PUBLISHED NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
by Julie Broad, Founder, Book Launchers —
“Hi. My name is James. I read your book, and I was wondering if you have any interest in taking on more investors for your deal.”
When my first book, More than Cashflow, hit the market, one of the things that surprised me the most was how the book continued to generate income and impact for me over the years after it was published. One of the most surprising things that happened was receiving emails like the one above from people I’d never met. My husband and I actually went on to invest with James and buy a 30,000-square-foot commercial property. That was just one of the ways my book generated income for us.
The trick that many nonfiction authors don’t realize is that it wasn’t a straight line from publishing my book to generating income in a variety of ways. There were a lot of other steps that were taken in order to generate awareness surrounding the book and create opportunities. Your book can be a powerful income generator and impact creator, but not if nobody knows it exists. If you’re still trying to figure out how your book can generate an income for you besides book sales, then here are seven common approaches for nonfiction authors to explore.
1. Online Courses
Most nonfiction books (not memoirs, but business, self-help, fitness, and health-related books) lend themselves beautifully to membership platforms through online or live courses. The best part is that you’ve already done the hard work of creating the core content. Many authors wonder, though, if you put all your best information in your book, will someone still buy your course?
The answer is yes. In fact, you’ll find folks are even more enthusiastic about your course as a result of reading your book. The most important thing to remember is that a book is designed for consumption and a course is designed for action and results. This difference means your course may contain the same material, but it should be organized differently than your book in order to support those action-oriented student goals.
The courses I built after More than Cashflow launched contained the same material as the book, but I added a weekly Q&A call. I sold the course for $697, eventually raising the price to $999. I also had a corresponding mastermind group that priced at $10,000 a year. After someone read my book, they often reached out and wanted support implementing what they had just read, creating this new income stream.
Typically, a course involves audio or visual material with downloadable resources. You can also add live components if you choose. Because my course focused on real estate investing, the live component helped answer questions specific to each student’s deals and markets, but it also sold without the live component. The advantage of adding live components is that you can ask a higher price for the added value. Even without the live component, the different format offers a whole new value proposition.
Dr. Lanae St. John wrote a powerful book called Read Me: A Parental Primer for “The Talk.” Her book is all about helping you create an open relationship with your kids so you’re comfortable talking about sex with them. This can be a topic fraught with emotion and a variety of challenges, so it makes sense that her primary income source post-book launch is one-on-one support for clients who are struggling with this topic with their kids.
Even though most problems can be resolved with similar processes and approaches, people tend to think their situations are unique and require personalized support. With many nonfiction book topics, you can most certainly expect people to call you and say, “Can I hire you to [fill-in-the-blank with your book topic]?”
Start thinking about your hourly rate now, because there’s a good chance you’ll be asked once your book is on the shelves.
3. Speaking Gigs
Being a paid speaker is the goal of many authors, and a book is likely to lead you toward that path. Many events look specifically for authors as their speakers, but being paid for speaking isn’t the only way to generate revenue from speaking.
When you first start speaking, you may find yourself doing events for free. Heck, many seasoned professionals speak for free in order to get in front of the right audience. However, these free speaking gigs can still generate income for you. The first goal should be to capture email addresses from attendees. Offering a feedback sheet with a cool opt-in or follow-up offer can help you build your email list, which will give you many opportunities to increase your income from a single talk. Additionally, I have had a lot of success arranging to speak for free if the organizer buys 100 copies of my book to give to the first 100 registrants of an event (or for all attendees depending on the budget of the event organizer). This helps me make a bit of money and gets my book into the hands of the audience.
4. Book Sales With Speaking Gigs
Your book can also add a zero to your value as a paid speaker. You’re now the “author of the book on the subject,” which has tremendous value.
Your book can also boost your fees because you can now offer a second contract option that includes the sale of your book to the audience. Many companies accept the talk fee plus book sale option and generate additional revenue for you.
5. Affiliate Sales
Is there a product or service you recommend in your book? You can set up an affiliate relationship with that product or person by either including a link or linking to a resource page in your book. These links are called affiliate links. When someone buys through one of those links based on your recommendation, you’ll receive a referral fee or a commission.
A quick note: Amazon does not permit affiliate linking to Amazon products in Kindle books. Also, don’t link directly to Amazon in your book at all or you could find it getting kicked back by services like Apple Books or Draft2Digital because their bots are on Amazon patrol. To offer affiliate sales in your book, direct folks to your resource page on your website where you have these links.
It goes without saying, but you should never set up affiliate relationships just to make money. You will damage the trust of your audience if you recommend something that you don’t actually love and use.
6. Selling Products
When it comes to nonfiction, you may not have a lot of opportunities for creating and selling merch, but you certainly can use your book to sell a software, promote an app, or feature a product so that people know why your product is the best. Dave Asprey from Bulletproof said that people who’d read one of his books bought twice as much Bulletproof product from the company. Your book can really showcase the value of a product and be a huge income booster for your business. The book may create the natural need for the solution, which you’ll go on to create after you publish your book. Or, your book might be written all about the origin of your product and really tell the story that makes people want to buy your product. Either way, it’s a fabulous way to make anotherincome from your book.
7. A YouTube Channel
Your book is monetized marketing, and so is YouTube. Sure, you won’t roll in cash in the early days of your channel, but YouTube will let you make money from content while you’re building an audience that will buy other things from you—your book, consulting time, or a course. Once you have 1,000 subscribers, you can monetize your channel, get sponsorships, do partnerships, and promote products to sell.
YouTube also adds value to a website and business because of its audience and revenue generation. Thanks to the ongoing revenue and brand recognition from YouTube, I was able to sell my old business website and its YouTube channel after several years of inactivity. It’s also owned by Google, so every video you create has the added benefit of being more easily found in the biggest search engine.
Your book can be a powerful income generator, but the first thing you need to do is ensure you’re clear on who your book is for and how you’ll help them. Once you know those two things, you’ll find endless ways to serve that audience, have an impact, and ultimately generate multiple streams of income from your book.
Julie Broad is the founder of self-publishing services firm Book Launchers and an Amazon Overall #1 Best Selling Author. Her popular YouTube channel BookLaunchers.TV teaches nonfiction authors how to write and market books people will want to read. An expert on writing with marketing in mind, Broad has been speaking on stages across Canada and the US since 2009, providing the best approaches to get results, make an impact, and, ultimately, make more money.