Why I’m taking a year off to write novels: a $100,000 publishing goal

Why I’m taking a year off to write novels: a $100,000 publishing goal

In the last couple of years, I increased my online businesses to the point where I could make $100,000 a year. A month ago, I launched DIY bookcovers and made $50,000 in 6 weeks. With that success behind me, a very low cost of living and no debt, I now get to focus on something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile: publish more of my own books.

But I’m not doing this as the fulfillment of some life goal or a dream about being an author.

I’m turning to self-publishing because I believe it’s a great and powerful way to make a lot of money.

You see I don’t believe that making a lot of money off of books is hard.

Over my last 2 years working with indie authors, I’ve learned that the majority of authors are doing a pretty poor job of just about everything. Some of the books are pretty good, even surprisingly good. And some authors are taking their publishing seriously.

But a majority have rough, unattractive products, mediocre stories, amateur writing and extremely poor marketing skills.

I’m not saying I’m a better writer: I doubt I am (even though, writing is a skill that takes years of practice, and as far as that goes, I’m probably pretty competent).

And I’m not planning to write amazing, life changing books – but I don’t need to. I’m pretty confident that I can follow some basics templates, write the type of stories that people love by including the same repetitive features common in all genres, turn it into a very polished finished product with an amazing cover, and sell.

I’m lucky in that I already have a pretty wide network and platform to begin from. I’m lucky that I’ve been an editor, book designer, and self-publishing insider for years.

I’m lucky that I know a whole bunch about growing a profitable online business.

These are all skills I’ve been developing steadily, which I now plan to turn writing books into a profitable business.

But I’m not just doing it for the money

I don’t really need the money, but money talks. I want to establish that I know what I’m doing. I want people to listen to me and trust my advice. And to do that I need to show that I’m not just a talking head – that I can write, publish and sell novels that make a huge return on investment. I want to prove that writing can be a money making business if done well, if done right, and if done with the goal of making money by writing books that sell, rather than trying to sell the books you write.

I also wanted to set a really big goal, so that I’m bound to face failures and challenges (which I can deal with, learn from, and share tips on how to overcome them). I know doing the work, finishing the books and increasing productivity are huge focuses for indie authors, so I think shooting for 10 books in one year will teach me a ton of things that will be useful to others.

To be an indie publishing success story, you’ve got to sell into the double digits – and to do that with 10 books (in various genres) will prove the fact that it’s not just luck or chance, but that I know what I’m doing and I can write and sell books for a living consistently.

The post might sound audacious, narcissistic and egomaniac

And you might secretly think I’m an asshole and hope that I fail.

And I may very well fail – 10 books in 1 year is a major goal; and selling any one of them into double digits is not easy either.

But even if I fail (let’s say I make it only halfway, with 5 books and 5000 sales) I’ll still make some money, learn a ton, grow my platform, experience and ability, and be able to offer authors more precise articles on writing and selling books.

10 year updates…

I wrote this post a decade ago but never published it… I’m doing so now so I can add some critical updates: mostly, I’ve failed – even though I have crossed the six-figure mark with my books, and even though my novels have over 1000+ reviews, I don’t feel successful; I’ve had significant challenges with doing the work, and have written over 20 novels without finishing any series.

I still feel pretty confident, because “when I finish all my series I’ll make lots of money” and I still haven’t done that yet. But also… I’ve been saying that for 10 years and the enthusiasm and passion starts to hollow out and feel strained.

It’s important to be excited and set big goals; but I fell into the first-time author trap of expecting not only Big Effort but also Big Success. Also – people tend to think there’s a point where “you’ve made it!” and you can stop working, but that’s rarely the case. Even if you have a few books that do very, very well, it could all dry up in a few years and you’ll have to start over.

That’s a truthful update, paired with an ambitious plan, so you can see the reality of self-publishing. I do spend a lot of time making tools and resources for authors, but I’m on this path too and even though I know a lot of stuff about writing fiction, book design and marketing, I’m not quite where I had hoped to be… but that’s OK because I’m on my own path, and I’m hopefully progressing in ways I didn’t predict.

Finding time to do the writing

Other people are much better about creating a writing schedule (and I do have some resources about that, like this video on making an unbreakable writing habit):

But MOSTLY I don’t do any of that…

someone sent a message recently on Facebook, and asked whether they were speaking with an assistant and they were curious how other authors handled their platforms. My response: “I do everything myself poorly.”

I tend to be able to do only one thing at a time. So I’ll clear my plate until I can just write a book – and that’s all I’ll do for a few months. I don’t usually take a year off; but I balance some coaching or client work and the occasional online course launch to buy myself a few months off, so I can focus.

During that time, I’ll probably spend a month, trying to get down the first draft, in writing sprints for a few hours a day (which completely burns me out and I’m exhausted). Then I’ll spend a couple months editing and polishing – here’s my book editing process.

Since I’m a book designer, it’s pretty quick to make my own covers and format my books, then I’ll do a half-assed book launch campaign (I’ve done big launches before, but it’s tiring and I know I won’t make real money until my series are done and I can advertise profitably – that’s the easiest way for long-term success).

I still hope/plan to get to $100K/year in mostly fiction book sales…. possibly with something like $50K or more spent on ads… or spend $70K to make $100K… I don’t know about the numbers yet, it depends on conversion – but these are things I can focus on improving once all the books are done.

I’m slightly optimistic that using AI writing tools for research, revision or editing may help boost my productivity so I can finish all my series fast…

So here’s an updated plan: I’ll take 2024 off and write fiction.

That means I need to get my shit together this year and rebuild my passive income back to the point where it can sustain my lifestyle (I need about $5K/month). But it’s a good goal, so I can clear my plate and start fresh… I’m 10 years late, but maybe it’s time to fulfill this particular goal.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *