Should you only write a book if you have a business?
There is a good reason I usually only help coaches, speakers and other entrepreneurs write a book, and that’s because book sales don’t usually generate a lot of money. They don’t make you a living and you can’t retire from your day job due to your book sales. Very few authors actually make a living from their book sales. It’s a very, very small percentage. The authors who make money are the ones who are leveraging the book in their business.
So, when does it make sense to write a book? Only if you have a business? Or can it be a good idea in other situations? This blog looks at the when and why of book writing.
In this article, we will cover:
How do people make money from books?
The authors who are doing well from their book are generally leveraging that book strategically in their business. They might be a coach, consultant, speaker, or other entrepreneur who benefits from being positioned as an expert in their industry. Writing a quality book does that for you.
The business-author makes money from things like coaching, consulting, high ticket coaching, selling programs, selling workshops, getting paid speaking gigs, securing paid positions on boards, and other paid opportunities.
For this reason, if you don’t have a business, it’s very difficult to make money from your book.
It’s not all about the money
I know that many people are not writing a book for the money.
We want to impact people.
Imagine the feeling of somebody reading your book and then changing their life for the better as a result? It’s an incredible feeling to get an email from a reader, praising your book and how much they enjoyed it, or how much it’s changed their life.
But nobody is going to see your book if you don’t promote it… and how do you promote it? You might have to spend money on ads and other kinds of promotions. They cost you time and/or money. Usually there is some money involved if you really want to get the word out there.
If you just write a book, nobody’s going to hear about it except for your mum, a handful of friends, and maybe a few clients.
A book is something you have to actively promote.
Promoting your book
You can use the book as a tool in your business and do a 12-month marketing campaign around your book content. You can keep using it in different ways for content, like videos, quizzes, photo galleries, blogs, quotes, and more. There are all kinds of things you can create off the back of the book and they all tie back into the book.
One of my clients wrote a book called ‘The Content Fuel Framework’, which is an excellent tool in helping you generate infinite content ideas. Pick it up here.
If you don’t have a business, how do you keep promoting your book? How can you make this viable and doable? Do you have the time/inclination to promote your book continuously for a year or two? The minute you stop promoting, it will stop selling.
Can you afford it? Do you feel right about it? Do you have a Facebook page to direct people to? If you just have a page about your book, it can be hard to get followers, because people will only join a group or follow a page if it’s clear what’s in it for them.
If you want a Facebook group, it could be about a particular topic that’s a broader topic than your book covers. And then your book is just one thing that people can access when they’re in that group. For example, I had a client who wrote children’s sleep hypnosis books (they’re amazing, you can access them here)
Kylie has a Facebook group about parenting children 2-8 years old. She’s a licensed hypnotherapist, and this group gives her the opportunity to include other experts and practitioners who work with that age group. This way, the parents will have a reason to visit the group – and this is how they might end up encountering the book.
You have to be very strategic with your book and how you’re going to promote and sell it.
If you don’t have a business…
Based on the above information, if you don’t have a business, how are you going to do all of this?
If you are in a day job which is unrelated to your book, then you will find it challenging to commit time to book promotion.
A good example is the large number of people who come to me because they want to share their life story. They have been through something difficult, and come out the other side wiser, stronger, and ready to help others with what they’ve learned.
I love that you can help people with your life story, but if your job, career or business has nothing to do with that life story or that book, how are you going to fit them both in? How will you justify the hundreds of hours you will need to spend promoting the book?
Will your friends/family be enough to reach your sales goals? Will they get sick of you talking about the book?
If you have a business, you have many options for sales or leveraging (giving the book away for free to warm up leads or get new clients over the line, etc), which you can carry out as part of your normal business/marketing activities.
If you don’t have a business, where will all the sales come from?
You really need to think about that.
A book will cost you money
Self-publishing a quality book is not free.
I said ‘quality’, because I think it’s only worth creating something of quality.
You don’t need to write a Pulitzer Prize winner, but it needs to be worthy.
And that costs money.
You may not engage a coach to help you write it, but you will need a professional book cover design (please don’t DIY that), and multiple professional edits. If you are handy with tech, then you can probably format and upload it yourself, but if not, you’ll need to pay for this too.
I would budget close to AU$10,000 (approx. US$6,500) for the editing and publishing phase of your book.
If you want to work with a book coach like me, then you need to double that investment, because you will get so much more, including private, weekly guidance and writing feedback, an editing/publishing project manager, ISBNs/barcode, formatting, uploading and more. You will always know exactly what to do
This might sound like a lot, and that brings us back to aligning the book with a business. If you’re a high ticket coach or consultant, you can easily earn this money from one or two clients. If you are a professional speaker, you can earn this from one 40-minute speaking gig. I have clients who charge up to US$25,000 for a 40-minute keynote. It’s definitely possible, and I have a business partner who helps people find paid and unpaid speaking gigs (to large audiences, full of your ideal client).
If you don’t have a business, and you’re relying on book sales, getting a return on this investment will take a long time. In fact, you will, in all likelihood, never achieve it.
For example, if you are getting an average of approximately $3-5 profit on each book (assuming you are selling for $4-5 for the ebook and $15 for the paperback) – you will need to sell between 2,000 and 3,500 books just to break even.
Most self-published authors sell less than 100 books.
If you have 1000 Facebook friends, it’s safe to say that less than 50 of them will buy your book, and even then, you’ll need to give them a compelling reason if it’s just your opinion, your life story, or something you whipped up about a very specific topic.
I have had some clients write a book as a ‘bucket list item’, and they are willing to invest in achieving their dream – but for most people, it does need to tie into a business goal in order to justify the investment.
Can you just publish cheaply?
Well, you can do anything you want.
But I encourage you to think about why you want to write a book?
As a Book Coach, I have seen a lot of very average… okay, let’s be honest – poor quality – writing. People (who are not clients) send me their work to see what I think.
And so far, there’s barely been anybody who has sent something I would actually take the time to read. I read three paragraphs and my eyes glaze over.
If you write a whole book like that, nobody is going to read it.
And the reality is, that most people don’t write particularly well. What we learned at school, besides being a long time ago, didn’t prepare us to be authors.
People write memoirs in ‘journal’ style, where they are ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’, and others have poor spelling, grammar, sentence structure and punctuation. Readers won’t tolerate poor quality, and if they catch a glimpse of a first chapter full of issues and difficult to read, they won’t continue.
Will that achieve your goal?
So, while you can write your book and just upload to Amazon for free, it’s not a good idea.
In fact, it’s a terrible idea.
Put thought into your book, plan it, structure the book so it makes sense and has a good flow, get it professionally edited (a few times), ensure it has a professional book cover and is well-formatted…
Because in my view, if you don’t publish something of high quality, there is no point doing it at all.
What to do next?
If you are serious about writing a quality book, please get in contact. We can talk about your book idea, and what it can do for you.
Please click here to schedule a free book clarity call.
Until next time, happy writing!
The Change Empire Books coaching team.
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