Author Topic: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?  (Read 9094 times)

ReadySetMillionaire

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Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« on: June 24, 2015, 08:31:44 AM »
I really enjoy writing in my free time and have been strongly considering writing an eBook on personal finance. I'd specifically enjoy writing about the process of unburying the reader from his/her student loans to achieving financial independence (this is an angle that, based on my limited market research, hasn't been fully developed). I have personal experience with this and feel like I could personally relate to almost all readers.

I've read that actually making money in this process is like finding a needle in a haystack, so I'm a bit hesitant to put so much of my time into a book that could be better spent working a blue collar job on the weekends.

Any thoughts?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2015, 09:05:54 AM »
Safe assumption is that you won't make any money. Is it worth it to you to do anyways?

Axecleaver

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2015, 12:06:04 PM »
I published a few paper books (do you guys remember those?) back in the late 90s. They were technical books with a 2-3 year shelf life. My best sold 30,000 copies, my coauthor and I made $1.80 a copy in royalties on a $40 book (royalties are calculated on wholesale price). My cut was 2/3rds of that so I made about $35k over the life of the book. I got 10k up front and the remaining came after about a year until after 3 years, it basically stopped. Royalties satisfy the advance first before the checks come in.

Compared to the old publishing world, where authors got a very small cut of the proceeds, ePublishing provides a lot of opportunity. Very low barrier to entry. While I've considered it, the marketing is the piece I find intimidating. To drive sales of your book, you need a solid marketing plan. If you have a blog, post on the forums a lot, you're on the right track. You need a lot of online presence to drive sales, though, and without that I wonder if the effort to write the book is worth it.

The other thing is quality. A lot of eBooks are out there with very low quality. If you do it, pay for an editor to work with you. A good editor is the difference between a good book and a great one. There are some editors for very little cost available on some of the eBook writing forums out there.

I think there are niche interests out there that haven't been explored much, and at $1 a book, you don't need to sell many to earn a reasonable "wage" for your writing effort.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2015, 12:45:04 PM »
I published a few paper books (do you guys remember those?) back in the late 90s. They were technical books with a 2-3 year shelf life. My best sold 30,000 copies, my coauthor and I made $1.80 a copy in royalties on a $40 book (royalties are calculated on wholesale price). My cut was 2/3rds of that so I made about $35k over the life of the book. I got 10k up front and the remaining came after about a year until after 3 years, it basically stopped. Royalties satisfy the advance first before the checks come in.

Compared to the old publishing world, where authors got a very small cut of the proceeds, ePublishing provides a lot of opportunity. Very low barrier to entry. While I've considered it, the marketing is the piece I find intimidating. To drive sales of your book, you need a solid marketing plan. If you have a blog, post on the forums a lot, you're on the right track. You need a lot of online presence to drive sales, though, and without that I wonder if the effort to write the book is worth it.

The other thing is quality. A lot of eBooks are out there with very low quality. If you do it, pay for an editor to work with you. A good editor is the difference between a good book and a great one. There are some editors for very little cost available on some of the eBook writing forums out there.

I think there are niche interests out there that haven't been explored much, and at $1 a book, you don't need to sell many to earn a reasonable "wage" for your writing effort.

Thanks for your insight. I've been debating whether to sell hard copy and an eBook (for the reasons you described) or simply go the eBook route and attempt to market from a blog. Either seems to present their own individual challenges, but I feel like the eBook route allow for more independence and autonomy.

The one other thing that intrigues me from your post is charging just $1 per book. I've done some reading and that seems to be the norm--extremely low price. But if it's a valuable book (i.e., contains a lot of content), why not charge $5?

arebelspy

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2015, 01:02:27 PM »
The wife recently started writing romance novels, I have a few threads around the forums about it.

She got a 4k advance from a traditional publisher for one that is scheduled to come out next January, and we just self published our first about two weeks ago.

I anticipate making maybe 2k/yr (conservatively, to start) per book, so putting out 10 or so should cover most of our annual expenses.  And the more books you put out, the more each one will make (as it feeds on itself and your reader base grows--so later on each book will be earning 2500, then 3000, etc. per year).  If you put out a book a month for a few years, you can easily hit the 6-figure/yr. range.
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ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2015, 01:09:49 PM »
The wife recently started writing romance novels, I have a few threads around the forums about it.

