I’m very pleased to introduce the lovely Marissa Farrar as my Guest Author today.
Marissa has always been in love with being in love. But since she’s been married for numerous years and has three young daughters, she’s conducted her love affairs with multiple gorgeous men of the fictional persuasion.
The author of more than twenty novels, she has been a full time author for the last six years. She predominantly writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but has branched into contemporary fiction as well. You can read about her latest trilogy, Defaced: The Monster Trilogy, at the end of this article.
A prolific writer, Marissa explains how she makes her living out of writing and gives some very helpful advice along the way.
Earning Money from Ebooks
I’ve found people don’t like talking about money—especially in the publishing business. If authors talk about wanting to earn money from their books, it’s as though that automatically makes them care less about their craft than someone who writes purely for the love of writing. In my experience, that’s total rubbish.
I’ve been earning my living from my books for the past six years now. I’m going to talk about how I earn a decent living from my work (my income is now higher than my husband’s, and I’m not even a big seller). This is how I sell books and make money. I’m sure people will argue there are other ways (which I’m sure there are), but this is just my story.
I didn’t start off as a self-published author. Like many authors, I started with a couple of small presses, but quickly realised I could do better on my own, and so started to put my books out on my own. It wasn’t until then that I earned anything more than possibly a small meal for my family! I’m sure being with a publisher is lovely in many respects, but self-publishing allows you the control to do many of the things I’m going to suggest next.
- Be clever with pricing.
You are never going to earn a living with books priced at $0.99. At that price you have to sell hundreds of books per day in order to make a decent living, and very few authors achieve that.
Do the maths:
$0.99 = $0/35 royalty x 100 sales = $35
$3.99 = $2.80 royalty x 10 sales = $28
It’s always going to be easier to sell ten books than one hundred.
The only time I price books at $0.99 is for a short term promotion, for short stories, or for first of series books. Full length books for me will always be priced at the $3.99 mark. Novellas will be $2.99. I do have free first-of-series books, or run free promotions, but for the books I want to earn money from, $3.99 is the sweet spot.
- Publish regularly.
I put out a new novel every other month now. It’s easier for me because this is my full time job, so I don’t have a day job to contend with (though I do have three small children!). However, setting yourself up a regular publishing schedule is important. It doesn’t have to be every two months – it could be every four months, or even six (though I wouldn’t advise leaving it this long between books as readers will forget you!) – but the important thing is that you’re regularly publishing, and readers know when they’re going to get their hands on your next book. Plus you’re more likely to see more of those $3.99 books with a decent backlist.
- Make use of the pre-order option.
I love pre-orders! A lot of authors offer their books at a special offer of $0.99 to entice more readers in, and this does work, but in exactly the same way pricing your already published books at $0.99 it won’t make you much money. What a pre-order does is allow you to create a call to action for readers when you’re talking about your book and promoting it before it’s even published. I now include the pre-order for my next book in the back of my most recent release, so readers can just jump straight over and one-click the hell out of it.
- Build your newsletter.
Having a newsletter with a decent number of subscribers is like having access to your very own Bookbub that’s designed purely for you. Take time to build the number of subscribers you have – include the link in the back of every book you publish, use signing up to your newsletter as an entry in competition, or sign up to a company who offers to build your newsletter for you – such as the folks over at I Love Vampire Novels (no, you don’t have to write about vampires to take advantage of this). I used AWeber, but it’s expensive. I know many others use Mailchimp, which sounds like a good one to get started with, or I’ve also heard good things about Madmimi.
- Spend money to make money.
I know this is easier said than done, especially when you’re scraping around trying to find money to pay the bills and feed the kids (believe me, I’ve been there!), but if you want people to spend their hard earned cash on your product, you’ve got to be prepared to invest in it yourself. The things you cannot skimp on are a good cover artist (there are some amazing pre-made covers out there if you can’t afford to commission one) and an editor. Even if it’s just an edit to make sure your grammar and spelling is correct, you’re better off publishing your book with one than without. If you really cannot spend a single penny on your book, then it might be an idea to go down the traditionally published route until you start earning some royalties, which you can then use to put out your own work.
The other area in which you need to spend money is advertising. I always suggest at least 20% of your income should be spent on advertising, though I often spend closer to 30-35%. Places to spend your advertising money are facebook ads, and email blasts with companies such as Bookbub or the smaller versions such as Robin Reads, eBook Hounds, and Booksends.
I guess the thought I want to leave you with today is that it isn’t impossible to make a decent living from publishing ebooks. I’m not talking about the sort of huge sums which make people best-sellers, but just a modest, regular number of books sold each day which will give you a steady income. And if you have a steady income from ebooks, then you don’t have to go to the dreaded day job, and you can write even more books!
Start off by aiming to sell ten ebooks across multiple channels per day, and when you hit that number, aim to sell fifteen, and then twenty. Just imagine, one day you might even sell one hundred books per day, and $3.99 = $2.80 royalty x 100 sales = a whole heap of cash!
Defaced: The Monster Trilogy
A Dark Romance Novel
By Marissa Farrar
Hidden away from society by his criminal father, there lives a man who has never entered the outside world. Now, having taken over his father’s business, he has all the money and power he could dream of, yet still he refuses to let himself be viewed by the rest of society.
Traumatised by an event in her past, Lily Drayton has a phobia of being touched. Though she helps people externally with her skills as a laser therapist, she refuses to let anyone in, emotionally or physically. When Lily is kidnapped on the way home from work one evening, she discovers she’s not the only person who keeps themselves cut off from the rest of the world.
A man owns her now—a man both dangerous and enigmatic. Drawn by his dual beauty and hidden pain, he awakens something inside her, something she believed was long dead. Brought to a room without windows, she’s given an impossible task: to make her owner acceptable to the outside world.
Can altering his face change who he is as a man, or is he truly a monster, both inside and out?