you, it's not important. Also, unless you are a well-known and notable author, most of those that follow self-published authors are friends and other authors. THAT IS NOT WHERE THE MAJORITY OF YOUR BOOK SALES COME FROM, although it is a great community of writers to share ideas. Let's move on.
WHAT HAS CHANGED:
Here come the hard cold facts. According to the Guardian in June 2018, and the numbers have not gotten better, and keep in mind this is after expenses:
The average self-published author makes around $1,000 per year, according to The Guardian. That's including many authors that have multiple books and a huge list of fans. In fact, nearly a third of the authors made less than $500 a year, and 90% of their books sold less than 100 copies.
In another article updated last March, CAN YOU MAKE MONEY FROM SELF-PUBLISHING, you will read some shocking information from actual book sales data. I will let you read that for yourself because it contains a great deal of valuable information and facts. One more thing. Due to advancements in technology, much has changed over the past years in the book industry. EVERYONE WANTS YOUR MONEY!
Years ago. when brick and mortar stores were the primary source for book sales, there was no such thing as self-publishing. You either had a publisher, or you did not get your book out. Sales figures were more accurate and the title BESTSELLING AUTHOR had more meaning, at least in the industry. The average reader doesn't know the difference. More on that in a moment. Make no mistake, I am all for self-published authors. It brings diversity to the industry. However, if you think you are going to self-publish your book and make a fortune on your pride and joy when it hits Amazon, you are sadly mistaken.
LET'S LOOK AT WHY:
Amazon, which is the largest online book reseller, boasts almost 12 million titles and does not support individual author advertising. Of course, there are ways around that, but it ain't cheap. Therefore, your book is lumped under a mass of many categories. Did you pick the right one to list it in? You book in the grand scheme, is like trying to find one different color twig in the forest. Your book can be outsourced to many other companies which many do not reflect the actual book sales. Therefore, their sales numbers may not correct. For example, I have books that have sold better in other countries. Sometimes, their sources are different. The one book I had that shocked the hell out of me was "A Woman's Fear." With domestic violence and child abuse being such a problem in the United States, I thought that book would explode in the US market. However, it sold in other countries 5 to 1, and the sales figures reported don't come close to the royalties I received. So much for posted sales numbers.
Today, Amazon is the ticket, but how do you succeed on Amazon? A new writer MUST get their name known. One trick is to pick one of the least popular genres on Amazon, and write a book in that genre or category. Why? First, the competition is a fraction of the more popular genres. Also, you have a better chance at gaining that sought after title, Best Selling Author. Trust me, there is more to come on that. I promise. Technology is great, but it creates a new set of challenges, a new set of scam artists, and it now takes much longer to be recognized unless you diversify, which I will also talk about in the next section.
With regards to being a Best Selling Author. In my career, I have had two best-selling books. One was a few years back when brick and mortar stores were the place to go. Honestly, that is the only one I hold stock in. Today, there are numerous platforms other than the New York Times and USA Today Best selling Author lists. Amazon is the most popular. However, there are many more. Sure, any list that states your book was a best selling book, gives you the privilege to use that title, and readers don't know the difference. However, you do. What does that count for? I don't even list my second best-selling book as such on my website. When you are writing for the lovc of writing, and possibly as a living, the title is not what's important.
Let me ask you a question. After you have self-published your book, how many times did you receive a call guaranteeing you a spot on the NYT bestseller list? LET ME MAKE THIS PERFECTLY CLEAR. THIS IS IN NO WAY IS A REFLECTION ON THE PRINCIPLES OR REQUIREMENTS OF ANY LIST, OR THEIR LEGITMACY. Today, if you have the money to spend, anything is possible. Read this article. Although written in 2017, it hasn't changed. Trust me. I received a call last week offering me a spot on a well-known bestseller list for $120,000. I hung up and blocked the number. Here is the link to two articles.
I am not saying in any way, shape, or form, it is not a prestigious title. What I am saying is, it just doesn't hold the weight it used to. I use this story all the time because I am always asked this question when I speak at an affair, or on Quora, where I answer around 100 to 150 questions a week. Why? I like to help others and it gets my name out there. A friend of mine is NOT a best-selling author. However, his net worth from writing is over 4 million dollars. He has never achieved the title of best-selling author. He was my mentor. Yes, I did ask him why. His answer was the best education I could have gotten. Here was his answer. After you review those articles, Think about this. If you can be a best-selling author with minimal sales, especially in a competitive genre, where is that best-selling author title making you money?
"I don't care about being a best-selling author. That will not make me money. Concentrate on consistent book sales. That is how you will make money writing."
His net worth, is as stated, and probably more. I had two best-selling books and mine is nowhere even close to that. So I ask you. Who is right and who is wrong?
THE QUESTION IS; CAN I MAKE MONEY WRITING?:
With all that I have stated, and with the two or three articles I referenced, I will tell you this. There is an exception to every rule. The rule of thumb in today's market, especially in the self-publishing market, making money in the book industry is 10% is quality and skill, and 90% is luck.
Wow, those numbers stink and are pretty sad. Part of it is most writers do not do what it takes to make money, or has the money to do it. The old saying "you need to have money to make money," is still true unless you are one of the lucky ones. If you are contracted by a traditional publisher, this may not apply to you. Ask yourself, what do you do to promote your books? Here are a few things:
Post on Social media. That's a good source, but not your primary source of sales. Actually, 1 out of every 1000, or a bit less, of your followers, see your post. The average post lasts for 12 minutes before it goes so far down someone's newsfeed, they will never see it if they follow many people. Post something on Instagram. Try this as an experiement. The next time you creat a post for Instagram, make a note of the most recent post. In the thirty seconds it takes you to create your post and post it, there are already many posts above yours, which depends on how many people you follow and the number of sponsored ads that are running. I get such a kick out of people that complain about ads on social media platforms. If you are one of them, guess what. Ads are what allow you to use the platform for free. Therefore, get over it. For you to get as many followers as you can to see your posts, you have to blast it many times. So much so, that the people who do follow you closing, will get so sick of seeing it, and unfollow you. Trust me, I learned that the hard way some time back.
