Writing a Book
By Steve Gillman
This page covers writing a book for the non-fiction market,
based on the current state of the publishing industry (as of
2011) and my own experience. My own non-fiction book, "101
Weird Ways to Make Money," was published this year. I had
previously self-published two paperbacks; "Secrets of Lucky
People" and "Beyond Mental Slavery".
There are ways to make money with self-published books, and
the risk is lower than ever due to inexpensive on-demand publishers.
My own first paperback, Secrets of Lucky People, cost
about $800 total to publish and the publisher made it available
to bookstores and online through sites like Amazon.com. It is
still selling a few copies monthly after almost four years, and
I also received an advance from a Tokyo company that published
it in Japanese. You can read my interview on self-publishing
here Self Publishing:
Interview with Steve Gillman.
But being published traditionally has huge advantages. Since
Wiley published my most recent book, I have been interviewed
on FOX News, for an ABC program, and for a television station
here in Colorado. Radio interviews have been frequent as well.
Most of these were set up by my publicist--provided by Wiley.
I couldn't have gotten that kind of exposure on my own. The advance
on royalties was nice too.
There have been some big changes in writing and publishing
of non-fiction in recent years. For example, publishers now like
to see a ready-made audience before the sign an author. It was
my newsletter lists (tens of thousands of subscribers in total)
from my various websites that probably got me the contract with
Wiley. In particular, my UnusualWaysToMakeMoney.com website and
related newsletter got their attention. I explain this in more
detail on my interview page here; Getting
a Book Contract.
But another big change, which makes a huge difference in terms
of the time to write a book, has been the instantaneous information
available online. I was able to research jobs, find phone numbers
and email addresses of potential interviewees (there are 12 interviews
in 101 Weird Ways to Make Money), and do much more, all
without leaving the house. I did have a lot of personal experience
to draw on as well (70 or 80 jobs and businesses in my life),
but the internet has made research so easy compared to just twenty
years ago. I wrote the book in about six weeks, including the
How Much Can You Make?
Now for the bad news. Few writers can make a living from one
non-fiction book. My own sales figures are not in yet, but looking
at the top sellers for business books, I see only a handful of
authors making big money. In fact, some famous authors on the
list have not sold a thousand books in the first three months
(and royalties on those are typically less than $2 per book).
In general, you better like writing if you want to make a living
at it, because you'll probably have to write a book every year.
Of course if you are an excellent marketer, writing can lead
to a big income, and fast.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
As part of my own promotional efforts, I've had guest posts
on blogs, including the high-traffic Huffington Post. In my article
I not only was able to mention the book, but also this website.
The resulting surge in traffic was worth hundreds of dollars
in a matter of a few days. In other words, look for opportunities
to leverage your status as an author to make more money. You
might be paid for speeches (and you get to promote your book).
Qualifications / Requirements
You have to write well enough, of course, but to be honest,
it is easier to learn how to write non-fiction than to craft
a good novel.
Study the market and find a niche you can serve. Then start
writing. But think of the marketing from the start as well. Develop
a blog or website where people can sign up for tips or a newsletter.
That audience you develop is what will get you a contract.
Space - This is a publish-on-demand company owned by Amazon,
in case you decide to go that route.
Digest - There is always some good information here (and
in their paper magazine).