The indie-author business is a tough one just like any online business these days, and the average income for indie-authors varies as well.
I posted previously that the average is around $500 per year in royalties, not even close to making ends meet for even a single month of rent anywhere in the United States.
However, I also said that it doesn’t need to be this way as most indies believe royalties will pile in the second they upload a manuscript.
Or, they might upload something that resembles an early draft with little to no editing. Once enough people read, or try to read, the book, it’s game over for that author.
So much can go wrong and so little can go right in the indie-author world, but today I’m showing you all that can go right and boost your own income over time.
Okay, so if you’re in your first or second year as an indie, it’s going to be a rough outing.
Nobody knows your name and you could have a book out there that’s better than Harry Potter but why would a reader new to your name choose your work which just launched with zero reviews over a proven product like Harry Potter?
Chances are, they probably won’t, so just like when you start a new job, you need to realize your place in the pecking order. That’d be the bottom, so enjoy the basement life for a bit.
Most rookie indies won’t make jack, including well-established names raking in seven-figures, so don’t worry if your royalty count for year one and year two reaches a grand total of $200.
The first year is all about getting your name out there, as well as your second year.
You do this by doing the following:
1. Go to where the readers are. Enroll your books in KDP Select since, while you must give exclusivity to Amazon, you also earn five free giveaways every 90 days.
But the sad truth is people still won’t buy the book and you’ll be lucky to see a little over one-hundred sales. So, let’s go to the next step:
2. Invest in book promotion.
There are hundreds of thousands of readers on the email lists of Freebooksy and Books Butterfly, among others. Note I didn’t mention Book Bub, since it’s rare for anyone to get accepted onto it even if you have a killer work. We’ll try for Book Bub and their 7,000,000 email list later.
If you want to test the waters with paid book promotion, there are a lot of options, which allowed me to sell around 250 copies over my last free period, which worked rather well. This time around, I’m looking to go with Books Butterfly before Freebooksy a couple months after.
Notice we’re giving the book away more than anything else.
We want two things:
Reviews and rankings.
That’s all you’ll need for the first year or two.
Ads. Do They Work?
I would point to yes and there are dozens of ways to use them to get your author name out there.
Newspaper, radio (yes these still exist), social media, Amazon, the list is endless. Marketing companies can do this. There are so many ways to get the name out there.
While you’ll have to pay some hefty prices for some ads, wouldn’t you think them to be more than worth it if it meant a steady income stream in the long run?
Again, I would point to yes.
So many indie-authors fail to make a full-time income doing what they love because they like to search for free ways to get their series out there or they’ll just create social media pages and think this will do the trick.
Remember a golden rule and that free is free, meaning it won’t get you far.
How to Really Earn Money as an Indie
Earning money with your own products isn’t an easy task for anyone, especially if you’re new.
It’s like running a Tough Mudder with the hardest obstacles staring you down within the first few miles.
That said, you will have to pay a lot of money to get a head start in this field in terms of promotion and advertisement. It might mean working more hours at your dreaded day job. It might mean needing a second job to pay for production costs.
You just don’t know until you crunch some numbers.
Think of being an indie-author as being in business for yourself. Being self-employed. Being a business owner.
Name me a single business owner who started their own company that didn’t invest capital into their own business.
Why would you think being an indie-author makes you exempt from that rule?
You should be investing in the following:
1. A professional cover.
2. Paid promotion.
3. A blog.
4. A keyword tool.
5. Social media ads (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest are the Big Three).
6. Newspaper ads (these still work, by the way).
A decent book cover will cost $60 at the very least. Paid promo ranges between $25 and $50 for something that’s halfway decent. Something like Freebooksy will cost about $100, but the results speak for themselves.
Blogs won’t cost too much to uphold. I pay $49/month at the Wealthy Affiliate platform as WA is a course complete with a community of millions dedicated to helping you perfect your blog. It’s worth the $49/month or $349/year investment. My keyword tool comes with the WA package, too.
Finally, set a budget for ads and do your own ad campaigns.
Create an email list. You can do this by giving something away in exchange for an email. MailChimp has a free option which works well for up to 2,000 emails before they start charging you by the month.
You can create a work, upload it to Prolific Works, and start collecting emails, create a landing page on your blog, there are so many avenues you can undertake here.
So, if you’re struggling to find an audience, try my tips and see how much you can and will earn in time.