Many wannabe authors have one-tracked minds. They think only about the book they want to write. If you have dreams of creating a career as a successful author and spending your days writing bestselling books, you may be focused primarily on your book idea and time at your computer cranking out manuscripts. In today’s publishing environment, however, this type of strategy doesn’t often lend itself to successful authorship. If you want to achieve that goal or develop a career as an author, think beyond each one of your books.
The average author doesn’t earn a living from the income garnered from book sales. The most successful authors have a big-picture vision of their books—especially nonfiction books—that includes more than just creation of manuscript after manuscript. Their strategy encompasses a variety of other products and services that help them promote, sell and monetize their books. This is how they manage to earn a living as authors and writers as well as succeed at their publishing endeavors.
Products and services related to books allow authors to bring in additional income—besides book sales. Promotion of coaching services and online courses that relate to a particular book, for instance, provide opportunities to encourage clients and customers to purchase the book as well. Additionally, the promotion of products and services increase authors’ and the books’ online discoverability, which, in turn, increases book sales. And book sales send readers back to authors’ websites to purchase supporting products and services.
Let’s look at an example to see what this looks like for one particular aspiring author.
One Book Idea, Many Income Streams
Imagine Sarah, an aspiring author who want to write a memoir about her journey from bankruptcy to successful business ownership. Her initial idea is to share her story. She’s always loved writing, and she thinks producing a memoir will be the perfect way to become an author.
However, she thinks larger than this one book idea. Although she has a career, she wants one as an author as well. She doesn’t want to give up her business quite yet, but she might want to do so eventually—especially if she can succeed as an author. So she brainstorms ways to monetize her book, including writing several additional spin-off books.
Sarah has no background in finance or business, nor does she have an education in entrepreneurship. (She has a college degree in English, which is why she knows she can write.) She began her landscape design business because she is passionate about gardening and wanted to work for herself. However, her failure provided life experience that translated into a desire to learn how to succeed at what she really wanted to do—to become a landscape designer and run her own landscape design business.
Interestingly enough, after declaring bankruptcy and subsequently achieving success when she re-started her business, Sarah became an expert in an entirely different area. She became an authority on how to build a dream business no matter your financial situation. She discovered this area of expertise when friends and clients would ask her how she succeeded in business or request advice on how to start their dream businesses. She gladly offered them counsel—for free.
While Sarah’s memoir will, indeed, allow her to tell her story, she realizes it doesn’t provide as many monetization opportunities as prescriptive nonfiction. Therefore, she brainstorms three more books, two that are logical spin-offs from the memoir (on topics related to finances and creating your dream business) and one related to both her landscaping business and her personal story.
Next, she brainstorms different products and services for each book. These will allow her to monetize each book as well as to promote them by offering readers a way to:
- dive deeper into the subject matter with courses, events or membership sites
- get one-on-one support from Sarah through coaching or consulting options
- continue learning about the subject with additional short e-books or workbooks
- meet Sarah and hear her speak on the topic
- increase her visibility and discoverability online
Now Sarah has a plan for becoming a successful author. She can prioritize the book ideas, and then release them in the order that seems most effective for her writing career, branding or business. She will build out her products and services as she releases each book.
Beyond-the-Book Strategy Results
Sarah’s plan achieves a variety of results that allow her to create a career as a successful author. By thinking beyond her one initial book idea she:
- brands herself with a series of spin-off books, which helps her attract readers, customers, and clients; a brand also helps potential readers and clients know who she is and what she does or offers.
- increases her book sales with a “long-tail effect”; the more books she writes and publishes, the more books she sells.
- enhances her expert status; multiple books, products, and services create a sense of authority or thought leadership in her subject area, which helps her attract readers, clients, customers, and speaking and media appearances.
- earns money from a variety of sources rather than just book sales.
- makes it possible to develop an income related to her books as well as from her books.
As Sarah implements this strategy, her income as an author is based upon book, product, and service sales. She earns more money than the average author who writes one or two books and relies on book sales alone for income. While she doesn’t spend all of her time writing, thinking beyond the book allows Sarah to focus all her attention on activities related to her writing and books. The more successful her “author business” becomes, the more time she can spend writing.
Eventually, Sarah might earn enough as an author to give up or sell her landscape design business. However, she loves this work as much as writing. She wants to continue to grow landscape design business through her writing, successfully combining her two passions. She can author more books spun off from the first one on landscaping (Book #4). She also can create online courses related to landscape design or provide coaching or consulting to other landscape designers. If she wants to go a step further, she can create a Google Hangout on Air or a podcast related to landscape design to help promote her books, products and services on this topic.
Can you see how you might think beyond your current book project? Are there products and services that would lend themselves to building an author business around your book? (If you don’t know how to create products and services related to your book, read Authorpreneur: How to Build a Business Around Your Book.)
Thinking beyond the book opens up a whole new world for you as an author, one filled with a huge number of opportunities restricted only by your imagination and knowledge base. Employ this strategy to create a successful career as an author, one that supports you financially and allows you to pursue your passions.
Would you like to learn more about how to develop your beyond-the book strategy? Click here to watch my four-part series about how to create a career as a bestselling author. Also, add your name to the list below to be notified when I release the next video in the series. This ensures you become one of the first to hear the details of my new Six Months to Your Bestselling Author Career premier coaching program.