Estimated reading time: 16 minutes
When I first got started in this book marketing business, I read every book Seth Godin wrote on marketing. He was the number-one guru. Once I finished reading his books, I started reading every marketing book he had endorsed.
When Michael Hyatt wrote his book, Platform, he knew there were a lot of people like me who would buy the book if Seth Godin’s name was on it. So, Hyatt put Seth Godin’s endorsement at the top of the front cover of his book.
Getting solid endorsements can make a huge difference when you’re marketing your book. Good endorsements can boost the conversation rate of your Amazon page and make it more likely that a book buyer will carry your book all the way to the checkout counter rather than putting it back on the shelf.
Endorsements are particularly important for religious books. Religious readers want to know if the author is a heretic. Endorsements are the easiest way to tell if the book is safe.
We all want great endorsements for our book covers or our Amazon sales page. But how do you get credible people to want to endorse your book?
Five steps to getting great endorsements:
- Identify Candidates
Determine the ideal endorsers for your book.
- Build Rapport
The key to endorsements is effective networking. Endorsements are fruit from the tree of friendship.
- Ask for the Endorsement
The more personal the request, the more favorable the response.
- Edit the Endorsement
Trim the endorsement to a usable-sized blurb and ask the endorser if they approve the final version.
Make the endorser feel great about doing you such a big favor.
Endorsements are NOT Reviews
This can be confusing since, on Amazon, endorsements are listed under a section called “Editorial Reviews.” If you scroll down on your book’s Amazon sales page, you’ll see a section labeled “Editorial Reviews.” That’s where you’ll find endorsements and editorial reviews from major newspapers and book review sites such as Kirkus or Publishers Weekly. You may also find editorial reviews from other authors there because endorsements are not the same as reader reviews.
Reader reviews appear in a different place and serve a different function. The number of book reviews on your Amazon sales page is the total of your reader reviews. It does not include your endorsements or reviews by publications.
Amazon frowns upon authors leaving reader reviews for other authors. However, they smile upon authors providing endorsements or editorial reviews for other authors.
You can listen to our episodes about reader reviews, but this article will discuss endorsements.
Step 1: Identify Candidates
Credibility is a Funny Thing
Authors often ask me to write an endorsement for their book. They’ve listened to my podcasts, and they trust my recommendations on books. I am honored to get these requests, but I always turn them down. Why? Because I don’t have credibility with their readers.
Readers of a sweet romance book don’t care what a marketing guru says about a book. Now, if the book was about book marketing, podcasting, or course creation, then my endorsement might be worth something.
Know Your Timothy
It doesn’t matter who you think is credible. It matters who your representative reader thinks is credible. That’s why it’s so important to know your representative reader, or as I call him, your Timothy. To find out who your Timothy is, listen to my episode on How to Find Your Readers.
Here is an extreme example to illustrate my point. Let’s say you write a thriller where terrorists kidnap the president, and somehow you get Donald Trump to endorse it.
Is that a good endorsement? It depends.
A lot of people hate Donald Trump, and if your Timothy is one of those people, a Trump endorsement may hurt your book sales, even though Donald Trump is one of only six living American Presidents.
And before you think I am picking sides, the same would be true if Joe Biden endorsed your thriller. Some readers hate Joe Biden and would never read anything with his name on it.
Ask Your Timothy
Survey your beta readers to see whose endorsements would influence them to buy your book. “Influencer” is a catch-all term for people who have influence with your Timothy. An influencer could be anyone from a YouTuber to a local pastor.
When you survey your beta readers, you want to get answers to the following questions: What podcasts do they listen to?
- What YouTube channels do they subscribe to?
- Who do they follow on social media?
- What other books do they read?
- Who writes those books?
- Who endorses them?
- For nonfiction: Who has credibility on this topic?
Think Outside the Author Box
Fellow author endorsements are some of the best endorsements you can get because they immediately give readers an idea of whether they’ll like your book. Author endorsements help readers know what to expect in the same way book suggestions do. For example, “If you like Narnia, you will like Middle Earth.” And, indeed, most Narnia fans are also Middle Earth fans.
But when you’re seeking endorsements, don’t restrict yourself to authors. Other influencers may have more influence with your Timothy, and they rarely get asked to endorse a book.
However, it’s important to remember that the endorsement has little value if your reader doesn’t know the author or has never heard of that author’s book.
The one exception is if the endorser has a job title or an award that your readers recognize. If your endorser is a Nobel Prize winner, readers don’t need to know who they are. They’ll still be impressed and influenced by the Nobel Prize winner’s endorsement because they recognize the award.
Write a List
Create a list of endorsers in three categories:
I have an endorsement tracking spreadsheet you can download for free. This tracking spreadsheet will help you build a list and track your progress with each potential endorser on your list.
Step 2: Build Rapport
Many authors think that getting endorsements is simply a matter of writing an amazing book and sending out Advanced Reader Copies. If only it were that easy!
I know authors who receive dozens of books in the mail from strangers seeking endorsements. Those authors could spend all day every day reading books to possibly endorse. But if they did, they would go bankrupt because reading other people’s books for free in order to give free endorsements doesn’t pay the bills.
Well-known authors and influencers simply don’t have time to read books by strangers, so they typically ignore ARCs from strangers.
When you ask someone to read and endorse your book, you are asking for a huge favor. Depending on how long your book is, you are asking for a full day’s worth of work. Influential people earn money with their time, so your request is the equivalent of asking them for hundreds of dollars.
Influencers won’t give hundreds of dollars to a stranger. So, the first step to getting an endorsement is to stop being a stranger.
Most influencers decide whether to endorse a book based on who the author is. If they know, like, or trust the author (or the author’s friend), they’ll read the book to figure out what to say or decide not to endorse it. Most influencers won’t read an ARC unless they think they’ll probably endorse it.
Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty
It takes time to build rapport. Start the networking process long before you plan to publish your first book. For traditional authors, the publishing process is so slow that you have time to build rapport. But if you are indie, you will need to make a concerted effort to make friends with influencers while you are still learning to write.
The Dirty Secret of Book Endorsements
Many influencers neither read the book the endorse nor write the endorsement. They may like the author and want to help, but they don’t have a free day to read the book and write the endorsement. Often, they’ll ask the author to write a draft endorsement for them to tweak and approve.
Sometimes drafting the endorsement is part of the copywriting process. If the author knows she has an open endorsement from a certain influencer, she will write the endorsement she needs for the front of the book. Then she’ll ask the influencer if the endorsement will work.
Endorsements are often more about the author than the book itself.
This leads us to an important principle.
Endorsements are the fruit that grows from the tree of friendship.
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were friends for years before Tolkien asked Lewis to endorse his new book, The Fellowship of the Ring. In fact, Tolkien played a key part in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity.
The first endorsement you see on the Amazon page for The Fellowship of the Ring (Affiliate Link) is from C.S. Lewis.
“Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron.”C. S. Lewis
This endorsement has been on the cover of The Lord of the Rings books for decades. Tolkien didn’t lead Lewis to Christ so that one day he would endorse his book. He invested in the friendship for its own sake, and an endorsement was one of many fruits produced by that tree.
Since kindergarten, we’ve all been told that “To have a good friend, you need to be a good friend.” One way to be a good friend is by being generous. The traditional means of showing generosity is to invite people to parties.
Have you ever wondered why wealthy people have historically had big houses? It is so they can throw big parties and make lots of friends. Everyone wants to be the friend of a generous man.
On the flip side, we all have that friend who only calls when they need something. It’s hard for that person to make and keep friends because they hope to reap before they sow.
I talked about this a few months ago in my episode on reciprocity.
Host a Podcast
One of the major benefits of hosting a podcast on your genre or topic is that it’s a relatively inexpensive way to give out big favors. When you invite a fellow author to talk about her book on your podcast, you have done her a huge favor. Chances are you will chitchat before and after the interview, and you might become friends.
A year later, when you contact that author to see if she will endorse your book, you won’t be a stranger.
You can’t say, “I had you on my podcast, so you owe me.” That would be obnoxious and unnecessary. But people tend to remember a person who has done them a good turn.
A more expensive way to connect with fellow authors is to attend writers conferences and retreats. Events for writers can be worth the investment because relationships formed in person are stronger and healthier.
Many authors go to conferences early in their careers and meet other writers in the early stages of writing. They form a cohort of sorts. They tend to help each other throughout their careers even after they stop attending conferences.
This tactic favors authors who can afford to travel to conferences or live near a major conference’s host city.
Start a Writers Group
You can bless other authors and engender a sense of reciprocity by facilitating a local writers group. Most authors want to be part of a critique group to help them improve their craft, but few are willing to start one. One of the benefits of running a writers group is that it’s easy to get endorsements from your group members.
Be Active on AuthorMedia.social
I created a social network for authors called AuthorMedia.social. You can find it at www.AuthorMedia.social. It’s the perfect place to meet and get to know fellow writers. You can ask questions, celebrate accomplishments, post job listings, share your funny writer memes, and a lot more.
If you want to hang out with authors who listen to this podcast, then AuthorMedia.social may quickly become one of your favorite places on the internet. I have seen authors find endorsers on AuthorMedia.social, especially in the students-only areas attached to the Book Launch Blueprint or Obscure No More courses.
AuthorMedia.social is my gift to the author community. It’s free of much of the drama and noise that you find in Facebook groups.
Step 3: Ask for the Endorsement
At some point, you have to make the ask.
Don’t Be in a Rush
Asking someone to read your book in the next couple of months is one thing. Asking them to drop everything and read your book this week is something else entirely. The more influential a person is, the busier they tend to be. The more you rush people, the less likely they are to endorse your book.
How to Ask a Friend
So how do you ask for an endorsement? I think the most effective way is to ask over the phone or Zoom. Send a message to schedule a Zoom call. After you chitchat, ask for their endorsement.
Depending on your level of friendship, they may already know about your book. If that is the case, you could say something like this:
“My book is pretty much finished, and we are looking for some influencers to write endorsement blurbs for the book. Would you be interested in seeing an Advanced Reader Copy?”
If they don’t already know about your book, you may say something like this:
“Did you hear I’m working on a book? Yeah, it’s….” Then go into your short pitch.
If you need help crafting a killer pitch, listen to How to Pitch Your Novel (for fiction) or How to Craft a Compelling Elevator Pitch for Your Book (for fiction and nonfiction).
Once they agree to endorse, ask if they want a paper copy or a PDF. You are much more likely to get an endorsement back quickly if you send them a paper copy. People generally hate reading PDFs. You can also use StoryOrigin (Affiliate Link) to deliver a Kindle review copy of your book if your endorser has a Kindle.
Asking a Stranger
Let’s say you want a particular influencer to endorse your book, but you don’t have a friendship or personal connection with them. You can still ask for an endorsement, but you must know the secret.
The secret is to connect through their friends.
Don’t pitch the influencer directly. Try to contact them through someone they trust. Traditional authors have an advantage since agents and editors tend to have a lot of connections with potential endorsers.
An author who wouldn’t even consider endorsing your book might be willing to review it if her agent asked her to.
LinkedIn can show you whether you and the endorser have friends in common. But remember, the most powerful means of communication are in the following order:
- Face-to-Face on Zoom
- Direct Messages on Social Media
Just because you have a friend in common on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you should contact them through LinkedIn. Social media connections are your last resort.
Your goal is to get your friend to send an introduction email or contact the influencer on your behalf. Once the influencer responds, send them your elevator pitch and ask if they would be interested in reviewing it. Hopefully, you know by now how important that pitch is. The stronger your pitch, the more likely they are to review your book.
Modern humans don’t do anything without a deadline, so make sure you tell potential endorsers when you need the endorsement. Give them at least a month or two to send you the endorsement.
Feel free to send them a friendly reminder two weeks before the deadline.
Not Everyone Will Get Back to You
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! If you do, a single endorser can potentially hold up your launch.
Not every person you reach out to will have time to read your book. The people who do read your book may not want to give an endorsement. If you need four endorsements, plan on asking 12 people.
Of those 12, you want:
- 4 dream endorsers
- 4 target endorsers
- 4 safety endorsers
When an influencer agrees to write an endorsement, they often ask, “What kind of endorsement are you looking for?” It’s important to plan your answer so that you don’t get a dozen endorsements saying the same thing. They ask because they want to know if you are looking for a specific theme or focus of the review.
You don’t need to give them a theme the moment you ask for their endorsement and don’t force it if they don’t ask. The best endorsements come from the heartfelt feelings of the endorser. If they do ask, consider the following questions before you answer:
- What part of the book would they be uniquely qualified to comment on?
- What quality of the book do you want to be emphasized in the endorsement?
- What quality of the author (you) do you want to be emphasized in the endorsement?
Step 4: Edit the Endorsements
When you have the endorsements in hand, you’ll notice that endorsers typically will write two or three paragraphs about what they liked about the book. They expect you to use the most helpful parts of their endorsement. They’ll often say, “Hope this works. Feel free to edit.”
They know you won’t be able to use all three paragraphs. Even if they permit you to edit, always ask for their final approval on your edited version of their endorsement. Even if the edits are minor, make sure they approve of the final endorsement.
Editing an endorsement without approval is a terrible practice, especially if they don’t approve of the edited endorsement and you don’t find out until the book is printed.
What to Do with Endorsements That Don’t Fit
Sometimes you get an endorsement that you can’t use on the front or back cover. If you simply ran out of space on your cover, include the endorsement on your website.
It is bad form not to use a good endorsement. You asked someone for a big favor, so try your best to use it somewhere.
Some books include several pages of endorsements before the title page. The inside flaps of hardback dust covers are also a good place for endorsements. You can always put the endorsement on your website.
MyBookTable has a special place for featuring endorsements.