She got a 4k advance from a traditional publisher for one that is scheduled to come out next January, and we just self published our first about two weeks ago.

I anticipate making maybe 2k/yr (conservatively, to start) per book, so putting out 10 or so should cover most of our annual expenses.  And the more books you put out, the more each one will make (as it feeds on itself and your reader base grows--so later on each book will be earning 2500, then 3000, etc. per year).  If you put out a book a month for a few years, you can easily hit the 6-figure/yr. range.

Interesting. I wanted to write a very thorough book, but would you think it's better to focus on a bunch of mini-books that all lead into a series? In other words, a part one, part two, part three, etc.

arebelspy

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2015, 01:17:28 PM »
The wife recently started writing romance novels, I have a few threads around the forums about it.

She got a 4k advance from a traditional publisher for one that is scheduled to come out next January, and we just self published our first about two weeks ago.

I anticipate making maybe 2k/yr (conservatively, to start) per book, so putting out 10 or so should cover most of our annual expenses.  And the more books you put out, the more each one will make (as it feeds on itself and your reader base grows--so later on each book will be earning 2500, then 3000, etc. per year).  If you put out a book a month for a few years, you can easily hit the 6-figure/yr. range.

Interesting. I wanted to write a very thorough book, but would you think it's better to focus on a bunch of mini-books that all lead into a series? In other words, a part one, part two, part three, etc.

Depends on the subject area and your desires.

Is making money your primary goal out of this endeavor?
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
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clifp

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2015, 01:20:47 PM »
The wife recently started writing romance novels, I have a few threads around the forums about it.

She got a 4k advance from a traditional publisher for one that is scheduled to come out next January, and we just self published our first about two weeks ago.

I anticipate making maybe 2k/yr (conservatively, to start) per book, so putting out 10 or so should cover most of our annual expenses.  And the more books you put out, the more each one will make (as it feeds on itself and your reader base grows--so later on each book will be earning 2500, then 3000, etc. per year).  If you put out a book a month for a few years, you can easily hit the 6-figure/yr. range.

How the hell do you crank out a book a month? I don't know anybody that has written a book in under 9 months,  and more than year is far more common especially for new authors.
I guess a 50 or so page novella would be possible..

arebelspy

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2015, 01:27:31 PM »
The wife recently started writing romance novels, I have a few threads around the forums about it.

She got a 4k advance from a traditional publisher for one that is scheduled to come out next January, and we just self published our first about two weeks ago.

I anticipate making maybe 2k/yr (conservatively, to start) per book, so putting out 10 or so should cover most of our annual expenses.  And the more books you put out, the more each one will make (as it feeds on itself and your reader base grows--so later on each book will be earning 2500, then 3000, etc. per year).  If you put out a book a month for a few years, you can easily hit the 6-figure/yr. range.

How the hell do you crank out a book a month? I don't know anybody that has written a book in under 9 months,  and more than year is far more common especially for new authors.
I guess a 50 or so page novella would be possible..

You read quality books.

There's a difference.

Most of the stuff written is not that.

For example, I bet you could crank out books on various investing topics off the top of your head, if you weren't concerned with researching, word choice, etc., and just pontificating.  Throw a disclaimer on the front, done.

2000 words/hr, 3 hours/day, 20 days a month (then 10 to edit) = 120k words, full book size.  For an eBook you could do half that, easily.

I'm not advocating for this, but it's exactly why I asked what his motivation was.  If it's to make money, you can crank out mediocre stuff pretty easily.

If it's to have a quality book that you're proud of, that takes more time/effort.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2015, 01:31:10 PM »
The wife recently started writing romance novels, I have a few threads around the forums about it.

She got a 4k advance from a traditional publisher for one that is scheduled to come out next January, and we just self published our first about two weeks ago.

I anticipate making maybe 2k/yr (conservatively, to start) per book, so putting out 10 or so should cover most of our annual expenses.  And the more books you put out, the more each one will make (as it feeds on itself and your reader base grows--so later on each book will be earning 2500, then 3000, etc. per year).  If you put out a book a month for a few years, you can easily hit the 6-figure/yr. range.

