Want to know how to self publish a book that earns big?
That’s the dream for a lot of freelancers. Right? Figure out how to self publish a book. List it on Amazon. And piles of money start rolling in.
Here’s the brutal truth about making money with your book…it usually doesn’t work like that.
There’s far too many writers with great ideas who think: “If I self-publish a book, lots of people will buy it.”
I wish it were that easy. If you want to learn how to self publish a book that earns big, a great idea and great writing are just the beginning.
When I self published my first book, I made a couple thousand dollars, and gained a small following of fans. But then something happened that helped me turn my book into a revenue-generating machine that earned $125K in one night.
Want to learn how to self publish a book that earns big? Let me pull back the curtain to show you how it’s done.
5 book-marketing strategies to earn big
When you’re ready to jump in and learn how to self publish a book, writing is the easy part for most freelancers.
After that, there’s lots of easy-to-use resources to format your book and get it on Amazon and other sites that sell books.
It’s the steps that come after publishing that can make all the difference in how much money you make.
Come up with a marketing plan that generates buzz, sells copies, and opens the door to more writing opportunities, and you can make a lot.
It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. Here’s how I did it:
1. Personally thank people who helped you
This should be part of your book…the Acknowledgements page. Thank all the people who inspired you, helped you, or played a part in the process of getting your book published (family, friends, teachers, co-workers, mentors, and your publishing team). Then:
- Reach out with a phone call, email, or letter and personally thank each person.
- Invite them as special guests to your book launch
- Ask them to pre-order, and send a signed copy, or sign it in person
Note: I sold 215 books this way and earned $3,225 from pre-sales.
2. Host a book signing event
Connect with a bookstore in your area and coordinate a book signing party. The traditional book-reading and signing event works. But you could also get a little more creative. If you’re shy, read this first.
I hosted a catered event and sold tickets at different price points for a signed copy of the book, VIP time with me, gift bags, and hand-written thank-you notes.
Note: After catering and venue fees, I made $2,600 from book sales.
3. Attend book fairs and festivals
You’ll have to adjust your schedule to make this work, but it’s worth it. You’ll sell books, meet lots of people, and keep adding to your growing list of fans. I got people to stop by my table by playing a short trailer about my book, then striking up a conversation.
Note: After travel and fees, I made about $2,000 in book sales.
4. Market your book everywhere you go
I made T-shirts with three conversation-starter messages:
- Ask Me About My Book!
- My BOOK is awesome!
- Guess what? I wrote a book!
I wore them everywhere, and sold books from my back pack and the trunk of my car at the mall, gas stations, and parking lots.
Note: I made $500 in book sales this way.
5. Turn your book into a play or speaking event
If you’ve totaled my earnings from books sales so far, it’s a whopping $8,325. Not bad for a self-published novel. But those aren’t the kind of earnings that deserve a standing ovation. I wanted more.
I got sucked into reading Amazon reviews and comments about my book, Dark Clouds: A Charm City Family’s Struggle. Comments like: “You painted such a vivid picture of the characters in the book, I felt like I knew them and could see them.”
And that’s when I had the light-bulb moment to take my characters from page to stage.
This wasn’t an easy undertaking. But by the time the curtain closed, my book earned $125K in one night. Here’s how I did it:
- Hire a consultant. I hired the godfather of urban theater, Shelly Garrett, to help me turn my book into a play. Find a writing coach or mentor you can trust, who knows the ropes, maybe has connections in your niche. It’s an investment you won’t regret.
- Write and rewrite. I turned my 211-page novel into a 90-page script. Write a book, then consider ways to turn it into another revenue source as a class, course, play, or speaking event.
- Use crowdfunding sites to test your idea and pre-sell tickets. Here’s an example.
- Document the process. When auditions began, we documented the process in reality-TV style on YouTube to generate buzz. If you’re not producing a play, document the process you write about in your book, and share it on social platforms.
- Buy traditional advertising time (radio and TV). Ads for the play aired on radio stations and TV stations in select cities where the play would be performed. This makes sense as long as you predict you’ll make a profit after advertising costs.
- Coordinate radio and TV appearances. You could hire an agent to do this for you, or just get on the phone and make some calls. Put yourself out there, and see what happens.
- Purchase billboard advertising in select cities where the play would be performed. (Same as buying traditional advertising time.)
- Sell Tickets on Groupon and Ticketmaster. It’s one more way to get in front of more people.
- Buy Facebook ads to promote the play to your target audience. I spent $500 on Facebook ads.
- Sell T-shirts, books, and playbills. This was easy, because it was a lot like my book launch.
- Sell VIP after-party tickets. Have an interesting story to tell, unique perspective, or mad skills? People will pay to spend time with you.
Marketing: The secret to earning big from self publishing
Can you self publish a book that earns big? Absolutely. I earned $125K in one night. The City of Baltimore and mayor personally thanked me for writing a book and play about their city. Book sales went up. And offers for interviews, TV-show appearances, and business opportunities came rolling in.
Got an idea for a book? Start there. Write and self publish. Market your book, and look for other ways to monetize it. Turn it into a play, a speaking event, a class, or a course. If I can do it, so can you.
Questions about how to self publish a book? Let’s discuss in the comments below.
Crystal L. Bass is the author of two novels and a play. She also teaches writing at Creative Writer’s University.