Step 5: Thank
The key to reciprocity is to keep the wheel rotating. Each good turn deserves a good turn-in response. You don’t keep score, but you also try not to let the ball land on your side of the court.
Send the endorser a handwritten thank you card along with a signed copy of your book. In your note, tell them where they can find their endorsement.
You might also consider including a gift card or a small gift. As Geno Hilderbrandt once said, “A thank you card without a gift is like a cloud without rain.” Keep the cycle of reciprocity rotating.
Don’t give cash!
Paying for an endorsement cheapens it in the eyes of readers, the author, and the endorser. It’s like offering to pay your mom for making Thanksgiving dinner.
Gifts should be responded to in kind—a gift for a gift. A nice bottle of wine or a gift certificate for a spa day is much better than money in this context.
Follow these five steps, and your circle of author connections and friendships will grow. To help you manage your growing network, be sure to download the free spreadsheet to keep track of all the steps for each potential endorser.
Would you like me to help you hit your publishing goals? I have worked with thousands of authors, from beginners to New York Times bestsellers, and I can help you go further faster in your career.
Get personalized, interactive training and encouragement from a small group of other masterminds and me. Once you join an Author Media Mastermind Group, you’ll get access to the private mastermind community and the monthly mastermind live coaching session.
We have three mastermind groups:
- Authors who want to sell more copies of the books they have on Amazon
- Writers who want to get published
- Influencers who want to grow their influence through blogging, podcasting, and public speaking
Learn more about joining our mastermind groups here.
When Violinist Victoria Pearson decides to participate in Belton University’s Concerto competition, she finds herself competing against her sister Adrienne and lifelong cellist friend Jerry Chang. This sets in motion a rivalry that questions the roles of sisterhood, friendship, and love.
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Episode 300 is Almost Here!
Episode 300 will be a live event hosted by me on September 30 at 4:00 PM Central Time. If you attend live, you will have a chance to come on screen and ask a question. We will also have prizes and hopefully some fun guest appearances.
An edited version of the live event will be aired on the Novel Marketing podcast the following week.
Do you feel discouraged or burnt out by your writing journey? Do you want to connect with other writers who understand your goals and pain? Do you need some time to get away from life, refocus on your goals, and connect with God?
Perhaps what you need is a writing retreat.
We have a special guest today who is going to help us understand what a writing retreat is and why you might need one in your life.
She is a published author, professional freelance editor, and owner of Christian Editor Network. She has taught at numerous writers conferences across the country, and she directed the Mount Hermon and SoCal Christian Writers Conferences for four years.
Kathy Ide, welcome to the Christian Publishing Show!
Use Coupon CWR10 to save 10%
Providing for your family through your writing may seem like an impossible dream, but it’s not!
If you are willing to work 40 hours per week, you can make enough money to support your family. I know it’s achievable because I’ve helped many authors make it happen. You may not get rich, but you can make a living doing what you love.
Whether you’re indie or traditional, nonfiction or fiction, published or unpublished, there are four different ways to earn a living through writing:
First, let’s talk about some numbers, so you understand the market as it is.
The typical royalty for a traditionally published book is about $0.85 per copy, but most authors aren’t paid per book sold. Most traditionally published authors are paid through an advance from their publisher. The typical advance is $5,000, but that’s a little bit misleading.
If you have a literary agent, the average advance rises to $6,000. If you don’t have an agent, it drops to $3,500. Typically, only three out of ten books earn out their advance. For most traditionally published authors, the money they receive as an advance on their royalties is the only money they ever see.
You can’t make a living off a $5000 advance. But don’t worry, there are other ways to make a living.
Even though $5,000 won’t pay your annual bills, understand that a major publisher may spend as much as $50,000 bringing your book into existence.
Here’s a sample breakdown:
|Printing and warehousing:||$15,000|
|Marketing and PR:||$7,000|
|Advance paid to author:||$5,000|
Major publishers invest a lot of money to publish your book, even though you only get a small fraction of that investment.
Indie publishers can bring their books into existence for much less money. Indie authors spend around $5,000 or less to publish their books.
Here’s a sample breakdown of expenditures for an indie-published author:
|Cover and Interior Design||$1,000|
The indie author doesn’t usually have administrative costs, and there’s no advance paid to the author.
The major difference is that the indie author pays $5,000 out of pocket, up front, whereas the traditionally published author receives $5,000 in their pocket.
Indie authors start at a disadvantage because they’ve spent money. They have to make money just to get back to zero.
But indies make a lot more money per book.
While the traditionally published author may make $0.85 per book or $0.85 counted against their advance, an indie author can expect as much as $5.00 per book, sometimes more, depending on various factors.
With that said, the average print-on-demand book sells only 50 to 200 copies. The money isn’t in the paper, especially for fiction. The money is in the ebook sales. And this is where being an indie gets good.
Indies make a 70% royalty on ebook sales, assuming that they’re not priced in a crazy way.
For example, when you price your ebook at $4.99, you can expect a $3.49 royalty, which adds up fast. Top-selling indies are making $10,000 a month. Some are making even $100,000 a month. While it’s not typical to make a fortune with indie publishing, you can certainly make a living.
How to Make a Living with Your Book
Constantly Improve Your Craft
The first step to making money with your book is to become better than the average writer. The publishing industry rewards superstars. You become a superstar writer by becoming the best at writing books.
To accelerate your improvement, practice your craft by writing short stories. It’s a lot easier to get feedback on your short stories than your epic novel. Writing short stories can help you master the fundamentals of character, tension, and creating good scenes.
If you can’t write a good short story, how will you write your 400-page epic fantasy? In fact, epic fantasy writers especially need to write short stories because no one will give you feedback on your super long book.
The biggest obstacle holding many authors back, and the reason they’re not making money, is that they don’t realize they have mustard on their faces. They don’t realize their craft isn’t up to snuff. People may try to tell them, but they’re so polite about it that the author doesn’t fully understand how much improvement is needed.
Sometimes, the author just doesn’t have ears to hear the truth. They may receive criticism and chalk it up to the person not being “my target reader.” Sadly, you won’t have any target readers if you don’t accept this kind of feedback. That’s very tragic.
You may need to pay for feedback or pay for education. Making a living as an author is like making a living as a plumber. Before you get paid as a plumber, you have to go to plumbing school. Before you can make money as a writer, you need to get some education about how to write.
Fortunately, education for writers is very affordable. For $50.00, you can read five of the best books on the craft of writing. If you want to make money with your writing, you need to read books on craft and practice short stories.
Nonfiction writers aren’t off the hook. Your short stories are blog posts and articles. Your short-form writing will help you master the craft of writing a book on your topic. Additionally, you get your feedback through comments and emails from readers who interact with your content.
If you’re a novelist, you may be interested in our course, The Five-Year Plan. It’s one of our longest-running courses, and many authors have used it to improve their craft dramatically.
In the course, you’ll write a short story every month. You’ll read books on craft, and you can discuss what you learn with other students in the course. Some people say it’s like getting a master’s degree in literature, but it’s focused on writing for readers, not academic audiences.
