Do you write for moneyIf you’ve joined the self-publishing Kindle, Amazon, Smashwords author frenzy and you think the road ahead is paved with gold, money and unending wealth, do not pass go and head directly back to your day job. There are just so many writers, almost writers and hardly writers at all now all clamouring for every reader’s $0.99. Unless you have written something exceptionally brilliant or tapped into a very hot niche, you’re just one in a million trying to be noticed. So time to get real.

Writing a book is about passion and wanting desperately to tell your story, not about money.  However, don’t stop writing, just forget about the fame and fortune bit; for now. If your story is well written, well edited, has a great cover, is brilliantly promoted and marketed and is exactly what readers are looking for, it will stand half a chance, otherwise just be thrilled with your achievement.

The book market is subjective and  fickle. From my own experience, my favourite couple of books that I have written have been average sellers, while others I am not so in love with have sold very well. It’s a lottery when you place your books into the market. At the end of the day though, you’re a writer because you want to be read. So how do you get read?

In my mind there are three factors. Price, price and great marketing.

A free book is a great way to introduce readers to your work. When I published Vandalism of Words, which is quite simply a compendium of about 140 of my (better) blog posts, I expected to sell (read give away) a few hundred copies. Well, after selling and giving away  1,000’s upon 1,000’s of copies it has become the the absolute best way to introduce readers to my writing. Yes, for free.

Then for the rest of my books, I have experimented with pricing. For paperbacks it is relatively easy. Stay below $16.00 and you have a good chance of selling some books. Ebooks though are more complicated. From the standard $0.99 Amazon model, then over the Amazon enforced price void to $2.99 and above. After a lot of trial, error and experimenting my advice is – it really doesn’t matter. Oddly enough it manages to even out. I sell more books at $0.99 obviously, and less at a higher price. In the end my monthly royalties remain about the same. So clearly the $0.99 pricing strategy will bring you more readers.

But even at $0.99 you still have to promote, promote, promote to keep your head above the pack.There are many free options available but the standouts for free marketing are Freado and Goodreads. For a few dollars you can get more focused marketing on sites such as Whizbuzz.

So good luck with making your book a bestseller. But in the meantime keep writing for the love of it.

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18 thoughts on “Do You Write For The Money?

    • 05/08/2011 at 2:55 pm

      You’re right Jack. It’s about being read. As far as my retirement fund goes, I think I can honestly say I will be able to fund a three day retirement!

  • 04/08/2011 at 6:38 pm

    Yeh. Everyone wants to be published in some way or another. Or else why write? Writers need readers – it’s how you get them that’s the problem, methinks. I’d like to know how you get your book on Kindle?

  • 04/08/2011 at 6:55 pm

    “Writing a book is about passion and wanting desperately to tell your story, not about money.”

    Here, here! I read so much about the Benjamins and so little about the writing itself. This post helps bring things back into focus. :)

  • 04/08/2011 at 8:22 pm

    I am thrilled with my achievement! I write for the love of it, and do my best to trust that if a story is written well, readers will find it. And hopefully tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on. That said, I’ll check out the marketing sites you mentioned. Thanks, Derek!

    • 05/08/2011 at 2:50 pm

      Congratulations Monica! Now the hard work begins. Hopefully I’ll have a post about social media book marketing later this month. It might give you a few ideas.

  • 04/08/2011 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I am in the middle of writing a book giving the advice of freelance writers. Still not sure how I am going to publish, but here’s hoping!

  • 05/08/2011 at 12:16 pm

    Great article Derek. Writing’s one thing, publishing’s a whole other universe. You write because you have to, because it means as much as breathing. Making money from it is the icing on the cake.

    • 05/08/2011 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks! I read an article yesterday were a writer referred to the 35c royalty on 99c Kindle ebooks as a ‘little bit of honey’. Too true.

  • 05/08/2011 at 3:49 pm

    Sorry folks, but I have to disagree. There is a myth out there that if you are in a creative or social service type of profession, you should do it for the love of it, rather than for money. If you love being a banker, why get paid for it? If you love being a CEO, then you don’t need money for it. People who lead need followers. Do you see the disconnect in this logic? You can justify not making money from what you do, but that doesn’t make it right. If you value what you do, then price it appropriately. Others will only value your work to the extent that you do. Work with a cheap or free price tag doesn’t get valued very highly. Additionally, if we price our work at 99 cents, this doesn’t mean anyone will buy our next book. My guess: they will buy the next item that catches their eye on the 99 cent shelf.

    • 05/08/2011 at 3:56 pm

      I guess this comes down to two very different mindsets, neither of which are wrong. I knit as a hobby. I’m going to do it whether or not it rains or shines. By this post, I take that you mean I should then sell my work and make it a business. I think this is a very capitalistic notion and it’s a bit far-fetched to say that people won’t take you seriously if you don’t charge for it.

      I’m going to write whether or not I publish. The money is not important, because I don’t intend to make a career out of it. I’d like to publish because I want other people to read it, but if I intended to make a fortune off books, I’m in the wroooong market. It’s simply a different idea and not so one-sided.

  • 06/08/2011 at 1:30 am

    I think there is a fine line with creatives. But, I have seen both sides of the coin. I think if you write as a hobby – great!! But, if you cross over into trying to make it as a writer and be taken serious as a professional, you should be firm on your rates and take yourself seriously. It does affect other writers – with all the $5 articles out there, it makes it harder to sell your client on a reasonable price. I rather you stay a hobbyist!!

    I do write because I love it, and I think it is great if you can make a living at what you love. I always wonder why it seems like if you love what you do, somehow you shouldn’t collect a paycheck from it. Not so. In the in end, my time is still valuable! :) Unless you have a full-time job or a spouse to help pay bills and can afford to write as a hobby, Amy is right – others will only value your work to the extent that you do.

  • 28/08/2011 at 10:44 am

    I absolutely write for the money. That doesn’t mean that I don’t also write for the love of it or because I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I couldn’t write. Getting paid for writing is a pretty new experience. It’s still not paying any bills. Well, maybe Netflix. :-)

    I write hoping to make money because this is the only job I want to have. Reaching that goal is going to take a lot of time and effort. Way more that I thought in the beginning.

  • 21/09/2011 at 10:13 am

    ha. hahaha. hahahahahahahah.

    Writing for the money…


    I’m writing because I finally found how enjoyable it is. At 50.

    I would like to think that after I’ve got a back catalogue of 10 or so books (4 down, 6 to go) I will be miraculously discovered and I will be able to spend the rest of my life writing as a primary career, but I’m realistic enough to know the odds are very slim.

    It’s just bloody fun.

  • 21/09/2011 at 11:06 am

    To find a suitable environment conducive to apply oneself diligently to the art of writing is near impossible in the city.(sighs) Suppose it will make the end result that more meaningful.(shakes head doubtfully)*sings* If I was a rich man Ya ha deedle deedle bubba bubba deedle deedle dum(bows and leaves)

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