Don’t become an author to support yourself with books sales. Since the average book sells only about 250 copies per year, it’s difficult to make a living from royalties alone. However, nonfiction writers are subject-matter experts. Thus, they have the credentials to become coaches. And coaching provides one of the best strategies for monetizing your area of expertise and your books.
You can coach on the topic of almost any nonfiction book. Memoirs may be the exception to this rule. But if you have written a self-help, how-to, or prescriptive nonfiction book, you have the knowledge and ability to coach on the topic of your book.
Getting Paid to Write and Edit
I began getting paid as a writer when I graduated from college with a degree in magazine journalism. Prior to that, I wrote for local newspapers simply for the byline but with no pay. In fact, I began getting bylines while in high school.
But with a degree in hand, I started working for a regional magazine in Westchester County, which had 15 different editions. I would write articles and edit these editions as well.
Journalists of all types do, indeed, get paid. But freelance writing can be unreliable. Full-time work for a publication affords you a salary…but typically a small one.
It was quite a number of years later that I edited a nonfiction book for a friend and got paid for that work. Editing nonfiction (or fiction) can be quite lucrative, and I did this work for a number of years, albeit only editing one or two per year. Full-time editors complete four or more book manuscripts in a 12-month period.
However, editing is time-consuming. That’s why I stopped doing this type of work until recently when I began editing again.
Coaching Pays the Bills
I learned early in my career as an author that nonfiction writers could monetize their books with courses and coaching. It made sense to build a business around each of my books. So, I created a lot of courses…some I never even marketed. While I was told that these courses would help me make money while I slept, I never accomplished that feat. But I began coaching, and that endeavor proved lucrative.
Even before I published a book, I began to be approached by other nonfiction writers who wanted help. At first, it was mostly for book editing. Later it was for what I call Author Coaching. This blog, Write Nonfiction NOW!, naturally led them to me, and the content I published and the experts I featured transformed me into a nonfiction writing and publishing expert.
Later, after I’d written two books related to write writing, blogging, and publishing nonfiction, I thought it a good idea to formally offer coaching packages to other writers. Today, coaching is one of my largest sources of income. Book royalties don’t pay my bills, but coaching does.
Membership Sites for Group Coaching
However, it’s recurring income from membership sites, like my Nonfiction Writers’ University, that allows me to have the most impact and reliable income. On this platform, I offer group coaching on a virtual basis and get paid monthly by members.
Of course, offering courses and coaching requires a website, payment portals, email lists, and recorded or live content. Many writers don’t want to fuss with all of this. They just want to write.
I agree it’s a time suck. But if you can work as a coach, you create an income that allows you to write the rest of the time.
My Biggest Mistake
If I were to go back and do it again, I’d set up a coaching program long before my book was released.
With How to Blog a Book, I didn’t monetize it with coaching or courses for more than a year…and then I’d missed the opportunity. Even with the second edition, I didn’t gain as many clients as I might have if I had moved on this earlier.
By the time I released The Author Training Manual, I already had a solid coaching track record. Therefore, it was easier to direct readers of the book both to one-on-one coaching and group coaching in the Nonfiction Writers’ University.
Also, I’d be sure to keep a long-term view of where I was going as an author. I’d choose to write books and coach on topics that jazzed me and helped me fulfill my purpose. These coaching programs would continue to excite me for many years into the future.
How Writers Attract Coaching Clients
To attract coaching clients,I blog…and then blog some more…and share those blog posts on social media. Blogging is writing, so I enjoy it, and most writers find it fulfilling.
Of course, I also use social media sites consistently, using live features whenever possible.
I also continually take action to build my email list. Then, I send subscribers consistent content–blog posts, content digests, and weekly emails.
My new readers and coaching clients come from all these efforts. Plus, all that content–in particular, the blog posts–makes my website(s) easily discoverable. That means new clients find me readily in an Internet search. In fact, most of my clients find me this way.
In 2019, I started offering free 15-minute strategy sessions. Anyone who lands on my nonfiction site sees the offer. A conversation with a prospective client works better than any other method I’ve tried—even blogging. But the posts get them to the strategy session form.
Don’t Rely Solely on Books to Make a Living
I don’t recommend nonfiction writers rely solely on book sales to make a living. Instead, I advise you to monetize your content in as many ways as possible—including coaching.
Also, focus on your passions. If you decide to become an author, you’ll never stop promoting your books–at least not if you want them to sell. Therefore, it’s best to be passionate about the subjects of your books so you can continue happily writing and coaching on those topics for years to come.
Do you coach (or plan to coach) on the topic of your nonfiction book? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with another writer.
Would you like to write and publish nonfiction work, like articles, blog posts, books, or reports…and become a successful author? Join the Nonfiction Writers’ University. Get the basic education you need and the Author Coaching to help you succeed as a nonfiction writer. Enjoy a 30-day trial membership for only $1. If you’ve felt the desire to get coached and be supported as you pursue authorship, this program is for you. Participate in monthly group Author Coaching sessions and gain access to an extensive archive of writing and publishing resources.
Photo courtesy of petrovichvadim.