If you want to write the kind of books that people want to read, you need to write the kind of books that people already want to read.
To make a living by writing, get to know what readers want so that you can serve them. Involve your readers in your book-writing process as early as possible so that you learn what they need and want.
Some authors are so focused on saying their piece or writing the story that’s on their heart that they can’t see where they’re going. It keeps them from making a living, and it torpedoes careers.
If you want to write what’s on your heart, you can do that. But you must realize that you’ll still need a day job.
New authors only think about the next book. They often try hard to make the first book they ever wrote into a masterpiece that puts them on the map. But that’s not how it works.
Your first book isn’t a masterpiece. Your first book exists to teach you how to write. For some authors, it was therapy writing. It was difficult and emotionally draining. You may have been learning how to write while you were doing it. Your first book is usually full of lessons learned and awkwardness. Let that first book be your teacher.
Here’s a metaphor: When you’re fishing, if you’re willing to take that first fish you caught and cut it up into bait, you’re going to catch more fish than if you take that first fish and leave the dock. There’s a time to walk away. But there’s also a time to reinvest.
Career authors who support their families through writing often write books in a series. When you write your books in a series, each book promotes each of your other books.
But if the first book in your series is the first book you’ve ever written, then you’re hanging your entire career on your worst book. It’s not good enough to make people want to read your subsequent books.
Every book you write makes you a better writer.
If that’s you, put your first book aside and start a new series. You can always republish a book later, and you can always start fresh with a brand-new first book.
Back in the day, when traditional publishing was your only option, if your first book was a failure, your whole career was doomed because no traditional publisher would touch you. That’s still more or less the case in traditional publishing.
But as an indie, nobody knows. If you have a failed book, that means no one read it, which also means it hasn’t hurt your reputation. As an indie, you can reinvent yourself at any time. And you can still sell books into a market.
For the most part, a book is judged on its own merits by readers who don’t know who you are.
The more books you have, the more money you make.
Let’s say you need $75,000 per year to support your family. If you write only one book a year, that book needs to make $75,000.
To give you some perspective, a book that spends a week on the New York Times bestseller list will make about $75,000. So you’re going to have to write smash-hit books. If your last book was not a smash hit, you can’t plan on your next book being a smash hit.
Your writing career is not about hitting home runs. You need to get on base with a solid base hit.
If you can hit home runs, it’s easy to make money. I’ve worked with authors who hit home runs, and their books sell millions of dollars of copies. That’s how they support their families.
If you invest heavily in your craft and your writing, you can get there. But it’s a lot of work. Most people don’t believe they have to put in the work. And those people typically don’t get good enough to achieve those homerun results.
If you write six books every year, each book only needs to make $1,200 to add up to $75,000. And each book subsequent book will help promote the previous books.
Maybe you only need to make $10,000 per book, and you’ll get enough sales on your previous books in the series to earn a total of $75,000 in a year. That is very feasible. You can get there with only a couple thousand fans. There’s a very achievable goal if you’re independently published.
If you’re traditionally published, you’ll need five to ten times that many readers. But you also have access to greater distribution to get those readers.
The best strategy for you depends on the kind of book you’re writing and your strengths and weaknesses. To learn more about your publishing options, listen to these episodes:
- How to Get Published with a Traditional Publishing House
- How to Publish Your Book Independently
- 10 Decisions to Make After You Decide to Indie Publish
Six books per year may sound impossible, but if you’re willing to invest 40 hours each week, you can get there no problem. But you’ll need to learn how to write faster. Authors who make a living can write quickly.
Excellence = Quality + Speed
I recently hired a handyman and an electrician to do some electrical work on our home.
I noticed the electrician could change a light switch in half the time it took the handyman. And the electrician did a better job. The electrician charged more per hour, but he cost me less for the same work because of his efficiency.
He knew exactly where the wires went, and he knew exactly how to do it.
You can do quality work if you take forever. But if you’re willing to invest in the craft and be disciplined in your approach, you can become excellent. That means when you sit down to write, you’ll produce quality work quickly.
How to Write Faster
Write Early in the Day
My dad says, “He who hoots with the owls at night cannot soar with the eagles by day.” If you give your rested mind to your writing, you will improve your speed and quality. Your mind is most creative in those first morning hours.
If you’re trying to write at the end of the day, there’s nothing left in the tank.
I’ve talked with and worked with thousands of authors. Successful authors make writing the first priority of the day. Regardless of what else happens in the day, they get the writing done. They create a habit of daily writing.
Treat Writing Like a Real Job
Seinfeld has told the story of sitting at his desk not wanting to work. He looked out his window and saw construction workers walking through the cold rain after their lunch break, going back to work. He saw they probably didn’t want to do their job either, but they did it anyway.
He realized he owed it to his craft to be as dedicated to comedy as the construction workers were dedicated to construction.
Stop making excuses.
Remove the word “writers block” from your vocabulary. Become the kind of person who writes regardless of how they feel.
Authors typically want to make the “bestsellers” list and not the “best writers” list. To be a bestseller, you must learn how to sell.
Subscribe to the Novel Marketing Podcast to get book promotion tips and trips sent to your phone every week. Once you subscribe you can browse our back catalogue of 300 episodes consisting of hundreds of hours of training on how to sell and market your books. You can binge our past episodes for free!
Listening to podcasts is an inexpensive way to level up your marketing skills.
Experiment With Price Points
If you wrote an addictive book that readers can’t put down, and they’re dying to read your next book, consider experimenting with price points. You may want to aggressively reduce the price of the first book in your series so that you can get more people addicted to your series. Then make subsequent books in the series more expensive.
You won’t know the best price for your book until you’ve tried different prices.
As an author, you need to think of your career as a business. As a business owner, you must reinvest in your business. Farmers don’t eat all the grain they produce. They save some of it for planting in the next field.
Some of the money you earn through writing needs to be reinvested for acquiring new readers.
Hire an Agent (if you are seeking a traditional publisher)
Based on the above numbers, this should go without saying, but some authors balk at the 15% an agent takes. Agents add more than 15% to how much you make, a lot more.
Receiving 100% of $1,000.00 is not nearly as fun as getting 85% of $1,500.00.
Don’t be bad at math. Don’t let percentages keep you from seeing the actual numbers.
Relaunch (if you are indie)
As you write more books, you can relaunch older books. This tactic works especially well for indies.
If your first books came out before they were fully baked, you can go back and reread them with enlightened eyes. If you’ve written dozens of books, you’ll see what needs to be improved, and you can rewrite and relaunch those books.
You can offer a whole new book to your audience without doing all the work of creating an entirely new book. Reworking and relaunching a book is far less work than building a book from scratch.
If you’re traditionally published, you can make money on your older books by becoming an Amazon Associate. Learn how to become an Amazon Associate by listening to our episode How to Spend LESS Time Marketing Your Book.
Most traditional authors don’t fill out their advance. In fact, only 30% of authors do earn out their advances. If you received a big advance and haven’t earned out, you can still make some money through affiliate programs.
