Martin Kirkham

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Writing a Nonfiction Book For Fun and Profit (Part 1)

People who write my essay for me do it for the money. People who write fiction generally (a gross generalization) write for the love of writing. However, nonfiction authors are most likely (again, a gross generalization) in it for the fame. They have some sort of expertise from which they believe others would benefit. They then want to write a book they can use to make a few extra bucks. The sad truth is that nonfiction print books rarely make any money by themselves, even for popular authors like Loral Langemeier (The Millionaire Maker) who has sold thousands of her books. But nonfiction books can be written for both fun and profit... often a great deal of profit.

Why Write a Nonfiction Book?

Your reasons are your own, but if you don't go into the process with a game plan for how you're going to leverage your expertise, you'll likely have a miserable time, never finish your book, and lose money in the process. Reasons for writing a nonfiction book vary widely:
  • publicity for a business (consulting or other business);
  • to enhance or expand a public speaking career;
  • to make a few extra bucks;
  • simply to share knowledge or experience.
But if you're going to take the time to write a nonfiction book, why would you NOT want to make some money from your experience and expertise?

Few people ever make a living writing novel, even those who have written and published a half dozen novels or more. Many more, however, are profiting every day from nonfiction books of every shape and size.

How Do People Make Money Writing Nonfiction Books?

If you write essays for money you probably have heard about so-called "re-purposing." Exactly in the realm of the last one lays the answer to the conundrum of making money with nonfiction books. Say, for example, you're an expert with roses. Look on any library bookshelf and you'll see a dozen or more excellent books on how to care for your roses. It's unlikely any of those authors are making more than minimum wage (if that) from their books.

Ah, but what if you self-published your book, then created a video of you showing exactly how to care for roses. Add to that a booklet of "bonus tips" and a special report on how to do the whole thing organically, and you now have a "kit" you can sell on the Internet for a whole lot more than you can sell the book by itself.

It gets better. You offer the "bonus tips" booklet as a free downloadable PDF file on the Web in exchange for the recipient's email address. Once you've built up a sizable list, you offer a Webinar or Teleconference series to your list for a small fee (but more than the cost of a book). While the book might sell for $19.95, you can sell the webinar or teleconference series for a minimum of $27 (and easily more).

Let's do the math. If you have 100 people sign up for a $27 two-hour teleseminar or webinar, you've just made $2700 for two hours. If you record the call (you should), then you can sell the recording on your site for $27 forever. Even if you make only 10 sales per month, that's $270 in cash without any extra work. It's what we call "mailbox" money, or "passive revenue."

You can also repurpose your original book into a series of articles that you use to advertise your website and webinars or teleconferences. If you "seasonalize" the articles, you can keep your business blooming all year. Why not create a separate seminar for each season? Encourage people to buy the kit as a gift for friends and family?

End of Part 1

Useful Resources:

Making Money Through Writing

Simple Steps to Writing a Nonfiction Book (Part 1)

How to Become a More Effective Writer

Want to Write a Book? You'd Better Start Now

How to Write a Comedy Story (Part 1)