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On this week’s podcast I answer a question I get asked all the time – how to publish a book to grow your business. Self-publishing is how I’ve built my business and audience. It’s an awesome way to attract a following, especially if you’re an introvert who loves the written word.
With Amazon – and other book sellers – you can publish a title and immediately appear prominently in their store. In a crowded online world, Amazon offers a unique opportunity to be discovered and establish yourself as an authority in your field.
Yet discoverability isn’t the only reason to publish. The number one reason I love self-publishing is because people who read your book are highly qualified leads.
By the time a reader lands on your website, they’ve already invested time and money getting to know you. They have decided that they resonate with your message and want to know more.
What you’ll learn on today’s episode:
- Why publishing a book is one of the best ways to grow your audience as an introvert.
- How much I’ve made in book royalties to date.
- How I leverage Amazon to grow my audience with 5-10 high quality leads every day.
- What to consider when deciding whether to traditionally publish or self-publish.
Featured on this episode:
Check out Author Success Blueprint on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0861BQH4T/
Doors to Business Growth Lab open again in May! Get more information at https://www.sallyannmiller.com/thelab/
Welcome to Introverts Thriving in Business, the podcast for introverts who enjoy the comfort of her, hate the idea of selling, and want to create a thriving business on their terms. If you’re ready to go from overwhelmed and anxious, to feeling calm and accomplished in your business, then keep listening. I’m your host, Sally Miller.
Welcome back to the podcast. So today, I’m going to talk about a topic I get asked about all the time. And it’s how to write and publish a book. Or even more than that, how to build an entire business around books, because that is exactly what I have done. The basis of my business right now is books, is self-publishing books on Amazon and other platforms.
So, my intention for you today is by the time you finish listening to this podcast, you can decide if this is something you want to do. Do you want to publish a book or several books? Is it something that fits you and fits the kind of business you have, or the kind of business you want to have? And I also want you to go away with some tools, and some tips to ensure your success. Because listen, there are many, many self-published and for that matter, traditionally published authors around the world who haven’t made any money from their books, and aren’t growing their business from their books, either. It’s very easy to do this. Put in a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of effort. Writing a book is a time-consuming process. Don’t underestimate the writing part. And they don’t get the results from it.
Now, just to give you some idea of the results you might get. I’m going to share mine with you. So, I just checked before recording this podcast, and my lifetime earnings, my lifetime book royalties are 190k, to just shy of 200,000. Now to put that into context, I published my first book back at the end of 2015. And then I’ve been publishing between one to three books a year ever since—some years less, some years more.
Right at the beginning, I want to be really upfront with you guys. I didn’t see this as a viable business model with just one book. Maybe I was making $100, $500 a month, and I was there for many years, just making a few $100 a month. It wasn’t until 2018 that I consistently broke four figures. And I think my highest earning month has been $10,000. But I really want to put this in perspective. It is typically a slower growth business model, especially if you’re building a business where all of your income is just going to come from books.
And the reason I want to say that—now look, though, always outliers. Of course, there are million-dollar authors, both fiction authors and nonfiction authors. But what I just want to say is the thing with a book is they have a maximum price point. For a nonfiction book that’s self-published, maybe that’s $9.99, maybe it’s $14.99. Okay, now, don’t take this numbers as exact, all right, everybody can have a different maximum price point. But largely, it’s somewhere below $20, that you can price your book. And for fiction author, by the way, that’s going to be even lower, especially if you’re a self-published fiction author. That’s just the way it is. And so you have to sell a lot of books to get into the multiple six figures or more income.
And I do want to offer that. Even though I think there’s awesome business model, and you can make money just selling books, I think my highest income year was about 75k, just from royalties. And absolutely, if I focused only on books, which I don’t, I’m also a coach, as you know, and I also have a coaching program, but if I just focus on books, I absolutely could be a six-figure author, doing something I love. But there’s another reason to publish book or books, and that is to grow your business.
