BOOK REVIEW – HOW TO MAKE A LIVING WITH YOUR WRITING BY JOANNA PENN

Successful Author MindsetThis is the second book I am reviewing from Joanna Penn on my journey to explore authorpreneurship. You can read the first one here. This book subtitled, ‘Turn your words into multiple streams of income’ is about learning how to make money with books and other forms of writing. This is not a large book, it has approximately 118 pages but it does have a lot of good content which will give you more insight into the world of earning money as a self-published writer.

The book is divided into two main parts. Following is a list of topics (or chapters) in each part of the book.

PART 1 – HOW TO MAKE MONEY WITH BOOKS

  • Your publishing options and how the industry has changed
  • Your book is a valuable intellectual property asset
  • Traditional publishing
  • Self-publishing or becoming an indie author
  • Write more books
  • Write books that people want to buy
  • Publish in multiple formats
  • Publish globally
  • Sell direct to your audience
  • Market your books

PART 2 – HOW TO MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR WRITING IN OTHER WAYS

  • Your author ecosystem
  • Afilliate income
  • Crowdfunding, patronage and subscription
  • Professional speaking, teaching, performing and live events
  • Online courses, webinars, events and membership sites
  • Advertising and sponsorship
  • Physical products amd merchandise
  • Freelance writing and ghostwriting
  • Consulting and coaching
  • Author services
  • Other ways to make money with your writing

PERSONAL INSIGHTS

Here are my own personal insights from the book. As someone who also wants to self-publish ebooks, these are some of the insights that I found really useful.

