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How Your Book Will Make You Rich

Many people think it’s easy to make money off a book—just hit best-seller status and you’re golden. But those in the industry know most often authors don’t make money on book sales. Authors make money leveraging their status as an author.

Even when a book hits bestseller status, it is notoriously difficult to make money solely from book sales. Bestseller status does not guarantee a steady stream of book sales over the following months or years—bestseller status is determined by gross sales within a specific period of time. For example, the New York Times bestseller list is assessed weekly, from Tuesday to Tuesday (hence why many books are published on Tuesdays). The Amazon bestseller list is a much shorter time frame, and because there are numerous specific categories on Amazon, it is considerably easier for a book to become a bestseller.

What makes earning money from books sales even more difficult is the increasing number of published books each year. As self-publishing has become easier, more authors are taking advantage. And unfortunately an increased supply of books has not led to an increased readership. Add to the greater supply an overall decrease in book prices thanks to third-party sellers undercutting traditional booksellers (think of all the 99-cent Kindle books) and it is more difficult than ever for an author to make money off their book.

The good news authors can still make money off their book without selling hundreds of copies. Instead of chasing bestseller status, many authors find they make more money by leveraging their newfound status as author. These savvy writers use the status of author as a jumping off point to secure speaking gigs, book consulting deals, and open coaching practices.

Because a book is an instant marker of expert status, many authors’ authority in an industry or topic is solidified with the publication of a book. From the outside perspective, everyone knows it takes time, money, effort to write and publish a book. If a person has a book to their name, outsiders assume the author has a unique insight on a subject matter or industry and wisdom to share. When two experts are side by side, the expert with a book has the advantage.

Let’s run through the three main ways authors leverage their book to make money.

Strategy #1: Speaking Gigs

When conferences or workshops decide who to bring on as speakers and moderators, the candidates with more authority often win out. Why? Because just as speakers speak at bigger-name conferences to build their reputation, conferences bring in the best speakers to build their reputation. More qualified speakers in the line-up enhance the perceived reputation of the conference. Similarly, events and multi-day workshops tend to choose speakers and workshop leaders with higher authority. A book is evidence of that authority.

Consider there are two speakers with the same background and qualifications, except one speaker has a book, and the other does not. A conference board will likely book the speaker who is also an author, because the speaker has greater authority. The promise of many conferences is to provide value to attendees, and having high-quality speakers on the roster is an obvious way to execute on that promise.

In terms of gains for speaking engagements, an author who works her way up the ladder in the speaking world, can net as much as five-figures for one speaking gig—it often takes years to make as much in book sales! For authors looking to book more speaking or workshop opportunities, reaching out to a speaking agency is often the first step.

Strategy #2: Become a Consultant

Consulting can be extremely lucrative, but it can be difficult to prove expertise. Most consultants will rely on referrals or a lengthy resume to stand-out from the competition. Being a published author allows a consultant to rise above the competition.

A book signals to an audience (in this case, a business) the author has contemplated a problem and prepared a way to solve it. Just as career coaches with a clear philosophy are more appealing to potential clients, so is a consultant with a book more appealing as a hire. As an added advantage of a book, companies can study a consultant’s methods by reading their book when the consultant’s contract is complete, or in the event the business can’t afford the author/consultant’s fees.

Consulting is a lucrative business, with top consultants netting six-figures for a few months of work. $100,000 in consulting can be achieved long before $100,000 in book sales, making consulting a viable option for many authors (and often a reason consultants may write a book in the first place!).

Strategy #3: Start a Coaching Practice

Similar to leveraging status as an author in the consulting industry, authors stand out in the coaching marketplace as well. A coach with a published book proves to potential clients the coach has taken the time to consider other practices and distilled their practice into one well-thought-out method.

Additionally, a well-written book by a coach can drive clients to a coach, who will pay more for one-on-one time with the author and expert than they will for a copy of the book. For example, if an author sold 100 books at $20 per copy ($2000). But then, say, ten of the purchasers sign up to be coaching clients and spend an average of $250 on a coaching package (total of $2500), the coach-author has already profited more from the coaching practice than their book.

The coaching market is fairly saturated, so gains from coaching may take a while to realize. However, with a book, coaches can set themselves apart from the competition. And top coaches (think, Tony Robbins-esque) can work with whomever they want for vast sums of money.

Get Rich from a Book

Selling copies of a book is just one way to recoup costs of writing a book—and it is an outdated, high-effort method for making money. Most authors today will profit by leveraging the status that comes with having a published book. A published author might leverage their book on investing to instill trust so that others invest in their fund. Another author might point to their book as proof of their expertise in public housing while on a political campaign. Still, another author may use their book to chronicle their entrepreneurial acumen and raise capital for their next business venture.

A book can make an author rich—it’s just usually not in the form of book sales!

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