Show Me The Money!

The following is an excerpt from the book, AUTHORity, being published by Morgan James Publishing.

Too many times authors come to me with unrealistic expectations of what will happen once their book is written. These hopes come from hype built by Hollywood and other mainstream media outlets: all you need to do is write the book and instantly your life will be transformed into something else! That’s not quite the case.

Common Misconceptions About Becoming An Author

You need to change your thought process. Most authors I’ve talked to have a preconceived notion of what it means to become an author and what will happen once their book is written and published. Times have changed and so have the rules for authors. In regard to the Hollywood personification of authors, well, stories become legends and, more often than not, were simply myths to begin with. Even so, most authors choose to believe the same old lies. Let’s talk through a few of the most common misconceptions.

You Need to Do a Nationwide Book Tour

So many would-be authors think they need to launch a nationwide book tour. For the most part, however, book tours are a thing of the past. Once the book is published, authors envision jumping on a plane, flying around the country, and raising support and sales for the book. That’s a lot of time and money spent, and the author, not the publisher, usually pays for those travel costs. You would have to sell a lot of books to recover that investment.

You Should Do Book Signings

Have you ever walked by that table in Barnes & Noble, the one with the lonely author and a stack of books? More often than not, at most book signings, the author waits and wishes, hoping a shopper will show interest. Old-fashioned book signings aren’t effective anymore, and often, they’re not done right.

Typically, the author is told to show up at a certain bookstore in a certain city at a certain time. The author shows up, and, hopefully, the bookstore has books on the premises ready to sell. Oh, and, hopefully, someone has promoted the event to draw people into the bookstore because unless you’re J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, John Grisham, or some other well-known author, nobody knows who you are, and nobody will line up.

Instead of doing book signings, the better idea would be to set up a one-day workshop. Talk to your local bookstore or Barnes & Noble or, if you’re going to be traveling, then piggyback those travels with bookstores in the town you will be in. If you are able, go in and talk to the community organizer or the manager and tell him you’re interested in doing a one-day workshop. This is truly the best way to get your foot in the door. Allow the manger to meet you and see your excitement; tell him what you can do for the store.

people inside white room

Workshops are received better then book signings. People will show up for a workshop. If you teach a class, adding value to the bookstore and the patrons, the store will do more to promote the event. The store may even put up a flyer to let people know you’re coming. That way, you don’t get caught at a book signing, wishing someone would talk to you.

You Should Spend All Your Time, Money, and Energy Selling Books

Once your book is written, published, and ready to go to market, it seems logical to take all your time, money, and energy and put it into selling books. After all, if you can just get that book to catch traction, you’ll sell more copies, and everybody is going to be happy.

However, that’s not the case. You may sell a lot of books, but at what cost? If you sell a few books here and there or even if you sell a number of books doing some sort of tour, it costs you a lot of valuable time and energy—time you could spend building your business. Where are you going to make the most profit: selling a book or building your business? You should spend more time building your business because that’s where the true money is going to come.

I know you’re thinking, “Whoa, wait a minute! Are you saying I shouldn’t try to sell books?” Let’s look at the numbers. When an author gets paid for book sales, it’s usually done through a royalty structure. Royalties are based on a percentage of the wholesale price of the book. If you’re lucky, you will receive 8 to 10 percent of the wholesale price of your book; the publisher will take the rest.

Wholesale prices can vary depending on the deal the vendor has worked out with the publisher, but, generally speaking, wholesale is going to be roughly 50 percent of the retail price.

So, let’s break that down and add it all up. I’ll use round numbers to make it easy. If the retail price for your book is twenty dollars,

then the wholesale price would be around ten dollars. If your royalty was 10 percent of wholesale, that would mean you would end up being paid about one dollar per book.

A non-fiction book only has to sell approximately 4,800 copies in its lifetime to be considered a success. If you worked really hard and knocked it out of the park and sold way more than what would be considered a success, say ten thousand copies, then you just made ten thousand dollars. You should be excited about making ten thousand

dollars, right? It’s super exciting until you realize your publisher just cleared ninety thousand dollars, minus their expenses, of course.

Let’s look at your money earned from the book a little differently. Let’s say you give away five books and convert one of those readers into a coaching client who pays you ten thousand dollars a year. Guess what? You keep all of that money. We’ll talk later about how to turn your book into a profit machine, but this is why I say your energy should not be invested in the sale of the book; it should be invested in building the business. You want to make money for yourself, not just the publisher.

Jim Howard

With over 30 years in commercial print, branding and publishing, Jim Howard has dedicated much of his life to helping entrepreneurs, CEOs and business owners move ahead in their business. Follow him at, facebook.com/jimhowardauthorcoach.

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