Is it possible to make a living from self-published books?

The short answer is, yes. There are people out there who are doing just that. However, what is the reality? How many people actually make a good living from self-published books?

This is not just self-published books, it’s all kinds of books. Books are a low-value item. Not in terms of content, of course. Books can be incredibly valuable. But they are low-value items in terms of how much you can charge for them.

The average Kindle book usually sells from about 99 pence (or 99 cents, if you’re in the States) up to, at the highest, 3.99. I know someone who tested this, and as soon as they put their Kindle up to 4.99, or 5.99, they saw a significant drop in sales.

So from 99 pence (or 99 cents) to 3.99 is the going rate. With paperback books, you would struggle to charge more than £10 or $10. Again, people just think. “Why would I pay more than that for a book when most of the books out there are under £10 or $10?”

Because of this, you have to sell an awful lot of books to make a living.

You can make a slightly better living on self-published books because, if you go through a traditional publisher, they will take most of the profits, while paying you royalties (around 6-10%).

If you are self-published, you get more. Once you pay Amazon their fees, you will keep the rest. But remember, if you’re self-published, you have to pay for editing, publishing, graphic design, interior design, typesetting, etc., up front to get your book to a professional publishing standard.

If you go down the traditional publishing route, the publisher would have paid all that for you. And that’s why they take the lion’s share of the profits from the book.

I hope you can see, making a living from books, whether it’s self-published books or traditionally published books, is difficult. You have to sell a lot. I’m talking about hundreds of thousands of units to make a living.

So does that mean it’s not worth you writing a book?

Yes, it can be if you choose to see the book as a sales and marketing tool, and NOT the thing that’s going to make you money.


Case Study:

Let me use myself as an example. My book, The Freedom Master Plan, has to date sold around about 8000 units worldwide. That’s a mixture of Kindle and paperback.

That’s pretty good by the way. For seven weeks, I’m happy with those figures. When I checked how much money I’ve made, I think it was just over 3000 bucks, which is not bad.

But is it worth the time and energy it took me to write a book? If I was just relying on the sales of my book… That’s not a lot of money for the amount of time and effort I spent writing a book. I’ve made around $1500 a month.

The reason why I don’t care about this is I don’t see my book as my money-maker. Instead, my book positions me as an authority in the book coach and publishing world.

Because of this, so far I’ve secured five new students, who have each paid me several thousand dollars or pounds to work with me. That’s where I make money. I’m even thinking of aligning myself with a charity so that all the sales of the book can go to charity. I’m not interested in making money from the book. I’m happy for people just to consume the content in the book.

My Kindle is currently at 2.99. My VA will periodically do a flash sale for 99 pence, or 99 cents in the US, to drive up sales.

The reason she has permission to do this is that I don’t care about making money from the book. If I cared about that, I would price my book as high as I can get away with, unless the sales plummet. So, if I can get away with 3.99, or maybe 4.99, I’d sell it at that. Because I’m not thinking about making money from the book, I’m happy to give it away for 99 cents or 99 pence.

Heck, in three months, I may even give it away for free! Amazon has a program that you can enroll in every 90 days, and they will give your Kindle away for free for five days.

I don’t care about the fact that I’m going to make no money. I don’t rely on book sales to make me money. What I make money from is people who want to work with me and pay me to become their book coach.


Profit from book sales or backend products?

If you write a business book and you rely on book sales to generate the lion’s share of your profits, it will be a hard slog. You have to sell hundreds of thousands of units to make a comfortable living.

However, if you do what I do, and use your book as a great leveraging tool to build authority, so people flock to your business and want to do business with you, want to spend money with you, then absolutely, you can make a very comfortable living.

You don’t even need to sell that many books. You just need to get it to your target market who would be interested in working with you. I’d much rather just 100 people read my book who are in my target market and want to work with me than 10,000 people read my book who are not my target market.

In a nutshell, if you rely on just the sales of the book, making a living from self-published books (or traditionally published) books can be tough. It’s not impossible, but it’s tough. But if you know how to leverage your book to get it in front of your target market, so they buy your products and services, then it’s very easy to make a very, very comfortable living from books.

Next Step

If you’re interested in writing a business book that will generate leads and sales for your business, get a copy of The Freedom Master Plan that will explain everything you need to know about writing and marketing business books.

You can also download a sample chapter here