Writing and publishing a book isn’t easy. It requires passion for your subject as well as determination to see the project through. But there’s nothing quite like it either. Writing and publishing a book is a wonderful, creative and fulfilling journey, and it will serve as an important accomplishment for the rest of your life.
There’s just one little problem. Writing a book is not typically a lucrative endeavor. Of course, if you received $1 per book and sold 1 million copies, then you’d be a millionaire from your book sales alone. But a million copies is a lot of books! Few authors besides heavy hitters like Stephen King and JK Rowling manage to sell 1 million books. That doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t make money from your book though. In fact, for many writers nowadays book revenue rarely comes from the book itself; for them the book serves as a crucial first step in a longer-term pursuit of profit.
Writing and publishing a book can be a great springboard to other revenue streams. It helps to establish your credibility as an expert and is a convenient relationship-building tool. But how is that done, you might ask? Here are some of the ways that writers today can use to earn money apart from their book sales.
Good speakers are always in demand for what they have to say and how well they can say it. As a keynote speaker, conference speaker or motivational speaker, it’s possible to make tens of thousands of dollars per engagement. These speakers share their hard-won knowledge, offer up motivation and a unique perspective, and engage the crowd.
Some speakers book their own gigs, others use the services of an agent and still others associate themselves with speakers’ bureaus and speakers’ associations to find new engagements. But if you think you need some more practice before hitting the speaking circuit, you can hone your speaking skills at Toastmasters, a public speaking club with chapters all over the world.
Teaching and Training
If you’ve written a book, then you definitely have something worthwhile that you can teach and share with others in workshops, classes and training sessions. For nonfiction books, the subject or some content from the book can serve as a natural topic for your teaching and training. For fiction books, you might try teaching a class on a writing- or genre-specific topic, such as Writing Fiction for Beginners or Women in Science Fiction.
It’s possible to teach at community centers, community colleges, corporate events, private events and other settings. You could also teach groups or individuals online through your own platform or through sites like Udemy and Skillshare. Corporate training sessions are typically the most lucrative, but even at classes at community centers, teachers can be paid and sell copies of their books to students in the room right at the end of class.
A nonfiction book can serve as the motor for a business. If you are a professional or have your own service business of some type, then writing and publishing a book related to the services you provide can be a crucial step in the sales funnel for attracting and converting new clients. No matter what stage a business is in, writing a book can help take it to the next level.
As I mentioned previously, writing a book helps establish you as an expert and is a great relationship-building tool. In fact, it helps you to cast your net for potential business wider and deeper. When you make your book publicly available, you can often gain some new clients from people who read, or sometimes even just hear about, your book. Another way writers gain new clients is by gifting their book to prospective clients, which often helps along the process of closing the deal. Writing a book makes your expertise more accessible and clients want that.
If you are reading this article, then I will assume that your book is or will be in English. English is a powerful commercial language, but other languages and other markets move mountains of books too. There’s no reason to limit yourself or your revenue streams to the English-speaking world. In fact, writers can sell the foreign rights to their books.
When you sell the foreign rights to your book, you are giving a particular foreign publisher the right to publish your book in a specific language and for a specific market. In exchange, you will receive payment, usually up front. If your book does well, and you earn back that advance, you could receive ongoing royalty income from those foreign language editions.
Agents can negotiate the foreign rights to books on behalf of their clients, but writers can also approach foreign publishers themselves and cut a deal. There are no hard and fast rules for getting writers more money for their efforts. After all, why get paid for a book once? Securing foreign rights can help writers get paid for their work again and again. Don’t forget to read the fine print on any contract!
Other Revenue Streams
These are just a few of the ways that writers today can use to earn money apart from their book sales. Other ideas might include selling your book for a TV or film adaptation, or product sales (for example, selling T-shirts with your book’s main character on it).
Now what about you? Do you have some other ideas? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Dudley Court Press
Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a full-service, hybrid publishing house, we help thoughtful people write their books and become successful published authors.
For more information, including about DCP’s latest program Aspiring Author to Published Pro, please get in touch at +1-520-329-2729 or publisher@DudleyCourtPress.com.