Earning money writing a book requires a lot from us, writers. Although I know it sounds absurd, I like to compare the hellish experience in publishing to beggars’ admirable tenacity to withstand all odds.
Have you ever gotten yourself annoyed standing in front of a beggar lately? Have you also thought about earning money writing a book today?
If yes, I can totally relate to both questions you have in mind. In the Philippines, beggars I notice roaming around the streets, entering jeepneys, and asking for coins or food you’re eating are from tribal communities.
In Mindanao (the Southern Philippines), these groups dominate the national highways.
The people, as much as they can, avoid them to prevent being asked for anything. Yet, the beggars continue doing what they want albeit the government’s efforts to keep them away within their fence.
So, what can we learn from a beggar in terms of earning money writing a book today? It’s an absurd question, isn’t it? But heck, yeah, I want to take them as an epitome of annoying perseverance.
Definite Traits Of Beggars
H. Ahamdi of Shiraz University Department of Sociology revealed the common characteristics the beggars share.
His study gathered 330 beggars to collect information resulting in determining some of their traits.
Emmanuel Gabriel supported those in his study “Socio-Economic and Cultural Characteristics of Street Beggars in Akure, Nigeria,” which follows:
- No formal education
- Satisfied with the “job” = rich from begging, acquiring assets
- Draw sympathy from the general public
- Recognized as problems by diverse stakeholders
- Practices aggressive or abusive begging
- More males than females
- Belong to youths and supposedly productive age range/group of persons
- Financial incapacitation
- Lack of needed materials
- 4-6 household members
- The need for entrepreneurial assistance
Certainly, we don’t have to go through the whole list, however, we can get some that teaches us about earning money writing a book.
Hence, I compiled the following list extracted instead:
- Begging to acquire assets
- Draw sympathy from the general public
- Recognized as problems by various stakeholders
- Practices aggressive or abusive begging
- Belong to youth and/or productive group of people
- The need for entrepreneurial assistance
From these 7 defined traits, we will dig into how these would bring us insights on making money in writing book. Are you ready?
1. Begging To Acquire Assets
To beg is to ask, isn’t it? How earning money writing a book relates to that?
It is the “practice of imploring others to grant a favor.” That’s according to Wikipedia.
You can call a person a beggar if he or she practices that to grant favor with little or no expectation of returning it. It’s never a win-win situation for the giver and receiver.
So, how can you apply this principle in your life as a writer? In earning money writing a book, you do the opposite.
You ask help from people and tools to create a longer piece of work with an expectation to return that favor with humility and smile.
It’s an author’s responsibility to give a pleasant feeling to its readers regardless of the genre and type of work he or she wrote. Be it fiction or nonfiction, it should create an enthralling feeling of satisfaction.
Prior to its creation, you as a writer, you sought help from different sorts of people and tools to create a masterpiece.
You don’t write crap for the sake of publishing it. You spent the time, money, and effort to build a world where you welcome ideas and fantasies of your readers.
One of the favorite tools I use when I write my book is Grammarly. (*This is an affiliate link).
As a non-English speaker, it helps me proofread my work (including my blog posts) making sure I don’t miss any error in my writing process.
2. Draw Sympathy From The General Public
I remember Dan Lok suggesting one of the striking tips on his YouTube video. “People don’t buy the products. They buy stories,” he said. Now that we’re talking about drawing sympathy from our readers, his statement made sense.
True. People buy Apple not only because they like the design and its specifications.
Of course, they buy it because they want how it looks but what matters to most consumers is how its products make an impact on someone’s life.
The same principles with luxury products. Not only the rich people desire to buy one bag to the other but those from the middle-income families.
They buy them because of the efforts made by designers to choose the best quality of materials and are made by hand.
This is why many people opt to buy fake products just to assume they own one. That’s how powerful the stories are.
In writing, it doesn’t differ at all. Young adults were fond of “Harry Potter Series” not because they like how J.K. Rowling wrote it. Not at all.
In fact, they don’t know who she was when the book was launched. It’s the story of the main characters and their saga. Stephenie Meyer with “Twilight Series,” among others have the same story.
