For fun, yes, but not if you are hoping to make money.
I’ve got a published book on amazon, in paper format only (the publisher won’t make it into an ebook which is frustrating), 15 e-books on amazon, and 20 both paper and e-books on lulu.com and my own website. So….. what have I found out?
Except for rare unpredictable exceptions there is no money in books. I only get £1.50 per sale of my big Time Management book (see section on publishers below). It is supposed to sell for £39 new but the price seems to go all over the place, I think the publisher often runs out.
It sells frequently second hand but of course I get nothing when that happens.
Books can be a useful marketing giveaway or something that gives you credibility, but they’re only good as a face-to-face giveaway, if you going to send something in the post it’s better to email them a link to an e-book.
I think it might be possible to do lots of marketing aimed at selling your book, but then you might as well aim the marketing at something higher value like a training day or coaching or an online course. Something like Facebook ads or Google pay per click would not pay back if it was only pointing to a $10 book.
I have heard that people pump up the sales of their book on the day of launch to get it to the top of the list, and then the resulting sales keep it top of the search when people look for that subject – so you can get a sustained best seller if your marketing is brilliant on day one, …but I’m not sure how you get that surge on day one. You probably have to give loads of free copies away to a big mailing list or something like that?
eBooks vs paper
Rumour has it that on Amazon e-books sell many more copies than physical books, though I’ve not managed to do very well with either!
If you want to sell a PAPER book there are 3 options,
Paper option 1
…first is to get a publisher which is never easy – and they take 98% of the money:
My one book that has a proper publisher, which is called “Time Management”, is available on Amazon usually for £40, and I get about £1.50, and it has sold about 5000 copies over the last 15 years. Not bad in total, but not a great amount per month! My main frustration is that if you go into any bookshop it’s never there, so the publisher does nothing to persuade bookshops to stock it. All they do is print it, and I could get the same book printed for two or three pounds per copy, not £38.50!!
And they interfere with the contents, they dilute it and fiddle with it, when YOU know how YOU want the book to be.
And they own the copyright too, so I can’t do anything else with that material – For example get it translated into Chinese, or even just made into an e-book to sell on amazon kindle. I have no say over the cover design either. I can’t even update the contents if I want, not without their permission – and they are just not interested unless it’s a million seller.
And yet they keep £38.50 of the sale price!
If I want copies myself, for example to give to potential customers, I have to pay the full retail price of £40, whereas the other books that I print myself I can give copies away at a cost of only one or two pounds per book. I find myself buying copies of my own book on amazon second hand, which is a ridiculous state of affairs…
So if it’s only going to be sold on Amazon you might as well put it on there yourself!
Paper option 2
Printing – large or small quantities
….The second option is to just have it printed yourself.
Then it’s cheap to make and you can sell the book for whatever you like ~ but remember if you sell them from home you have to do all the packaging and posting which is a pain if you’re going to sell many.
While I’m on the subject of getting books printed yourself, there are two ways. The first is to get a few thousand made by a proper printing company, they will cost 1 or 2 pounds per copy and look really nice but you do have to store them in your house. It’s always much cheaper to get twice as many made so if you’re not careful you end up with a LOT of copies hanging around your bedroom!
The other way is to get small numbers printed by a website like lulu.com where you just upload a Word file and they will make as few copies as you want, maybe even just one, or five or fifty. These cost between 5 pounds and £10 a copy but are great if you only need a small quantity.
And if you find a mistake you can just update it and print some more, you’re not stuck with 1000 copies with a typo in!
Paper option 3
…And then the third option is “fulfilment by Amazon” where you get them all printed nice and cheaply and then you send them to Amazon who store them and sell them for you.
Paper option 3a
Printed by amazon
But actually it’s easier to get amazon to do the printing at their end, so you just upload an e-book to Amazon and they manage the stock control and everything, but of course then you don’t make much margin per book, …. but at least if people want to buy either an ebook or a paper book they can get either from Amazon with no hassle for you.
So the logistics are never going to be easy, and the question really is why are you writing it?
I would definitely consider filming a version of the book where you talk to the camera and have bullets/notes coming across the page every now and then – you can upload this to Udemy.com and sell it from there. There is certainly money to be made, I know that for a fact. Some of my courses on there bring in a couple of thousand pounds per month, and even an underperformer brings in a few hundred.
There is also the option of making an audio version and putting it on audible, (which is now part of Amazon). I have not done that yet because it’s quite a pain to get it uploaded, but I suspect there might be money to be made once you do that
You could also consider cutting it up and making it a podcast, depending on the format of the book, although podcasts are generally unpaid except for any ads you can get.
So that’s everything I have found out after years of experimenting – I hope it helps!
PS – My three favourites of my own books….