This is a guest post from Joseph Hogue. Please let me know if you would like to guest post on RFI!
November is NaNoWriMo month and a great opportunity to start your self-publishing success story with this strategy.
I was inspired by Pauline’s pledge to write 50,000 words of content for National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo. As a blogger and self-publishing writer, I look forward to the November challenge each year and Pauline’s post was a great kickoff.
While Pauline says her intent isn’t to write a novel, NaNoWriMo is an excellent opportunity to get started as a self-published author and one of the best income streams I’ve found as a blogger.
I thought I’d kickoff my own NaNoWriMo, which I’m realizing now is a pain to type, by sharing one of my favorite strategies for blogger income.
How Much Can You Make Self-Publishing?
Digital Book World reports that half of all self-published authors make less than $5,000 per year. As with most work from home businesses, the money you make self-publishing may be way higher or lower from the averages. I published my first book in March 2015 and am about to publish the 8th with topics ranging from investing to crowdfunding and creating passive income.
Monthly income has dropped slightly over the last few months but I generally make about $200 per book each month. Through October, I’ve made over $15,500 on the books and expect to be close to $3,000 a month on the books I’ve got planned for next year.
That’s not something that’s going to make you rich but it isn’t bad considering each book only costs a few hundred to make besides my time.
While it isn’t a gold-mine, there are a lot of other reasons to like self-publishing.
- It’s one of the most passive forms of income you’ll find. After my book launch, I do almost no promotion on the books and still see a steady stream of income. That’s pretty nice compared to other strategies like blogging where you have to be constantly creating new content.
- Self-publishing is a natural fit for bloggers. You are already creating tons of content and building expertise in a topic, why not turn it into a book? In fact, the strategy I’ll talk about below makes it even easier for bloggers to publish their book.
Beating the averages for self-publishing success and making it a passive income stream comes down to a simple process for creating your book and getting it out there.
The Process of Writing and Publishing Your Book
I’ll share the process for publishing a book here but make sure you scroll past the infographic for my blogging strategy to make publishing easy.
The first thing you have to remember is that you aren’t trying to rewrite the Constitution. Too many would-be authors get caught up trying to make every sentence perfect. Pick a topic, narrow it down to some chapter ideas and then just start writing! My self-publishing strategy goes into this more below with a way to make it even easier for bloggers.
Your value is in creating the content. It’s fine if you want to do the whole book from writing to formatting and graphic design but there is an army of freelancers out there to help. Unless you already know about ebook formatting and graphic design, it’s going to be worth your time to have a professional help out.
There are two types of editing you need to do to publish a great book.
- A developmental edit makes sure the book makes sense and that the information flows naturally. This is best done by someone with no prior knowledge of the topic or by someone that fits your target customer. They’ll best be able to tell you what they didn’t understand or where they want more information.
- Proof editing involves correcting all the grammar mistakes and clunky sentences. It usually isn’t the same editor because this calls for someone with a keen eye on grammar and that isn’t necessarily reading the book for to understand the information.
On your first few books, you can usually get the editing done for free by friends and family. After your third or fourth book, you might be running out of favors so consider hiring a college student to help with editing. Either way, resist the temptation to edit your own work. You are just too close to the material and you’ll miss mistakes that need to be corrected.
A lot of the success in self-publishing depends on your launch. If you can get people to buy your book and review it in that crucial week or two, Amazon will see it as a popular book and start promoting it. Your launch will also help get the book ranked in its category which will put it in front of more people.
Reach out to friends and family about a month in advance to ask for a review. You’re going to be pricing your book at $0.99 during the first week so ask if they’ll make a purchase as well. Make sure you ask in person by phone or face-to-face. It’s too easy to ignore or ‘forget’ emails.
Take your time to write a detailed description page on Amazon. Part of the magic here is that Amazon is a search engine and will put your book in front of people if they search for a term that fits your book. Make your description like a blog post with a clear story and section headings.
Check out this infographic for more detail on the process and don’t forget to scroll down for my self-publishing strategy.
A Self-Publishing Strategy that Makes It Easy
Besides the general process for creating and publishing my books, I use a strategy that makes it super easy and one any blogger can apply. This strategy turns your blog into a marketing machine for your books and makes creating a book unbelievably easy.
- Start by brainstorming book ideas. What do you want to write about? Check out some of the most popular posts on your blog and the ones which you had the most fun writing.
- Write out a list of 10 to 20 ideas within the topic or the process you want to talk about as your chapter ideas.
- Do a search for the topic on Amazon and click through to the table of contents on books. Make notes about what chapter ideas reappear in most books, especially which ones you missed in your own list.
- Rework your list to around 10 chapter ideas including the basics that everyone should know about the topic and a few chapter ideas that are missing from previously published books.
- Those chapter ideas are your blog posts for the next 10 weeks! Really detail each chapter, including images and aim for at least 3,000 words each.
- When you’re done with all your chapters, copy them into a single document. Revise the posts, excluding mentions as a blog series and maybe adding a little detail. Add an ‘About this Book’ section, a table of contents and a summary chapter.
Using this strategy means you don’t have to sit down to write out an entire book. It breaks it into manageable chapters and you can devote your time to making each one shine.
The biggest benefit is that it turns your blog into a natural sales platform for the book. All those quality posts will start drawing thousands of visitors from search engines, people looking specifically for the ideas in your book. Update each post with a pitch for the book, the cover image and a link to either Amazon or to buy the pdf copy.
Of all the work at home strategies I’ve tried from blogging to peer to peer lending and freelancing, self-publishing is one of the easiest and most passive for monthly income. It may not make you rich overnight but you can build up a steady source of income with just a few books. Self-publishing is a natural fit for bloggers and a great way to make money while you’re waiting for blogging income to increase.
Joseph Hogue, CFA is an investment analyst and blogger. He runs six websites on topics including personal finance, investing, crowdfunding and making money from home. A veteran of the Marine Corps, he holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and lives with his family in Medellin, Colombia. Join me on Facebook and on Twitter for more Work from Home ideas!