How to Get Paid to Learn How to Become a Better Writer
What if I told you people would pay you to become a better writer?
What if I also told you people would pay you higher amounts to keep learning how to become a better writer?
I’ve seen too many online writers wasting away writing free material without reaping any rewards for their writing.
Today I’m going to talk about the quickest way to turn your writing habit into income.
The Proven Path to Writing Income
Will your bank account fill itself with hundreds of thousands of dollars after you write your first book? No.
You can, however, write books that earn a profit and continue to write better books that sell more each time.
To make a full-time living self-publishing your own books, you’ll need a healthy writing habit, a desire to learn, and the ability to adapt and iterate several times before you crack the profit code.
Steve Scott, who would have a spot on the Mt. Rushmore of self-publishing, provides the perfect example of how the process works.
Steve started writing short books—15 to 20,000 words—in 2014. As expected, his first book didn’t hit the New York Times Best Seller list. With his first book, sales started to trickle in. Instead of giving up on the process, or waiting months and years before writing book two, he wrote another book within a month.
He wrote about one book per month, and today he’s written nearly 70 books.
Myth – “You Can’t Make Money Selling Books”
According to a recent article he posted, Steve has earned more than $500,000.00 in the past two years solely from book sales.
Joanna Penn, another self-publishing giant, reported her first (almost) six figure earning year from royalties earned from the 18 books she’s published.
Mark Dawson reports making several hundred thousand dollars per year through his self-published fiction catalog.
What do these examples tell us?
They show that self-publishing is a viable method to earn a full time living through writing—without having to create an online course, do affiliate marketing, or becoming a coach, which are the profit earning techniques de jour for online writers.
If you just want to write and make money strictly from your words, it’s possible.
But you have to do it right.
The Wrong Way to Self-Publish a Book
Jane wants to publish a book.
She writes the book, gives it a quick spell check, hires a designer for five dollars to create her book cover, and throws it up on Amazon.
When she releases the book, she sends out a few social media posts and waits. She eagerly checks the statistics on her Amazon sales page.
Nothing. Zip. Zilch.
This experience crushes her. She decides self-publishing is a crap shoot and never writes a book again.
She joins the majority of self-published authors who never sell more than 250 copies of their first book.
Her story ends there.
This is how most people self-publish. They ignore proven techniques that help books sell. They delude themselves into thinking their efforts merit sales, and give up on the process because they place the blame on readers or the book retailers.
Don’t be like Jane. Instead, follow the techniques I lay out and use the right resources to help your book sell.
If you make a few smart moves, your book will earn a profit and provide the income you need to continue to create better books in the future. You’ll learn new techniques along the way, therefore creating a process where you get paid to learn.
How to Win on a Level Playing Field
Why has self-publishing become a viable route to income? Because smart and talented writers, editors, and designers are choosing themselves. These types of professionals used to be guarded by gatekeepers, but many have gone independent.
You now have access to professionals who can help you create a book that looks, feels, and reads exactly like a traditionally published book.
The only distinction readers use to buy books now is whether the book was professionally published or non-professionally published. I’d be willing to wager that you couldn’t tell the difference between certain self-published and traditionally published books if I put them side by side.
The key to finding success as an amateur is to do everything you can to avoid looking like one.
There are some authors and publishing industry insiders who lament over the influx of self-published books. They’re assholes.
You have every right to publish your own book regardless of your experience. Back in the days of the gatekeeper, you had to be a great writer and you had to be chosen—often at random—to get noticed.
Now you can choose yourself. You can put your books out into the world, practice in public, and reach a point where you’re writing as well as the big boys and girls.
Don’t let the stuffy elitists fool you. You don’t have to be Hemingway to be a successful author and have readers who enjoy your books. E.L. James gets scoffed at for the literary quality of Fifty Shades of Grey, but readers loved it and that’s all that matters.
I bet the stinging shots from the critics hurt, but I think she’s content to drown her sorrows in a gigantic pile of cash.
That being said, if you’re going to publish a book yourself, you need to do a few key things right in order to give your book a shot at succeeding.
People will judge your book by its cover.
The cover clues the reader to the book’s quality. I don’t like to speak in absolutes often, but you must have a great looking cover.
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to create a quality cover.
100 Covers creates book covers for $100.00
Happy Self-Publishing creates them at affordable prices too.
