So you want to be a professional writer.
But don’t you know?
They say books are dead and they say you’ll never find a publisher.
Well, I have good news and even better news.
Good news #1: You can make a living being a writer.
A lot of people you may have not heard about are quietly making a killing by writing books. I personally make a living from my writing.
Good news #2: Books aren’t dead.
But a lot of them are being read on devices and not on paper. iPhones, iPads, androids, kindles etc. These sci-fi devices are where a lot of books are being read.
I read books all the time and I only buy books in digital format. I’m a travelin’ man and I keep all my books in my pocket on my iPhone.
Good news #3: You won’t find a publisher.
Huh? That’s good news? Why?
Because if you take my advice you won’t go looking for a publisher. Publishers are no longer necessary.
Searching for a publisher is going to be a waste of time and I’ll tell you 4 reasons why.
- You’ll have to get your manuscript through some child who serves coffee to the boss.
- The New York publishing world is full of *certain types, if your book doesn’t speak to them it’s adios, amigo.
- They’re going to scoop up most of your profit and leave you with a pittance.
- Unless you’re a big name you’re a nobody and they won’t put too much effort into marketing your book.
Even if you did find a publisher who wants to publish your book it’s a better idea to tell them no.
Royalties on books are small. A publisher takes a big bite out of that small buffet and gives you the leftovers. Heard the term starving artist? Everyone has. Ever heard the term starving publisher? Neither have I.
There is a better way to publish your book, make money (you want to be a professional, right) and keep 100% of the pretty green royalties.
You can self-publish. Publishing is dead and good riddance. Publishers are as helpful as realtors (they aren’t helpful). So say goodbye “starving writer”, professional beg artist, and say hello to self-publishing kingpin.
Self-publishing is the wave of the future for writers. Why would you want to give up your royalties? You can publish yourself and keep the PROFIT.
Keep it PRO and make some dough. Who cares if you’re a published writer if you don’t have $10 in your pocket for lunch.
“But isn’t self-publishing hard? I don’t know how to start a publishing company.”
- There is nothing easy about writing and releasing a book. No two ways about that.
- Self-publishing is not nearly as hard as one would think. You don’t need to start a company and you don’t need a New York office, you just need a bit of grit and elbow grease. 391,000 books were self-published in 2012 and that number is only rising (source).
Amazon is the world’s biggest bookseller and they’ve made it extremely easy to self-publish a book. Write a book, get in on Amazon, sell it, repeat the process.
Hang on to your butts ’cause we’re going to go through this fast….
How to Become a Professional Writer
(and publish your own book)
Write a book (price: free)
Easier said than done, right? Well it is easy. Just pick a story or an idea and write the damn book. If you want to write a novel you create a story and put the story on paper. If you want to write a non-fiction book put your idea or your “surefire method” onto paper.
Rewrite and re-edit until you’ve nailed it.
Create an eye-catching cover, an interest creating title, and format correctly (price: $200+)
Books are judged by the cover so make your cover the best cover you can make it. If you aren’t a visual artist you need to hire someone to do this for you. Spend money on your professional book because books are judged by the cover and a great cover will sell books. You can have a cover done at DesignCrowd for a good price, be sure to see Amazons guide to creating a cover to make sure your cover will meet the tech requirements.
The title of your book can make or break sales. A great title will sell a mediocre book but a mediocre title won’t sell a great book. You could either just pick a great title, you could poll your audience to see what the best title is, or you could use split-test advertising to find the title that gets clicked on the most. If it gets clicked, it gets picked.
Don’t forget to correctly format the book for the various devices. There are 2 main ways your book will be sold: in kindle and on print-on-demand paperback. You can do both of those things at CreateSpace.
Market your book (price: $20 – infinite)
Every writer needs to start a blog, for 3 reasons.
- You will get experience writing
- You will start to develop your style
- You will build your audience and they will be the first ones to buy your book
Owning your own website is very important. They say tweet this and facebook that but I don’t like that model. Unless you own facebook or twitter you are completely at their mercy and whim. A 3rd party website can do anything they want with their website – their site, their rules – including deleting your account if they feel like it.
With your own website you are in 100% control. Keep it that way. Play with twitter and facebook all you like but have your own dedicated, self-hosted website as mission priority #1. Doesn’t matter what you blog about, fiction or non-fiction, but you need a blog and you need your writing out there. You can think of your blog as your Business Card.
MJ DeMarco, writer of the great business book The Millionaire Fastlane, followed the exact same marketing strategy. He created a great website called The Fastlane Forum. He built an audience first with his website, when his book was released he had a built-in audience because if his website.
Post your book for sale (price: free)
After you’ve written the book, formatted it, created a great cover, marketed it a little it’s time to actually post the book for sale. Sounds daunting, but it isn’t. Go to the Kindle page and follow directions and your book will be available for sale in about 24 hours. You can see an entire step-by-step visual guide for publishing a book on Amazon here.
For self-published digital books you have basically two options for pricing: ultra low (1.99-3.99) or normal price (7.99-9.99). I’m not personally a fan of ultra-low pricing but I do know people are making a nice living selling low priced books. Check out the guide on pricing your book to figure out the best price for your book.
The royalties on books aren’t huge so you need to either write a bestseller or write a lot of books.
Review, revise, rinse and repeat (price: free)
The bootstrapping writer will need to continue writing to become a professional. Review and tweak your method as needed, it will only get easier as you learn what works and what doesn’t work.