Touching the emotions of people matter the most leading platforms to the increase of purchase among books published today. You need proof?
Let’s take a look at Amazon self-help books and see how many people rated them.
In that way, we can get an idea of how many readers purchased them and how earning money writing a book possible.
3. Recognized As Problems By Various Stakeholders
Have you remembered how the general public reacted when Dan Brown published his “Da Vinci Code” and E.L. James with “Fifty Shades of Gray?” If so, have you seen their faces when they knew these were adapted into movies?
Beggars are seen the same way. They experienced the worst. Embarrassments and glares from people are norms for them.
If you think about it, as a writer wanting to get more money in your books, you need to understand the need to create stimulation. That is to create something controversial.
This doesn’t mean you want to produce something that harms the public for the sake of earning money writing a book. But you tell the world the truth they should know and only you can do it.
As the popular Bible verse say, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints, and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
The truth hurts. It creates havoc if you tell the world about it. Just so you know, people nowadays content with passivity and what is considered safe. Nobody fights and challenges the norm to correct it.
If you want to garner attention and make everyone curious about your work, do this. It’s your decision.
I am simply telling you the option you have as a writer wanting to make an income stream from this.
According to sources, you can get 10% of the total sales if you published your work via traditional publishing.
On the other hand, the self-published works will allow as high as $450,000 in income per year.
Chandler Bolt recently did an interview with Lise Cartwright, author of “Write and Grow Rich.”
He wrote that she’s making around $3,000 to $4,000 per month in her books on Amazon. Like Bolt, she’s also a self-published author.
4. Practices Aggressive Begging
Let’s take out the term “abusive” here and focus on the aggressive part of begging. I’m pretty sure you notice this side among the beggars. Most of them do aggressive begging.
For what? Survival.
If they won’t be aggressive in their tactics, they’d end up starving. Hence, they need to be strategic and make people sympathize with their dire situation.
After all, they don’t have anything to lose. So, begging isn’t an embarrassing act anymore. It’s an act of survival.
In the realm of writing, you need to give yourself a competitive edge ensuring your work can compete with the rest of the hundreds of thousands of authors across the world. Both traditionally- and self-published authors.
So, how do they do start? How do you aggressively beg?
They write nonstop, ask their brains to spit out the most words possible, squeezing itself until the last drop of water.
Diligent writers ask their souls to be knocked out for a while until they finish their work. That’s how writers beg to make their best-selling books.
Stephen King writes every single day since the day he realized his talent in writing stories.
He told on one of the conferences he attended that he wrote at least 2,000 words per day or equivalent to 10 pages. That’s more or less 3,660 pages per year.
With that number, you can finish at least 10 books in that speed. Because of that, no wonder he has hundreds of books under King’s belt. That’s no surprise.
“I like to get 10 pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book – something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh,” Stephen King wrote on one of his popular books and reference to most beginner writers, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”
5. Belong To Youth And/Or Productive Group Of People
Have you seen old beggars dominate in the streets? No. I don’t think so. Most of them comprise the supposedly “productive group” gone in the wrong path.
Young men and women roam around without direction subconsciously seeking consolation in uncertainty.
If you notice yourselves, beginner writers tend to be in the same age bracket or lower.
They comprise teenagers and up towards their 60s or 70s (until they couldn’t hold a pen and think properly).
6. Composed Of Migrants
Based on the research, most beggars aren’t natives of the land. They’re typically migrants in a country. Thus, they are of the same nationality.
It’s just that they traveled from a far place and chose to reside in an urbanized community with hopes of improving their lives from rural poverty.
This relates to most non-English-speaking authors, who do feel insecure, including me. I’m not an American nor from an English-speaking country.
I reside in a country with Spanish descent (under the Spanish regime from 1521 to 1896) and a bit of American (Philippines was under the USA for 44 years).
Hence, my writing sounds a bit off to most English-speaking readers. Especially when I started my writing career 4 years ago.
To prevent that or at least lessen the Spanish accent in my work, I have read a lot and practiced a lot with the supervision of editors in the past. Until now, I’m still working on it.
When it comes to publishing online, we are convinced that our readers will be primarily from the United States.