How the hell do you crank out a book a month? I don't know anybody that has written a book in under 9 months,  and more than year is far more common especially for new authors.
I guess a 50 or so page novella would be possible..

You read quality books.

There's a difference.

Most of the stuff written is not that.

For example, I bet you could crank out books on various investing topics off the top of your head, if you weren't concerned with researching, word choice, etc., and just pontificating.  Throw a disclaimer on the front, done.

2000 words/hr, 3 hours/day, 20 days a month (then 10 to edit) = 120k words, full book size.  For an eBook you could do half that, easily.

I'm not advocating for this, but it's exactly why I asked what his motivation was.  If it's to make money, you can crank out mediocre stuff pretty easily.

If it's to have a quality book that you're proud of, that takes more time/effort.

I definitely want to make money, but I also want it to be a high quality and comprehensive book. Please see my OP for my book idea.

backyardfeast

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2015, 01:31:24 PM »
Arebelspy, sorry if you've covered this on some of your other threads, but with the romance genre, are you selling on a platform rather than self-publishing off your wife's own website/blog?  In other words, does the romance world have a kind of clearing-house website where genre readers go to download the latest books that look interesting?  Or are you self-promoting?

Ricky

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2015, 01:35:46 PM »
Start a blog, write regularly, build an audience, then you'll have someone to market to. Start with email subscriptions and then maybe move to a short ebook that you sell for $2-3 and then move into something bigger.

Personal finance is a very crowded space and I'm not sure simply writing about devouring student loans specifically is going to make you a lot of money. Any generic PF advice should eliminate any debt, including student loans. I mean you could definitely market yourself as "the recovering millennial" or something like that, but I think you're going to need a lot more original content than just getting rid of debt advice.

cripzychiken

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2015, 01:40:26 PM »
The wife recently started writing romance novels, I have a few threads around the forums about it.

She got a 4k advance from a traditional publisher for one that is scheduled to come out next January, and we just self published our first about two weeks ago.

I anticipate making maybe 2k/yr (conservatively, to start) per book, so putting out 10 or so should cover most of our annual expenses.  And the more books you put out, the more each one will make (as it feeds on itself and your reader base grows--so later on each book will be earning 2500, then 3000, etc. per year).  If you put out a book a month for a few years, you can easily hit the 6-figure/yr. range.

Interesting. I wanted to write a very thorough book, but would you think it's better to focus on a bunch of mini-books that all lead into a series? In other words, a part one, part two, part three, etc.

Vote for mini-books.  Don't make it "part 1" "part 2" "part 3" but rather a series of related guides - something like "the idiots guide to...".  Shorter and more books makes the lower price more reasonable for you - plus once you have a few, you can group them together and sell them for a bundle price. 

Another bonus point - the more books you have, the easier it is for a random person to find you and your series of books.  While you want to write about killing SLs, your "part 3" might inadvertently hit another niche and bring in a whole new audience to your writing.  Plus spending $1.99 on an unknown author with 5 books published is a lot different than spending $9.99 on an unknown author with only 1 book.  Think of stuff from the mindset of the consumer, not the author.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2015, 01:43:45 PM »
Start a blog, write regularly, build an audience, then you'll have someone to market to. Start with email subscriptions and then maybe move to a short ebook that you sell for $2-3 and then move into something bigger.

Personal finance is a very crowded space and I'm not sure simply writing about devouring student loans specifically is going to make you a lot of money. Any generic PF advice should eliminate any debt, including student loans. I mean you could definitely market yourself as "the recovering millennial" or something like that, but I think you're going to need a lot more original content than just getting rid of debt advice.

Good advice.

FWIW, I've researched the market a bit and there are definitely a few blogs about recovering from student loans, but all of them are (a) very narrowly focused and (b) written by people who only had minimal student loans (less than $40k).

I think I have a decent amount of credibility because I'm digging myself out from $148,000 in loans and I haven't paid them off yet. I'm likely being optimistic here, but I feel like that would give me a lot of credibility with those graduating with high student debt (do you disagree?).