Promote your book on social media and pay for the advertising. Now you have a better chance. Paying for this gets your reach out to far more people, you may gain more followers, and some may buy your book. However, to reach a mass, be prepared to spend, and spend big. Remember, if you reached 4,000 people, only 400 may have seen it. You need to reach tens of thousands. Most successful advertisers on social media sites spend up to and over $100,000 a year and more on one platform, and their profit margins are much higher than yours. Even if you spend half of that, knowing what you make on a printed book, or worse, a kindle book, how many do you have to sell to break even? I'm guessing on a print book that retails for around 13.00 with the average margins, you must sell about 11,500 books just to break even.
Will you do that? You can, but you MUST spend money to MAKE money, and most don't have it. That is why I like retweeting and sharing a post. It reaches those people's followers, and it's free. The trick is getting people to retweet or share you post. I do it by doing that, however, many do not reciprocate. For example. I have one author on a socail media platform where I resend their posts about their books. Therefore, those that follow me are seeing posts about their books. In returm that indiviual only sends out my pinned message. Never a post about a book. Sad, but the bottom line is, many writers do NOT support their fellow writers. One last secret. My advertising budget is between $45,000 - $60,000 a year. That does not include any other costs. Frankly, that is not enough and I still am finding better ways to utilize my budget.
Technology is king. Use it. Get yourself some magazine articles, newspaper articles, or other online mentions that have a link back to you, because of course, you better have a website. That's called backlinks. Backlinks greatly increases your presence on Google and helps with your ranking. You might be wondering how to accomplish that. PRESS RELEASES. I do about twelve a year. Many of my TV guest spots, magazine articles, and newspaper articles and interviews that did not come from my publicist, came from my press releases. You will need to learn how to properly design a press release and that information is readily available on the internet.
If you have a website, do something on it. Create a blog or post pictures or just messages. Do something with it that will cause Google to crawl it regularly. I make regular changes to my website, mostly, writing this blog. Google crawls my site every two or three days. Why, because the Google crawler has learned that my site changes often. What does that do for you? Well, go to Google. In the search bar type Caesar Rondina or Caesar Rondina Author, the first 12 to 14 pages are about me, my books, my blog, and more. The backlinks to Quora are there as well. What does this mean? To a reader who finds you and is not familiar with you, what will they do? What would you do? Everyone Google searchs them. Tell me, who is going to look more impressive, and that my friends is FREE. You have to do the work or pay someone to do it. Luckily enough, I've learned how.
Marketing and Advertising is 14k GOLD. It takes some work to follow the trends if you plan on doing it yourself. I do 95% of my own work. For example, the trends in 2019 showed that 62% of people respond to short video ads over images, and that number will increase dramatically in 2020. Have you noticed how many videos or even animations you now see over a still image? What does that tell you? It should tell you that more people watch a short video or animation and skim over the still images. Learning and experimenting is the key. You do not have to make a fancy book trailer, but you should have a few. With your cellphone, you could make a short one-minute sales pitch. People are personal, but save your sexy photos. It draws them to your picture, but they aren't reading or listening your content. It doen't make them bad people, it's a matter of human nature. That will not sell your books. However, it will get you some interesting comments. People love to be entertained. Have short one-minute book trailers or 10 -15 second animations with effects, good music, and good content, and it will be watched. My YouTube and Vimeo channels prove that. I watch my stats. That's how I learn what content people are watching and what they are not. Now I can taylor my content accordingly.
DIVERSIFICATION makes money. One year I spent almost $7000.00 having book trailers made. I started doing them when they weren't as popular as they are now. Well, I put an end to that shit quick. It costs to much, especially when you should more than one per book. I bought the video editing software I needed, became a member of royalty-free sites which provided me the licenses for music, videos clips, and images, and learned how to make them myself. I saved a boatload of money over the past two years. Of course, at first, they were ok, nothing to write home about, but after watching hundreds of others, I got better at creating them. A lot better. So much so that I started my own video production company, Alech Videos. Diversify. I create them now for other authors, speakers, and small businesses at a fraction of the cost that I paid.
How do you diversify? Start by accepting the fact that you may or may not break even writing for some time, and that's if you write one or two books a year. In my case, someone who writes three to four books a year, the challenge is greater. I guess there must be no hope for me. Alas, there is. It took time for me to be noticed as a writer. My books are self-sustaining, and I now make money. However, not on every book. You may make some money on one, and lose your shirt on another. Let's face it. I'm not as popular and don't come close to scratching the surface of the books that Stephen King or James Paterson sell. However, I'm realistic. I was a business owner for 17 years before I became a firefighter and paramedic.
I learned quickly that no one item is going to make you rich. Actually, many times you may only cover costs, or make a comfortable living. So I diversified. I sell books, do speaking engagements, started a video production company, I monitize on YouTube, and produce and sell video instruction tutorials in my fields of expertise on reputable and well known educational sites. Udemy is one, and I am being contracted to do a second. Diversification is paramount when you are lookin at the big picture. You may have other ideas that would work better for you. If it really matters to you how your pot is filled, then be prepared to have a close to empty pot. The overnight successes are EXTREMELY RARE.