Especially when we upload our works on Amazon and other third-party platforms. Wattpad, for example. Our insecurities overpower resulting in distress and most of all, writer’s block.
However, you don’t have to feel like you can’t compete simply because you aren’t speaking the language.
You can feel comfortable with your own language and write about anything. Haruki Murakami, the author of “Norwegian Wood (1987),” wrote primarily in Japanese.
Yet, he didn’t expect his work would cross borders and succeeded internationally leading to a series of language translations.
The same situation for Paulo Coelho when he wrote “The Alchemist” in Portuguese in 1988.
Both of these authors received international accolades from their works written in their respective national languages. If they did, so you can.
7. The Need For Entrepreneurial Assistance
Beggars know how to market themselves as beggars. They ask money over and over again to survive. That’s their primal game works.
Underneath it all, they need entrepreneurial assistance to make sure they stay away from their “job.” Instead, they make money in a legit and independent way possible.
Writers tend to think the same. They thought their book idea is good enough without consulting the business-side of things.
Publishing is a business. Thus, publishers need to make sure they make profits from every book they launch to the general public.
They spend money on the in-house editing, layout, printing, etc. to make sure your book is a success.
So before they start those pricey process, they need to review your work and evaluate its worth: whether it will work or not.
On the other hand, if you choose to have your book self-published you’re going to deal with the same things in a different way.
You’re your own publisher. You hire professionals to handle your work, making sure everything is set and perfect before you release it.
How To Make Money Writing A Book?
1. Write a book.
Of course, you have to. This is why you want to read my lengthy post, right? You want to make money from writing. And your powerful weapon to make that possible is by writing one.
Here are some of the suggestions I want you to begin with the writing process. The reason is that writing a book entails a lot and it’d be difficult if it’s your first time. You need to have a feel of writing per se.
- Chandler Bolt’s 90-day challenge
- Jeff Goins’ 500-word-per-day challenge
- NaNoWriMo Camp (finish a book in 30 days)
2. Plan Your Book/Novel.
You may refer to this post to guide you through the step-by-step process in novel outlining in case if you want to learn more about it.
Part of your planning is the research involved in which you dig into the book concepts, ideas, inspirations via Amazon, etc. that people are interested in.
In addition to that, you can go to other third-party platforms such as Wattpad and Inkitt to learn what the young readers want to read and save on their library.
3. Hire Professionals.
You may want to visit Reedsy to hire professional editors and layout artists, who know the game in publishing.
Before you visit a publishing company, you have to ensure that you have what it takes to be worthy of their time.
Every second count in this industry. Every cent, every page matter to them. So, make sure you have the edited version of your manuscript prior to meeting an agent.
If you intend to have it self-published, you still have to seek help from the following professionals to make sure your work is publishable and free from fatal errors readers hate.
Otherwise, you’ll suffer from bad reviews regardless if you have the perfect story to tell.
Make sure you hire these people to work with your book before you upload on Amazon and other third-party reading platforms:
- Developmental editor
- Layout artist
4. Upload Book On Amazon.
First things first. Uploading on Amazon depends whether it’s done by the publishing company per se or you (if self-published).
If you do the second option, you have to know the protocol when uploading a book on the above-mentioned platform.
What to Consider When Uploading a Book on Amazon?
1. Layout done by professional layout artist
Aside from the book cover design, you make sure your chapters coincide with Amazon requirements which should follow the requirements for ebooks. Once you do, your work will be readable seamlessly on Kindle.
- Book cover (reflects the feel, genre, or concept)
- Chapter layouts (readable in Kindle format)
In the first place, what is an ISBN and why do you need one?
An ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, a 10-digit requirement for publishing books in various editions.
The numbers are unique to each book and in editions, which function as identification for a piece of work.
The reason for owning ISBNs is similar to owning your national ID. The numbers indicated on your identification card are unique from person-to-person regardless if these group of people belongs to one family.
For example, you are all Smiths. But your father has a different ID, your mother, your siblings, and yourself.
You are one family but you vary in ID numbers. The same scenario applies to ISBNs. Your books may have the same title but each edition will have its own ISBN.
