Question: What do I do to monetize my book?



Only a small percentage of authors are able to earn a comfortable living through just their books. Most authors must maintain other sources of income through unrelated careers or part-time jobs, or by leveraging their books to create additional revenue channels. 

Authors wanting a lucrative writing career should treat their books as a business and look for opportunities to expand and diversify their reach. Nonfiction authors can repurpose their book’s content and capitalize on their skills, knowledge, and author platforms. Fiction authors and children’s authors can look beyond their books for ways to build a brand around their messages and central themes.

The great news is, your ability to impact people with your writing, story, or messaging doesn't have to end with your book. Here are 6 strategies for generating additional streams of income from your book:

Speaking engagements can be a great way to monetize your book.
Leverage Your Strengths, Knowledge, and Skills

Through the process of writing and publishing a book, you’ve gained an incredible amount of knowledge and maybe even some new skills. You’ve also completed a book full of valuable content. These assets can be combined and used to build your credibility or start a small business. For example, if you’ve written about a certain topic that required thorough research, you may be considered an advisor on the topic. Or, if you’ve written a memoir that teaches a life lesson, you can further share this message with others through speaking engagements or workshops. Fiction authors can potentially coach others about how to craft a great story, while children’s authors can create fun and inspiring presentations for school visits.

Take a close look at your strengths or your expertise, and what you’ve learned along the way. All of these assets can be used for public speaking, workshop topics, coaching or mentoring, or even as a service or product you offer. While some of these opportunities may not generate additional income when you first start out, you can work your way up to being paid as you build up your resume.

Utilize Social Media Channels that Allow Monetization

Social media can be a great way to let your personality shine and share other interests or passions outside of writing. These types of platforms allow authors to reach a broad audience and build a loyal following, and there are even social media platforms that allow monetization when certain parameters are met. Here are a few of the more popular ones: 

Patreon is a membership platform that allows consumers to donate money to support their favorite creators including writers, artists, musicians, and more. Unlike crowdfunding sites where creators try to raise money for a pending project, Patreon provides a platform for subscribers to pay you for the content you’ve already created. For authors, this can mean book-related bonus material such as short stories or deleted scenes, or exclusive videos, podcasts, and Q&A sessions with fans. Your followers sign up to pay a subscription amount of their choosing, and in return, you provide them with content. You can determine the subscription fee levels, usually starting at $1 per month. Then, the higher the subscription fee, the more substantial the content you provide.

Video content can be a great way to monetize your book's content and build a following.YouTube
YouTube is one of the internet's largest search engines, second only to Google. Because the content that is shared on YouTube is video-based (vlogging), many authors feel intimidated by this platform. However, when you put in the time and effort to create and share relevant videos through your channel, you can strengthen your brand, attract readers, and build a fan base. The YouTube Partner Program allows channels to start monetizing content once it reaches 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 valid public watch hours. After you are accepted into this program, you can earn money through advertising, memberships, merchandise, special features, and more.

Instagram is a popular, fast-growing platform for sharing highly visual content such as photos and short videos. This platform can provide great exposure for authors, especially those targeting a younger reader. Book genres that generate a lot of interest on Instagram include young adult, genre fiction, poetry, and graphic novels or comics. If you’re already active on Instagram and have built a decent following, you can earn passive income through affiliate marketing.

Create a Memorable Author Brand

Your author brand includes all of the elements that show who you are as an author and ultimately, how readers perceive you. This can include visual elements such as logos, colors, and images used on your website, social media, and promotional materials; however, it’s also your reputation in the marketplace. Are you known for writing dark and mysterious novels or romantic comedies? On the other hand, maybe you’re a business professional that is an expert in your field. The author brands for these three examples should have very different looks and messages.

There are many creative ways that authors can elevate their brands and establish additional income streams including branded merchandise and repurposing your intellectual property into other products or services. The more you can create a consistent and influential brand around you and your books, the more you will become a recognizable name in the marketplace. Investing your time, energy, and resources into building your author brand will make you stand out in the crowd and sustain your book marketing efforts. It will also help you deliver extra value to your readers and bond with them at a deeper level.

Authors must think digitally such as eBooks and Audiobooks to drive additional revenue.
Think Digitally

It’s no secret that eBooks and audiobooks continue to grow in popularity year after year, yet many authors still publish a paperback or hard cover version of their book and never consider digital formats. Publishing an eBook or audiobook version of your manuscript is an excellent way to expand your distribution, reach new readers, and improve your online discoverability.

If you are comfortable with online platforms and technology, creating an eBook can cost you little to nothing up front. Platforms like Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and KDP Select are among the most popular DIY digital publishing options, with an estimated eBook market share of 68%. You must know how to properly format your eBook file for uploading to the platform of your choosing, and you’ll also need to create a version of your book’s front cover art that meets the platform standards and works well when viewed at a small size.

Audiobooks require a little more effort and upfront money because of the production that is involved with creating high quality audio files. You can record the audio yourself, or hire voiceover talent to record the audio for you. Authors can choose between several online platforms for assistance with the production and distribution of an audiobook. Here are the two most popular:

ACX (Audible)
ACX is the leading audiobook platform where authors, literary agents, publishers, and other rights holders can connect with narrators, engineers, recording studios, and others capable of producing a finished audiobook. It is a part of Audible, which is a subsidiary of Amazon.

Findaway Voices
If you want to distribute your audiobook outside of Amazon, the Findaway Voices platform might be a good fit for you. With over 40 distribution partners, Findaway can broaden your reach. They also offer production assistance and have a large directory of professional narrators.

Think Globally

Reading is a worldwide phenomenon. According to Statista, the United States continues to be the leader in book publishing revenue with an estimated $25.7 billion dollars in sales in 2020. China ranked second with $12.7 billion, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and France.

Authors need to retain their foreign rights so that they can sell their book globally.There may be a huge marketplace for books outside of your country of origin. Book sales in international markets can have big potential, so Trident Media Group literary agent Mark Gottlieb recommends that authors take their foreign rights seriously.  According to Gottlieb, “when rights are given to the publisher, authors can lose out on a lot of revenue.” Thus, Gottlieb suggests that authors who may be interested in selling their book internationally work with a self-publishing service or publisher that is upfront about rights or helps to preserve them. Authors can also choose to work with a literary agent or agency like Trident Media Group, allowing them to sell directly to foreign publishers.

Write More!

Having a portfolio of writing versus a single book can greatly enhance your credibility and visibility in the marketplace. Even if you don’t have another full-length book in you, there are plenty of short forms of writing such as short stories and personal essays that will keep your work and name relevant while also making you some money. If you do feel compelled to write more full-length books, consider a series or complementary workbooks.

The more you can put your name and work out there, the more opportunities you’ll have to grow your readership and establish a fan base long-term. When readers find an author that appeals to them, they tend to follow that author’s work and become repeat customers over time. Industry decision-makers such as agents, publishers, and event planners also favor authors that have a collection of work because it shows you are credible and have long-term potential.

These days, books are only the beginning of the possibilities that exist for authors and storytellers. There are many options for transforming a single work into multiple revenue streams. By taking advantage of these opportunities and your talents, you can set yourself up to thrive!

Photo credit: skynesher via Getty Images
Photo credit: Moyo Studio via Getty Images
Photo credit: Umnat Seebuaphan via Getty Images