By Nina Amir
If you want to make a living as an author, you need to think beyond writing and books. Consider yourself both an author and an entrepreneur—an authorpreneur.
Publishing is a business, plain and simple. If you choose to self-publish, you create a start-up publishing company. If you traditionally publish, you ask a publisher to become your venture-capital partner.
But here’s the rub: Most books don’t sell many copies. That means the publisher doesn’t make much money. If you self-publish, that publisher is you, which means you may not make back your investment. You also might not make enough on sales to earn a living.
Just because a book makes it onto the Amazon Top 100 list in a particular category—or more than one category—doesn’t mean the author is raking in the dough. In some categories, such as “Authorship,” a book need only sell around thirty to forty copies in a week to make it onto the list. You won’t get rich selling 150 books per month. And other categories have a lower marker to get on the Amazon Top 100.
What’s an author like you to do? You don’t have to starve. Instead of only living off income from your book sales, leverage your content into cash. Monetize your books with products and services. Become an authorpreneur, and build a business around your book!
To accomplish this goal, I recommend a big-picture view of you and your books from the start. To do this, complete the following ten steps. Each one requires answering important questions.
- Identify Your Passion: What am I most passionate about?
Your books and your business should line up with your passions. If you choose to write about something that interests you now, but that won’t interest you in six month, a year, or two years, you could have a difficult time sustaining the energy necessary to make the book—and the business you build around it—successful. Build your passion into the topics of your books and your brand—into every aspect of your business.
- Identify Your Purpose: What do I feel compelled to do in the world, or what is my mission or soul purpose as it relates to my work?
When your writing, and any activities you choose to take related to your writing, align with a sense of mission or purpose, you will do whatever it takes to make your project succeed. Plus, if you combine your passion (#1) with your purpose, you will feel inspired. Inspiration moves you forward faster than passion or purpose alone. Also, your book(s) can—and should—take on your purpose. (Yes, even novels.) Then they have a reason to exist beyond just entertaining or providing information to readers.
Additionally, your purpose should be apparent in your branding, and therefore in the topics you choose to write about and the products and services you provide. Anyone who shows up at your website should know immediately what you do and why you do it. (More on this below.)
- Identify Your Values: What three to five things do I value most?
A business reflects its owner: you. Your books reflect you, too. For this reason, it’s important to know what you value. Use this information to choose the topics you write about, the themes you discuss, and the types of products and services you offer. Also build your values into your branding.
- Identify the Topics You Want to Write About: What topics would I like to write about or do I plan to write about (and in what genres)?
Now you can align your books with your passion, purpose and values. Choose topics that you feel passionate about, that help you accomplish your mission, and that help you express your values. Also, consider the themes you want to write about in your books, which also should line up with your passion, purpose and values. Accomplishing this step helps you author books that build your brand and your business. Such foresight also helps you promote your business because it strengthens your branding ability.
- Ideate Your Books: What is my first or primary book idea, and what three to five spin-off books, series or sequels could I write that relate to my primary book idea in theme or topic?
Now that you know what topic you want to write about—and it ties into your passion, purpose and values—it’s time to come up with book ideas. That’s right…not just one book idea but many related ideas. These can cross genres.
Once you have brainstormed ideas, prioritize them. Decide which book you will write first, and then which ones should follow. Keep in mind how each book will help you become known as an expert or as an author who writes about a particular topic or theme. Create the ideas so one book logically leads to another. This helps you build your brand and sell more books.
- Ideate Book-Related Products: What related products could I develop to monetize my knowledge and the content in my books?
Fiction writers may need to think outside the box at this point. However, if you’ve done a good job of the first five steps, you may have some nonfiction book ideas related to your novels, which will help leverage your content into products. Nonfiction authors should find it easy to brainstorm products related to the content of their books. If you offer a system, provide advice or have any tips or tools in your book—or could create some—this is the time to “productize” this information.
The range of potential products you can create is almost endless these days:
- Video courses
- Teleseminars and webinars
- Live and home-study courses
- Live and virtual events
- Membership sites
You can offer affiliate products if you prefer. Whatever products you sell to your readers—in addition to your books—become your additional sources of revenue. And they allow you to serve your readers in a new, possibly more personal, manner.
- Ideate Book-Related Services: What related services could I create to leverage my knowledge or the content in my books?
Apply the same principles you used in step #6 here. Brainstorm services you might offer that take readers deeper into your material or help them in some way. You might offer:
- Done-for-you services
- Done-with-you services
- Group coaching
Your services become a third source of revenue after your books and other products.
- Develop Your Brand: How can I use my passion, purpose, values, topics, and books to distinguish myself in the marketplace. More simply, how do I want to be known as an author?
After you accumulate all the information required in the first seven steps you are ready to create a brand for yourself as an author. You also can create a brand for your publishing company and the business you build around your books. (Ideally, one brand encompasses all three.) That brand should reflect your passion, purpose and values as well as the topics and themes about which you write. Choose colors, create logos, write tag lines, purchase URLs, make videos, write blog posts, and, of course, develop books, products and services that tell your potential readers, customers and clients who you are and what you are about or stand for.
- Create Your Author Website/Blog: How can I carry out my branding on my author website with a tagline, a title, colors, banners, logos, etc.?
Your brand is carried out on your author website, which is now more than just that. It is also your business home and storefront in cyberspace. When visitors arrive on your site, you want them to understand in less than four seconds what type of books you write (and publish) and what kind of products and services you sell. (If they don’t, they will leave.) You want potential readers, clients and customers to immediately “get” you. Your colors, logos, taglines, URLs, videos, blog posts, and, of course, your books, products and services, are part of your on-site branding effort.
- Strategize Your Platform Building & Promotion: What have I done to date to create visibility, reach, authority, and influence in my target market? How can I build on that effort to create effective ways to sell my books to my potential readers?
Finally, extend your branding beyond your own site. Use it on all your social media sites, emails and with everything you do to help promote your books, your publishing company, and the products and services for sale on your site. Then get active promoting the brand called YOU and the brand called YOUR BOOKS and YOUR BUSINESS.
Place your answers to the questions above in a document, and develop it into a business plan. As an authorpreneur, this plan becomes your gold mine. Dig deeply into it, and you will produce enough gold to develop a thriving business around your books.
Nina Amir, is a Contributing Writer for TheBookDesigner.com. She is also the author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, and transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs.
You can learn more about Nina here.