One of my readers, WC, is among other things proprietor of a small book publishing company.
He was lecturing me how I could make more money writing books for his small publishing company, because they give authors a deep discount—more than mainstream publishers—on copies of their books they buy from WC.
When I told him that this had little appeal to me as I do not sell books—and instead let Amazon and bookstores do that for me—he seemed shocked, asking how I made any money as an author.
I replied, “I can tell from our back and forth correspondence that you have absolutely NO idea what my business model is and are locked into the old paradigm of book authors making money from book sales.”
“The short answer,” I told WC, “is this: writing books has over the last 32 years generated hundreds of copywriting assignments, consulting, and speaking gigs.
“I write books to become the in-demand guru and sell my professional services for a decent wage without cold calling or advertising.
“Neither advances nor royalties are key or critical, though I have been paid advances as high as $50,000 to write a book and earn tens of thousands of dollars a year in royalties.”
The formula that shows how to make money as an author today is TBR = A + R + OI.
TBR is total book revenues: the total amount of money you make as a result of writing the book.
A is your advances and R is your royalties. But for me A and R are not as I said critical.
The bulk of my money from book writing is OI which is “other income”.
By writing a book, you can accelerate your career success and skyrocket your status and earnings in your chosen field or profession.
Shortly after quitting my corporate job in early 1982, I got called by a large NYC utility for an interview about a big technical writing job.
When he asked if I had a resume or brochure, I instead handed him a copy of my newly published book “The Elements of Technical Writing,” the author’s copies of which McGraw-Hill had sent me just days before.
He took one look and hired me on the spot, commenting, “I had other writers I was going to interview, but I don’t have to do that now.”
Because when it came to technical writing, to him I was the guy who wrote the book on it. And the guy who “wrote the book on it” is the guy clients want to hire.
A few years after the technical writing book, I wrote a specialized marketing book, titled Business-to-Business Direct Marketing, for a small publisher, NTC Business Books.
My advance was only $6,000, and my wife asked me why I was wasting my time with it.
Fast forward 6 months: The book has just been published. I get a call from DM, a marketing director at a Fortune 500 software company.
They are looking for a keynote speaker at their annual marketing conference. “I am looking at 5 top experts in B2B marketing,” he explains, and then, almost haughtily, challenges me by saying, “Tell me why you are any different and better than them.”
Instead of becoming a dancing monkey, I reply, “Let me FedEx you a copy of my new book on B2B marketing. If you like it, hire me. If not, don’t.” End of conversation.
I overnight the book. Three days later, I have a speaking contract. After the talk, he soon gives me a contract to write copy for them.
And that’s how I make money from my books without big advances or being on the NY Times best-seller list.
When this happened, veteran marketer Jeffrey Lant stressed to me the value of writing a book in promoting one’s products or services, telling me something I have never forgotten: “A book is a brochure that will never be thrown away.”
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.