self publishing

5 ways an author can earn money besides selling books.

One of the most enjoyable opportunities I have during the year is to co-host a free webinar with Reid Tracy, the president

Royalty payments are only one of many ways authors can generate revenue when they publish a book.

Royalty payments are only one of many ways authors can generate revenue when they publish a book.

and CEO of Hay House that focuses on publishing and marketing. So full disclosure: this blog post was inspired by Reid and one of the webinars we did.

The key takeaway is book sales and royalties are not the main way most authors generate revenue. In fact, the savviest of authors use the book to help establish multiple income streams. Most of the list below applies to authors of non-fiction books, but some of these ideas would also be applicable to fiction authors depending on the content of the book.

  1. Create a curriculum you can sell based on your book. This may take the form of a workbook and could include both print and online content, but it takes your information and helps people focus on the application of your ideas.
  2. Offer workshops for groups of people. With your book and curriculum, you can create workshop opportunities where you work through the material with a group of people.
  3. Seek out speaking opportunities. A book helps establish you as an expert so it often gives you the credibility to speak to groups.  Don’t worry about the size of the group when you first start. The key is to take the opportunities as they are presented. It will give you practice as a speaker and you will get better the more you do it. You can refine your material as you present to different groups so that when you have the opportunity to speak to thousands, you will know you are doing the best you can. Finally, while the audience may be small, there may be someone in attendance who can get you connected to a much bigger audience.
  4. Write articles for paid media on your topic—A book often helps position you as an expert. That  means professional publications who are looking for guest columnists will pay you to write articles if the content is relevant to their audience.
  5. Sell the international rights to your books. Non-US publishers are continually looking for content to acquire and republish in their home markets. There are two ways you can pursue this opportunity. First, find an agent that specializes in foreign rights and have them represent you. Second, there are now data bases that you can subscribe to that foreign publishers scour for new material to acquire. A quick Google search will help find out more detail on both of these options.

If these ideas are helpful to you, I would encourage you to take an opportunity to hear Reid’s presentation on this topic. He usually gives it at the Hay House Writer’s Workshops. If you cannot attend one in person, Hay House is about to launch an online version of the Writers Workshop. A free preview of that course is available by registering here.

Author Solutions, Balboa Press, book marketing, book selling, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

Self-published Probiotic cookbook gets picked up by traditional publisher.

One of the strongest motivations for publishing is having something to say that can help others. Donna Schwenk had suffered from some health challenges that led her to change her diet and the way she prepared food for her family. From that experience, she published a book that provided practical advice on how to use probiotics as part of a regular diet. This is a topic that has grown in popularity of recent given the rise in food allergies and digestive issues.

Donna self published her book with Balboa Press, the self publishing division of Hay House. That led to her being noticed by Hay House publishers and next thing you know, she was offered a publishing contract. I have said for some time, I do not know how many people you will impact with your writing if you publish, but I know how many you will if you don’t.

Donna’s story is a great example of how self-publishing empowers individuals to make a difference in other people’s lives by following through and publishing a book.  Hopefully her story will be an inspiration to you to finish your manuscript and get published this year.

agents, Author Solutions, authors, Balboa Press, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson, writing

4 things every writer needs to know if they are planning on publishing today

The world has changed for authors which means they have new opportunities and consequently responsibilities.

As you can imagine, with the announcement a few weeks ago about Author Solutions being acquired by the world’s largest publisher, there has been an enormous amount of media interest. This is both a thrilling and confusing time for authors, so I think it is more important than ever for authors to be informed and choose the best option for getting published based on their goals, skills, patience, and budget. My last post suggested there were four paths authors could pursue today, and I laid out the differences among them. But recently, at the end of a very thoughtful and comprehensive interview, I was asked the question, “Is there anything else you would like to say to authors today?” What follows is my response to that question.