Also, I don't just want to write about getting out of student loan debt, I want to write about developing great financial habits that last beyond paying back loans, investing, etc. I'd like to think of it as a synthesis of everything I've learned over the past couple years from reading 15-20 books and this forum (and others, like Reddit's /r/personalfinance, etc.) daily.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2015, 02:26:10 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2015, 01:44:56 PM »
The wife recently started writing romance novels, I have a few threads around the forums about it.

She got a 4k advance from a traditional publisher for one that is scheduled to come out next January, and we just self published our first about two weeks ago.

I anticipate making maybe 2k/yr (conservatively, to start) per book, so putting out 10 or so should cover most of our annual expenses.  And the more books you put out, the more each one will make (as it feeds on itself and your reader base grows--so later on each book will be earning 2500, then 3000, etc. per year).  If you put out a book a month for a few years, you can easily hit the 6-figure/yr. range.

Interesting. I wanted to write a very thorough book, but would you think it's better to focus on a bunch of mini-books that all lead into a series? In other words, a part one, part two, part three, etc.

Vote for mini-books.  Don't make it "part 1" "part 2" "part 3" but rather a series of related guides - something like "the idiots guide to...".  Shorter and more books makes the lower price more reasonable for you - plus once you have a few, you can group them together and sell them for a bundle price. 

Another bonus point - the more books you have, the easier it is for a random person to find you and your series of books.  While you want to write about killing SLs, your "part 3" might inadvertently hit another niche and bring in a whole new audience to your writing.  Plus spending $1.99 on an unknown author with 5 books published is a lot different than spending $9.99 on an unknown author with only 1 book.  Think of stuff from the mindset of the consumer, not the author.

Really good points. I'll definitely consider your points when developing a strategy.

arebelspy

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2015, 01:56:56 PM »
A blog is a good way to go if you enjoy the topic and want to engage with readers over the course of years.

It is not the way to go if you want to make money.

In general, one off books don't make much money.  It's when you build up a readership (from either a blog, or doing multiple books) that it starts to become worth your time.

So if you aren't in it for a larger commitment, your hourly rate will be terrible.  If you do commit though, it can be quite good.

Arebelspy, sorry if you've covered this on some of your other threads, but with the romance genre, are you selling on a platform rather than self-publishing off your wife's own website/blog?  In other words, does the romance world have a kind of clearing-house website where genre readers go to download the latest books that look interesting?  Or are you self-promoting?

Self publishing and marketing, all DIY.  After lots of research and learning on my part (she's handing writing the books, I'm doing everything else--making the website, newsletter, formatting, graphics, publishing, marketing, etc.).
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2015, 08:33:06 PM »
I wrote some very terrible books. Really terrible. Like not even really books books. Clickbait, practically. 2-3 pages, slammed out in Word, thrown together and stuck on Amazon. Makes about $20/month, surprisingly. I put them up on Kindle Unlimited, which gives you a fraction of subscriber's monthly payments. I'd say it's about 75% Kindle Unlmited and 25% paid Kindle copies. I use a penname so it's not like I'm even embarrassed.

I'd say try it, just to get the hang of it. Throw something crappy up and put it on Kindle, just to get a feel for the mechanics. It's so easy to procrastinate and not do anything, so just do something and get it up.

Kris

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2015, 08:41:47 PM »
The wife recently started writing romance novels, I have a few threads around the forums about it.

She got a 4k advance from a traditional publisher for one that is scheduled to come out next January, and we just self published our first about two weeks ago.

I anticipate making maybe 2k/yr (conservatively, to start) per book, so putting out 10 or so should cover most of our annual expenses.  And the more books you put out, the more each one will make (as it feeds on itself and your reader base grows--so later on each book will be earning 2500, then 3000, etc. per year).  If you put out a book a month for a few years, you can easily hit the 6-figure/yr. range.

How the hell do you crank out a book a month? I don't know anybody that has written a book in under 9 months,  and more than year is far more common especially for new authors.
I guess a 50 or so page novella would be possible..

You read quality books.

There's a difference.

Most of the stuff written is not that.

For example, I bet you could crank out books on various investing topics off the top of your head, if you weren't concerned with researching, word choice, etc., and just pontificating.  Throw a disclaimer on the front, done.

