Writing-Publishing: The Secrets to Getting Paid For Your Craft
The underlying battle that is fought by every writer is writing daily. And, per Feeding the Beast theory, publishing weekly.
The breakthrough to that published study is to “write short and publish long.”
But work also has to be done to make this remunerative. Starving in a garret just doesn’t cut it. You need to get paid.
That study, which is also the basis for this Great Fiction Writing Challenge, says that the simplest way to get paid is to climb the Amazon author ranks as a fiction writer.
Meanwhile, the testing has produced another approach which is even more remunerative – turning your non-fiction books into courses. That latter point takes time and energy. If you don’t have a lot of time to throw at it, you can hire someone to do it. But that takes money. So you need to get regularly paid, somehow in order to pull something like that off.
Earlier Successful Income-Producing Publishing Models
My earlier solution has been successful. It was to publish enough regularly-selling books to more than pay my costs of living, and meanwhile, live with in the means I can afford.
In short, I’ve published everything I can, and some of these sell regularly. A lot of this was Public Domain (PD) works, a few were PLR (Private Licensed Rights) material. The general analysis of this showed that about 50% of my stuff sold at all. Of what sold, 20% produced 80% of my income. (Yes, that’s an uncanny Pareto proof, but so be it.)
That model meant that if I wanted to improve my income, I needed to crank out tons more books.
In comparing with a couple other public domain self-publishers, I found that they were mostly getting their income from Amazon, and had both had their accounts cancelled at least once. One of them was formerly pulling down six-figures, but had since run afoul of Amazon’s trolls enough that he was forced to quit publishing PD through them.
And this is also what I had found: Amazon started out with PD and now doesn’t want anymore. It’s being gamed regularly by scammers in this area, just as it is in its Kindle Unlimited area. Because their book-publishing scene is more algorithm-based, than run by real people. You see this in Chris Fox and David Gaughran’s non-fiction books.
Originally, I had published everywhere and made on average slightly less than 50% from Amazon compared to everywhere else. And I hadn’t published all my works to KDP that I did elsewhere. Just because I didn’t like my account threatened every time I tried to publish to KDP.
Here’s that lesson: Amazon (and most U.S. based aggregators) only want original fiction. Mainly because Amazon gets attacked by spammers and lawyers for PD works. And if an aggregator anywhere wants to publish to Amazon, you can’t submit PD to them. Those are their rules.
If you have thick skin, you can publish PD to KDP, but eventually they will cut you off. And this includes anthologies of works.
The solution is to take an income drop and simply use non-U.S. aggregators to publish to Kobo, ITunes, N00k, and everywhere else. Just stick to their EU standards of author+70 and in general you’ll be fine. They don’t really understand U. S. copyright laws and don’t want to.
This Writing Challenge is Test Earn Income Beyond Financial Freedom
The secret to Financial Freedom is simple: Live Within Your Means, Then Increase Those Means.
My own arbitrary goal is to figure out how to crack into a 6- or 7-figure income within a year. Completely arbitrary. I’m happy living as I am right now. Again, the preliminary analysis continues to show that more people buy fiction than non-fiction, and that there is both a higher income potential from shorter works, as well as unmet demand for these on that platform.
Meanwhile, this week showed that the secret to turning out the top income is really in non-fiction courses. Of course, the Amazon guru’s don’t see this, as Amazon doesn’t own (that we know of) any course providers. So no KDP guru’s analyses extends there. (Just like they don’t really analyze how to get the best sales on paperbacks, on Kobo, on iTunes, or Nook, or Scribd.)
All that means that the “guru’s” out there are all concentrating on how to be big fish in a big pond.
And since only .04% of KDP authors make an actual living there, it’s more likely people are missing out on other avenues. The recent (and incomplete) study I did above shows that non-fiction books made into courses is far more profitable.
The Breakdown Between Real and Actual is in Promotion
A review of what I’ve accomplished so far tends to prove what I had come up with earlier.
My split in income from PD-and-everything publishing was done by publishing only, not promotion.
The “guru’s” ideas are to crank out a few books and make them into “bestsellers” by running primarily Facebook ads. Write in series so the later books can be promoted to sell the earlier ones. You see this laid out in Mark Dawson’s work. A networked author-friend of his, Nick Stephenson, found he was making more with his courses and liked it better. (But his background is marketing.) I’ve generally found that authors who started out as affiliate marketers tend to go this route as well. I can name three of them right now, but won’t. They still make income off their books, but they also have promotion set into courses. While they all have their “bestseller” books, they aren’t actually following the pulp-fiction line of production that made Jack London, O. Henry, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Nora Roberts, James Patterson and so on into household names. And I’m sure these marketers are crying all the way to the bank.