Gone are the days of walking to the mailbox and pulling out a pile of rejection letters and wondering if you would ever get published. Today, every author can get publishedand get his or her book into the hands of readers—whether you use a DIY method, assisted self-publishing, or sign with an agent and try to acquire a traditional publishing contract

That means authors have more opportunity than ever before, but they also have more responsibility. And that is not something anyone seems to be talking much about. Whereas before it was the publisher, now it is the author who has the responsibility to set clear goals and a budget. Having clarity about these two areas will help authors make the best decision about which publishing path is best for them. In addition, they also need to have a realistic assessment of the skill and time they have to put to the project.

You can absolutely change your brakes and wash your car for less money if you do it yourself, rather than paying someone to do it for you.  But if you don’t know how to change brakes or you don’t have time to wash your car, you should pay someone to do it for you.  I think the same type of decision-making should be applied to making a publishing decision.

In addition, authors should:

  1. Make sure you have a clear picture of who the audience is for your book.  Saying your goal is to sell to every man, woman, and child on the planet (I had an author tell me that) is not realistic.
  2. Understand your options. DIY, assisted, and traditional publishing all have advantages and drawbacks. Inform yourself. There is plenty of information out there. In fact, that is why we created the Author Learning Center ( and why I published 7 Secrets of Successful Self Published Authors. It’s an ebook on  for 99 cents.  We have been told by many authors that both the ALC and the 7 Secrets are very helpful.
  3. Think about your marketing while you are writing your manuscript, and know there are no guarantees with marketing. Just ask any marketing director at any company in the world. You do some things that you think will work and they don’t, but you also do some things that far exceed your expectations. The key is to be consistent and experiment. Not everything is going to work, but if you do nothing, you don’t stand a chance.
  4. This industry-changing shift in publishing does not mean everyone will be successful, but it does mean everyone will have the opportunity to be successful. Honestly, I think that is the most exciting thing about the time in which we live. At ASI, we are simply providing the opportunity, whether you want to publish for free with Booktango or use an assisted self-publishing imprint like AuthorHouse or iUniverse or publish with an imprint tied to a traditional publisher like Westbow Press and Thomas Nelson or Balboa Press and Hay House. Not that long ago, authors only had one choice: find an agent and pray they could sell the manuscript. That has all changed, and I think that is amazingly exciting.

Too many authors publish a book with the expectation that the world is just sitting, waiting for their manuscript to get finished, and once they make it available for sale, the world will come to them. The reality is, being an author takes an informed, consistent effort, but when you get those e-mails from readers that tell you how much they enjoyed your book or found it helpful, it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.

Certainly, there are economic considerations when it comes to publishing, but I think the one common goal that unites all authors is they want to impact people with their writing. That’s why those motivations I mentioned on our call are so key. Writing to help others or telling a story that has to be told or supporting a business or ministry are worthy pursuits because they impact people.

As I say to authors all the time, I don’t know how many books you will sell if you publish, but I know how many you will sell if you don’t. I don’t know how many people you will impact with your book if you publish, but I know how many you will impact if you don’t. And to all the naysayers and fearmongers, I would like say: quit bickering about methods, and let’s encourage authors to seize the opportunity.

self publishing

Author Solutions acquired by Pearson and now a member of the Penguin Group

ASI is now a member of the Penguin Group

I know this is old news by now if you follow publishing, but I would be remiss if I did not do a post about the story. It truly is a great day for authors and publishers. The articles that ran about the topic were too numerous to count. As with any change that is this significant, there were a few naysayers and crumudgeons, but almost all the writers recognonized this was a significant day in the history of publishing.  My favorite article on the event was posted on Forbes. com and written by Jeremy Greenfield. I copied below. Let  me know what you think of the news. Thanks.

When you look back at the history of the publishing industry ten or twenty years from now, you’ll point to today as the day when self-publishing went from the margins to mainstream.

Self-Publishing Turns a Corner With Penguin Acquisition

When you look back at the history of the publishing industry ten or twenty years from now, you’ll point to today as the day when self-publishing went from the margins to mainstream.

Today, major publisher Penguin acquired Author Solutions, one of the largest self-publishing platforms, for $116 million. This is a big deal because it signifies that the publishing industry believes now that it needs to embrace the new book ecosystem that has grown out of self-publishing for its own survival.

With this acquisition, self-publishing may have turned a corner, according to the Author Solutions CEO Kevin Weiss. “When IBM gave its stamp of approval to the PC industry, what happened next was nothing short of remarkable. This feels like what happened with the PC industry back in the early eighties,” he said.

Penguin, thought to be the second largest trade publisher in the world, is now also one of the largest self-publishing platforms in the world: Author Solutions has published about 190,000 books by about 150,000 authors.

In 2011, the self-publishing industry is estimated to have taken away $100 million from traditional publishers’ bottom lines. Sounds like a lot until you compare it to the trade publishing industry as a whole in 2011: $13.97 billion. Just a drop in the bucket, really. Though we won’t have numbers for 2012 until 2013, with self-published works a staple of the Kindle and New York Times best-seller lists, you can bet that $100 million number has ballooned.

It has never been better to be an author. In this regard, there are basically two types: ones who had few choices and now have many; and ones who had no choices and now have many. Traditionally published authors went from being able to choose between a number of publishers that would compete for the rights to publish and market their books to that same group of publishers plus a dizzying number of self-publishing options. And authors who were either ignored or rejected by traditional publishers can now publish their own books through those self-publishing options.

Which publishing option would you choose if given the choice? Either way, everything changed today, the day when self-publishing was welcomed into the big leagues.

For those fortunate few authors with options, they will be choosing between:

Traditional publishing: Possibility of an advance (up-front money); distribution in print and digital formats; editorial, production, design and marketing support provided by publisher; up to 15% of cover price for print royalties and up to 25% for e-book royalties; and limited creative control

Self-publishing: No advance; distribution in digital formats with possibility of print-on-demand distribution; a la carte editorial, production, design and marketing support that the author pays for; up to 70% of cover price for digital royalties; and complete creative control

Essentially, it’s up-front money, support and lower royalties versus no support and much higher royalties. Level of creative control may also be a factor for some authors.

For some authors, there’s a third option. Penguin made clear in a press conference call about the acquisition this morning that it would be accessing Author Solutions authors and looking for titles that it could publish traditionally or, as Penguin CEO John Makinson put it, “It will be interesting to explore opportunities that lie somewhere between self-publishing and traditional publishing as presently defined by Penguin.”

In fact, Penguin has a history of finding authors in non-traditional ways. Penguin picked up Kerry Schafer’s novel, Between, an urban fantasy starring a penguin, after she uploaded it on the company’s work-shopping and self-publishing site Book Country. Penguin gave Schafer a two-book deal.

Which publishing option would you choose if given the choice? Either way, everything changed today, the day when self-publishing was welcomed into the big leagues.

Author Solutions, authors, book selling, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Author Solutions titles get deals in Hollywood from Book-to-Screen Pitchfest events

A few weeks ago I got a call from a reporter from a leading entertainment magazine and she asked me if I thought the next Hunger Games would come from a self-published author.  In other words, would the next book that gets turned into a big movie be a book that doesn’t come from a traditional publisher? I told her I did not have a crystal ball, but it sure seems likely that would happen.

Since then the evidence is mounting. Shortly after my conversation with the reporter, Variety ran an article titled, Hollywood snaps up hot ebook titles. You can read the complete  article on line by clicking here.

Variety magazine says……as hot ebooks continue to go mainstream, Hollywood will surely continue to pay attention.

Tagline Productions is shopping this story as TV show.

The other significant development is that  in the last month two titles from Author Solutions imprints have signed shopping deals with significant production companies in Hollywood.

The first one was a book titled Searching for Sassy: An L.A. Phone Psychic’s Tales of Life, Lust & Love” written  by author Alyson Mead. She  signed a deal with Tagline Pictures, the producers behind the hit USA Network television series “PSYCH” with a first-look deal at NBC Universal’s Universal Cable Productions, to develop her book, “as a potential television series. The book was first discovered at the ASI  Book-to-Screen Pitchfest event in New York City.