2000 words/hr, 3 hours/day, 20 days a month (then 10 to edit) = 120k words, full book size.  For an eBook you could do half that, easily.

I'm not advocating for this, but it's exactly why I asked what his motivation was.  If it's to make money, you can crank out mediocre stuff pretty easily.

If it's to have a quality book that you're proud of, that takes more time/effort.

100% this.

If you want money, you churn out what people want. That's romance.

Reb is 100% right.

I am currently writing a romance novel that I plan to finish around 50k, and I will spend about 2 months writing.

If you want to write great literature, you won't make as much money. I make around $1500/month of passive income doing this.  Which means I am not trying to write the great American novel.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2015, 08:48:40 PM by Kris »

arebelspy

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2015, 08:49:25 PM »
You read quality books.

There's a difference.

Most of the stuff written is not that.

For example, I bet you could crank out books on various investing topics off the top of your head, if you weren't concerned with researching, word choice, etc., and just pontificating.  Throw a disclaimer on the front, done.

2000 words/hr, 3 hours/day, 20 days a month (then 10 to edit) = 120k words, full book size.  For an eBook you could do half that, easily.

I'm not advocating for this, but it's exactly why I asked what his motivation was.  If it's to make money, you can crank out mediocre stuff pretty easily.

If it's to have a quality book that you're proud of, that takes more time/effort.

100% this.

If you want money, you churn out what people want. That's romance.

Reb is 100% right.

If you want to write great literature, you won't make as much money. I make around $1500/month of passive income doing this.  Which means I am not trying to write the great American novel.

Right.  And to clarify, some people literally churn out crap.

That's not what I'm talking about for the romance genre.  It's cliche, and ridiculous, but that's what the readers want.  It can be easy to churn out because it's cliche and formulaic, but that's also what they want to read.  They expect to read that, and it makes them happy.

Putting out junk that someone will be disappointed in is also another strategy some use, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about churning out something people are satisfied with (in romance it's easier because of the cliche thing, but in some nonfiction field, like finance, it could be churning out something on a topic you're familiar with because you just sit down and bang out what you know off the top of your head).  People will think "yeah, that was decent."  But it won't be high quality, per se.

You're not purposefully writing something poor, but you're not purposefully trying to make it great--you're acknowledging it's mediocre, but that's what people want, and you're finding that balance between putting in too much time to make it good to where it's not worth it to do, and putting in too little time that it's flat out bad and people are disappointed.  You're looking for the happy medium in there.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Kris

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2015, 09:05:31 PM »
You read quality books.

There's a difference.

Most of the stuff written is not that.

For example, I bet you could crank out books on various investing topics off the top of your head, if you weren't concerned with researching, word choice, etc., and just pontificating.  Throw a disclaimer on the front, done.

2000 words/hr, 3 hours/day, 20 days a month (then 10 to edit) = 120k words, full book size.  For an eBook you could do half that, easily.

I'm not advocating for this, but it's exactly why I asked what his motivation was.  If it's to make money, you can crank out mediocre stuff pretty easily.

If it's to have a quality book that you're proud of, that takes more time/effort.

100% this.

If you want money, you churn out what people want. That's romance.

Reb is 100% right.

If you want to write great literature, you won't make as much money. I make around $1500/month of passive income doing this.  Which means I am not trying to write the great American novel.

Right.  And to clarify, some people literally churn out crap.

That's not what I'm talking about for the romance genre.  It's cliche, and ridiculous, but that's what the readers want.  It can be easy to churn out because it's cliche and formulaic, but that's also what they want to read.  They expect to read that, and it makes them happy.

Putting out junk that someone will be disappointed in is also another strategy some use, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about churning out something people are satisfied with (in romance it's easier because of the cliche thing, but in some nonfiction field, like finance, it could be churning out something on a topic you're familiar with because you just sit down and bang out what you know off the top of your head).  People will think "yeah, that was decent."  But it won't be high quality, per se.

You're not purposefully writing something poor, but you're not purposefully trying to make it great--you're acknowledging it's mediocre, but that's what people want, and you're finding that balance between putting in too much time to make it good to where it's not worth it to do, and putting in too little time that it's flat out bad and people are disappointed.  You're looking for the happy medium in there.

