Was asked about resources and information about non-Amazon Income and how to generate it. Wrote up a post in reply, so taking portions of it to rewrite them here. Let me start that I don’t know if there’s a lot of best practices talking about this in particular. When it comes to generating direct (or at least, non-retailer) income, I’ve put together a giant list already in a previous post. You can read it here (https://www.mylifemytao.com/business-post-non-amazon-income-sources/) .
I’ll tackle a few that seem to work well and things I know that work and quick takeaways. If people have specific questions on any of these, happy to discuss more in another post.
Youtube Audiobooks and Youtube Channels
Firstly, to make money you need to monetize the channel. To do that, you need a 1000 subscribers and 4000 or so hours watched (or 10 million views for short content). With audiobooks, you’ll hit those hours watched much faster than you’ll get a thousand subscribers. After that, you have to apply, get rejected, send in your copyright information and what not, and FINALLY get approved.
Then, you need to keep posting semi-regularly.
Full audiobooks work best, chapter by chapter doesn’t do much. Income starts small, grows as you get more books.
While you might be selling books ‘cheap’, especially compared to readers; there’s three factors to take into account. First, from what I’ve seen, I’m not impacting my actual sales in Audible or anywhere else. These readers are people who would never have bought my book in the first place. So any money is a net increase.
Second, audiobooks that I transfer over here are not works that are ‘hot’. These are works that I’m taking wide or have taken wide because sales have dropped off significantly in Audible, and as such I’m shifting to a wide sales model to recover even more funds. In many cases, I’ve earned all that I can from being exclusive, this is a case of generating more from different retailers.
Thirdly, there are some knock-on effects on income. I don’t have any numbers to back this up myself, and I haven’t done any math on it, but I’m sure there are a small number of readers who eventually decide to buy. This is not, end of the day, a bad thing.
Oh, and it’s worth noting; if you write a good enough book – there’s no reason people can’t relisten and earn you more advertising income again and again.
Direct Webstore Sales
Direct ads are tricky. They can be good money, but a lot of things I’d recommend for usability or driving traffic (like SEO), well; it’s not really worth it, you know? Quite often, it makes more sense to just write another book than trying to eke out an increase in organic website traffic that converts OR to improve conversion rates by a tiny iota more.
Later on, I think, as web publisher websites grow; that might change. But if your conversion rate is in the 2-3% range; I’d focus your energies elsewhere.
So what have I seen that works:
- Facebook ads driving traffic to individual landing pages selling omnibus’s to an intereted audience. I can say it doesn’t work well if you’re LitRPG (tried, failed. Not trying that again for a bit.). Thriller and romance authors do well using this tactic from what I’ve seen. Think epic fantasy would be fine, maybe military scifi. Dark fantasy for sure.
- Newsletter pushes (get a BIG newsletter list); push people via sales, etc to buy direct. Usually useful around sales / specials.
- Exclusive items on the Shopify store that you can’t get anywhere else. Particularly useful for in-series work like shorts, etc.
- Pre-launch work before exclusivity requirements kick-in. Particularly useful with things like Audiobooks where you can sell for $12.99 and make 98% of the income. Rather than getting say… $4.
- Brand building work from some of the other authors I’ve seen, specially romance; who do a lot of exclusive or special editions on their sites that are different. Sometimes, linking up to TikTok / Instagram / etc.
The biggest issue with individual Shopify stores is training people and getting enough traffic to come. The ONLY one of those that drives NEW traffic is the advertising to drive people over. The rest are using existing traffic sources (newsletters, socials, etc. reaching people you already reach) to get sales.
Not great for new authors.
Subscriptions (Patreon or Ream or what have you)
Here’s a few ways subscription methods have worked well in my view. I’m sure there are others:
- Posts go on a free fiction site (mostly Royal Road and Space Battles, though r/redditserials works a bit too for SciFi Fantasy, WattPad and others are an option for others). Post free work. Direct readers to your subscription site (Patreon, Ream, etc.) for extra free chapters.
- do extra free chapters for on-going series, first drafts, etc. No posting of the work on RR or whatever, just work you’re working on. This works if you’re already successful and have a rabid fan base who want to read ahead. The further ahead you are, the greater the interest.
- Always keep a subscription platform to one series. Shifting around between series often sees subscribers drop-off. It’s very hard to build a subscription base if you do that.
- Make a generic appeal one, do posts about your life. See NK Jemisin, trad pub authors.
Alright, I’ve done quite a few Kickstarter’s. Here’s a super high level summary of what I’ve learnt.
- Pre-launch of new series work well, especially to help pay for editing, cover art, etc.
- You want to start out low for your first Kickstarter, in the $500 or so range. You could go lower, but then it looks strange because $200 is so low, there’s little reason for one to be doing Kickstarter. $500 is a boundary many backers can instinctively feel is something they’d want help on themselves.
- Remember, Kickstarter isn’t a pre-order platform. Don’t imply it is.
- In my experience, roughly 50% of your backers once you hit a decent number will come from Kickstarter. This is particularly true if you get things like ‘Projects We Love’ where Kickstarter offers help
- Digital only rewards are not as popular. Even if you can’t sign the books, consider having physical rewards
- The big money is tapping into existing audiences and making deluxe special editions. New series can do okay, but the real money comes via deluxe. This is a factor of average backer amount. A $5 ebook average backer amount makes you $1000 for 200 backers. If you are selling a deluxe edition at $50, that’s $10,000. A big difference.
Those are the big methods of non-Amazon income, or basically generating direct income. Now, there’s not to say there aren’t others. Licensing for games and comics and all that are a huge area, but I haven’t touched it. Mostly because I have very little knowledge about that area or success. Same with movie and TV options and foreign right sales. For those, you often need an agent (TV agent or foreign rights agent) that can help you with that. Otherwise, you just need to sell enough books that people are coming to you for the rights.
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