One way other than selling books that writing can be profitable is when you make it a business. As a ghostwriter and copyeditor, I write and edit books and e-books and make money whether or not the books sell. I also sell my own products, but writing as a business suits me better and provides a steadier income.
Is a writing business right for you?
Starting a writing business vs writing your own books doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. As in my case, I write for others for a living, and write for myself for a loving. I expect to make a profit with each!
If you do decide to start a writing business, you have several choices to make. First is which service you’ll provide: ghostwriting, copyediting, proofreading, coaching, formatting, indexing, researching, publishing. I think that’s most of the services involved in book publishing. Then you need to select a genre: nonfiction or fiction, and go deeper into each of those. Next is format: books, e-books, articles, websites, newsletters, dissertations… And last is target audience: individuals, business owners, coaches, speakers, consultants, attorneys, healthcare providers…
I suggest you combine your passions, your skills, and what’s most needed today. That’s how I’ve stayed in business for 10+ years!
Andrea Susan Glass
I hope you’ve been enjoying my weekly writing lessons. I love teaching people about writing books. I know we all write for different reasons, but in case you’d like to make some money on your books, kept reading. That’s what I’ll be discussing this month.
Now the truth is that most authors rarely make a profit on one book. They either need to write more than one book, often a series, or build a business around their book by offering other products and services like CDs, seminars, and coaching.
Oh, you’ll find the occasional one-book wonder, the bestselling darling of the literary world, but that happens so infrequently that I wouldn’t suggest you count on it! And more often than not, it occurs with fiction rather than nonfiction.
So where’s the money in writing?
Here are some profit centers you can count on as a book or ebook author:
- Write a book or ebook to a large enough target audience and promote the heck out of it. If you already have a following—a list or a large database—you may sell a substantial number of books to see a profit from one book or ebook.
- Plan a series of books, like the Chicken Soup or For Dummies franchise. You can either write a number of books on one topic to many audiences such as dog training for different types of dogs (Collies, dachshunds, poodles, etc.) or write on several topics for one audience, like exercise, diet, dressing, etc. for pregnant women. (One subject, many target markets or One market, many subjects)
- Build a business around your one book by adding a seminar, CD set, teleclass, or coaching services. People learn in various formats, so offer them. And this way you have multiple streams of income.
Yes, you can make a profit writing books and ebooks. Keep reading this month for more on these ideas.
Andrea Susan Glass
Ta dah! The moment you’ve all been waiting for. I’m now going to reveal some of the top book marketing strategies.
Most of these you can use online and off:
1. Advertising: online with Google Adwords, offline in industry magazines
2. Affiliates: have other people sell your books
3. Blogs: have valuable content on your blog and as a guest blogger
4. Joint ventures: have others promote to their list
5. Mailings: online with email to your list and other lists; offline with direct mail
6. Media: radio shows online and off
7. Social marketing: online with Facebook, LinkedIn and other social sites, offline by building relationships and strategic alliances
8. Speaking: online teleclasses and webinars (yours and others), offline giving talks and seminars
9. Writing: articles, blogs, columns, press releases, ezines, newsletters, websites—the sky’s the limit both online and off
Now I’m sure you can find something on this list that works best for your book, your market, and you. If you’re still stumped brainstorm some ideas with whomever you’ve selected as your support person (me included!) and start putting together your marketing plan.
I suggest you sign up for book marketing newsletters, such as John Kremer and Penny Sansevieri, since new and improved promotional ideas are always being “discovered” or “invented” or “re-invented” and you want to stay on top of these developments in this rapidly changing world of book and ebook marketing. And with the new ebook readers, a whole new world of book marketing is upon us, so keep your eyes, ears, and fingers open!
As you experience success, please share it with me and my readers by posting a comment on this blog. Let’s all learn from each other.
Happy writing, (& promoting!)
Andrea Susan Glass
P.S. My new 6-week course “Write an Ebook: Hands-on Class” will begin on Tuesday, October 4 from 6:30 to 9:00 pm at the Cal State San Marcos University campus, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road. If you live in the San Diego area or know someone who does, please let them know about this ground-breaking class. My goal is to have students finish an ebook in 6 weeks. For more information visit www.csusm.edu/el and click on Extended Learning or call 760-750-4020.
Welcome back to the next installment of the “dreaded” book marketing primer. My goal is to make book marketing fun and easy, because I know how much you love the book you just poured your heart and soul into and how much you want to get it into the hands of your readers!
And that’s where the fun is: connecting with your ideal readers. Who did you write your book or ebook for? What aim did you have for your readers? What did you want them to gain from reading your book? What will compel them to say, “I have to have this book”?
These are the questions you asked when you started writing your book and these questions should be answered now that you’ve finished the book. So say your book is about life balance for working moms and your book shows this audience how to take care of themselves while also caring for their children, spouse, their home, and their work! Whew! Sounds like a great book that every working mom could use and would love to have.
So you know your ideal reader, now you just have to find them. Well, lucky you. This happens to be a clearly identifiable market. They’re everywhere. Working moms have websites, meetups, organizations, magazines, and conferences. And the subcategory of “work at home moms” is a growing segment of the marketplace, also easy to identify and locate. Use your handy search engine to do a search for this market and build a list of where you can find them. Also ask around to people in your personal and professional circles if they know anyone influential in this group or of organizations in this market.