The second book is Mustang Miracle written by Humberto G. Garcia. George Lopez and his production company, Travieso Productions, are  attached to this compelling nonfiction book. “Mustang Miracle,” originally self-published through ASI’s AuthorHouse imprint, chronicles the journey of five young Mexican Americans who, through the game of golf, overcome the challenges of racism and poverty in 1950s Texas. While working as caddies at a local resort, the boys help found their own high school golf team, and with inferior equipment and no formal training, go on to become the 1957 Texas State High School golf champions.

George said in the release, “This story fits right in with our company’s goal to make quality entertainment that crosses all cultural barriers.”

Will it be the next Hunger Games? Who knows. The important thing is these two authors had the opportunity to pitch their books as an idea for film or television and it worked. That is the most important thing to remember during these times of change in publishing. As I have said many times, everyone will not be successful, but everyone will have the opportunity to be successful…as an author and in Hollywood.

…..everyone will not be successful, but everyone will have the opportunity to be successful.

Author Solutions, self publishing

What every author needs to know about royalties. (Part 2)

In an earlier post, I referenced a conversation I had recently with the leadership team of a leading trade publisher. In that discussion, I was surprised to learn that one of the biggest issues book publishers deal with every day is royalty inquiries from authors. I have to admit, at first I was a bit surprised, but after I thought about it, I realized that royalties—and how they are calculated—can often times be complex and confusing. In my first post, I tried to define the key terms used when discussing royalties.In this post, I want to address some additional issues that I believe create confusion for authors.

Royalties can be confusing, but important.

  • New books can be sold by a used book retailer–On some online retailers, you will see books described as both used and new.  Despite those descriptions, it doesn’t mean the books are any different. There are many used book dealers who sell new merchandise as well.  They just mark it as used because that is the majority of what they sell. However, this description gives the impression to the author that a bunch of books have been sold and now are being resold.  The fact is most books are actually printed using print-on-demand technology so there are not really any used books at all.
  • Only 4 left” is almost always a marketing ploy to create urgency to buy–Even though books are printed print-on-demand, some online retailers will put a statement like “Only 4 left” near a book to try to get people to make a decision to buy. Again, authors assume that there have been other books printed and sold, but the reality is there were no books printed and stored in a warehouse. This is referred to as “virtual inventory,” and is simply a way to get people to buy more quickly.
  • If the retailer has a sale, it does not reduce the author royalty–In almost every case, this is not true. Royalties are calculated on Suggested Retail Price (SRP) and not the actual sale price so the retailer takes less margin on the sale to drive volume, but the author is paid the same regardless of the sale price. As with anything, there are always exceptions, but this is almost always the case.

I hope this information helpful. Please use the comment section to let me know if there are any other royalty questions I can answer.

authors, Balboa Press, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

From self published author to selling 30 million books: Louise Hay shares her story.

If you do not know Louise Hay, you really need to listen to her tell her story of how she went from self publishing her first book to selling over 30 million copies in multiple languages over these past years. Louise is the author of many books, but the one that put her on the map was “You Can Heal Your Life”. In this video she explains how that book came to be and what has happened since then, including founding Hay House publishing.  As you listen to her story, you will find there are important lessons for any author to remember. I encourage you to watch the complete video, but here are just a few of the highlights

  1. The title of your book matters. The first title Louise had for the book, You Can Heal Your Life, was actually titled, The Metaphysical Causes of Diseases. That is not a title that rolls off the tongue so she changed it to make the title more more memorable and accessible to people and the rest is history.
  2. The design and packaging of your book matters. When she first self published, she went to bookstores and watched what people did. That research led her to realize that unless your book has the right title and is designed the right way, people will not pick it up.
  3. The most important motivation for publishing is not money. The most important reason for publishing is because you think you have something to say or share that can help people. She has a great quote in the interview, “Books will not make you rich, but they will open the door to some many other possibilities.”
  4. Self publishing lets you retain control of your content. While this statement seems rather obvious, it is an important reminder of the reason why indie publishing has grown so dramatically. Louise did not want anyone changing what she wanted to say.

The video is nearly nine minutes long, but it is worth watching. Enjoy.