99 Designs also creates excellent covers, but they’re a bit more pricey, starting at $299.00
Here are some great posts on the elements of a winning book cover.
If you want to destroy your book’s chances of success, don’t hire an editor.
You will spend the largest portion of your budget on an editor, but it’s well worth the investment.
If readers notice grammatical errors and typos in your book, they’ll ask for a refund and they’ll post negative reviews of your book on Amazon.
Even if you edit your book multiple times, you still won’t catch every error you made. Plus, editors can help you with the overall structure of your book and help you omit needless words.
Some great guides on editing are:
This seems obvious, but I’ve actually witnessed book launches that consist of nothing more than the author putting their book on Amazon and sending out a few tweets.
I’ve also seen book writing projects that fail to get out of the starting gate because the would-be author had no plan or structure set before writing the book.
Here’s what you need to know to plan your book from idea to launch.
Step 1 – Idea Phase/Outline/Write
I already wrote a detailed guide about the process of writing your book. You can read it here – The Ultimate Guide to Writing Your First Book.
In short, you need to:
- Brainstorm an idea/book contents – There are techniques such as mind laid out in the guide
- Outline and write first draft – Adhere to the “shitty first draft rule,” and write non-stop until the first draft is complete
Step 2 – Self Edit and Send to Professional Editor
You will go through multiple phases in editing the book.
The most important type of edit happens when you read the book out loud because it will help you catch odd phrasing. After you’ve edited multiple times (3-5) you can send it to a professional editor.
Step 3 – Source Designers
Use the resources I mentioned to design a great looking book cover. You will also need to hire someone to format your book unless you opt to do it yourself.
Step 4 – Plan Launch and Promote
Your launch plan will make or break your book. To plan a successful launch, you want to combine a mixture of your own marketing efforts plus paid promotion.
Most self-publish authors set the price of their book at free or .99 for the first week, use paid promotion to boost sales, and then switch the price to $2.99 $3.99.
Your plan, launch, and expectations for your first book should be simple and modest. Without a large following of your own, your first book won’t become a runaway hit. Over time, however, you can build an audience to support your book writing business.
I talk about audience building in depth here – The Ultimate Guide to Attracting an Audience Of Loyal Fans
It would take another 2,000-word guide to explain the book launching process in detail.
Instead, I’ll refer you to these excellent guides:
How to Launch Your Book – The 5 Day Plan That Works – By Steve Scott
How to Plan A Successful Book Launch – By Tim Grahl
The Mistake I Made After Writing My First Book
My first book wasn’t a runaway best seller, but it made money. It’s been a year since I wrote my first book, and my only regret in my writing career was not writing and publishing a second one right away.
I’m almost finished with my second book, and I’ll keep the momentum going with multiple books per year from now on.
I once asked James Altucher for book marketing advice. He said the most important step in marketing your book is to write your next book.
Self-published authors who succeed write multiple books per year. They become smarter marketers and better writers throughout the process.
They work their tails off–getting paid to write the entire way–until one day they become an “authority,” and everyone wonders how they did it.
There’s no substitute for hard work, so stop looking for one.
If you do the work, repeat the process, and iterate along the way, good things will happen.
Why You Should Write A Book
If you follow the process, you’ll at minimum make your money back with a modest profit. At maximum, you’ll have a book that takes off and makes a nice amount of income.
Either way, you’re getting paid to learn.
Each book you write will be better than the last.
Each book launch will teach you new strategies for the next one.
You’ll add loyal readers to your audience, which will increase your chances of success with each book.
You’re getting paid to do marketing experiments and perfect your craft. It’s a win-win.
I spend a lot of time blogging.
I enjoy blogging, but like publishing expert Matt Stone says, “Would you rather have 700 free blog posts or 15 books?”
Yes, blogging can lead to huge opportunities by building a business on the back end, but how many bloggers actually pull it off?
I see tons of writers slogging and blogging away, with no real plan for how they’re going to turn their blog into an income.
I see a lot of writers who simply aren’t cut out for the six figure blogging pipe dream.
What they do have, however, is a healthy writing habit and thousands of words of material — material that could just as easily be in a book with some polishing.
It’s not for the weak of heart. You need to have a healthy writing habit. I’m talking 1000+ words per day. And you have to love to write.
But you can find success through self-publishing, and I encourage you to give it a shot.