Take the same steps for your market—whether they are sports nuts, animal lovers, college professors, retirees—whomever you’ve identified as your ideal reader.
As to how you will connect with these readers, we’ll base that on your book, your abilities, your preferences, your budget, and several other factors.
Happy writing (& marketing),
Andrea Susan Glass
PS. If you live in San Diego you might want to check out the 21st Century Book Marketing Seminar. (www.21stcenturybookmarketing.com). It’s October 14-16. You’ll learn just about all you need to know about marketing your book!
It’s hard to believe the summer is half over and I haven’t even taken a vacation yet. Have you? I hope so.
Well for those of you still hanging around, I thought this month I’d discuss the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing. When a prospective author comes to me and wants to write a book, I ask them right away whether they plan on seeking a publisher or publishing themselves. Some are pretty clear while others don’t have a clue which path they want to pursue.
Those who are sure they want to find an agent or publisher to publish their book will take a different path from those who are clear that they will self publish their book. For those of you who aren’t sure, let me explain some of the pros and cons of each path.
This week I’ll focus on traditional publishing and next week self-publishing. With the ease and popularity of self-publishing and more recently e-publishing, it seems traditional publishing’s days are numbered. Over the years, the number of traditional New York publishers has dwindled, and of those left many have merged. Additionally, mid-size and small publishers have sprouted as digital publishing has made book printing more accessible to those who want to start a small press.
In case you’re not familiar with them, your traditional publishers are Little Brown, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper, Hay House, Wiley, and a few more. Look on your bookshelves at your hard cover books and you’ll find the traditional publishers.
Let’s look at why someone would choose traditional over self publishing: wants someone else to handle printing, distribution, and sales; wants the prestige of having a large publisher; wants a literary agent to handle writing career; wants publisher to arrange promotion; has a platform and wants to expand a brand; wants the support of an in-house editor. If you have any of these desires, you might choose this path.
Now, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks to traditional publishing: publisher pays all production costs, does initial promotion (in most cases), distributes books, has sales team; however, it can take years (or never) to find an agent or publisher, you’re expected to have an established following (platform), you only get a small percentage royalty, you have minimal control over cover and content, you’ll wind up doing the bulk of promotion.
If you’re still not sure which path is right for you, stay tuned to my next installment on self publishing.
Andrea Susan Glass
Okay, you’ve decided you need a ghostwriter. You want to write your book, you’ve admitted you need help, and you need a ghostwriter. You want to find the right person. So how do you choose a ghostwriter?
In most cases when seeing a new service provider, you often start with a referral. So ask around and see if anyone you know has used a ghostwriter or knows of one. You can also attend writing organization meetings or meetups and see if there are any ghostwriters present. Check the organization’s website and review the members. For example, I’m a member of Publishers & Writers of San Diego (www.publisherswriters.org) and our website lists the members. And like most anything you’re looking for these days, you can do an Internet search. I’m surprised how many people find me online in the morass of my competitors. I must be doing something right.
So now you’ve found a few ghostwriters. What’s next? First, you’ll want to review their website if they have one and get a sense of what they do and how competent and experienced they seem. Then send them an email or call them on the phone. I prefer to set up phone or in-person appointments so we don’t play too much telephone tag.
Remember that you’ll be in a long-term relationship (at least three months or more) with this person, so you have to not only feel they’re an excellent writer, but that you share similar values, like honesty, good communication, reliability, and keeping agreements. This is what’s important to me. I get very frustrated when my clients continually break appointments or worse, don’t even show up. Or when they don’t return emails or phone calls!
I suggest interviewing two to three ghostwriters, get samples of their work, and check a few references. It’s best if you can meet in person, but if not have at least two phone calls. Then let your head and your heart have a conversation and make your choice. Also when you sign a contract, make sure there’s an easy way out in case it isn’t working. I have that in all my contracts.
Here’s to a successful working relationship with your ghostwriter of choice and to a fabulous book!
PS. Please contact me about your ghostwriting needs. If I’m not the right person for you, I have quality referrals. (www.WritersWay.com/contact)
In some cases, a ghostwriter may write the whole book, in some cases parts of the book. The ghostwriter may do all the research or some of it. The ghostwriter may work on his/her own or in partnership with the “author”.
How you work with a ghostwriter will be customized to your needs. When I start working with a new author, I send them a questionnaire to get some basic information such as what their book is about, what their motivation for the book is, who their target reader is, and how much information they have gathered for the book.
The answers to these questions will determine how we proceed. If you are a new author and all you have is an idea for a book, we would sit down in person, or over the phone or skype, and discuss the answers to these questions as well as whether or not you want to self publish or seek a publisher. We’d talk about your budget and timeline.
Once we’ve established answers to these questions, we can set up the process and schedule. I like to estimate three to six months to complete a 150-200 page book. It could take less time, it could take more. It’s often up to the author as they usually have a business to run and other activities generally take priority. That is, unless you have a strong motivation to finish your book sooner, say because you’ll be speaking or attending a convention.