The whole secret underlying this is to follow the Pulizzi Content Inc. model of finding and pushing your sweet spot:
- What you know how to do and are good at. (Knowledge)
- What you most want and like to do. (Passion)
But add to this:
- What people are buying.
- What people will pay you for.
The final caveat is that Thoreau was wrong about “building a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”
It’s only true to the degree they can discover your books, courses, services, products.
And for them to discover these, you have to be promote them.
The other Feeding The Beast definition is: “Promotion is getting in front of other people’s audiences with your valuable offer and inviting them into your audience.”
That is exactly how buying ads on that privacy-leech Facebook works, as well as Google, and Amazon, etc. Even BookBub and the rest. This is why Instafreebie works to build your subscriber base fast. They have an audience that you are putting yourself in front of with a suitable offer. And giving them the opportunity to join your audience by giving you their email address.
It’s then up to you to not alienate these readers, but build them up into loyal/buying fans.
How Internet Marketing Really Muddied These Waters
There’s two things I’ve learned to
hate really dislike. Advertising and Internet Marketers.
On advertising, you can see how Facebook has been stealing our personal information (even without being on Facebook) in order to follow us around the Internet with ads. If you watch “free” TV, you’ll see as much as four minutes of ads every 10 minutes, minimally. And that’s in movies which were edited or made-for-TV.
Now your personal solution is quite simple for advertising: use Ad blockers on every browser you have (ditch Chrome, obviously) and quit using Facebook and most social media. My one exception is Flipboard right now, because it’s an interesting experiment in content curation (and you can flip right by their ads.) I don’t count blogs in this, as in general the free blogs don’t earn income. Medium might be considered in this social media category, but they don’t take ads, so…
And platforms like Amazon aren’t happy places for me to visit. Really bad customer interface. Really bad. No one in their right mind would set up a website or ecommerce site like that. They are pitching you products all the time. (And have a nasty habit of sending your browser down to the reviews or the also-boughts.) And Facebook is all about selling you stuff – horrible interface again. If we just want to keep track of relatives’ cat pictures, can’t we do that without having to buy something, or having our contact lists scraped? (Not on Facebook. It’s in their DNA.)
(Why do I like Wal-Mart? 1. They are so “backward” that they don’t retain your customer data online, well not much, yet. 2. When you order from them, you can pick it up locally and talk to real people who live near you. 3. If you can find it on Amazon, you’ll probably find it on Walmart.com – and deal with real people, not bots/algorithms/foreign “English” speaking call-center slaves. Check it for yourself. Get away from your depressing virtual commerce and go talk to some real people. Have a conversation with them. It’s good for you.)
Internet Marketing got a really bad name for itself because they gave out really bad, overpriced “products” for decades. Affiliate Marketing, while good in idea, has always been gamed.
The worst is when you get onto someone’s mailing list and you start seeing the same “stuff” recommended by several other email lists at the same time. You only subscribed to these people because you trusted what they were about and what they had to say. Then here they are pitching someone’s new “release.” If you like their emails otherwise, complain. Usually, they’ll listen. (Worked for me.)
Because they get a payment when you buy through their emails. If you let them know that sending you crap offers means you’ll unsubscribe (and tell a lot of other people to) then they’ll reconsider – or at least segment your email out so you won’t get the crappy offers, just the good ones.
The worst upper end of this was something called “The Syndicate” where a number of these guys got together to push each others products. A lawyer named Jason Jones, who runs a blog called “Salty Droid” has consistently studied the inequities of the various online marketing scams out there. And come up with really fascinating data.
In 2010-2012, he laid out the recordings about something that Frank Kern said on a lecture. It was how to organize your competition into a Syndicate (“trade union”) and organize it to make income by cross-promoting each other’s stuff.
- and links to https://www.theverge.com/2012/5/10/2984893/scamworld-get-rich-quick-schemes-mutate-into-an-online-monster
If you watch these videos, you’re taken down the rabbit hole of how a handful of people dominated an industry of affiliate marketing, pushing their products on a rotating basis. In one phone call, they lay out how to push products at $5,000 each with “coaching” involved that are really all hype.
The only reason this comes up now, again, is because I found myself re-studying the data I’d earlier researched about MLM. That led to Mike Dillard, and that made me remember the Salty Droid and Frank Kern’s Syndicate. And now you know.
