Be an Author, Don’t Just Write Books- 6 Ways to Make Money as an Author & Build Credibility

Writing is a great way to release stress, escape into another world, or even to increase your professional brand awareness. People write for many different reasons. But not every writer becomes a successful author. Even if you have a major publishing house behind you, as an author, you must be willing to put in the work to brand yourself and become successful. You’re not just selling books, you’re selling your expertise.

The publishing world is filled with books that never go anywhere. Unless you are lucky enough to land a lucrative publishing deal and your book(s) sell millions, chances are, your book won’t go anywhere either. When I started out self publishing, it was actually to see if I could do it. I had no expectations as I spent months writing my first book Go Ahead, Talk to Strangers- The Modern Girl’s Guide to Fearless Networking (which is also available on Amazon Kindle!). But as I got more comfortable with writing and publishing my own books, I quickly realized that I needed to put the marketing behind the book and the work behind the effort to make it successful. Even though Black Enterprise Magazine had given the book some shine in the magazine (see the October 2009 article here) and it has been talked about on a few radio shows and websites, it still didn’t send me into the leagues of Terry McMillan or Seth Godin. I had to figure out ways to keep interest up in the book, different ways to convey the message of the book, and keep sales going. Even though the book was released in 2009, it is still selling and I’m still building projects off of that book…and I plan to for as long as I’m able to and people still want the knowledge.

Here are six ways for you to make money as an author and build your credibility.

Create a strategy and implementable action plan. Often people will be so happy that they’ve finished the book, that they think it’s time to celebrate. Hold your horses there. Finishing the book is just the beginning! Let’s not even get into the editing, layout and cover design (although you should have those done professionally and have a plan for that before you write your first word). Treat your book like a business. How do you plan to sell the book? (Do you get a visual of hauling several boxes of books around in your trunk selling them on every street corner?) How many ways do you plan to distribute the book? Don’t assume that it only has to be in print or even in just one language. Who’s your target audience for the book? The more specific the better. You can’t just hope that the world will find it and fall in love enough to buy it. What is the message of your book and to whom does it need to reach? Here’s where the planning gets interesting. Because by answering this question, you can decide how many ways you can deliver that message leveraging your book as a tool. How will you promote the book? You can do a book signing, conduct workshops, use social media, get publicity coverage in magazines and on radio and TV, and create word of mouth campaigns. It’s best to have a clear strategy before you go to print so you can hit the ground running once it’s published.

Make your book one of the revenue streams of many, not the only one. Many authors think having the book itself is the key to success. No, it’s not. It’s what you do with the book that counts. Did you know that a book can lead to multiple streams of revenue for you? I bet you didn’t. Authors are starting to realize that there are other products and services that can be spun off from their books. You can teach classes. Contact local community colleges, continuing education programs and associations about teaching a class (or classes) relative to your book’s topic. Create a course proposal and meet with the director in charge of course approval. Get to know them so they’ll keep you in mind to teach future classes. If you can’t teach at a college, teach your own class and charge for it. is a wonderful social media platform that allows you to put up a course before officially planning it to see how much interest it generates.

You can rent space at hotels, community centers, libraries or other venues, or you can simply teach it online with the use of technology such as Skype, Oovoo, or LiveMeeting. You can teach a one time webinar or workshop (using any of the aforementioned tools) on a specific topic of the book. Speaking engagements are another way to generate revenue. You can be a keynote or panelist and get paid for it, depending on the event and their budget. Try to shoot for the paid gigs first, but don’t turn down non-paid speaking opportunities. In lieu of payment, you can request back of the room sales of your book. Create an information product or self study course from your book. Sometimes people want to buy your book, but feel like they still don’t “get it”. So create a step by step process that they can learn on their own. That’s what I did with Fearless Networking Without Asking Permission. And finally create a referral program. Offer a commission to people who will promote and sell your book for you. Part of something is better than nothing. There are other ways to create revenue from your book, but these are a great beginning.