So, I get on average, 5 to 10 new leads into my business every single day. And there’s a lot more when I publish a new book, it could be 25, 50, even 100 new leads a day into my business that are just coming from my book. I’m going to talk more about that piece. Because this is the real reason that most of you listening to this podcast, are going to want to consider writing a book and publishing it.
So, some other reasons why you might want to do this, besides the actual tangible results of money and growing your business is, first of all, this is a podcast for introverts, introverts who want to thrive in business, and books are a wonderful business model for us. So, if you’re the kind of person like me, who first of all, I’m an avid reader, my happy place is curled up by a fireplace with a great book, it could be a fiction, or it could be a nonfiction book, with my cup of coffee in my hand reading, that’s my happy place. So, to be able to create books for other people is so rewarding and fulfilling.
But more than that, from a marketing point of view, it means you don’t need to be doing some of the more extroverted marketing strategies like attending adverse events, networking in person. You don’t even need to get into the complex world of Facebook ads and funnels, which can be exhausting to us introverts. So, it is an awesome business model for introverts. And especially if like me, you really love creating written content. So I’m also a journaler. My thoughts become much clearer when I have pen and paper in hand, or if I’m sitting at the keyboard. By expressing myself in writing, I can get very clear about my ideas and what I want to share and what I can want to communicate with people. So that’s another reason you would want to consider publishing a book.
And then the third reason, and this one’s really key, and I’m going to talk a little bit more about this again, later in the episode, is you get to leverage a market place. And this is excellent for introverts who really want to be very hands off in their marketing. What do I mean by that? Well, the primary place where most self-published authors sell their books is Amazon. This isn’t a pro-Amazon podcast, but let’s be pragmatic, and I am very realistic in my business. Amazon is where most people in the world buy their books. It’s how you can reach the most people quickly.
And Amazon, plus all the other booksellers are marketplaces, okay. So when you put your book on Amazon, it connects you, the seller, with shoppers, it does the work for you, of finding people who want to buy books, it does the work for you of delivering the book, marketing the book promoting your book, it gives you the tools to connect you with shoppers, so you don’t have to go find them yourself. And I’ll talk a little bit more later on about how to make the most of that opportunity.
So, I want to talk briefly about two possible business models, if you are now interested in publishing a book or multiple books. The first one—I just alluded to this a little bit—is publishing just books, so is deciding I’m going to be an author, I’m going to make all my income from royalties. You can do this, but with the caveat, I do believe that it is a slower growth model. But I would love for someone to prove me wrong there. And that’s simply because of the maximum that you can charge for a book. But it is a viable business model. And if you want to go all in just selling books, I believe it’s something you could do. And it’s something I certainly considered and could have done if I decided to put all of my energy just in writing and publishing.
But the business model I’m going to talk more about today is using the books to grow your audience. So, publishing either one book or multiple like I have, and using that to bring leads, bring people into your business. And why I think this is a business model everybody should consider, especially us introverts, it is such a perfect business model for the introvert who doesn’t much enjoy sales and marketing.
Here’s how it works. When someone buys your book, okay, what you want to do is you’re going to include inside your book, inside the content, links or references back to additional content on your website. Now, I want to be really clear and really careful here. I do not recommend leaving content out of your book, in order to offer it as additional free content or paid content elsewhere.
Here’s something I see people do and readers don’t like it, and I don’t personally support it. I see people publish books, and then it only gets part of the solution. And in order for someone to get the full solution, the book is constantly sending them back to the author’s website, where they’re encouraged to buy some expensive coaching program. I personally don’t recommend you do that. I recommend you write a book, have one very clear promise or outcome that the reader can expect from reading your book and you deliver on that outcome. inside your book. You do not hold anything back. You put all the content that’s needed into your book to create that outcome for your reader, to deliver the result they want. Okay, it really is going to upset readers if you say, “But if you want to know how to do ABC, which is also essential to getting this result, go to my website and read this, download that or buy this program,” that’s going to upset people.