We work together by phone to check in regularly as you write a chapter or send me content to write the chapter. Then I send it back to you to review while I move on to the next chapter. Or in some cases, you write all the chapters and send them to me to flesh out or polish up, or I write all the chapters and send them to you to review and add and delete as the case may be.
In most cases working with a ghostwriter is a partnership, so it’s important to have a good working relationship. I’ll talk about how to choose a ghostwriter in the next installment, so stay posted.
You want it quick and easy! Don’t we all? I know you can do it. Look, I bought a 25-page ebook for $57. Do I sound dumb? The author sold me on the value, and I fell for the sales pitch. It could have been just the information I was looking for. Well, in that case it wasn’t and I was able to “return” it and get my money back.
You can’t really return an ebook. But anyway, all I’m saying is that it was 25 pages, and anyone who’s an expert on anything can write 25 pages in 25 hours or less. If you wrote for two hours a day for 12.5 days, you’d have a 25-page ebook done! If you wanted a 50-page ebook, write two hours a day for 25 days.
You say you don’t have the time for even that? Want to know how to find the time?
The quickest way to write your ebook is to decide on your topic, create an outline, and sit down and write. The best way to write an ebook is to follow this process; it might take a bit longer, but you’ll write an ebook that will sell:
- answer this question: what is my motivation for writing this ebook?
- answer this question: what is the motivation for the reader to buy my ebook?
- select a topic that will fill both of these motivations
- create an outline that will take the reader from where they are to where they expect to be when they finish reading
- turn your outline into the table of contents
- gather data you’ve already written or collected on the subject and plug it into the appropriate chapters; create new content where you need it
- weave all the content together, read it over to make sure it meets your motivation and the reader motivation
- have five people in your target audience read it; get feedback; make adjustments; get it edited professionally
- design your cover and interior or have it designed; save it as a PDF
This is pretty much the process for writing an ebook quickly. Of course there are more details, but this covers the basics. My ebook “Your Info-Product Success System” fills in the blanks and gives you a complete system for producing your first ebook. Check it out at www.infoproductsuccesssystem.com.
Email me or leave a comment if I can answer any questions.
When I start working with a client who wants to write a book, we generally start off with the idea of writing a book rather than an ebook. For years, that’s been the norm; you want to write a book, you write a paperback or hard cover book.
Well, it’s not the norm any more. Since sales of ebooks have overtaken hard copy books at Amazon, I have suggested we rethink our strategy. And here’s the reason: it costs nothing to produce an ebook in terms of production and distribution costs. The only costs you may have, which you’d also have for a hard copy book, would be for the services of someone like me if you used a ghostwriter or copyeditor, someone to design the interior and cover for your book, and someone to upload it to your website and set up your shopping cart. And you may be able to do all that on your own and basically have zero costs to produce an ebook.
With a hard copy book you need to have it professionally formatted and a cover designed, then get it printed, and then have it distributed. The costs on these services varies but it will always cost you more to produce a hard copy book than an ebook.
So what I’ve been doing with most of my clients is producing the ebook first, because it’s a no-brainer. Write and design it in Word, save it as a PDF, upload it to your website—and you’re in business. Then you can send it to Amazon to get into the Kindle program.
I suggest that my clients get some feedback from buyers of their ebook, so if they want to make any additions or corrections, they can do that before they print the book. They can also experiment with some marketing strategies, so when they do print their book and they want to recoup the printing costs, they’ll have some marketing success under their belt.
Make sense? Feel free to share your comments, questions, and experience on this topic.
Andrea Susan Glass
Well, the keywords are in place, and I’m up and running. I found a new autoresponder I will check out this week. Once that’s in place, I feel my site is ready to be announced to the world. Shout it from the virtual rooftops. Send out press releases, articles, and emails.
Sounds simple, yes? Yet, there are details in each step so this all will take a little time. First, write the press releases, then decide where to send them. Okay, a few days, done in between my client work. Next write about 10 articles. Okay, that’s another week at least! Then sign up at a bunch of article directories and submit the articles—and I’ve been told to tweak them for each different directory because Google doesn’t like it if you submit the same article to more than one site. Okay, Google, I’ll play by your rules. Another few weeks!
And then the dreaded e-mails. E-mail marketing is a huge component of any Internet marketing business and whether you write them yourself or hire a ghostwriter to write them, they are your bread and butter. You know what I mean! You probably get a ton of these “friendly” e-mails from everyone whose list you’ve signed up on just because you wanted your freebie! Of course, we all know you can get off these lists any time, but who has the time to unsubscribe? So you keep getting bombarded by e-mails inviting you to this free teleclass, telling you about this great product, or wanting you to sign up for a BIG seminar that will change your life.
Okay, a few more weeks for me to figure out a few months’ worth of e-mails to send out to my list. What I find is best, to avoid procrastination, is do what is easiest and quickest first. That gets the energy flowing. For me, writing a 500-word press release and submitting it to my list of free PR websites is the easiest, so that’s where I’ll start. That will get done this week. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.
Andrea Susan Glass, www.WritersWay.com
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