Let’s dive into a topic that’s close to every self-published author’s heart: income streams.
Each book you write has the potential to create 4 income streams:
That’s not counting when you diversify platforms and sell through multiple booksellers. We’ll revisit this a little later.
This is truly one of the unique and exciting things about self-publishing.
Now, I know what you might be thinking: “I write because I love it, not just for the money.”
That’s absolutely true! Writing is a labor of love, but wouldn’t it be nice if your passion for penning stories could also pay a few bills and maybe even fund that writer’s retreat in the mountains you’ve been daydreaming about?
That’s where diversifying your income sources comes into play.
Think of it as planting a garden of revenue, with each income stream as a unique, blooming flower. Sure, your books are the centerpiece, but why stop there when there are so many ways to let your creativity blossom and turn your words into cash?
By the end of this blog post, you’ll have a treasure trove of ideas on how to make your writing hustle not just financially rewarding but also loads of fun.
So, grab your favorite writing beverage (coffee, tea, or perhaps a glass of wine), get cozy, and let’s explore the exciting world of income streams for self-published authors. Who knows? You might just discover your new favorite way to share your stories with the world while keeping your wallet happily plump.
Table of Contents
1. Writing and Publishing More Books
Now, let’s talk about the path of least resistance. If you’re already writing and publishing books, you can simply amp up those efforts. Don’t forget, this means you’ll also have to amp up your marketing efforts as well.
Writing more books may seem like stating the obvious, but it’s essential to understand the ripple effect it can have on your author income. Here’s why:
- Increased Royalties – Each book you publish has the potential to bring in royalties, and when you have multiple books out there, those royalty checks start to stack up. It’s like having several streams feeding into your literary river.
- Growing Readership – Think of your books as breadcrumbs leading readers to your authorial world. The more breadcrumbs (books) you scatter, the more likely readers are to follow the trail and explore your entire catalog. This can turn casual readers into loyal fans.
- Enhanced Visibility – Having a variety of books across different genres or niches increases your visibility on online marketplaces like Amazon. A broader range of topics or genres means more chances for your work to pop up in readers’ search results.
- Improved Writing Skills – Practice makes perfect, right? Writing more books not only increases your income potential but also hones your writing skills. It’s a win-win situation.
Potential for Increased Royalties and Readership
Let’s break it down further. Imagine you’ve written and self-published your first book. It’s getting some love from readers, and you’re earning royalties. Great job!
What if you follow it up with a second, third, or even tenth book? Each new release is an opportunity to reignite interest in your entire catalog. Readers who enjoyed one book are likely to check out your others. As your readership grows, so does your income.
Additionally, if one book per year brings you a certain level of income, publishing two or more books per year can potentially double or triple that income. It’s all about momentum.
So, if you’ve got more stories to tell, characters to introduce, or worlds to explore, don’t hold back. Write, publish, and watch those royalties and readership numbers climb.
2. Diversifying Book Formats
Alright, we’ve talked about writing more books, but let’s dig deeper into another golden nugget of wisdom for boosting your author income: diversifying book formats.
Why stick to just one or two formats when you can reach a broader audience and tap into different revenue streams?
“Variety is the spice of life”, they say, and this rings true in the world of publishing.
Here’s why offering your books in various formats is a game-changer:
- Meeting Reader Preferences – Readers are a diverse bunch, each with their own preferences. Some love the convenience of eBooks, while others relish the feel of a physical book in their hands. Audiobook enthusiasts, on the other hand, prefer to have stories narrated to them during their daily commute or workout. By offering your work in different formats, you cater to all these tastes.
- Expanding Market Reach – Different formats open doors to different marketplaces. While eBooks are easily accessible through online retailers like Amazon, print books can find their way into local bookstores and libraries. Audiobooks, too, have their dedicated platforms, such as Audible. The more formats you explore, the wider your reach.
- Maximizing Earnings – Each format comes with its own pricing structure and royalty rates. Diversifying formats means multiple streams of income. You can earn from eBook sales, print-on-demand royalties, and audiobook downloads simultaneously.
Tips on Converting Your Existing Books
Now, let’s address the practical side of things. How do you convert your existing books into these different formats?
