Self-publishing income continues to increase and it could be your best source of passive income
I started posting my self-publishing income in January after nine months of starting to sell books on Amazon and other publishing platforms. March makes one full year and seven books later and making money publishing is easily one of my favorite side-hustle strategies.
March was my first full month of my latest book, From Zero to Business, and…was a little disappointing. Total sales for the new book were just over $24 for 11 copies sold during the month. I haven’t promoted this book as much as the others so that explains some of the disappointing sales but it’s also just how it is with self-publishing income.
Of my seven books, just three accounted for 78% of my self-publishing income in March. I made an average of $350 each on these three books while the average across all seven books was $191 for the month. Even with all the things I’ve learned about book promotion and positioning on Amazon, some books just don’t take off.
Don’t be disappointed if your first book doesn’t live up to expectations. Stick with self-publishing for at least three books and you will start to see serious money coming in each month.
I made $1,337 in March from self-publishing on 557 copies, an increase of $235 from February and my best month yet.
I’ll break down my book sales over the three Amazon platforms below. Make sure you check out this month’s self-publishing topic further down, how to get the most from freelancers for your self-publishing strategy.
March Self-Publishing Income on Amazon
Self-publishing on Amazon is actually done through three different websites, all owned by the digital commerce powerhouse.
I sold 162 copies on Amazon Kindle in March, 14 more than in February. Kindle sales are about a third of my self-publishing income. When you upload your book on the Amazon platform, you have the option of making the digital version exclusive to Kindle. Readers in the Kindle subscription program can read the book for free and you get paid for pages read. While Amazon doesn’t say it happens, I wouldn’t be surprised if its ranking program also favors books in the Kindle exclusive program.
I removed all but one of my books from the Kindle exclusivity program in March so I could publish them on other websites and through my own blogs. I haven’t seen much in additional sales yet but will update in coming months.
I sold 217 audiobooks through Audible in March. This was the first full month of selling audiobooks and it’s working out to be a great addition to self-publishing income. Audible is owned by Amazon and displays your audiobook availability right next to the Kindle and paperback versions on its site. Having these multiple formats available for your book is critical in reaching as many people as possible.
I covered how to sell audiobooks on Amazon in last month’s self-publishing income report. It’s surprisingly easy though it will cost a little more than putting together the print versions. It’s well worth it. In less than two months, I’ve already recouped my costs on creating the audiobooks and make over $400 a month from the source.
I sold 178 paperback copies on CreateSpace, also owned by Amazon. Even though Kindle digital versions are usually about half the price of paperback books, especially after shipping, people still love to read traditional books. It’s seamless and costs very little to format your book for paperback though it doesn’t work quite as well for super-short books of 40 pages or less.
How to Find Freelance Help for Your Self-Publishing Empire
Making money self-publishing, it’s entirely possible to do everything yourself. In fact, it’s not really that difficult to learn the basic formatting and design you’ll need to get your books on the different Amazon platforms and start making money.
But should you?
Do you grow all your food and make all your clothes? Of course not. It might not take that much time to learn how to grow your food or sew a shirt but it’s just not worth the time it would regularly take and you wouldn’t get the same quality as you could buying these products.
The same is true for self-publishing. You can design your own book covers but unless you’ve got graphic design experience, you’re probably going to spend a ton of time and not get the same quality results as you would from a professional.
You’re a writer. That’s where your value comes in. Be a writer and let the other professionals add their value.
You’ll need freelancers for several self-publishing tasks from editing, formatting and design. Within editing, you’ll need someone for a developmental edit and someone else for a proofreading edit. Developmental editing is done first and makes sure the book reads well. The editor will suggest places where information isn’t clear and questions that readers might have. Proof editing is done last and covers grammatical errors and awkward sentences.
For your first couple of books, you can usually get your editing done cheaply (or free) by friends and family. Reach out to see if anyone would be willing to help out by reading through the book draft. Developmental editing is best done by someone with little experience in the book’s topic so they don’t bring any preconceived notions and can look at the book as a novice. Proof editing can really be done by anyone with a decent command of the language.
After a couple of books, you’ll start running out of favors and might need to look for editors through freelance sites like Upwork and Freelancer. Editing generally costs around $0.02 per word or $3 per page. A good developmental editor may not necessarily also be a good proof editor so consider hiring separately.
Beyond editing, freelancing costs for self-publishing are pretty inexpensive. You will need someone to format your book into different file types. Uploading to Amazon Kindle can be done with a Word, pdf, MOBI or ePub document but I’ve gotten the best results using the MOBI format. You’ll need a pdf copy to sell on your own site and will need ePub for Smashwords and other platforms. Formatting your book shouldn’t cost more than about $200 and you can usually find someone to do it for $100 or less.
Your book cover is extremely important and you’ll want to spend some time interviewing and testing freelancers before you settle on one. Your best bet is to ask for a rough mockup of your cover from several freelancers. You can then post these on Facebook and ask for feedback and for your friends to rank their favorite. After your first book, ask your designer to put together three or four cover ideas for each book so you can get feedback from social media. Cover designs can cost between $50 to $150 but are well worth it to find a great cover that will catch a reader’s eye.
We covered nine freelancing websites in our making money freelancing post. It can be frustrating sorting through all the applicants but it’s something you won’t have to do again after finding the right professionals for your self-publishing team. Make sure you insist on a phone interview and to see prior examples of each freelancer’s work. Your self-publishing income will depend on the quality of their work so be relentless in what you want.