Yes, exactly.

To be clear again: I am not creating the Great American Novel.  But I am a very good writer. I'm writing a novel that satisfies the readers in the genre, and I am doing a good job within the confines of that genre.

Having read one of Reb's wife's books, I can confirm that she is delivering for her readers. She brings it in that genre.  Fifty years from now, English departments at major universities will not be teaching her novels as part of their canon.  Nor will they be teaching mine. But the people who buy her books will be supremely satisfied. And that, ultimately, is what will make her what my husband and I call " ridonculous hot coin".

And that is what you are asking about... No?
« Last Edit: June 24, 2015, 09:08:09 PM by Kris »

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2015, 06:14:34 AM »
You read quality books.

There's a difference.

Most of the stuff written is not that.

For example, I bet you could crank out books on various investing topics off the top of your head, if you weren't concerned with researching, word choice, etc., and just pontificating.  Throw a disclaimer on the front, done.

2000 words/hr, 3 hours/day, 20 days a month (then 10 to edit) = 120k words, full book size.  For an eBook you could do half that, easily.

I'm not advocating for this, but it's exactly why I asked what his motivation was.  If it's to make money, you can crank out mediocre stuff pretty easily.

If it's to have a quality book that you're proud of, that takes more time/effort.

100% this.

If you want money, you churn out what people want. That's romance.

Reb is 100% right.

If you want to write great literature, you won't make as much money. I make around $1500/month of passive income doing this.  Which means I am not trying to write the great American novel.

Right.  And to clarify, some people literally churn out crap.

That's not what I'm talking about for the romance genre.  It's cliche, and ridiculous, but that's what the readers want.  It can be easy to churn out because it's cliche and formulaic, but that's also what they want to read.  They expect to read that, and it makes them happy.

Putting out junk that someone will be disappointed in is also another strategy some use, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about churning out something people are satisfied with (in romance it's easier because of the cliche thing, but in some nonfiction field, like finance, it could be churning out something on a topic you're familiar with because you just sit down and bang out what you know off the top of your head).  People will think "yeah, that was decent."  But it won't be high quality, per se.

You're not purposefully writing something poor, but you're not purposefully trying to make it great--you're acknowledging it's mediocre, but that's what people want, and you're finding that balance between putting in too much time to make it good to where it's not worth it to do, and putting in too little time that it's flat out bad and people are disappointed.  You're looking for the happy medium in there.

Yes, exactly.

To be clear again: I am not creating the Great American Novel.  But I am a very good writer. I'm writing a novel that satisfies the readers in the genre, and I am doing a good job within the confines of that genre.

Having read one of Reb's wife's books, I can confirm that she is delivering for her readers. She brings it in that genre.  Fifty years from now, English departments at major universities will not be teaching her novels as part of their canon.  Nor will they be teaching mine. But the people who buy her books will be supremely satisfied. And that, ultimately, is what will make her what my husband and I call " ridonculous hot coin".

And that is what you are asking about... No?

Yes, I am trying to make money, but I'm also a bit of a perfectionist. I want to write high quality content that becomes the standard bearer for people graduating with $100,000 in student loan debt.

I think I'm going to start a small blog just to get my ideas going. I am then going to figure out a way to release everything in "parts," but not formally title them as such. Then after all the parts are released, compile everything into a book that, like I said, becomes the go-to resource for recent graduates.

arebelspy

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2015, 07:31:05 AM »
Ah. In that case, that's unlikely to happen, or to make money.

But it's possible!  The blog is the best way to go in that case, and after a few years doing one book (not smaller ones in a series). You'll probably also have a free shorter ebook by that point to get people to sign up for your newsletter.
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ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2015, 07:47:19 AM »
Ah. In that case, that's unlikely to happen, or to make money.

But it's possible!  The blog is the best way to go in that case, and after a few years doing one book (not smaller ones in a series). You'll probably also have a free shorter ebook by that point to get people to sign up for your newsletter.

Agree that the blog is a good starting point.

I was listening to a podcast today (The Dough Roller) and he had a guest on there who has made $139,000 this year selling accounting books. I obviously don't think I'll reach that level of success, but his advice was great.

