There are many ways to make money self-publishing, but here’s the one way most people pursue and how most people fail. The plan is to write and self-publish a single e-book and wait for millions of dollars in profits to magically appear overnight. It could happen, but the odds are just as likely that you’ll find the winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk. Don’t ignore this possibility, but don’t plan for it either.
Since you can’t write just one e-book and hope to make millions, the other strategy is to work at self-publishing over a period of time to maximize your odds of profitability. Write one e-book and then write another one that will appeal to anyone who liked your first e-book. Then write a third one that will appeal to anyone who liked your first two e-books and so on. The goal is to create a series of related e-books.
Now each e-book acts like part of a wider net to capture potential customers, and if they like one of your e-books, they’ll likely want and buy the other ones. In this way, you build a slowly growing series of related e-books that you keep selling to customers who already like you. Ask any business. It’s always easier to sell to existing customers than it is to find and sell to new customers.
In fiction, write a series of books with the same characters. Notice the popularity of books like “The Maze Runner” or “The Hunger Games” that use the same characters. Once you read the first book and like it, you’ll likely read the second and third ones too. You’re never going to please everyone so don’t bother trying. Just focus on pleasing the people who like your books.
If you don’t do a series of books, do what Stephen King or John Grisham does and write books within a certain genre. If you like horror, chances are good you’ll like most of Stephen King’s books even if they don’t have the same characters. If you like legal thrillers, chances are good you’ll like all of John Grisham’s books. By publishing related books, you increase the odds of building a fan base and selling to that fan base.
For non-fiction, write books on similar topics whether it’s gardening, military history, or fishing. Once people like and trust one of your books, they’ll be far more likely to buy your other ones.
So the secret to self-publishing is to create a small empire of related e-books that establish you as an expert in that field whether it’s horror fiction or as a sailing expert. People are far more likely to buy your books if they clearly see your brand and expertise. If you’re constantly on the news talking about caring for pets, you’ll have a much easier time selling pet books than an unknown author, so you must first establish credibility. If you don’t have massive credibility outside of publishing, create it by self-publishing several books on the same topic. If you were looking for a book on caring for reptiles, would you trust an unknown author who has only published one book or an unknown author who has published five books on the same topic?
Self-publishing is mostly a matter of self-promoting. One e-book isn’t enough. You need as many as you can get. The more the better. So strive for establishing a publishing empire and forget about making a killing by self-publishing a single e-book.
Once you realize the surest way to success is by steady progress in growing a series of related e-books, you’ll see the folly of book services that charge hundreds of dollars for editing or book cover design services. Get trapped into thinking one e-book will make you millions and you’ll fall easy prey to these services designed to separate you from your money in a hurry while giving you little chance of ever recouping your costs. Instead, keep it simple and cheap because you need to write and self-publish several e-books, the more the better, and it will be impossible to pay expensive book editing services and book cover designing services for each one.
Start small and keep growing. It’s not the fastest way to riches, but it’s one that’s more under your control than simply hoping one e-book will make you a millionaire overnight.