But what you can do is offer additional content that doesn’t naturally fit into the book or goes above and beyond the book. For example, I like to create a workbook that complements my self-published books on Amazon. Now, the workbook isn’t necessary to get the result, all the action steps and all the information is already in the published book. But it’s somewhere someone can go who enjoys having a workbook. I also like to create tools, spreadsheets, sometimes video content that you can’t incorporate inside the book, and then offer that on my website as an upgrade, as additional content.
So that’s how a reader who’s reading your book, they’re enjoying, they’re connecting, they’re getting a lot of value from it, can then be encouraged to go check out your website to find out additional valuable content. And that’s how you get leads into your business, you need to be very intentional about doing that as you write your book and before you publish it.
This is what I want you to think about. People who spend time and money, so they buy your book, and that cost them money, and they spend time reading it, are very high-quality leads into your business. Here’s why: not only have they committed time and money already, that qualifies them. But also, when you read a great book, there’s something you feel automatically connected to the author. It’s quite a vulnerable thing when you publish your first book, you pour a lot of yourself as the author into your book. And when your readers read, and if they really engage with your style and your content and find it valuable, and want to know more about you, they’ve already qualified themselves, they’ve already decided, yes, this is a person, this is an author, this is an expert I connect with, and I want to know more about them. I believe that the kind of leads that come from a book, a higher quality, than for example, leads that may have seen an ad on Facebook, and then opted into some freebie or some video course. Those are good leads, but I just don’t believe there was high-quality, I think one of the best quality leads you can get into your business are people who read your book and really love it, and then go check out your website to find out more about you. So that is how it works, how you grow your business with books.
Now, something else I want to come back to is this idea of Amazon as a marketplace. And I want to talk about Amazon SEO, Search Engine Optimization. So, the way Amazon works, if you think about it as a shopper—I’m sure most of you have already been on the Amazon website—is you will probably start out by typing into the Amazon search bar, something you want to buy. And then Amazon is going to offer you a bunch of options. It’s just like using Google to search for an answer.
But the thing is, is in today’s world, Google SEO, if you have a product or a coaching offer that’s highly competitive like I do, I help people build online businesses and make money from home. In Google, it’s really hard to compete on keywords, because there is just so much content, so much information out there, it’s so saturated, that as somebody new coming along, creating content on the web, it’s very hard to get discovered with SEO, unless you’re extremely niched.
Whereas Amazon, there just isn’t as much content out there at this point in time. Yet, there are still thousands, hundreds of thousands of people already searching for help on Amazon’s platform every single day. And this is the kind of help you provide. So, think about it. If you solve a problem in your business, then you can find clients on Amazon. And here’s the big difference between Google and Amazon. Like I said, it’s near impossible for a new blog or a new website to get discovered via Google search engine in its first weeks or months. And don’t get me started on how hard it can be to grow your audience with Facebook, especially if you’re using organic versus paid search. Yet, on Amazon, you can publish a new book, and you can immediately appear prominently in the Amazon store. If you publish your book and if you do some marketing at the time you launch, you can appear in the bestseller lists, and Amazon is going to start promoting your book for you. You don’t even need to pay for advertising in the early days. So that is why I love growing my business on Amazon.
Now briefly, let’s talk about traditional versus self-publishing. So, I’ve been talking really about self-publishing, but there is another route that you can go, and many of my peers have, and that is to be traditionally published, and there are advantages to doing that. Now it’s not Something I’m an expert at, but I want to talk to it briefly. So, the obvious advantage is you get marketing and publishing support, you also get the—some people think there’s a little bit more cachet to being published traditionally and self-published is more inferior. I don’t buy into that thinking personally, but some people do.