The most important thing he said was that too many authors write what they want to write about instead of what the audience wants to read. In other words, a typical self-publishing writer thinks he knows what people want to read instead of thinking about the market demand, and thus doesn't make any money.

I'm really wondering whether I'm teetering on that edge right now.

I want to write about my particular circumstance (huge student loan debt and trying to achieve financial independence) and I have a very optimistic view of how it would resonate with readers because, as I see it, two of the biggest movements in modern personal finance are recovering from student loan debt and FIRE. I have yet to see a book or a blog bridging the gap between the two and I think that would resonate well with both of these movements (to be clear, I'd have a very informative section about student loans and then how to continue that behavior in order to achieve financial independence).

Of course, the guest on that podcast said that if there aren't any books on a topic, that's a sign that there isn't much demand for it.


Furthermore, this is something I've been thinking about for a long time. My username here (and on Reddit) is my planned book and blog title. I have all the chapters mapped out (I've even authored the first two chapters). I have a professional graphic designer in Brooklyn ready to design a logo/book cover. I have a marketer from San Francisco willing to help me with the publishing process. I have a professional writer from Pittsburgh who will edit. On and on, I've strongly considered this for a long time, reached out to a lot of people, and I think I'm at the point where I'm really close to actually starting this.

Since you guys have already given me some great advice as to how to get this off the ground, I guess I'll ask the ultimate question: is this a viable book idea (i.e., is it worth my time)?
« Last Edit: June 25, 2015, 07:50:34 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2015, 09:31:03 AM »
For the record, this is the closest blog to what I have in mind (http://millennialmoneyman.com/), but the author got out of $40,000 in debt, which is an entire world away from what a lot of graduate students face.

Axecleaver

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2015, 12:27:29 PM »
Quote
Self publishing and marketing, all DIY.  After lots of research and learning on my part (she's handing writing the books, I'm doing everything else--making the website, newsletter, formatting, graphics, publishing, marketing, etc.)
Arebelspy, I would be really interested (and I'm sure others would, too) in hearing about your marketing efforts for the book. This part of the process is the most opaque to me and it isn't clear what really works.

Trede

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2015, 01:27:46 PM »
Editing and marketing for self-publishing friends and family has accidentally become my hobby, so I'm filled with opinions and anecdotes.  My husband writes military scifi/space opera and is currently writing Book 5.  He's been moderately successful despite the fact that we've purposefully done many things on the cheap (like cover art, only just now engaging a professional artist to create covers for all five books in his series), but I think he's been successful for two reasons 1) quality of the story and 2) marketing.  No advice on #1 for the OP, and since the OP is looking at non-fiction (although based on a personal experience story) my second example will be more relevant.  But, for the marketing side, I cannot stress enough that dedicated website and extra content and a personal touch of engagement go a long way.  He blogs about military history and personal Air Force experiences that inspired scenes, where character and ship names came from, and so forth.  When someone sends him a comment on his site, he sends a personal and heartfelt response.  He does have a Twitter account and Facebook author page, but honestly they are afterthoughts to the website.  There are also a number of ebook promotion services out there, by far the most successful but also the most expensive being BookBub, but there are also some good free and low-cost resources as well.  Again, in this area my experience is in fiction novels.

However, I also helped a friend edit and publish a non-fiction book in a very niche topic area and based on her personal story in weight loss through bariatric surgery.  It seems sort of analogous situation to the OP, an author who had personal success in a life challenge and wanted to share.  She published in both e-book and print-on-demand form (as my husband does).  The book is marketed both through her life coaching focused website but also through speaking appearances at weight loss centers and other venues where her experience on personal change management is relevant.  Again, she's got a good story and credibility in her field through personal success.  For the OP, one way to maximize income on your book could be to engage in such niche venues, offering to speak at local libraries in college towns, for example, or wherever you can think of to get your book out there.  There are also ebook promotional services that include non-fiction books... Buck Books comes to mind, but my gut says if you want to build a revenue stream you are going to have to put yourself out there.