How to Make a Living with Your Knowledge
One of the best ways to make money with your knowledge is through public speaking.
Some of the earliest books were transcribed speeches. Somebody wrote down what the speaker was saying.
You can make money through speaking fees when someone pays you to make a presentation. You can also sell your books at the back of the room after you speak, and you will likely make $10.00 per copy or more. If you sell 100 copies at the back of the room, that’s $1000, which isn’t bad for an hour-long talk.
The following episodes offer a comprehensive look at how public speaking and back-of-room sales can increase your income.
- How to Sell Your Book in Person (and make way more money per copy)
- How to Get Your First Speaking Gigs
- How to Sell a Ton More Books with Public Speaking
- Public Speaking for the Introverted Writer
Some people wonder whether the conventions and public speaking will never come back. Events are coming back, but it may take longer than we anticipate.
If you’re not speaking in person, you can still reach people through podcasting.
I reach more people with my podcast than I ever did with my public speaking. Flying around the world for speaking engagements was a lot of fun and a lot of hassle. Podcasting increases my reach and decreases my travel schedule.
I am adding sessions on how to start a podcast to my course Obscure No More.
The primary way I provide for my family is by selling the courses I create.
Online courses are a great way to teach people valuable skills. Nonfiction writers will have an easier time creating an online course around their topic. A course on your topic will make more money than a book, but the two go hand-in-hand.
Your book can reach a lot of people. Since it has a low price point, it creates a low barrier to entry. But you will make a lot more money within a substantive training course than you will with a book.
I have one author client who makes six figures from his consulting business.
He has only a few high-net-worth clients. They know him from his books, and they call him because they want to pick his brain. The more knowledge you have, the more people will want to pay to pick your brain. You can do your consulting in person or over Zoom.
Your book is a key that can unlock the door to consulting.
How to Make a Living with Your Writing Skills
Become a Freelance Writer
With each book you write, you get better at writing. Your writing skill set is very valuable. The fastest, easiest way to put that skill into practice is to become a freelance copywriter.
Businesses desperately need good marketing copy written by people who speak English and write well. The demand is effectively limitless, and the supply of good writers is low.
It’s easy to find people who think they’re good writers. It’s much harder to find people who have read books on craft, sought mentoring, written short stories and blog posts, and know how to write for normal people.
The kind of writing you learned in college is divorced from what works in the real world. That’s why you don’t see bestseller lists dominated by CFA graduates.
If you’re reading books on craft, writing pieces that connect with readers emotionally, and using small words and short sentences, then some websites would hire you today.
Each website lists projects or jobs. You take a job, you get paid, and your client will leave a review on you and your work.
When you first get started, you’ll have no reputation on the site. You can list your credentials and say you’re a great writer who deserves a high wage, but you have no proof without client reviews.
When you start seeking jobs on these sites, you need to take low-paying jobs from companies or individuals willing to take a risk on someone with no reviews. Then blow them away with your stellar writing and start racking up reviews as proof of your skill.
The more five-star reviews you get, the more you can charge. Some freelancers charge $50-$100 per hour for writing, and they’re worth it.
Sell Ads on Your Blog
There are many ways to place ads on your blog. Google or another ad partner will insert the ads automatically. It will bring in money and protect you when you write a viral blog post.
When I wrote my viral blog post, I got a $500 overage fee from my web hosting company because I got a million views in a month. You don’t have to put ads on your blog, but if you’re writing posts that could be going viral, this could be a great source of revenue.
If you know how to write enduring posts that answer questions that thousands of people type into Google, you’re probably getting a steady stream of traffic. If you place ads on that page, you can have a somewhat passive income where you get a check every month from your ad partners for the page views you’re selling.
If you’re writing fiction, put your writing skills to work as an editor. It’s one of the most common ways to make a living as a writer.
Editors make $20 to $70 per hour and sometimes more. Top editors can make hundreds of dollars per hour, especially if they have published a couple of home run books. If you have credibility and a good reputation, you can command a high editing fee.
Some writers don’t want to hunt down typos, but there are different types of editing. As an author, you’re better qualified as a developmental editor. Developmental editors edit the story. They help create better characters, make the plot more interesting, and look for ways to increase conflict or tension. It’s big picture editing.
For nonfiction, a developmental editor edits the ideas and the degree of persuasiveness. As a developmental editor, you’ll tell the author which illustrations don’t work or where the argument is weak.
Tens of thousands of authors quietly make a good living editing. It’s a great job. As they say, “Publish or perish, the editor always gets paid.”
You get less glory as an editor, but if your goal is to support your family, sacrificing a little glory may be worth it.
Many editors write their own books between jobs.
Write for Magazines
Many magazines, online and offline, are in desperate need of writers.
Novelists and nonfiction writers can write for magazines, but it may be a little easier for nonfiction writers.
Writing for a magazine is a great way to get free feedback from a professional editor. They pay you $20 to $50 for your article, and then they give you feedback.
When you receive those edits, you’ll get to practice working with an editor. You’ll become more familiar with Microsoft Word, and you’ll learn how to use Track Changes.
All those little things will help you get better at writing faster.
How to Make a Living with Your Celebrity
You can make a living as a writer on the strength of your our credibility alone. And you don’t even need to be that famous, just trusted by a few thousand people.
You can sell special access to events like a backstage pass or a premium insiders club. Online you can create focused mastermind groups. Even an autographed copy of your book could be considered special access. If you have a limited-edition, signed and numbered hardback, you can sell them for $100 to $200 each.
Some podcasts are selling knowledge. People come to the Novel Marketing Podcast because they want the knowledge I’m handing out and not because they know who I am. Other podcasts thrive on the fame and credibility of the podcast host.
Related Products or Merchandise
Nonfiction writers may have an easier time selling related products and merch.
For example, Dave Ramsey has very successful books that teach his envelope system of budgeting. When you go to his website, you’ll see that he sells envelopes for organizing your money. You don’t have to buy envelopes from Dave, but he sells a lot of them to people who want the official Dave Ramsey leatherbound envelope system.
You can also sell merchandise. The more successful you are, the easier it will be to sell merchandise with your book cover or logo.
Endorsements and Affiliate Revenue
You can earn big money by using your celebrity and credibility to give endorsements.
I’m not saying you’re going to get hired by a big brand.
I’m talking about affiliate revenue. As I mentioned earlier, you can use affiliate links for your books, but you can also use affiliate links for other books. When you review books similar to yours, you can make money by using affiliate links from Amazon or another online bookstore. You get a commission on those sales.
Many businesses have affiliate programs.
Some businesses offer courses, and they use affiliate marketing to spread the word. Some courses offer affiliate commissions from 30%, 40%, sometimes 50% on a $500 course. You don’t have to create your own course to earn money. You can promote another course and earn money through their affiliate program.
If you bring enough students there, you could make a living by promoting courses through affiliate programs. I know authors who make most of their money doing affiliate marketing for other people’s products. They curate the best of what other people make and then send their audiences there and make the easy money.