The principles behind what they do, and what made that scamming possible, are all hardwired into our society, and are what we are all trained to follow. Sheepfully so.
Anyone who’s been honestly working with self-improvement materials has usually worked their way out of this scene. (Which is why I give away my scam-free book and lessons without even asking for an email address.)
But the bulk of humanity is stuck into these mental programs that they’ve been taught all their lives.
All I’m trying to do now is to test out if you can earn a 6-figure income ethically. Not because I need to.
And unless Facebook and Amazon keep themselves from imploding from their shady business practices, my tests will potentially include running ads on some of these snarky platforms simply to introduce people to a way out of the mess they are stuck in. (Not in my near future, however.)
Courses Are Not Internet Marketing – Or Don’t Have to Be
Neither does writing and publishing on Amazon or everywhere else.
Theodore Sturgeon was famous for saying “90% of everything out there is crud.” (1951, 1953, 1958) While he was first talking about Science Fiction and then extended the concept to all published books, Earl Nightingale in his “Strangest Secret” recording (1956) that out of 100 people who work for 40 years and reach retirement age, only 5% gain their financial freedom. The rest are broke, still working, or dead. He mentions that if those same people simply saved – and didn’t touch – 10% of their income for those years, the compound interest alone would give them a million dollars.
If you look for percentages showing up between 90-97, you’ll find a lot of these observations. In fact, the Pareto Principle (80/20 law) predicts that 4 percent of any population will earn 64% of the income. Lots of studies down this line. (A bastardized study, misquoted through the U.N., says 1% of the population controls 50% of the wealth. Wrong, misinterpreted, but close.)
But far from being fatal or depressing, this is a tool to work with. 90% of people who sign up and pay for a course won’t complete it. I’ve heard this over and over. It really doesn’t matter how much you work with them. And you can’t do the work for them.
But 5-10% will complete the course and will do something with that material. And those are the people you really want to work with. Those are the ones you want to surround yourself with and invest in.
I have a tiny number people who have been on my mailing list for over a decade now. I cherish them, and would give them anything I have (and have offered to do so, many times.)
And I’ve mostly ignored the conventional wisdom about online marketing because it’s been filled with scammers. So their data – even though constantly repeated – wasn’t to be trusted without extreme testing. Only recently did I discover a route that would work – but it picks tiny parts out of all that fluff they spread.
My opening data in this article says I don’t have to worry about the rest of the world. Just do more of what I was doing, and make sure I sock a lot of money away like any good prepper.
So making a 6- or 7-figure annual income is more something that is potentially entertaining. It allows me to test everything I’ve ever found useful and see if it will scale. Or: does that mean I’ll have to make a deal with the devil to “succeed?”
But I wanted to get this out to you, as it’s been eating away at me a bit. (Blogging can be cathartic, right?)
If you aren’t having fun, really enjoying every thing you do, every moment you are doing it – then something needs to be changed so you are.
That’s the bottom line.
I don’t have to do this “Great Fiction Writing Challenge.” Nobody is twisting my arm on this project. But I figured that until I did, I wouldn’t know for a fact that what I say works. And at the end of this year, I can sit back and correct everything I’ve told you that didn’t. If I don’t already correct it all as I go. (And you’ll see some more books, and courses based on them.)
Because you and I both deserve to know and understand what is truth, which was defined by the ancients as simply the stuff that’s workable.
Luck to us all.
Here’s your recipe:
- Publish everywhere you can in every format you can. PLR won’t be accepted by Amazon or Smashwords, but everywhere else I know of. PD can’t go to Amazon (simply) or Smashwords, or GooglePlay, otherwise it’s an open playing field, at least through non-U.S. aggregators.
- Publish in series and as serials. Build your list and use that as your own Bookbub. Note: FB ads (and Amazon KU) are addictive.
- Write daily. Blog. Turn all your non-fiction observations into a book, then a course – see below.
- Same rules as above.
- But write towards and convert everything into courses. All your books.
- Build your list and openhandedly help people honestly to improve their lives.
- Become prolific and follow only your own bliss.
- Find and pay attention to the 5% who have figured out how everything really works. Ignore everyone else in terms of advice or strategies. They are really only customers at best. That includes the vast majority, if not all, of the Internet Marketers – regardless of how rich they currently are.
- But help as many people as possible. Zig Ziglar said “You can get anything you want as long as you help other people get what they want.”
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Also published on Medium.