Anyway, it sounds like the OP has a personal story to tell and a genuine interest to help others and that's a good foundation to write an ebook from.  The website will go a long way in getting the word out.  Think of tangential "extra" content you can put on the site that supports the book's content, not just regurgitates it.  As for pricing strategies, in the two examples above, the strategies are very different.  My husband's goal is to be a great value for a good story, and we price at $2.99 for most books, which is the lowest price point that Amazon pays 70% royalty (below that the royalty is 35%).  We price Book 1 at $0.99 for low barrier to start the series.  My friend's much shorter non-fiction self-help book is priced at $7.95 for the ebook and higher for the print book.  But the book is primarily sold through engaging at speaking appearances and she has a more direct sales approach and a coaching business (in retirement) that it helps feed.  So, part of pricing depends on goals and marketing approach.

arebelspy

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2015, 01:30:57 PM »
Since you guys have already given me some great advice as to how to get this off the ground, I guess I'll ask the ultimate question: is this a viable book idea (i.e., is it worth my time)?

Same answer as above.  Probably not as a standalone book.  Possibly after building a readership over a long term, depending on how compelling your writing is.  That's at least 100x more important than the various people you mentioned that can help you with different aspects in terms of actually making money on it.  Those things are important, to be sure, but if there's no audience, it's really hard to gain traction.

Quote
Self publishing and marketing, all DIY.  After lots of research and learning on my part (she's handing writing the books, I'm doing everything else--making the website, newsletter, formatting, graphics, publishing, marketing, etc.)
Arebelspy, I would be really interested (and I'm sure others would, too) in hearing about your marketing efforts for the book. This part of the process is the most opaque to me and it isn't clear what really works.

I did ask in the relevant thread, but no one seemed too interested.  In any case, only one book is out, so haven't been able to test what works and doesn't.. I know what we've tried and what it's done, but need to try other stuff to compare if it works better/worse/etc.  I will be sharing more as we go.  :)
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arebelspy

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2015, 01:32:10 PM »
Great info, thanks Trede!
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Kris

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2015, 02:24:46 PM »
In any case, only one book is out, so haven't been able to test what works and doesn't.. I know what we've tried and what it's done, but need to try other stuff to compare if it works better/worse/etc.  I will be sharing more as we go.  :)

Reb, on that topic, since you have one book out self-pubbed and one traditionally pubbed within a very similar time frame, I think it would be really interesting to hear a comparison of your experiences/levels of satisfaction from both.

swick

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2015, 06:45:55 PM »

I did ask in the relevant thread, but no one seemed too interested.  In any case, only one book is out, so haven't been able to test what works and doesn't.. I know what we've tried and what it's done, but need to try other stuff to compare if it works better/worse/etc.  I will be sharing more as we go.  :)
*blinks* did I miss responding to that one, or just thought I had? I would love to hear more about the marketing process and how you are doing it...didn't you say you were going to update as you went...I think that's what I was waiting for :)

arebelspy

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #30 on: June 25, 2015, 07:16:08 PM »

I did ask in the relevant thread, but no one seemed too interested.  In any case, only one book is out, so haven't been able to test what works and doesn't.. I know what we've tried and what it's done, but need to try other stuff to compare if it works better/worse/etc.  I will be sharing more as we go.  :)
*blinks* did I miss responding to that one, or just thought I had? I would love to hear more about the marketing process and how you are doing it...didn't you say you were going to update as you went...I think that's what I was waiting for :)

I posted:
Quote
I'll share which paid ads (and free) ones we did later, and how successful they were.  As of now we spent $107.75 on ads for this free promotion.  Plus obviously more for covers, editing, the website hosting, etc., but I'll break out all those costs at some point, assuming people are interested.  :)

There was only one reply.  No worries.  Thanks for letting me know.  :)
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Cornelia

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #31 on: June 25, 2015, 08:04:32 PM »
I'm teetering on the edge of jumping into ebooks as well. I have a few novels that need to be cleaned up, and some ideas for annotated public domain novels too.. great to hear all this info. The marketing is definitely something I need to learn about... thanks guys!

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #32 on: June 26, 2015, 04:43:13 AM »
Awesome post Trede. Thanks for the advice.

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Re: Has Anyone Written an eBook as Second Income?
« Reply #33 on: June 26, 2015, 06:59:48 AM »
Sure, happy to share our experiences in self-publishing anytime.