Where Do You Apply And Buy Your Own ISBN?
It differs in regulation depending on how the country implements it. In the Philippines, you apply through submitting a certain set of requirements and a payment of Php 120 for each application to the National Library.
Requirements for applying an ISBN in the Philippines:
First Time Applicants
1. Photocopy of any of the documents (Nature of Business should be Publishing)
- Business permit/license with BIR Certificate
- DTI registration as a publisher with BIR Certificate
- SEC registration as a publisher with By-Laws and Articles
- Organizational Chart (for Government institution)
- Mayor’s Permit
- National Book Development Board (NBDB)
2. Photocopy of the Official title page (the final title of the publication)
3. Copyright page (indicate the phrase “Published by” with the company name and address)
4. Duly filled out ISBN Factsheet and Information sheet
5. Registration fee of Php 120/title
Succeeding Applications (Second-time applicants and up)
- Photocopy of the official title page (the final title of the publication)
- Copyright page
- Duly filled out ISBN Information Sheet
- Registration fee of Php120/title
For more information, visit the National Library of the Philippines page and learn further instructions when publishing your own book.
3. Blurb/Copy of the book
What is a blurb?
It’s the concise paragraphs that tell about the main thought of the book. Your readers rely on your book copy to know what your work is about.
Additionally, they don’t need to hover through the chapters before they decide to buy it and spend time reading it.
Given, you have to make sure you write the best blurb apt for your work. If not, you can hire an editor to do it for you.
You can go immediately to my #1 recommended hub for authors, Reedsy, and see the list of professionals, who can help you with this hurdle.
Traditional VS Self-Publishing: Which is Which?
Now, we’ve come this far, my writing buddy.
From learning how beggars’ commonalities help us define our eagerness to earn money writing a book, we reach the point where we have to decide which of these 2 options work best for us and our work.
Before we do that, let us define what is a traditional and self-publishing and its pros and cons to weigh our decisions well. Alright?
Definition Of Traditional vs Self-Publishing
Traditional publishing is basically submitting your work to a publishing company.
From the submission of your manuscript in definite format, it undergoes through a review process until the editor comes in after its approval.
Once your work reaches the hands of the editor, you, the author, will work hand-in-hand with him until you finish the entire book before the layout artist comes into the picture.
From there, you’re going to decide which of the book designs work best for your readers and whatnot.
In general, it’s the system that works since publishing books began in ages. That’s traditional publishing.
On the contrary, self-publishing is under your hands. As I mentioned earlier, you are your own publisher.
The work of a reviewer, editor, layout artists and others solely rely on your own decision. So, if your book flops, it’s all your fault. You’re the only person to blame.
Simply because you aren’t confident with the quality of the book albeit the endless number of revisions you did, you hired a handful of professionals to work on it. This is where Reedsy comes in.
You hire your developmental editor and copyeditor to make sure everything is okay. Then, you work with them until the work is done.
Afterward, you hire a layout artist to make your book design and your content layout, making sure it works perfectly for epub formats as Kindle does.
Unlike traditional publishing, you solely have control of your work and how the book proceeds. Of course, you’re taking the role of a publisher. Certainly, this will cost a lot of money.
Pros And Cons Of Traditional Publishing
1. Everything is in-house.
The publishing company has its own editors, layout artists, and marketers to work with your book to make sure it’s perfect during the launch.
2. You don’t spend a lot of money.
You solely rely on your writing talent and skills to impress the publishers. That’s all you need to have your book published.
3. Greater visibility.
This is because the company has its own marketers. So, you don’t have to set up your own book signing event since they do it for you on behalf.
All you have to do is to attend the event and leave all the marketing tasks to them.
1. You don’t own the full income.
Depending on the contract, you may only have 10% of the royalty share from the book sales.
That’s because you have to pay the expenses of the company who shouldered everything for you at the beginning.
2. You may lose creative rights as an author.
There are some instances when the editor changes the flow of the story as you originally imagined because of profitability.
Let’s say, your book contact only allows 78,000 words for the first publishing and your original story has 100,000 words, you have to edit or delete some scenes to fit the requirement.