Affiliate marketing can be lucrative, but there are some pitfalls in affiliate marketing. The following tips will help you avoid those pitfalls.
Affiliate Marketing Tips
Only recommend products that you already use or plan to use. Only recommend books you have read or books by authors you trust.
If someone asks you to be an affiliate, ask them for a sample. For example, If someone asks you to be an affiliate for their course, make sure they give you access to it.
Choose affiliates that are interesting to your audience and only recommend products that will make their lives better.
Always disclose your affiliate relationship. If you do a good job thrilling your fans, they’ll want to use your affiliate links to support you.
Whenever I use an affiliate link, I disclose it in parentheses right next to the link. Legally, I could simply put the disclosure anywhere on the page, but I like to indicate which links are my affiliate links.
Affiliate links don’t cost readers anything extra, but they help support my show. I got enough email requests from listeners that I created a Recommendations page on my website. The Recommendation page lists the various products I’ve recommended on the show and the affiliate links for those products. It is a good source of revenue, and I appreciate listeners who use those links. It helps me support my family and keep this show going.
Don’t just promote affiliate programs. Sometimes an author will do an affiliate promotion for a $1,000 course with a 50% affiliate commission. Suddenly they’ve made $10,000 with a single campaign, so they decide they’re only going to do affiliate promotions.
But you still have to serve your audience and be interesting. If you only promote courses, your audience will lose interest quickly.
Recommend competing books that you like.
Your super readers will read multiple books in a month. One year, I listened to 100 audiobooks, and no single author can supply that kind of demand. Don’t be afraid to recommend books that are like yours. If you give good, honest recommendations, your readers will trust you.
To learn more about writing reviews and recommendations, listen to our episode on How to Write Book Reviews Readers Want to Read.
You Only Need One Tactic
Not every writer can or should implement all these tactics. Consider this article a pantry where you can pick up only the ingredients that will enhance the dish you’re preparing. Don’t use all of them at once.
As Randy Ingermanson told me, “It’s better to dig a single well 100 feet deep than to dig 100 wells that are only one foot deep.”
Focus on a few of these strategies. Once you get one working, you can progress to the next one.
I crafted this plan with bestselling and award-winning author James L. The Five-Year Plan is a step-by-step guide for your writing career. Learn what to do in each quarter of the year to avoid the mistakes that hijack success for most authors. Set yourself up for success. Learn more at NovelMarketing.com/courses.
I would like to thank all the new patrons who joined in August.
Thank you to:
- Mackenzie Lane
- Jessica Plumbley
- Adare Elyse
- Hunter Crowder
- Pat Butler
- Rebecca Martell
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Your support keeps this show on the air.
You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.
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The post Yes, YOU Can Make a Living as a Writer, Here’s How appeared first on Author Media.
"This fall, the global publishing business can expect disruption in shipping, increases in costs throughout the supply chain, shortages in consumables used for packing and shipping, and shortages in manufacturing supplies for books and printed matter."
You can read their statement here: https://www.ingramspark.com/important-ingramspark-update
This is likely going to be industry wide. Economic theory states that when inflation hits, and prices don't go up, something has to give. The result is shortages until supply and demand get back into balance.
With more people staying home and shopping online, demand for cardboard has gone through the roof. The factories that make cardboard also make paper, and the more cardboard they make, the less paper they make.
When authors sell books online or in a bookstore, traditionally published authors make around $0.80 in royalties per copy sold. Indie authors make $2.00-$5.00 per copy.
But when traditional or indie authors sell their books in person, they often make $10.00 per copy or more.
Why do you make so much more selling your book in person? Let’s run some numbers.
Every book should have a price on the back cover. Where does that money go? Typically, the division looks like this:
- Retailer: 40%- 60%
- Printer: 10%-30%
- Publisher: 30%-40%
- Author: 5%-15%
Indie authors make more money per copy sold because they receive the publisher share and the author share.
When a traditionally published author sells books directly to readers in person, she gets the retailer share plus the author share.
When an indie author sells a book in person, she gets all but the printer’s share.
All the publishers I have worked with outsource their printing. Book printing is a very capital-intensive business, and it’s surprisingly unconnected to publishing. Books make up only a fraction of the printing industry’s work.
You can sell directly to your readers in person or online. In this article, we’ll focus on in-person sales. (If you want an episode about how to sell online directly from your website, comment on this episode at AuthorMedia.social, and let me know. )
Selling your book yourself yields the highest profit margin and the most personal connection to your readers. When you meet readers in person, you get to visit with them. Typically, readers want you to sign and personalize the book, which makes your book even more special and valuable to that individual.
Selling in person is also the most fun. Nothing makes you feel more like an author than signing a book for a reader in real life.
So here are five steps to selling your book in person.
Step 1: Find a Crowd
When selling your book in person, the primary challenge is to find a crowd of people interested in buying your book. Gathering the crowd is the hardest part of selling a book, and while the retailer’s cut is the biggest, they don’t always bring the biggest crowd.
You’ll find potential book buyers in many places.
A good launch party can be a great place to sell your book in person. Your friends and family prefer a signed copy, and they’re glad that their book budget goes to you rather than Amazon.
At my launch party, I spent most of my time signing and selling books to the 200 attendees. It was one of the five happiest moments of my life.
Every spring, we talk about launch parties in the Book Launch Blueprint course.
For most authors, speaking events are the best place to sell books in person. Speaking from the stage builds your credibility. If you deliver a moving talk, your book table will be swarming with people. It’s estimated that 5-15% of attendees buy a book from the speaker. Top-level speakers may do even better.
An author client of mine spoke at a large event in a basketball arena. He was not the keynote speaker, but he still sold about $30,000 in books and DVDs that weekend. Not a bad wage for a few days of work.
But before you can earn your way to the big stage, you must first be faithful on the small stage. That means learning how to give a good speech to a small crowd.
I spent ten years studying the craft of public speaking, and I will soon be adding a public speaking module to my course, Obscure No More.
It’s tricky to measure the success of your talk because even a bad speaker can get an audience to clap. Sometimes people applaud with relief that the boring presenter has finally shut up. When professionalism and politeness prevail, audience members will say they enjoyed a talk even when they didn’t.
So how do you measure success? By laughter.
Great speakers can make their audiences laugh or cry. The very best can do both. If you can induce an emotional response, your audience will be more likely to want to buy your book when you finish speaking.
As the old joke goes: “Do you need to make people laugh to be a public speaker? Only if you want to get paid.”
To learn more about improving your talks or booking speaking engagements, listen to the following episodes.
- How to Get Your First Speaking Gigs
- How To Sell a Ton More Books With Public Speaking
- Public Speaking for the Introverted Writer with Joanna Penn
Homeschool conventions are special because the attendees intend to spend a lot of money on books. Homeschool moms often bring several hundred dollars in cash, intending to spend it all.
Some authors make $10,000-$20,000 in book sales at a single homeschool convention.