Here are some steps to get you started:
- eBook Conversion – Converting your book into an eBook format like ePub or MOBI is relatively straightforward. You can use tools like Calibre or hire a professional eBook formatter. Once converted, you can publish your eBook on platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for Amazon or Draft2Digital for other retailers.
- Print-on-Demand (POD) – Services like Amazon KDP or IngramSpark allow you to create physical copies of your book without the need for a massive print run. You upload your book files, and they print copies as readers order them.
- Audiobook Production – Audiobooks require narration, but you don’t have to do it yourself if you’re not comfortable. Many narrators are available for hire on platforms like ACX (Audible’s audiobook creation exchange). You can also work out a royalty-sharing deal with a narrator if you’re on a budget.
- Cover and Formatting Updates – Don’t forget to update your book covers and formatting to suit the requirements of each format. eBook covers, for example, may differ slightly from print book covers.
- Marketing – Once you’ve diversified your formats, ensure you market each one effectively. Highlight the availability of eBooks, print books, and audiobooks in your book descriptions and author bio. Run promotions or bundle deals to encourage readers to try different formats.
By diversifying your book formats, you not only cater to a wider audience but also create additional income streams that can boost your author earnings.
3. Expanding into New Genres or Niches
While you might have found your niche or genre sweet spot, there’s a whole universe of possibilities out there waiting to be explored. Let’s uncover why stepping out of your comfort zone can be a game-changer for your author income.
Dabbling in related genres or niches can be a rewarding journey. Here’s why it’s worth considering:
- Diverse Readership – Different genres and niches attract different readers. By branching out, you can tap into new audiences who might not have discovered your work otherwise. It’s like setting up a lemonade stand at the intersection of genres, and readers from all directions stop by for a refreshing sip of your storytelling.
- Increased Income Potential – When you expand into new genres or niches, you’re essentially creating multiple income streams. Each genre or niche you explore can become a mini-empire of its own, complete with its loyal fan base. This diversity can significantly boost your income.
- Fresh Creative Energy – Writing in a new genre can reinvigorate your creativity. It’s like a breath of fresh air for your writing muse. You get to experiment with new plotlines, character dynamics, and settings, which can be creatively fulfilling.
- Mitigating Market Fluctuations – Some genres or niches may experience fluctuations in demand. By diversifying, you can cushion yourself against market ups and downs. When one niche is slow, another might be thriving.
NOTE: I recommend considering a new pen name for different genres or niches. Otherwise, it can create confusion among your readers if you abruptly switch gears.
Successful Authors Who Expanded Their Horizons
Still not convinced? Let’s look at a few authors who successfully ventured into new genres or niches:
- J.K. Rowling – Known for her iconic “Harry Potter” series, J.K. Rowling later adopted the pseudonym Robert Galbraith to write a series of crime novels featuring the detective Cormoran Strike. This move expanded her audience beyond the wizarding world.
- Nora Roberts – A prolific romance writer, Nora Roberts also writes mysteries under the pen name J.D. Robb. By exploring different genres, she’s captured the hearts of a wide range of readers.
- Hugh Howey – After finding success with his post-apocalyptic “Wool” series, Howey branched into science fiction and other genres. His willingness to diversify has helped him maintain a thriving author career.
- Neil Gaiman – Gaiman, known for his fantasy and graphic novels, ventured into children’s literature with books like “Coraline” and “The Graveyard Book,” attracting a younger readership.
These authors prove that breaking out of your genre comfort zone can lead to new horizons and new fans. So, if you’ve ever had a story idea that doesn’t quite fit your usual genre, don’t hesitate to explore it. You might discover a whole new world of readers eager to devour your words.
4. Creating Author Merchandise
Let’s dive into the world of author merchandise! You’ve mastered the art of writing, but why stop there when you can turn your literary creations into tangible products that not only delight your readers but also boost your income? Let’s explore the exciting potential benefits of creating author merchandise and some intriguing examples.
