One of the basic questions you have to ask yourself as an author is:
IS MY BOOK WORTH WRITING
Is there an audience for your book and will that audience buy it?
Many people write because of an internal drive that compels them write. Most authors want to make sure they get their ideas and stories into the public arena. If you want to get your book published and you want to make some money in the writing business, you have to think about how your book will sell and how you will publish it. Traditional publishing may not be for you so you may want to think about self-publishing.
As an independent/self-publisher, you may be better positioned to attract a more niche audience. Then, once you gain traction with your target audience, you can think about expanding your market to a broader audience. This will extend the life cycle of your book as your audience expands and perhaps provide you with some ongoing revenue for the book you publish.
First, you have to be able to estimate the size of your audience. This will enable you to estimate the profit or loss you might be able to expect.
If you expect your target market to be retired, discharged, and active duty military who served post 9/11, the size of your audience could be easily estimated. A simple Google search will reveal that the number of military Americans who served in the military in the Second Gulf War (defined as 2001 to present) is 2.6 million. What Percentage Of Americans Have Served In The Military?
Not all of those people are avid readers and some will perhaps not be interested in the topic you’re writing about. So you need to narrow your focus to perhaps post 9/11 veterans who served in combat roles, or post 9/11 veterans who struggle with issues of PTSD.
Perhaps you can go to Amazon and see how many and what kind of books are currently selling that deal with your subject. A quick search on Amazon will find 42 fiction books dealing with military warrior fiction. This will give you an idea of the competition you will face when it comes to selling your book.
So how do the numbers work out...
If you're publishing your book as an e-book, you can expect your return to be about half the cost the customer pays. Say you sell a kindle e-book for $9.99. You can expect your return to be about $5.00 per book. Make sure you don't delude yourself into thinking that the $5.00 is all yours. Let's say you sell 5,000 books. That is $25,000.
You will need to deduct from that the cost of your promotion including, but not limited to, web site, mailers, and postage. What about editorial and proofreading services and a legal review? You don't want to be sued for not referencing or validating sources. People are quite litigious and pass judgment very quickly over sloppy work.
All those things cost and are all out-of-pocket expenses before you see a dime of revenue. After that, you have deductions of administrative, marketing, and office expenses. How much money do you want to get paid? How many hours did you spend slaving over your masterpiece? 1,000? 2,000? 2,500 hours? You can take your expenses out and deduct from that self-employment tax and income taxes.
So you have to sell 2,000 books before you even begin to get paid. Ain't this business grand?!
If your return is expected to be $25,000, you will make $15,000. You can expect 1/3 - 2/5 of that will go to taxes. If you divide that by the number of hours you put into your book (2,000), your return on your labor will be $7.50 per hour for your writing labor (not counting the hours you spend networking, building your contact list, marketing your book, talking at book signings) – yes, all the great things you can expect. The good thing is that once the writing is done and the book is out there, you can continue to find more markets and attract more readers and the great thing is that you will get to start all over again with your next book.
To be serious for a second – You really have to want to be a writer and continue to work in order to make a living at it. Nevertheless, set your sights high, continue to work diligently, and you can make a great living as an author. The more work and the more you have in the public eye, the more residual income you can receive from your work. The more books you have, the better people will know you. The better people know you, the more you'll sell. Your books are like a gift that can keep on giving.
Test your resolve, test your passion, then give your gift to the world.
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