However, there are some downsides for traditionally publishing. And the big one, in my opinion, is you lose control. You give up a lot of control around how your book is published, how it’s marketed and promoted. Even the content of your book, you lose control to a large extent on that to the publisher. Even other formats—I’m not going to go into depth here. But you can not just publish an e-book or a paper book, you can also publish audio books, paperback and hardback books, books in foreign languages. But very often, depending on the contract you negotiate, you lose all of that flexibility, if you’re traditionally published. So don’t discount it. If it’s something you really want to do, then it can be somewhere you want to go. You do require a large audience, though. You do require a big following, typically, to be a known name for a reputable publisher to take you on.
So, if you’re like me, and you’re starting from zero, or near zero, which is where I was, when I published my first book, and you want to actually build your business from your books, rather than do the opposite of build your business, and then publish, then self-publishing is the way to go. And even if I had a massive, massive audience of hundreds of thousands, and traditional publishers were knocking on my door—I personally like control, I’m a bit of a rebel and I like to control and I like flexibility, I would still self-publish. Also, you get to keep more royalties. You’re going to give up royalties to your publisher, of course, if you go traditionally published, okay?
So, that I wanted to talk about, so you can traditionally publish. But if you’re starting out, then self-publishing is going to be your only option. And of course, I am a big proponent of self-publishing, anyway. So, before I give you some next steps, if you’re thinking yes, this is something I want to do, I do want to remind you of just one thing, a word of caution, because I don’t think it’s fair for me to sing the praises of publishing books, without reminding you of this, it is typically a slow or gradual growth path. I won’t say slow, but gradual, it’s incremental. So, because there’s a maximum price point that you can price your book at, it’s not going to be an easy road to large audience growth and large royalties, in say, your first year as maybe some other options.
But if it’s something you want to do, to start growing your audience and you’re all in over the long term, then you can reach the point that I’m at, where your business is growing almost organically with high-quality leads. And if it’s a format you love, if you’re a writer, then why not publish a book. It’s pretty awesome to say, look, here’s my book. And when you first hold that book in your hand, it’s a great feeling.
So next steps, what should you do, if this is something you want to do? First of all, just get writing. I do recommend you outline your book thoroughly first. Especially most of us, we’re talking about nonfiction books here, the outline is key to writing a book your readers will love. And with outlining, this isn’t complex. If you’ve ever created an online course, or a program of some kind, it’s just the same you outline, what are the steps someone needs to go through in order to get to the end result to get the promise to get the transformation to get the outcome that your book promises to deliver. Think about the readers experience and how they’re going to experience reading your book and following through the chapters. So, outline first, it’s really going to speed up you’re writing and just get writing.
Now towards the end of the writing process. And that is a big process. Don’t underestimate how much time it takes to write a book. You will need to start learning how to self-publish on Amazon. I’m not going to teach this here. I have outlined my entire process in my book, Author Success Blueprint—It’s on Amazon and other bookstores. I will link to it in the show notes—that describes my entire writing, self-publishing, and marketing process. Everything you need is in that book.
But very briefly, you will need to pay for a few things; primarily an editor to make sure your book is high-quality, a formatter to get it into the format that can be uploaded to the publishing platforms like Amazon, and also I recommend a professional book cover designer. Okay, these aren’t hard things to do and I describe how to do them in my book, Author Success Blueprint. Then you’ll want to learn just how to self-publish and how to market your book when you first launch it. I recommend you do self-publish on Amazon And then other platforms if you want. There you have it! So go and think about writing your book. I would love to hear if you decide that this is something you want to do, and I will see you next week.
If you’re ready to thrive in business, I want to invite you to join Business Growth Lab. This is my group program where I teach you the exact process I and my students have used to grow profitable businesses we love. When you join the lab, you get lifetime access to everything you need to grow a six-figure business: the training, expert coaching, accountability, and community. The approach we take is scientific. We don’t dabble in business, and we don’t waste time. You’ll create your business on a solid foundation, using proven methods. To join, go to www.sallyannmiller.com/thelab. We’ll see you inside.