Creating merchandise related to your books and brand isn’t just about selling stuff. It’s about building a deeper connection with your readers and expanding your income streams. Here’s why it’s worth considering:
- Deepening Fan Engagement – Author merchandise serves as a tangible connection between you and your readers. When fans wear a T-shirt with themes from your book or sip coffee from a mug adorned with your book quotes, they become walking, talking advertisements for your work.
- Building Brand Loyalty – Author merchandise can foster a sense of belonging among your readers. They’re not just readers, they’re part of your tribe. This loyalty can lead to more book sales and long-term fans.
What Should You Make?
The most popular choices are t-shirts and coffee mugs. There are certainly considerations beyond these like:
- Other Apparel – Hoodies, tote bags, and more!
- Bookmarks – An excellent choice for authors
- Wall Art – Sometimes you book cover is just that cool!
Getting Started with Merchandise
If you haven’t explored creating merchandise before, prepare to be inspired. The variety of items you can customize is exciting.
One of the coolest parts is that Amazon has a merchandise platform called Amazon Merch on Demand with 14 different products as of this writing.
Other options include platforms like Printify and Printful that sit atop your Etsy shop and allow you to create print-on-demand products. They handle the creation and shipping for you. These services have many more items available to customize.
Not a designer? No problem. You can find one on Fiverr.
Remember that the key to successful author merchandise is to create items that resonate with your readers and reflect your unique brand. It’s not just about slapping your book cover on a T-shirt; it’s about crafting products that enhance the reading experience and allow your readers to become a part of your literary world.
5. Offering Writing Services
Are you ready to take your writing skills beyond the realm of storytelling and tap into a world of freelance opportunities? Offering writing services, whether it’s freelance writing, editing, or consulting, can be a rewarding way to diversify your income as an author.
Let’s explore these three avenues and discover how they can bolster your income:
- Freelance Writing – If you have a way with words and a niche you’re passionate about, freelance writing is an excellent option. You can write articles, blog posts, or content for websites, magazines, and businesses. Many companies are eager to hire skilled writers who can craft engaging, informative, and SEO-friendly content.
- Editing – As an author, you already have a keen eye for storytelling and language. Put those skills to work as an editor. You can offer proofreading, copy editing, or developmental editing services to other writers. Editing not only allows you to earn money but also sharpens your own writing skills.
- Consulting – Becoming a writing consultant is another path to consider. Share your expertise with aspiring authors or businesses looking to improve their content. Offer services like manuscript evaluations, writing coaching, or content strategy development.
Marketing Your Services
Oh no! I said the m-word. The main component to offering any online service is making sure people know about it. This kind of feeds into the next income stream opportunity because you may want to have a website to showcase your skills.
Do you need a website?
Sometimes it’s going to feel like a waste of time and effort, but having your own website is as professional as it gets. It’s not a requirement by any means. You can leverage platforms like Fiverr to sell your services or use social media like LinkedIn to network and build connections that could possibly lead to paid opportunities.
At minimum, you need a portfolio that you can share with potential clients. You can set this up a number of ways from free blogging sites like Medium to your own website which brings us to the next topic, but first…
Remember, building a clientele and a reputation as a writing service provider takes time. Be patient, persistent, and open to learning as you navigate this new avenue. Offering writing services can not only enhance your income but also enrich your writing journey by allowing you to help others on their literary paths.
6. Building a Blog or Website
In the digital age, having a blog or website as an author is not just an option—it’s a powerful tool for building your brand, connecting with readers, and creating additional income streams. Let’s explore the myriad benefits of having an author blog or website:
- Author Platform – Your blog or website serves as your online home base—a centralized hub for readers to find your books, connect with you, and access your content.
- Showcasing Your Work – It’s an ideal platform to showcase your books, share excerpts, and offer insights into your writing process. You can even serialize stories or share bonus content.
- Building an Audience – A blog or website allows you to build a loyal readership. You can engage with your audience through comments, newsletters, and social media integration.
- Marketing and Promotion – Promote your books, events, and appearances. Share news and updates about your writing journey to keep your readers informed and engaged.
- Monetization – Beyond book sales, your blog or website can generate income through various means, such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products.
Building a website isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a HUGE undertaking and you’ll need an extensive set of skills if you plan to do it yourself. I recommend self-hosted WordPress on Siteground and get your domain through Namecheap.
