Investing in Your Author Brand Can Seriously Pay Off—Here’s How
If you have ever thought about writing a book, it’s likely you’ve done at least a cursory exploration of how becoming a published author might pay off financially. What you’ve almost certainly discovered is that publishing a book is a business endeavor with options along the entire spectrum of investment and payoff.
Even if you have written your book for the greater good, it’s still crucial that you think about the business side of publishing. If you do not have a plan to balance income potential and investment in your content, your dream of publishing a book could turn into a nightmare. Most importantly, you should not feel guilty for charging your audience to access your work. As Michael Hyatt explains succinctly, monetizing your content is a win-win-win for you, your goals, and your audience.
The hard truth is that making money solely from book sales is much more difficult and complicated than simply hitting a bestseller list. Superstars of the literary world are generally compensated as such, but they represent extreme outliers. While it can be motivating to dream of such success, it’s also important to stay focused on building toward financially sustainable ways to introduce audiences to your ideas. Here are some of the most popular ways authors earn revenue beyond royalties:
Sharing your message (or, if you’re a fiction author, your perspective and experience with writing) with a live audience is a powerful—and potentially lucrative—way to augment income from book sales. Paid speakers can earn thousands of dollars per appearance. But even if you speak for free, you will have the opportunity to interact with and help convert potential book buyers into fans.
Selling your book directly to consumers (in person or online via e-comm)
One benefit Greenleaf authors enjoy is the autonomy to sell their books directly to consumers and take home 100% of that revenue. Whether that sales opportunity takes place at one of their speaking events or on their website, authors who can sell their book directly have a serious advantage over traditionally published authors.
Paid content (video courses, webinars, pay-walled material, etc.)
Many nonfiction authors struggle to condense their message into the static format of a book because they have the potential to dive so much deeper into their areas of expertise than the book medium allows. Fortunately, the Internet has virtually no bounds and offers a range of formats that you can tap into to share your knowledge. Whether you develop a video course, host a webinar, or even create a workbook companion to your book, these types of complementary assets allow you to share a more extensive or interactive look at your message that will appeal to many of your readers.
Affiliate programs and sponsorship opportunities
Odds are that whatever your main message is, there is a whole ecosystem of businesses that exist to serve corresponding needs. Affiliate programs and sponsorship opportunities—when executed in a scrupulous, transparent way per FTC disclosure guidelines—are extensions of the principle of a value exchange. You get to point your fans to products and services that can genuinely help them address the pain point you’re focused on, while earning a cut of the revenue you generate for your carefully chosen partners.
If you’ve gone to the lengths of sharing your expertise with the world in a book, it’s likely you are well prepared to share it with individuals in a private setting. Adding coaching or consulting services to your brand offering is as simple as describing the benefits of your message through the customized experience of a personal meeting. Plus, with these services, you will likely experience the bonus of seeing the results of your work firsthand, which creates brand advocates who might provide testimonials you can use to illustrate the effectiveness of your work.
If your website generates significant traffic, you have the option to sell ad space on your own or lease out some real estate to an ad network like Google AdSense. While this arrangement would certainly result in some amount of additional revenue, you should carefully weigh the potential negative impact it could have on your brand.
As you can see, there are many ways for authors to supplement their income from book sales to take full advantage of their work. Give some thought to what works for your brand and how a book can open up a world of monetization opportunities.