It doesn’t matter if you’re mid-career or just a young writer just trying to get published, if you want to make money off of your books, you have two options: get accepted by a publishing company or self-publish your book yourself.
With e-books and other, affordable, self-pubishing options, it’s never been easier to get your stuff out there. However, if you’re trying to make a living off or your writing alone, you may be wondering whether or not self-publishing will actually make you any money. The truth of the matter is that you’ll only make as much money as you have readers. If you self-publish on a big budget and only use social media as a way of getting your book out there, chances are, you won’t make anything.
It’s true that some of the most popular authors started by self-publishing, but that won’t happen to you unless you do a few things:
- Write Something Good
Let’s be honest, if your writing is terrible, you didn’t pay someone to edit your manuscript, and the content just isn’t something that the mass public is going to want to read, then it’ll never get popular enough to make money. That doesn’t mean you have to write a cheap romantic novel to get fast cash, it just means that you likely will have to put a lot of effort into your writing. If you’re trying to write just for the money, you’re probably in the wrong career.
- You Have to Gain a Following
Write More Than Just a Book. Books are like music or movies: if you build a following, you’ll make more money. You can’t just self publish and expect random people everywhere to buy your books. You have to work at it. A lot. Many authors start blogs and try to gain success through multiple platforms of writing. Use as many social media outlets as you can.
You can also pay to have your book reviewed, which can be an important public relations strategy. You may also want to consider hiring a public relations consultant, because if you want to reach past your already existing network on friends and family, you have to use traditional public relations and marketing strategies.
- Spend Money to Make Money
Budget self-publishing often doesn’t end up working well. If you don’t pay for a developmental editor, copyedits, an ISBN, a cover design, reviews, or really anything that makes your book seem reputable, than there’s very little chance that your book will make any money.
- Have Multiple Plans
The more platforms your book is published through – traditional print, e-books, audio books, etc. – the more reputable it seems. Don’t just rely on the cheapest e-book platform to make money (even if you do get 70% of the profits).
So, Let’s Be Real: Can I Make Any Money?
Well, it's definitely not a way to get rich quick. If you don’t put it in a lot of effort and time into self-publishing, and if your work isn’t good enough to be read by people who don’t already care about you, you won't be successful. However, if you write something worthwhile and put a lot of work and effort in, then self-publishing can, in fact, land you a much higher percentage of profits than publishing a book through a traditional publisher. The truth is that the reason more people publish with a company like Penguin or Random House is because those companies do a lot of the work for you, but if you're willing to put in the leg work on your own, self-publishing may be the start of a great new career.