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I started self-publishing in 2009. Having nonfiction titles is the only reason I'm still self-publishing today.

I don't think there are many writers on KBoards who are doing anything similar, but I wanted to share my strategy because it's been modestly successful and one I think others can emulate. I'm not a full time writer (yet!), but in the last three years, I've only had three months of sales less than $500. The nonprofit books have created a pretty solid floor of revenue for me.

Here's the gift of what I'm doing:

In addition to my fiction, I've made time to publish three "how to" books for nonprofits. This is my professional background and I've had enough experience that I think I have something to offer. I write "little books" (one is about 150 pages, one is 110, and one is 176). They are designed to give the basics of a particular topic for someone who is too busy to read anything more.

For the first two, I basically just uploaded them and let Amazon's algorithms do the work. They performed pretty well. Better in paperback than in ebook form, interestingly. They also don't really stop selling. They don't sell huge numbers of copies, but they never sell none, either. And when they do sell, the revenue is above $6.50 for the paperback and ebook editions. So it's worth it when they do sell. And now that I'm taking marketing for them more seriously, the books are selling better too.

That gives me a floor to my revenue. I mentioned three months where I'd earned less than $500. The lowest of those three months was $416. I sold only 92 copies of my books that month, for an average revenue of $4.52/copy.

In many ways, these books have financed the publication of my fiction, because they give regular (if modest) revenue to support marketing plans for the fiction. If I haven't just had a Bookbub run or some other marketing push for my fiction, that's a pretty common average for me (so far in 2014, it's at $4.55/copy).

But if you're feeling the self-publishing blues, consider writing something informational and helpful. It doesn't have to be about your profession. It could be a how-to about your hobby or something else useful. And it doesn't have to be a mass appeal, either. A narrow focus might help it get noticed by the people who need it most. Small nonprofits is an incredibly niche segment. My social media book is applicable to most businesses, but I kept it tailored to the niche I was writing for instead of throwing it out into the huge segment of social media books for business.

I talk a little bit more about this and other business decisions in writing in an interview on EnterprisingWriter.com (which was picked up by PassiveGuy, yay!) if you want to read a little more about how I balance the fiction and nonfiction: http://enterprisingwriter.com/author-business-interview-1-erik-hanberg/

Anyway, I hope that's food for thought. YMMV but without that modest revenue, I think I would have burned out on self-publishing my fiction years ago.
 

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Interesting, Erik -- thanks for sharing your approach. It sounds like something anyone with salable expertise should consider!
 
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My travel guide, 244 pages, is priced at $19.95.
I make about $15 per book and get paid in 14 days after sale by Amazon.
And Amazon sends me real address of buyer.
 

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Okey Dokey said:
My travel guide, 244 pages, is priced at $19.95.
I make about $15 per book and get paid in 14 days after sale by Amazon.
And Amazon sends me real address of buyer.
How does that work? Are you using Createspace, or are you using them as the warehouse and publishing it elsewhere? I sure wish they would give us emails and addresses... ;D
 
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