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When an Author Gets Paid in Advance of Writing a Book

If you’re an aspiring author, you’re probably wondering: When can I actually make money off my book?

The simple answer is: Once your book is done.

But it takes some time to actually see those lucrative publishing deals. Most writers have to wait years before they can even break even, and some never do. So we’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of the things you need to keep in mind while you’re waiting.

The Book Doesn’t Sell By Itself

Authors, agents, and publishers all want to see sales. They want to see lots of copies of your book in the hands of lots of readers. However, that doesn’t mean your book will make them rich. In fact, sometimes it takes just one or two big hits to break even on a book. The odds of your book being a bestseller are actually quite slim.

To put it mildly, bookselling is a complicated business. You need to have lots of books in the store, all of which need to sell well, to make a profit. Sometimes, it takes years of publishing to finally see a return on your investment.

According to the Bookseller Plus Yearbooks, the average bookshop makes about 4 to 5% of its total revenue from the sale of pre-release books. So in other words, if you want to see an immediate return on your investment, you’re going to have to try and promote your book heavily, regardless of whether it’s a bestseller or not.

Getting The Word Out About Your Book

If you’re unfamiliar, book promotion essentially entails getting the word out about your book so that people can learn about it and perhaps choose to read it. Of course, there are many different methods to do this, but most bookshops will do something along the lines of:

  • Sending you free books to review
  • Giving you a platform to promote your book through social media
  • Handing out flyers/pamphlets about your book
  • Having a bookshop assistant look up the backlist and suggest novels read by people with your same interests

As you can see, all of these actions help expose your book to the right audience, who might otherwise not have heard of it.

Building A Brand

Branding is the process of establishing an identity for your company/author brand. And no, we’re not talking about beer or lip balm here. When an author decides to take the plunge and become an independent author, they are in effect branding themselves. Even if you’ve never done this, you probably already have an identity, otherwise, why would you want to write a book? This identity will form the foundation of your business and become your touchstone when dealing with customers and prospects.

For example, if you’re an indie writer who has chosen to publish with a small press, but they are known for only publishing thrillers, your potential audience might shy away from your book thinking it’s a thriller when it’s really a romance.

Luckily, there are lots of ways to build a brand for yourself as an author without necessarily relying on what your book is about. You can:

  • Set up an author website or blog
  • Post regularly to social media with book-related content
  • Contact local media to pitch reviews of your book
  • Check out your local library and see what resources are available on the topic
  • Join societies relevant to your niche, such as The Authors’ Guild, The Mystery Writers of America, and The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

The important thing is to find the way that works best for you and don’t be afraid to experiment. Doing this will help you build up a brand that represents you as an author and can be trusted by your audience. Plus, it’ll make you more memorable to potential readers.

Try And Test The Waters

We all want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing, so it’s important to try and test the waters with any new venture you take on. This means that even though you’ve decided to become an author, you should try and find out how others in your niche are presenting themselves and whether or not this is something you want to emulate. You don’t want to just rush into anything without first knowing that it’s a good idea.

For example, if you’re writing a fantasy novel and deciding to experiment with a new style, it might be a good idea to read some of the other fantasy novels in your genre and see how others are presenting themselves. This way, you can determine if going for a more realistic approach or a more fantastical one will work better for you.

Also, it’s important to test the marketing strategies of potential publishers and agents. This is because you don’t want to end up with a deal that doesn’t work for you. It’s all well and good wanting to be a successful author, but if this is going to take a lot of work and you’re not willing to put in the time and effort, you might want to find a different option.

It’s also important to keep in mind that some markets are more suitable for some genres than others, so you want to find the one that works best for you. This is why it’s important to test the waters and see how others in your genre are presenting themselves. You might also want to consider what’s popular at the moment and whether or not this is something that will resonate with your audience.

Don’t Forget About Offline Marketing

If you’re a bit of a digital native, you might have forgotten about the importance of offline marketing. However, this is still very much a part of any author’s marketing plan, so don’t forget about it! In fact, you should try as much as possible to use offline marketing to gain exposure. Depending on your niche, you might want to consider doing some of the following:

  • Attending book fairs and festivals
  • Creating themed playlists for your podcast
  • Buying ad space in relevant magazines
  • Putting together an e-zine with interesting content

Making money off your book isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time to actually see those lucrative deals, and some writers never do, so don’t give up hope just yet.