Remember, it takes time and consistency. Focus on creating valuable content, building your audience, and diversifying your income streams. With dedication and patience, your author blog or website can become a rewarding venture both creatively and financially.
7. Developing Online Courses
This is the route I chose immediately following my initial success with self-publishing. When I first started, I did everything myself including my book covers (do NOT recommend). I mean EVERYTHING.
It was only natural that I create a DIY Course and community that walked author through the self-publishing process step by step. I still have loyal audience members who gave me a chance with my first course offering.
Members who bought lifetime access can still enjoy the latest versions of that course material. Yes, I keep my content updated! New members can now find my latest learning materials at TheSelfPublishingHub.com for just under $10 per month.
Creating and selling online courses is a fantastic way to share your expertise, whether it’s about writing, self-publishing, or any other subject you’re passionate about.
Things to Consider
Developing and publishing an online course is a whole new set of skills. Outline and content aside, you must decide what kind of content you want to offer (video is always most popular) and where you want to host that content.
Platforms for hosting online courses can be pricey. You’ll definitely need to do your due diligence and research if you decide to get into courses.
I’ll tell you from my own experience it’s mostly rewarding, but sometimes just a pain in the you know what. If I had it to do again though, I wouldn’t change anything.
Creating and selling online courses can be a fulfilling and lucrative venture for authors looking to share their expertise and diversify their income streams. With the right approach and dedication, you can build a successful online course business.
8. Membership Platforms
I’m talking about services like Patreon and Buy Me a Coffee. These are platforms where you can offer your audience exclusive content and perks and they can show their support for you through a paid subscription.
Membership platforms like Patreon have emerged as innovative income sources for authors, enabling them to secure financial support from their dedicated fans and readers.
It’s worth noting here that if you’ve opted for your own website, you can also host a membership there where you receive 100% of the revenue.
Membership platforms provide authors with a direct channel to their most dedicated fans, allowing them to monetize their creativity and build a sustainable income source. By leveraging these platforms effectively and nurturing a supportive community, authors can find financial stability and greater artistic freedom in their writing careers.
9. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a monetization strategy that allows authors to earn commissions by promoting products or services related to their niche. Let’s delve into how affiliate marketing works for authors and provide strategies for effectively incorporating affiliate links into your marketing efforts.
How It Works
In affiliate marketing, authors partner with companies or affiliate programs to promote their products or services. Authors earn a commission for each sale or action generated through their unique affiliate links. Here’s how it works:
- Join an Affiliate Program – Authors can sign up for affiliate programs that align with their niche or target audience. These programs are typically offered by retailers, bookstores, or companies that sell products or services related to books, writing, or authorship.
- Receive Affiliate Links – After joining an affiliate program, authors receive unique affiliate links that track their referrals. These links contain special codes to identify the author as the referrer.
- Promote Products or Services – Authors incorporate these affiliate links into their content, such as blog posts, social media posts, newsletters, or author websites. They recommend products or services they genuinely endorse or believe would benefit their audience.
- Earn Commissions – When readers click on the affiliate links and make a purchase or complete a specific action (such as signing up for a service), the author earns a commission on the sale. Commissions can vary widely and are determined by the affiliate program’s terms.
PROTIP: As an author, you should already be an affiliate for Amazon. Join the Amazon Associates program and use your affiliate links to link back to your books and earn a little extra on top of your royalties.
Remember that successful affiliate marketing is built on trust and authenticity. Your recommendations should genuinely benefit your readers, and your content should always provide value beyond the affiliate links. With a thoughtful approach, affiliate marketing can complement your author income while enhancing the reader experience.
As an author, your journey is not limited to the creation of stories. It’s also about building a sustainable and diverse income to support your writing career. We’ve explored a multitude of income streams that can help you achieve financial stability while doing what you love.
Each author’s journey is unique, so choose the income streams that align with your goals, values, and passions. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting, diversifying your income can lead to a fulfilling and sustainable author career.
Do you have an income stream not mentioned? Tell us about it in the comments! You never know how your experiences might help other authors just like you!