  1. The internet has changed the way publishing works. We now have options to reach a digital audience that is global and uses mobile devices to do a lot of reading. People can discover books not just through traditional media but through their phones using apps. You can use hybrid approaches to reach readers though print, apps and other forms of digital media.
  2. Your book is your own copyright and copyright is a form of intellectual property similar to patents, trademarks and design assets. Copyright has been defined as, a legal device that provides the creator of a work of art or literature, or a work that conveys information or ideas, the right to control how the work is used. Once your work is available in tangible form then you have copyright of it. You don’t need any further legal protections unless you choose to pursue that. You can market one book in multiple ways using it to earn money in multiple ways. For example you can publish it as an ebook, in print,  make it available in different languages and sell it in different parts of the world.
  3. Be careful how you license your books to publishers if you work with a publisher. Don’t license your copyright to a publisher or platform that determines the terms of your sale. Use seclective rights licensing which allows you to choose how you want to license your book yourself.
  4. Traditional publishing is not out of the picture and still has it’s merits. This type of publishing deal has it’s advantages as it comes with the help of a professional to support the editorial and publication process and marketing. Authors may also receive an advance payment and not need to pay the costs of publishing. There will be help to distibute print books to bookstores. But it does have it’s downsides such as the process of publishing being slow, loss of creative control over the book for the author, lower royalties, lack of transperency in reporting about book sales and prohibitive contract caluses. Considering the advantages and disadvantages you must decide if you will take a traditional deal if the opportunity arises. Joanna says she will take a traditional deal if the conditions and contract terms are right.
  5. There is a different between self-publishing and being an indie or independent author. Self-publishing implies doing everything yourself. This is when everything about the book is done by the author. Being an independent author still means that you are publishing your own book but along the way you work with professionals to help in certain areas such as editing and design. Joanna writes that, ‘I work with professional freelance editors and cover designers to create quality products and invest in marketing to reach readers. In other words, Joanna believes, to publish better books you can’t do it all yourself. She does also acknowledge that some of us will start out self-publishing and transition over time as we gain more experience, knowledge and I add resources.
  6. Being an indie author has a number of advantages including having creative control over the content  and design of your book, getting your book to the marker much quicker than in the case of traditional publishing, easier to publish globally in all formats, sell niche books and market books to specific audiences, higher royalties and of course the feeling of empowerment for publishing your own book. It does miss some of the benefits of traditional publishing such as not having the prestige or validation of the established industry, the need for you to learn new skills as an indie author, you will need to spend money upfront to publish a good book,  and it may be difficult to get print books into bookstores.
  7. To make a living as an indie author over the long term you can’t just write one book. Even if your first book is a best seller, over time sales will decrease. You will need to write a lot of books. According to Joanna, ‘in the independent author community, the Facebook group 20BooksTo50K is basedon the principle that 20 books will make an income of around US$50,000 annually and that has proven true for many authors. That number may sound daunting to the new writer, but if you love writing, and you assume a hybrid approach to publishing, it’s certainly possible.
  8. Over the longer term, the more books you have , the less you have to market them because you’ll have an audience ready and waiting, a critical mass of product on the digital shelves and multiple streams of income.
  9. To write books and particularly write more books if you want to earn more income you need to take action that will help you succeed. Some things to do are:
    1.  Improve your productivity: you will need your own regular process to write. Identify the best time of the day for you write, get yourself into a comfortable position and write. Find what works for you.
    2. Use tools to help you: Find what tool will help you write. Joanna uses a writing software called Scrivener, ProWritingAid to self-edit and improve her books before handing it over to an editor. She uses Google Calendar to schedule her time. What tools will you use?
    3. Write a series. According to Joanna, ‘Writing a series is a great way to speed up the writing process, satisfy your readers and make more money because customers will often buy more than one book. It’s also easier to promote a series because you can set pricing deals on book one and still make a profit on the sale of multiple books’.
    4. Write non-fiction books. About this Joanna write that, ‘Non-fiction books can be more profitable as readers are less price sensitive. They value the information and ideas and don’t care so much about length. You can write a short non-fiction book and still charge premium prices, and full length non-fiction often sells far more than fiction’.
    5. Write short stories, novella and other short works. Also co-write with other authors.
  10. If you are going to write more books they should be books people want to read. Remember, while writing is about you, the book is about the reader. A good action to take is to find the intersection of what you love to read and write and what readeres are looking for. To figure out that intersection you should:
    1. Consider genre or category. Research to find out what genre or category your book falls into. This is much easier for non-fiction than fiction. But there are tools you can use such as Publisher Rocket which can help you discover the categories that books are in.
    2. Consider search terms. You want your books to come up when people search for them so using titles and other information in the book which people are more likely to search for depending on the book’s category is important.
    3. Ask your potential readers what they enjoy reading and write to meet their needs.
  11. Publish in multiple formats such as Ebook, Paperback, Large print (paperback or hard back), Audiobook, Workbooks, Ebook boxsets or bundling, Audiobook boxsets, and special editions.
  12. You should also publish globally because there is a bigger market of people out there who may want the book you write. To do this consider the following:
    1. If your book is written in English you have a wider audience than you can imagine beyond countries such as the UK, USA, Australia and Canada. There are more English speakers in India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Phillipines than there are in the UK. That is a market you can tap into.
    2. Traditional publishers can help you publish your books in different languages depending on the country you have with them. If you are self-publishing your ebooks you can publish it in any country and in any language. Consider having your books in as many countries as possible on as many online stores as possible in diffent formats.
    3. Also, don’t forget about having your books available in libraries and audiobook
  13. As a self-publisher you can sell directly to your audience. If you do this you will get a higher royalty for each book you sell.  You can get platforms to sell ebooks and audiobooks directly to audiences such as PayHip which integrates with Bookfunnel. You can also use other options such as Gumroad, WooCommerce, SELZ, Shopify, eJunkie and FastSpring. Some of these you may have to build into your website. With these platforms you can sell downloadable PDFs. Selling directly on some of these platforms will incure service fees so be aware of that.
  14. Don’t forget that you can also sell print books directly at conferences, conventions and workshops just to mention a few. Of course, in these cases you will have to purchase print books in bulk.
  15. Apart from selling books you can make money from your writing in other ways. Joanna introduces us to the concept of an author ecosystem. An author ecosystem is a network of all the things that work together to sell your books and bring in multiple streams of income in other ways. According to Joanna, ‘if you build an ecosystem, it will become much easier to make money. It will all work together in the background, compounding over time as you continue to write and increase your body of work, and you should be able to track how each aspect feeds into your revenue streams’.
  16. Joanna writes about her ecosystem which consistcs of the following:
    1. Non-fiction ecosystem for Joanna Penn: the central hub for this is Joanna’s website (TheCreativePen.com). On the website she has created articles, videos, a podcast as content marketing to attract people to the site as well as sharing on social media. Traffic to the webiste results in books sales, affiliate income, sales of her courses and sign-ups to her email list. 
    2. Fiction ecosystem for J.F.Penn: This has web pages for each of her fiction books with links to various stores. It also has information on how to buy her books directly and an email sign up for a free book
    3. An ecosystem is a great thing to design for your writing because it is a long term investment which can help to create multiple income streams.

These are just some of the ideas I got from the book and there is much more you can learn from it. I must say that I found it quite similar to what I read in Joanna’s first book that I reviewed (Successful Self-publishing). Her next book that I will be reviewing as part of my focus on authorpreneurship is, The Successful Author Mindset.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s