If you want to sell books to homeschoolers, here are some episodes to help:
- How to Market Books to Homeschool Families with Tricia Goyer
- A Christian Author’s Guide to the Homeschool Market
- What Authors Must Know About Homeschoolers Before Trying to Sell Them Books
What started as Star Trek and comic book conventions back in the day has morphed into a whole movement of nerd events around the country. These include board game conventions, anime conventions, and even video game events. If you write speculative fiction, your books may fit in at these conventions.
Booths at these fancons can be expensive, especially if you only have one book to sell. But you can team up with similar authors to split the cost of a booth. Plus, you can wear a costume and fit right in!
Companies & Organizations
I talked with an author who sold about 10,000 paper copies of his book to corporations and large nonprofits every year. How did he do it? He cold-called HR directors on the phone and talked to them about including one of his books in their Christmas gift to employees.
HR directors typically have a limited budget for Christmas gifts, and books make a great, inexpensive gift. Many companies follow the “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read” model for gifts. One phone call to the right HR person could result in 500 sales.
Authors who make a fortune with this tactic often stay quiet about it because it tends to be zero-sum. While a company might put a book in the corporate gift basket, they rarely put two. That said, millions of companies, NGOs, churches, and nonprofits don’t get contacted about what to put in the Christmas gift basket, so opportunities abound.
If you are willing to smile and dial, this strategy could work for you.
The first time I met an author in real life was at my church’s craft fair. John Bibee, author of the Magic Bicycle Series (Affiliate Link), was selling books in person at the craft fair. From that moment on, I could say I’d met a real author, and that was a big deal for an elementary school kid. My parents bought a copy of every book he wrote, and we read them as a family. We even had an autographed copy!
I hosted my book launch party in the same room at the same church twenty years later, and John Bibee came by and purchased a copy of my book. That was a special moment for me. I sold a copy of my book to one of my heroes. It was far more meaningful to both of us than if he would have purchased a copy on Amazon.
Craft fairs work best for authors whose books are a good fit for that market. If you have never been to a craft fair, your market probably isn’t there either. But, if you are plugged in to this community and your book is one they’d like, this could be a big win. As with booths at fancons, you can team up with other authors to split the cost and the work, but booths at smaller venues are often cheap or free.
Step 2: Order Copies of Your Book
Once you find your crowd, you need inventory to sell. How you get your copies will depend on how you are published.
Remember, if you’re in a rush to receive your books, you’ll have to pay more to get them on time, whether that means express printing or shipping. Order books before you need them.
Traditional Author Copies
Traditionally published authors typically get 20-100 free copies of your book to give away or sell. You can purchase additional copies from your publisher at the discounted price laid out in your contract. If you plan to do a lot of public speaking or go on a fancon tour, let your literary agent know so they can fight for a bigger author discount for your book.
With your author discount, your book usually will cost between $3.00 and $6.00 per copy. One sign of a predatory publisher is the high cost of author copies. Read your contract and ask a lot of questions before you sign anything.
Indie Print on Demand
Most indie authors print their books on demand (POD), which means they pay the same price per copy no matter how many copies they order.
My book costs me $3.47 per copy, regardless of how many copies I order. After I add taxes and shipping, my price increases to $4.63 per copy. My printer offers a shipping discount for large orders, but it’s not enough of a difference to make me want to stock up.
I sell the book for $15 in person, and I find that after a speaking event, people will pay with a $20 bill and ask me to keep the change. I make $10.37 or $15.37 per copy when I sell my books in person.
Indie Offset Printing
If you had a strong Kickstarter campaign or have one successful book under your belt, you may want to consider offset printing. Authors on the homeschool convention circuit often use offset printing because they sell so many copies.
Offset printing becomes cheaper per copy for larger orders. Depending on the number of pages and various other factors, an offset print run of 500-1500 copies will usually be cheaper than print-on-demand copies.
You probably have a printer in your city that can offset-print books for you.
The drawback is that offset printing typically requires a lot of money up front. Depending on how many copies you order, you may need $5,000 to $15,000 on hand. When you order thousands of copies, you have the added expense of storing them.
The offset printing method works great if you had a Kickstarter campaign that brought in $10,000 ahead of time, and you already have hundreds of books sold through the campaign. Offset printing is also good for authors speaking to large audiences.
When I was a literary agent, a client of mine was booked to speak to 30,000 people. If 5% of his audience bought his book that day, he’d still sell 1,500 copies at a single event.
But be careful!
One of the classic indie blunders is to order too many copies of your book in a flurry of optimism. Don’t order 1,500 copies, hoping you’ll be invited to the big stage. Order 1,500 copies after you have a contract to speak on the big stage.
If this is your first book, don’t use offset printing. You have no idea how well it will sell, and most authors’ first books don’t sell as well as they expect. This is especially true if they are not following the 10 Commandments of Book Marketing.
I recommend you use print-on-demand services when you’re starting out. Be faithful in the little things. Learn how to sell 100 books in person before you try to sell 1,000 books in person.
Don’t waste your marketing budget on books that will sit in your garage forever.
Step 3: Set the Table
Once you have your crowd and your books, you need to set up your book table. This shouldn’t matter, but it does. It matters after giving a speech, and it matters a lot at a convention.
So here are some tips for setting up your book table.
Create Appealing Bundles
This is the most powerful tip, and it works in all contexts. If you have multiple books and products, put them into bundles to incentivize people to buy more than one book. If each book in your trilogy is $15, consider selling a bundle of all three books for $30 or $35.
Create a pretty display with the contents of the bundle, like a wicker gift basket containing your three books. Your display allows people to see what the bundle includes.
If you only have one product, bundle some related products made by other artisans. You could bundle a handmade candle, a bath bomb, and your cozy romance book into a “Spa Night Bundle,” for instance.
You may be tempted to sell a bottle of wine with your book bundle, but check your local laws. You may need a liquor license to sell alcohol which would make it prohibitively expensive.
If you team up with other authors at a fancon, consider making a bundle that includes a copy of each of your books.
Grab Attention with Booth Decorations
One classic booth decoration strategy is to get a tablecloth or booth runner with your book covers printed on it. You can decorate your booth with signs, spinners, and more. If you plan to do a lot of in-person selling, you may want to invest in solid booth decorations.
At your next convention, notice that nearly every vendor has a tablecloth or a booth banner. Your decorations should match the convention, so get a feel for the vibe as an attendee before you spend hundreds on booth decorations.
If you have a photo of your decorated book table, please share it in the comments of this episode at AuthorMedia.social to help inspire your fellow authors.
Buy (or sell) a Conversation Starter
At homeschool conventions, authors commonly place a sword, shield, helmet, or something similar on the table to draw attention and start a conversation that can lead to a sale.
One author I met was wearing chainmail at his booth. He sold fantasy books and assemble-at-home wooden trebuchets. He clearly knew how to sell to teenage homeschool boys! The trebuchets were expensive, and they made his books seem like a bargain in comparison.
If you write mysteries, put a plastic skull on the table. The more creative your conversation starter, the more conversations you will start!