A lot of Wattpad authors experience that.
There are also some authors who lost their rights as author because of not reviewing the contact well.
To prevent this, you have to read every term and ensure the company will ONLY have publishing rights.
You still own the story, not the publishing. Anyway, you can transfer that right to another company. That happens a lot.
3. Long publishing time.
You have to wait for months before your book reaches the shelves. This is the norm for authors who do traditional publishing.
The entire process of endless editing results in a months’ work. Well-Storied noted that it could take 1 year to 2 and a half years.
Pros And Cons Of Self-Publishing
1. You have full control.
There’s nobody who will dictate you what scenes to include and how long your book will be. You pay your editor/s in accord to the length.
So, you don’t need to worry about deleting important parts of the book to fit the publishing requirement.
The same principle applies to layout artists you will work with for your book cover and chapter content.
2. You can simply upload on Amazon after the long haul.
Since everything is under your control, you have the full power when to upload your work on Amazon and other third-party reading platforms.
You don’t have to worry about anything at all. All you need to do is the protocol involved depending on the platform you will use.
3. Shorter publishing time.
Unlike traditional publishing, it’s possible to finish a book within 90 days and have it fully-furnished and publishable within 6 months.
In addition to that, it helps earning money writing a book faster than traditional publishing does.
4. You own every profit.
Literally, you own 100% of the income as an author.
This is why Chandler Bolt, Lise Cartwright, among others earn $4,000 to $5,000 per week to as high as $450,000 per year because of self-publishing.
Your only concern revolves around collecting the expenses you paid from your pocket. The rest are profits.
1. Expensive Option.
This is obvious since you’re your own publisher. Earning money writing a book fast makes sense then.
You spend thousands of dollars to hire every professional you need to make sure everything is alright before publishing.
2. No marketers help you.
In comparison to traditional publishing, you will need to market your own book. Solely on your own. Nobody will help you.
So, you have to build connections or rely on Amazon’s subscription option wherein it directs the reader to your list if you have.
This is why self-published authors need to have their own website and email service provider to make this option work.
3. Difficulty to find print distribution.
I bet this is all because of the stigma involved as an indie author. Not everyone is impressed with self-publishing in comparison to traditional publishing methods.
Given, you need to do in-depth research to companies that accept print for your books and another search for bookstores that accept indie works on their bookshelves.
Oftentimes, indie authors choose digital books as an easier option to publish and earn an income.
When you reach this far, congratulations. It’s a very long post about earning money writing a book.
Just so you know this post alone reached 5,000 words. So, I could say this is quite a comprehensive discussion of making money in the publishing industry.
The reason for comparing a beggar to writers like you, wanting to make an income from your writing, is that this group of people has a high level of endurance and tenacity to survive.
Publishing by itself is a test of survival. The strongest warrior lives and the rest die and rot to the ground without honor.
Because of that, although it sounded odd to compare these different people, giving you a clear picture of what it’s like to publish your work this way is best.
Beggars don’t stop asking for coins even though it embarrasses them, even when someone shoves them away because they’re annoying.
Also, little did you know that they, too, strategize. They explore every day and everywhere looking for opportunities.
This was when I saw a group of street kids hanging around a fast food chain bringing a handful of rags to sell.
From how they look, they’re obviously living in the streets but seeing them bringing those rags caught my eye.
To survive the harsh reality, they have to make sure they achieve their goals. To eat and live comfortably even if it meant their freedom as children. For writers like us, it’d be the same thing.
In order to succeed as writers and to make money from our gifts, we have to learn how to compromise. We have to shove freedom and let sacrifice sink in our heads to do the work.
To start, I use Dabble Writing App for my writing process. It’s the tool I used to finish 3 books in 1 year.
Curious? You can check out my comprehensive review and learn more about it.
Now, we’re all set. Are you ready to sit down in front of your PC or laptop and start writing? Or are you still thinking if this works or not until 2019 ends?
I hope my post “What a beggar teaches you about earning money writing a book today” helps you in making an income as a writer.
The decision is yours, my writing buddy. It’s all in your hands today.