Are you looking for a way to make passive income but aren’t sure how to do it? You’d probably think I’m off my rocker if I told you that anyone can write a book. The simple truth is that it’s true. With the inception of digital downloads, the indie world of ebooks exploded. Today you can find freelance authors, editors, book cover designers, and even publishers. So, if you think you can’t do it, think again. I’ll let you in on how easy it is to sell your passion by writing a book.
Stop for a moment and think of something you’re passionate about. It could be a craft you like to do, a sport you’re good at, a subject you’re knowledgeable in, or pretty much anything. Chances are if you’re gaga over it, other people are too.
I’ll give you a random example. Say you’re a video gamer. You are always buying the most recent games and playing them until you beat them. If you take the time to write a guidebook to each game as you work your way through it, you could make money off the hobby that you love. Do you have any idea how many guidebooks there are for popular games like Minecraft and the latest Super Mario? A bunch, I can tell you that. And people are still searching for guidebooks on those games every day.
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Now, I know it’s unlikely there are a lot of gamer moms reading this post, so maybe your passion is more about shopping, or macramé (does anyone still do that?), or any number of things. Perhaps you’re even passionate about fiction. Let me tell you a quick story about a mama whose imagination about drove her nuts before she found writing fantasy novels as an outlet.
When my second child was born, I gave up watching TV. The kids interrupted much too often to enjoy even a short program. Instead, I turned to my other favorite form of entertainment–books. I could be stopped mid-page, and I was able to pick right back up once I was finished feeding/changing/putting down for a nap my child. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about my book being too loud and waking the baby.
The problem I found with reading was that I always had ideas of how the book could have ended differently. If a story took an unwanted twist, I’d close it and that night I’d lay in bed making up my own ending. Finally, I decided I needed some way to let my imagination run free. Being at home with two kids didn’t leave a lot of options, but as much as I wanted to free my mind, I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom even more.
That’s when I decided to start writing. I could do it at home while my kids were napping or in bed for the night. I quickly realized that although it takes more time, writing is much like reading. Only, I control the story.
When I started my first novel, I knew from the beginning it wouldn’t be a standalone book. By the time I finished that trilogy, I knew I’d found what I want to do for the rest of my life. I will admit that those first stories weren’t the best, but that’s the beauty of writing, you get better the more you do it.
Writing Your Book
I started on a tight budget, using a free word processing program, which I wouldn’t recommend. Word is sooo much better than the free ones. It autocorrects slightly misspelled words or highlights words that are more than slightly misspelled. Its synonyms feature is perfect for varying your vocabulary. And it’s dictionary rivals Merriam-Webster. You can buy (affiliate link →) Microsoft Office 365 as a digital download, or you can subscribe through Office.com for as little as $8.25 per month for a business plan. With Office, you not only get Word but several other apps too.
Of course, if your computer has regular old Word (pretty much any version) installed, that will work just fine. I’m sure there are other word processing programs out there that you can use, but I’m not familiar with any of them, so I can’t say how well they will work for writing a book.
As for formatting your book, several free books are available to help you with that. You can find Amazon’s formatting guide here. Another free resource is Smashwords Style Guide. I’ll talk more about Smashwords in a minute.
I found an amazing freelance editor who is patient, knowledgeable, and affordable, which is a rarity. Her name is Wendy Jo Dymond. (Isn’t that the coolest name.) You can find her at WJDymond.com where she offers assistance with everything from editing to ghostwriting to submitting books to agents and publishers. I still use her today, and I don’t have any plans to change editors anytime soon.
There are plenty of qualified freelance editors out there, but be wary. Send any potential editor a few pages from the middle of your book for them to sample edit and pay close attention to what they correct and don’t correct. I submitted a sample of a book to several editors before I found Wendy Jo. One editor tried to make my characters sound like robots while another wanted over $1000 more that any other quotes. Trust me, shop around. Or, you could try my editor. She is acquainted with several other editors, so if she isn’t a good fit for you, she might know someone who would be.
Every good book needs a great cover. I started by creating my own book covers using GIMP (a free image manipulate program) after I’d watched about three dozen YouTube tutorials on how to use it. The first covers weren’t the best, but I learned more techniques and then recreated them, some more than once.
There are tons of affordable book cover designers out there. While I haven’t used any personally, I’d recommend checking somewhere like Fiverr if you’re really on a budget or 99designs if you have a little bit more to spend.
After writing your novel, getting it edited, and creating a book cover to make it look as good as it reads, it’s finally time to publish. Unless you plan to try to get your book traditionally published, you’ll be doing this yourself. It’s not that hard, especially if you took the time to read Amazon’s formatting guide and/or Smashwords Style Guide.
Publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is fairly straight-forward. They are by far the easiest to upload your book. KDP now allows you to upload the digital and print versions of your books on their site instead of having to go through CreateSpace or a similar site for your print edition. They also happen to be the retailer that makes me the most money. I sell more books on Amazon than all other platforms combined.
Other online retailers that I always publish through include:
I don’t sell a lot of books through Smashwords directly, but they allow you to choose to sell your book through multiple retailers while only uploading your book once. These retailers include Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and several more. (See picture below.)
Because Smashwords sends your book to so many other sites, they have pretty strict formatting requirements for uploading your book. They’ve aptly named their conversion software Meat Grinder because it will turn your book into mincemeat if it isn’t formatted properly.
Even with the stricter formatting requirements, it’s still easier to upload your book once to Smashwords than multiple times to all the other retailers. That is why reading the Smashwords Style Guide is so important. You can format your book as you write it, so it’s good to go as soon as you’re finished editing.
I don’t make a ton of money through Google Books, but they do bring in a steady income, so it is worth uploading your book to them.
While you can sell your book on Barnes and Noble through Smashwords, I often choose just to upload my book to B&N myself. Smashwords takes 10% of your book sales on all retailers that they send your book to. Since the standard is 70% royalty for authors on each book sale, I don’t want to pay another 10% to Smashwords if it’s convenient just to upload the book directly. It’s really up to you, but I use Smashwords for all the other retailers they offer and submit my books to B&N directly.
There are several other smaller retailers out there, but I don’t typically publish my books on them because the time it takes to format and upload my book just isn’t worth it.
After publishing your book, your work is only partly over. If you don’t market your book, it is possible it will get lost in the hundreds of thousands of books independently published each year. Two excellent free resources for what to do next are Smashwords Book Marketing Guide and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success. There are also marketing recommendations on Kindle Direct Publishing.
The best route is to make a marketing plan before you are even ready to publish. But, your first step should be to write the book. For now, if you have a subject you are knowledgeable in, and you would like to turn that knowledge into a passive income, writing a book is one of the best options out there. Another option would be to start a blog like this one. For a complete guide to starting a blog check out my post how to start a mom blog (quickly and easily).
If you’re interested in my books, I write Fantasy novels under the pen name S. L. Gavyn. You can find my entire collection on Amazon here. (←affiliate link)
Have you written a book and just haven’t gotten around to publishing it? Are you interested in writing your own book? Well, what are you waiting for? Now, is as good a time as any to make that vision reality. I’d love to hear about your journey.