Maintain the Crowd
No one wants to approach a book table where the author is awkwardly twiddling his thumbs.
Make your book table inviting by talking with people and assembling a crowd. People want to do what they see other people doing, and a crowd draws a crowd. Don’t be in a rush to move people along. Keep the conversation going. Ask them questions to keep them talking. You’ll get to know your readers better, and it will help you sell more books.
Step 4: Collect the Money
In the olden days, when people wanted to buy a book, they would hand you cash, and you would hand them a book. But today, people are hesitant to touch money that other people have touched. The trend away from paper currency has accelerated.
Some authors accept cash only because they don’t want to pay credit card fees, but that is bad math. These authors don’t realize that 95% of a watermelon is more than 100% of a grape.
Yes, there is a transaction fee to accept credit cards, but you typically only need to sell one extra book to cover all the transaction fees for the day. It’s better to pay a 3.5% transaction fee on a $15 purchase than for your customer to buy from Amazon who takes 70%.
If you want to sell books in person, you need to offer a cashless option.
When you buy on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, the preferred payment method is Venmo.
Venmo allows you to print out the QR code and place it on the table. If people want to pay you with Venmo, they only need to scan that QR code with their app.
I’d caution you not to leave much money in your Venmo wallet. Of all these cashless platforms, Venmo is the least like a bank. If someone steals money out of your Venmo wallet, it is gone.
Square is perhaps the most popular cashless payment method for authors because you don’t need a fancy terminal. You only need a smartphone and a card reader, and Square will send you a basic card reader for free. There’s no monthly fee, and their credit card fees are reasonable.
If you want to take credit cards in person, Square is a great option.
PayPal has a smartphone credit card reader that competes with Square. I haven’t tried it, but if you are already a big PayPal user, then using PayPal might be easier. PayPal and Square have similar pricing.
As a consumer, I prefer Square because I get an email receipt.
Some authors set a laptop on the book table so readers can pay for books through the author’s website. If you choose this method, remember that you’ll need an internet connection. One benefit of taking payments through your website is that you’ll get your readers’ email addresses too.
I only recommend using your website if you already have an e-commerce store set up and you’re already collecting sales taxes.
Step 5: Collect Sales Taxes
This next section only applies to authors in the United States. Each state is different, and I am not a CPA, so consult the laws in your state. Depending on where you sell, you may be required to collect sales taxes.
You May Not Need to Collect Taxes
If you only sell books in person occasionally, you may fit within your state’s “Garage Sale Exemption.” If you only sell a few hundred dollars in books each year, the state may not require you to collect taxes on that. Check your local laws for a garage sale exemption and find out if you qualify.
Collecting Taxes Might Save You Money
If you are required to collect sales taxes, it should mean you don’t need to pay sales taxes when you buy copies from your printer.
If you’re not required to pay sales tax when you purchase copies, you might increase your margins by the percentage of the tax rate in your state. In Texas, this would mean your books would cost 8.25% less per copy. That may not sound like much, but it is half the royalty a traditional author makes.
In some states you get a small kickback from the State as a “thank you” for filing your taxes correctly and on time.
Collecting sales taxes requires more sophisticated bookkeeping, and bookkeeping costs time and money. You need to accurately track your sales to file your sales taxes, which means you need bookkeeping software.
You must also apply for a sales tax permit and file a sales tax return. Depending on sales volume, your return is due monthly, quarterly, or annually.
Some states don’t have sales taxes at all, so please check your local and state laws.
Where to Find Help with Sales Taxes
While the IRS has a reputation for terrible customer service, the Texas Comptroller has the opposite reputation. They have a helpful website, and they will talk with you on the phone to answer your sales tax questions competently and politely.
While I am tempted to say this is because Texas is a special place, I would like to think other state governments are equally as helpful, but your mileage may vary. Not all states are friendly to small businesses.
Companies like TaxJar will handle sales tax paperwork for you. Their pricing plans start around $20 per month.
Handselling is a Low-Obligation Tactic
You can sell copies of your book in person as much, or as little, as you want. Some successful authors sell nearly all their books in person, and other successful authors have never sold a single copy in person.
For most authors, selling in person is a great way to supplement their income and connect with super fans. It may be worth a try.
In this course, you will learn
- 19 tax deductions authors can claim
- How to qualify for tax deductions for your writing-related expenses (not all writers qualify)
- How to create a business plan
- How to make a living as an author
- How to be a business in the eyes of the IRS
- How, when, and why to form an LLC
- How to reduce the likelihood of being audited by the IRS
The course is taught by Tom Umstattd, a CPA with over 35 years of experience working with authors, and his son Thomas Umstattd, Jr, founder of Author Media and host of the Novel Marketing podcast.
Learn more at AuthorTaxTips.com.
Patrons save 50%! It pays to become a Novel Marketing Patron here before signing up for this course.
Shelleen Weaver, author of Love Bird: Book 1 in the Fruit Fables series of children’s books. Love Bird the Squirrel has a new neighbor who is rude and mean. When they devise a plan to restore peace to the backyard, they learn that love is more than a fuzzy feeling.
In this month’s patrons-only episode, we talk about:
- Launch teams vs. ARC Teams
- The best way to print hardcover copies of your book
- Public speaking
- What to do if your book falls between genres,
- and more!
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In personal news, I was able to feel baby #3 kick recently! There is something magical about feeling a tiny human move around inside its mother. It is also fun to see how excited Mercy and Tommy are to have a new brother or sister. Our two-year-old Mercy plans to call the new baby Zu Zu if it’s a girl and Nay Nay if it’s a boy. Nay Nay is also what she called Tommy, our 1-year-old, for the first several months of his life. She is nothing if not consistent.
The baby is due in December, and once the baby arrives, I will need to take some time off to chase the toddlers while my wife takes care of the baby. We will have three babies—three children under three years of age.
The post How to Sell Your Book In Person (and make way more money per copy) appeared first on Author Media.
Writing a book doesn’t need to be hard for many writers. All you need to do to write faster is learn how to get out of your own way.
Our guest today is cofounder of Girl Defined Ministries and author of several books for young girls, including Girl Defined and Love Defined.
Kristen Clark, welcome to the Christian Publishing Show!
We use this WordPress theme because it gives you the drag and drop ease of use of a platform of Squarespace or Wix while preserving the power and flexibility of WordPress. It really is the best of both worlds.
They are having a summer sale right now. This is a great time to pick it up or upgrade to the lifetime license.
Ryter (Affiliate Link) can help you outline a novel. It can also help you generate (surprisingly good) Podcast interview questions. It can also shorten your sentences and a lot more.
If you are in school, you could use this to write an essay for you in minutes.
Rytr is normally $290/yr but right now there is an AppSumo deal (Affiliate Link) where you get lifetime access for only $39.
I have purchased it and will be playing with it. I know Joanna Penn is a big fan of using AI assistants. I will likely do an episode on AI writing assistants at some point in the future, but this AppSumo deal will likely have expired by then.
Here is a video that shows you how it works:
If you are curious, you can check it out here.