Updated: Nov 22, 2022
With your ebooks, Gumroad content, or a single published book
There are some truths I know from 27 years as an indie book publisher, leading with…
Publishing is a stupid-tough, deeply rewarding business in a constant weird flux of disruption and sclerosis (which makes persistence and creative approaches a necessity).
The prevailing experience of too many authors and content creators is one of overwhelm, uncertainty, anxiety, and disappointment. Serious disappointment.
It’s possible to make a solid and sustainable side income for an author (or content creator) — from even a single title — even a part-time or full-time business — for 1, 2, 3, 5, 10+ years. You decide.
Know that it’s possible
First, know that it’s possible to make more income than you imagined from your author life — more than that dribble of biannual royalties sent from your publisher or agent or the monthly four-figure deposits (counting both sides of the decimal point) from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. And, it’s not only possible to make more money from your book and/or content, but you can do so almost indefinitely, and enjoy the process and collect a bounty of other planned and unexpected perks along the way. In fact, creating an author life you love is one of the keys to keeping the money flowing in.
I know the above for fact, because I have helped over 100 authors directly and thousands more through lectures, programs, and workshops create profitable author lives they love. Many of the authors I’ve helped have kept their profitable new author life going for 3–10+ years. None of these folks were best-selling authors either. Many were self-published. Many were introverts. Many were business, sales, and marketing reluctant at the outset, if not outright averse to the commercial aspect of authordom.
Play the long game
Authorhood isn’t a get rich quick scheme but, really, you know that. So take a deep breath, soak that reality in down to the cellular level, and move on to committing to the long game by taking your first step now and another tomorrow and then again the day after that. For inspiration on the long game, read about slow business, slow relationships, shortcuts to sustainable income endeavors, and starting your authorpreneurship before you’re ready (today!).
Consider all the benefits of being an author
You start building a profitable author life you love by taking an inventory of all the good things you want from being an author. First, more money. In case you resist naming it, I’ll put that at the top of your list. Now, what else? And after that? Don’t be shy about wanting all the things. Making your goals and expectations explicit is vital to reaping those rewards. To stimulate your appetite and throw some ideas your way, start with this list of 52 benefits of being an author I’ve seen different authors enjoy over close to three decades and hundreds of published books.
Make it an expression of yourself
From there, realize that your author life can and should be an expression of yourself. It doesn’t have to encapsulate your very essence. It doesn’t have to reveal things private and awkward to the masses. But it should in some ways reflect who you are and what you’re bringing to the party. It can also be creative and aspirational, meaning it can reflect who you want to be, who you are becoming, and the author-person/author-expert you’re evolving to share with others.
Make it fit with you and the rest of your life
Another big, fat secret of building a profitable author life you love is making it fit with who you are and the rest of your life. So, tap into who you are and bring what you have to the world in a customized way that not only works for you but significantly enhances your personal and professional existence. Here are eight things you can think through to hop onto this path.
Use it to meet other life goals
As an extension of the above, put your book, your status as an author, and the expertise behind your book, be it fiction or nonfiction, into service on behalf of your other life goals. What else do you want to do? To accomplish? Who do you want to spend more time with? Who do you want to meet? Where do you want to travel? What else to you want to learn? How do you want to be perceived? Remembered? In the spirit of Jim Collins, what BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) are calling to you from deep within? The answers to such questions can direct your author activities in twofer harmony.
Use it as an excuse to get rid of clutter
The time you’re now spending building a profitable author life you love? Use it as an excuse to declutter areas of your life that weren’t working for you or have outstayed their welcome. Get rid of excess commitments and obligations to things that don’t excite you. Lackluster hobbies. Mindless housework. Scrolling away the hours. The notion that you must finish all the Marvel and Star Wars spinoffs, Netflix documentaries, and other water cooler fodder first. Let relationships that have withered (and should stay that way) float away. Ooh, can’t help you with that, I’m doing something terribly and utterly important.
Love your emerging author life
“We can only learn to love by loving.” — Iris Murdoch
The presumption of love as an action, not a feeling, is so useful for loving the author life you’re creating. Expand your love and understanding of the amazing author enterprise and life you’re constructing for yourself by doing more of it. (How to grow your venture with love, actual love.)
Explore further a profitable and customized author life you love…