Guest post from Jill of By Jill B
If you’re struggling to make money from blogging, consider self-publishing. I stumbled upon self-publishing by accident and discovered that it is a very viable way of making money from my writing.
The best part about it is that you do NOT need an existing platform to make it. Your books become your platform.
So how do you make money from self-publishing? Like any business, it takes time and persistence with no guarantees. However, here are some tips on how to turn self-publishing into a business.
Focus on a Niche that Sells
Look for niche markets that have large audiences. In non-fiction, big genres include how-to, self-help, health and motivational books. In fiction, the big-hitters include romance, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery and thrillers. Look for sub-genres that you can target.
If you’re looking to make money, avoid writing in difficult-to-sell niches like poetry. However, I’d also avoid trying to get traction in a very competitive niche like contemporary romance. Instead, find a smaller sub-genre that interests you, like Jane Austen fan fiction, for example.
A good place to figure out if you’re targeting a good niche is to see if the top-selling books in the Amazon subcategory are ranked at #30,000 or less (the lower the rank, the more the book is selling). A rank of #30,000 means the book is selling a few copies a day. In some non-fiction niches, you might also be able to tell if a subject is popular by the number of magazines that are available in stores.
Follow Your PASSION
Next, figure out what your passions are. What do you like to read? What do you like to do? What do you find yourself talking about a lot?
Those are your passions. Try to align them with a niche that sells.
While some people are able to do very well writing books that they have no interest in, I do not suggest following this route if you want to develop a long career in indie-publishing.
Understand Your Audience
Once you’ve decided on your niche, read a few books from the bestseller lists to see why they are selling well. Read some of the reviews. Positive and negative reviews can be very helpful in understanding what that audience is looking for.
Figure Out How You Can Produce a Lot of Books Within Your Niche
This applies more to non-fiction because you can always make more fictional stories up.
In non-fiction, try to figure out how you can position yourself as an authority in a niche. I admit that my own publishing plan took a while to formulate. I started with a “How to Keep Backyard Chickens” book and focused too much on trying to write many books around chickens. It is a niche that is too small to build a business around, and I couldn’t come up with enough marketable topics.
It turns out that I should have been looking at the forest and not just a tree. In my case, the tree was chicken books. The forest is the large topic of homesteading — which includes frugal living, livestock-keeping, gardening, food preservation, hunting, home business, emergency prepping and much more. Now, I can write a lot of books on the topic of homesteading!
Write in Series
While not a must, writing in a series makes it easier to sell more books to your readers. Once you’ve hooked them, readers tend to want to buy more from you. This applies to both fiction and nonfiction.
In fiction, a series can consist of books that focus on the same characters or about the happenings in the same area. In both fiction and nonfiction, you can make a sequential book series, or a series out of a theme.
For example, I used “The Modern American Frugal Housewife” theme to write a series of four nonfiction books, based around frugal living.
Produce Good Products (Books)
If you want to make a business out of self-publishing, your books are not “your babies”; they are your products. Write books that resonate with your audience, edit them well, and use a genre-appropriate cover.
By genre-appropriate cover, I mean to examine the covers of other top-selling books in your genre. Thriller books normally feature the author’s name in large, bold text and depict silhouettes running. Romance books normally depict a couple in some form of embrace. The cover should be legible even when viewed in thumbnail size.
Do not try to be original. Your audience has to be able to recognize what the book’s subject is at one glance.
If you’re hiring someone to design your cover, make sure that they know how to design a digital book cover. Good book cover artists understand the nuances of color and typography, which an artistic person may not necessarily grasp. For those on a budget who are design-challenged, I recommend using Canva.com, which is free if you use your own images.
Make Your Books Work for You
The nice thing about indie publishing is that you retain all the rights to your work. Make it work for you!
While Amazon is the biggest self-publishing platform, do not overlook publishing your book on other platforms like iTunes, Nook, Kobo (Canada), and Google Play (which is currently closed to new members).
Expand your reach further by offering print books through Amazon’s Createspace or Ingram Spark. Certain books also do very well in audio, which you can distribute via Audible.
A few helpful resources:
Crystal has said that blogging is “a marathon, not a sprint”. This also applies to the self-publishing business. Take one step at a time to build your brand and backlist of books.
Your journey will be different from someone else’s. Always be kind to yourself.
Jill Bong writes under the pen name Jill b. She is a homeschooling mom, homesteader, author, entrepreneur and inventor of Chicken Armor chicken saddles. Visit her author site: By Jill B. You can download her Self-Publish on a Budget With Amazon ebook for FREE right now!