If you don’t have a business… how do you make money and/or get it published?
In short, to be brutally honest, if you don’t have a business which aligns with it (coaching, consulting, speaking etc), I don’t think it makes sense to invest the time and money into writing and publishing your memoir*.
Because if you don’t have a business, and can use the book as a tool in your business growth strategy, then what is the purpose of the whole thing?
If you want to just make passive income, then I hate to break it to you, but very few authors live off their book sales income.
You can make some money from book sales, but you have to run Amazon (etc) ads continuously, so you’re still spending money to make money. And those ads won’t work unless you have reviews – and getting reviews takes work as well.
The money from books generally comes from the ‘things’ around it, as suggested above… so if you don’t have a service to sell, you’re not in a great position to make the book a successful venture.
Maybe you think you can write the book and it will get picked up by a publisher. I wrote this blog about how to get published, and also interviewed a publishing expert and mentor who helps people get traditionally published.
In short though, getting published by a traditional publisher is a very long shot. If you’ve written a memoir and you’re not already a celebrity, then you have a one in a million chance of being picked up.
Your story would have to be exceptional, unusual and extremely compelling to even be considered. Stories about death or regular life struggles around relationships, poverty, violence, are not generally unusual or ‘new’ enough to get a look in.
Publishers will also generally expect you to have a big social media following, so that you can BYO book audience. To give you an idea, the head of Hay House said he gets ten manuscripts a week from people with 100,000+ followers. It’s normal. They’re taking on people with 500,000-1,000,000 followers for the most part.
As for getting your book made into a movie (like Elizabeth Gilbert did with Eat, Pray, Love), then forget it. Of course it happens, but you wouldn’t want to base all your hope, dreams and effort around it!
If you are still keen to write your story, I’ll explain how in the next sections.
* There is an exception to the idea that you should have a business to write a memoir. Sometimes you just have a story you need to ‘get out’. In this scenario, you might write the book just to get the feelings out of your body, and you don’t plan to really do anything with it. In this situation, if you do have a lazy $2-5k to spend, and you just want to write it and keep it for yourself, or maybe you do publish it but you don’t really care if it sells… then you’re doing it as a passion project. Sometimes the cathartic process of writing it is what you needed. I’ve had a couple of book coaching clients who have done just this. And if this is you, go for it… just keep your sales expectations modest, remove the need to recoup the costs, and you’ll be fine.