How To Become a Professional Author In 2018

By Jamie McSloy / January 10, 2018
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How To Become a Professional Author In 2018

Do you want to make money by selling books in 2018?

It’s a good idea. Books are relatively easy to create, and can make you a solid return on your time invested. The overheads are next to zero – and provided you have a computer and a couple of bits of software, it’s easily achievable.

Recently, I’ve been giving my updated thoughts as of the beginning of the year. Today, it’s the turn for those fiction writers and other would-be authors among you.

Let’s get to it.

In 2018, There’s Still No Real Upside To Traditional Publishing

We’re starting to see traditional publishers catch on to the technological upheavals that have usurped them. Publishers are now forgoing expensive advertising that doesn’t work in favour of joining things like BookBub and other mailing lists.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the process of traditional publishing is still years slower than you can manage if you take things into your own hands. It’s still ridiculously restrictive and unbeneficial so far as contracts and your rights as an author are concerned.

(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.

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Finally, it still remains to be seen if any of the publishers you sign your copyright away to for the rest of your life will actually exist in a few years’ time.

In case all of that wasn’t obvious: Unless you’ve got some scheme in mind, a really great advance lined up or some other special privilege with a traditional publisher, don’t do it. Self-publish, take your assets into your own hands and keep them there.

Alright… So What’s The Best Course Then, Genius?

Self-publishing is a good start. But what do you self-publish?

Again, unless you have some particular ambition that otherwise contradicts my advice, here’s what I’d suggest so far as what to write goes.

Go to Amazon and see what’s selling. I’m not Mystic Meg, but chances are the Top 100 will look like this for fiction:

  • Romance with an “edge”
  • Crime thrillers
  • Some weird fiction written by celebrities and other literary types
  • Historical fiction

For non-fiction, it’ll look something like:

  • Self-help for your brain
  • Self-help for your waistline (aka Diet books and fitness books)
  • Celebrity memoirs
  • Timeless reference materials

Now, you can’t do too much about being a celebrity, but you can look at what genres sell and concentrate on those.

Note: This doesn’t mean you have to abandon your love of golf, Minecraft or whatever niche subject you enjoy.

Just write a romance set on a golf retreat or a Minecraft psychological thriller. I don’t know.

The reason I say this is that you can earn a lot of money, which you can exchange for a comfortable lifestyle, if you write in the big genres. Plenty of writers are still in the “Starving artist” boat where they pick stupid projects and then wonder why they don’t make money.

You only have a limited amount of hours to write, might as well make them profitable.

Your Success Is Your Job

Plenty of writers settle for 500 word days and wonder why they aren’t selling books.

Let’s assume you’ve followed my advice until now: You’ve decided to be your own publisher and you’ve decided to write in genres where you know there’s a buying audience. Great. You’re ahead of so many of the pack already, you’re destined for success.

BUT there’s a fly in the ointment.

You aren’t going to sell a single book if you don’t complete a single book. You aren’t going to build a sizable list of books and customers if you don’t create them.

This means putting yourself in your computer seat and typing until your book is done. If you want to be a professional author, then that’s what you have to do.

You can write a couple of thousand words a day even if you work full time doing something else. That’s your goal and benchmark, and they should be good, usable and publishable words. Don’t sell yourself short on that last bit or your abilities.

When you can do the above, your success is in your own hands. If you are able to write 2,000 words a day consistently, then you are writing a novel a month, give or take a week or two.

This is easily enough to make a decent living as a fiction author.

Multiple Income Streams For Authors

If you’re still with me, you’re writing twelve books in 2018 and you’re writing them in popular genres according to the trends of the day. That’s fantastic.

Authors can make more money from their fiction than just selling a single product.

You not only have all the different stores, (assuming you choose not to go straight into Kindle Unlimited, but even if you do…) you have all the different formats too.

Audiobooks are a format. Digital books are a format. Print editions are a format.

Then you can have signed copies. You can have limited editions.

You can also take it a step further.

Once you’ve built a name for yourself, there’s no reason you can’t copy every high school band ever and start selling merchandise. If you pay for a cover designer, you can have them produce posters. Remember these can come in standard and limited edition signed variations as well.

This is all easily accomplished, and adds to your pocket money in a substantial way over time.

There’s Got To Be More To It

There is. Nothing is so easy it comes neatly packaged in a single blog post.

Here are a few more tips:

  • Read a lot in your genre. Not just for trends, but for structure. Make notes and know the genre inside out.
  • Concentrate on your Cover/Blurb/Title. These are what people hit the BUY button for.
  • Get your launches right. Start a mailing list and don’t look back. Let them know everything and especially when your next book launches.
  • Social media is your friend. Encourage people to share.
  • Treat the whole thing like a professional
  • Ads… there’ll be a topic on that shortly. In short, copy what internet marketers do, don’t fall for “FB Ads for Authors” courses that are pricier and have less information… and also work out when the biggest of these courses opens up because in the two weeks after that, prices go through the roof as newbies who don’t know what they’re doing push the cost of advertising up.

Alright, I’ll leave it at that for now. I’ll go back to all the things I’ve discussed above in future topics.

For now though, let’s just say that writing books is still as popular as and more profitable than it has been for the past couple of hundred years.

Good luck folks.