Over the past few years, several individuals have told me effectively the same thing: “Books are business cards on steroids.” When I published my first book in 2016, I found out what they meant. I’d suddenly and dramatically increased my credibility, and I was invited to speak at events (and get paid for it). Even better, I generated more leads for my business interests.
There’s nothing quite like walking into a sales meeting and giving the client a book you wrote — especially when it’s relevant to the work you’re pitching. And few things says “expert” quite like publishing a book on the topic you focus on in your professional life.
Publishing a book was not all sunshine and roses for me, however. I worked with a traditional publisher, and while I’m grateful for that support, I learned some important lessons about the publishing industry. Many first-time authors are surprised to discover that although publishers don’t help market your book, they still take the vast majority of earned revenue.
My experience led me to an important decision: I would self-publish my next book. Who better to learn from than Chandler Bolt, founder of Self-Publishing School? His company takes authors from blank page to published in 90 days, with courses on how to self-publish. In less than three years, his own books have built his company into a $5 million annual business.
Bolt was among the more than 60 personal-branding and influence experts I interviewed for Influence Summit 2017, a virtual conference that also included thought-leadership gurus such as Chris Brogan, Mike Michalowicz, Dorie Clark, Adam Grant and Jonah Berger. Many of these top experts have chosen to self-publish books, even though they easily could sign book deals with printing houses. Their experiences and my own reveal multiple ways that self-publishing can lead to serious revenue.
1. Passive income.
This is the most instant and recognized form of income. Bolt’s first book made more than $4,000 in recurring monthly revenue. In total, his direct book sales have made more than $100,000 in the past three years. One of Bolt’s students, Lise Cartwright, has made a steady income of $3,000 to $4,000 per month from her book. My own book focuses on a very niche audience and yet consistently contributes several hundred dollars per month to my income — with little to no ongoing effort from me.
2. Business leads and sales.
John Lee Dumas hosts the uber-popular podcast Entrepreneur on Fire. After publishing “Podcast Launch,” he went from virtually no daily leads to as many as 10 leads per day — and an extra $600 to $1,200 in daily revenue — for his Podcasters Paradise project.
3. ‘Done with you’ or ‘done for you’ services.
An entire category of books teaches people how to perform a particular craft or teach a skill set. Professional photographer David McKay sold $10,000 in copies of “Photography Demystified” within the the first year. The larger payoff, though, was the $46,000 in new photography business that came McKay’s way.
Others publish books to generate business for their yoga studios, law firms or web-design agencies. Many people who read these books conclude that doing it themselves is more work than they want to take on. They simply hire the author to do it for them.
In the business-to-business world, writing a book can lead to consulting work. Entrepreneur Steven Daar was struggling to get clients for his conversion-optimization services. He made $1,500 during the launch of his book, “Profit Hacking,” and closed more than $17,000 in client work. Once clients started coming to him, he was able to triple his rates.
Related: How to Start a Consulting Business
5. Speaking engagements.
Releasing a book will open doors that stay closed to bright individuals without a book. Hahna Latonick’s “Master Your Money” helped make her $3,000 on her first speaking gig. Kelsey Humphreys made thousands of dollars from clients and speaking engagements within six months of publishing her book “Go Solo.”
Nathan Barry, the founder and CEO of email marketing platform ConvertKit, made thousands of dollars from his three books. His blog, nathanbarry.com, chronicles his journey. In fact, Barry’s books and his frustrations with existing email-marketing software led directly to the founding of ConvertKit. (In case you’re counting, that’s actually one more — albeit, uncommon — way to generate income from your books.)
Related: How to Propel Your Speaking Career
6. Individual or group coaching.
7. Digital products or courses.
Dave Rogenmoser’s title, “Beyond the Grind,” made $3,864 in royalties in its first 60 days. Rogenmoser then used the book to grow his email list and launched a course that made greater than $400,000 over an eight-month period. Within 18 months, he’d generated over $1 million in sales.
As Jeff Goins says in his most recent book, “Real Artists Don’t Starve:” “There is a new Renaissance that is turning starving artists into thriving artists. All we have to do is embrace it.” Bolt and these other entrepreneurs certainly have, and they’re prospering. Why not you?