Diversify your books and sales will come. Every author likes to hold a physical copy of their book in their hands. In fact, I cried when I got the first proof copy of Go Ahead, Talk to Strangers. Truth be told, I get a little misty when I get that first copy of any of my creations. I had to learn to look past my own ego and create versions of the book that are appealing to my readers. Not everyone wants a paperback book. I have created digital versions of my books because tablets and smartphones have changed the way people read and purchase books. Audio versions of the book need to be available as well (I’m actually working on that for all my books in 2012). Give people options and you open up more avenues for sales. Also consider having your book redone in different languages to open up an international audience, and consider the needs of the impaired. Have a large print version or even a braille version of your book. Don’t leave out any customer base who could benefit from your book. Make sure it’s as accessible as possible.

Align with other people to create opportunities that align with your brand and book. Joint ventures can be a wonderful thing for an author, especially the author of a non-fiction book. If you’re a business owner, you already know the benefits of partnering with companies that have the services and products that compliment your business to bring value to your customers. Well, it’s the same thing in this case. Seek out successful personalities who’s message compliments yours and can benefit your readers. For instance, if you are a financial planner who’s audience are high wealth individuals looking to create businesses, team up with an attorney and a business advisor who have their own books and are looking to reach a wider audience. If you’re an image consultant, seek out beauty experts and wellness practitioners to create a joint event or information session. You’ll gain a new audience from your partners and you’ll further establish yourself as an expert. When choosing to partner, please keep in mind it’s a business venture. Get everything in writing, and make sure you’re enhancing one another, not overshadowing. Come to the initial meeting with a clear expectation of what you want to see happen and a mutually beneficial end goal.

Focus on showcasing your EXPERTISE, not the book. Do you know how many books there are out there that talk about the exact same thing that you talk about in your book? Your book is a tool to showcase your expertise. Anyone (and I mean that literally) can write a book. But you want people to engage with you. You are the brand. Your knowledge is the leverage. Your book is the tool. Focus on making sure people understand what knowledge you’re bringing to the table and the message they should hope to gain. By writing the book, you expect people to walk away with a certain understanding, correct? Well make sure that understanding doesn’t end when they close the book. Make people want to seek out your opinion and advice. Books come and go, but knowledge is ever lasting. Even well written books don’t prompt people to seek out the author. Keep the knowledge coming by branding yourself and continuing to market yourself well after the hoopla of your book subsides. Fortunately, social media has allowed authors to communicate and engage with their readers. Take advantage of that to keep the conversations going. Trust me, once people get to know you and appreciate your expertise, they’ll buy the books. Just don’t give it all away for free!

Ask for and expect help from others. Not everyone needs a publicist or a literary agent to be a successful author. True, it may take you longer to get your book out to the main stream, but when you’re starting out and struggling, that money is better spent perfecting your marketing. Make a list of everyone in your professional network with whom you have an ongoing, active relationship. Don’t be afraid to call in some favors. If you know a publicist and you’ve sent more than a few lucrative leads his way, ask them to help spread the word. Ask friends and family to spread the word about your book and any related events. Ask for introductions to rainmakers. If you’re a genuine person and people want to help you, this shouldn’t be a problem. If you’ve been a good networker, you have every right to call in favors. But let me warn you, not everyone will be willing to help. If you encounter non-helpful types, chalk it up to selfishness and keep it moving. You don’t need every person to help you, just the right people.

Being a successful author is not an overnight thing. It takes a lot of work and planning. You can’t just write the book and hope the orders will flood in. Be willing to do the work to market and keep the book relevant and you’ll experience success. Don’t rely on big publishing houses. The best strategy is to have an action plan to self publish and work twice as hard to promote and diversify it. Publishing houses won’t teach you that or do it for you. You have to learn it by trial and error. Hopefully, this has given you the tools you need to make it happen. Good luck!

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham
I’m a published author..and I did it all on my own!


Check out my new book Get Recruited: Secrets from a Top Recruiter on Using Unconventional Tactics to Get Noticed in an Inconvenient Economy in paperback or on Kindle!


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Adrienne Graham is the Founder & CEO of Empower Me! Corporation ( She is a strategist that helps people grow their career, business or network in any economy. She is the voice behind Views from the Top Radio Show, and the creative visionary behind Empower Me! Institute and Empower Me! Magazine. Her writing and shows focus on Career Management, Networking Strategies, Entrepreneurial Success and Small Business Management. You can also find her causing a ruckus on 



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  1. Amazing post

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