How can I make a living out of writing and publishing online books?

I want to make a living out of publishing online. I have what it takes -- passion, talent, and content. I'm just not familiar with the ins and outs of the trade: - How do I market successfully? -Which platforms should I post on? -Where do I go to promote my books? My books will mainly deal with a wide variety of non-fiction topics, revolving around the humanities and arts. In general, if I'm interested in something, I write about it.


Hi there,
A good question to consider is this: are people willing to pay to read what you want to write? Do your interests represent a big enough "market" to create and sustain a livelihood? People who make a living out of publishing online seem to have one thing in common: they figure out where their interests intersect with other people's interests. I'm not talking about generating a ton of link bait. I'm talking about finding a hungry crowd. You can sell a world-class hamburger in a vegetarian neighborhood and still go out of business. You can publish excellent articles and blog posts on the arts and humanities, and still make no money. Here's some practical advice for finding your hungry crowd(s): Go to Do some research. Identify the writers who are already publishing on the subjects that interest you. What kind of following have they built up? How many recommends do their stories get on average? Which stories are their most popular? What's their strategy? Do their stories route readers to an external blog or website? Can you figure out how they are making money? If you do "competitive analysis" on two to three dozen arts & humanities writers, then you'll notice some patterns. You'll notice that some topics sell better than others. Or some stylistic elements or flourishes have enabled certain writers to build an audience quickly. Use your analysis to reverse engineer your audience. You can't make a living publishing online until you have an audience. Lastly, watch this video, and pay attention to the part at the end about left-handed vampire movies:

Hope this helps,

Answered 9 years ago

Definitely start out by doing some thorough research on your market to make sure you'll have a sizable audience. You can also build a landing page for your book *before* you write it, to gauge interest and price sensitivity. Include an image of the book cover, a description of its content, and a Buy Now button, which when clicked shows a message saying "Thanks for your interest! XYZ book isn't available for purchase yet, but enter your email here and we'll let you know as soon as it's ready."

That way you're able to get an initial sense of conversion rate from page viewers to purchases, and you can also A/B test the page with different price points to see how much people are willing to pay for your content.

If there's enough interest, go ahead and start writing! If not, you just saved yourself a good deal of time, and perhaps you can try another topic.

Answered 9 years ago

I recommend you use your writing to build your brand, business and reputation as a writer. Specifically, a program like "The New About Me" from Get Storied, an online storytelling business, is an e-course that teaches you how to use storytelling in an About Me page, bio, and in your writing in general to leverage your passions into liveable incomes. I consider your personal story, articulated on a personal website, where you can share your writing in a single place (for starters) to be the very best way to leverage your words into income. Check out: Full disclosure: I am a consultant with Get Storied but was customer of their program first, and don't receive any commissions or anything for recommending them :)

Answered 9 years ago

My suggestion is to get focused. What's one thing you're ok with sticking with for a while? That will help you make the most of any audience you build. Otherwise, you'll be starting from scratch with each new book (or whatever else you create).

Answered 9 years ago

I've published 4 books (Wiley) and sold around 100,000 copies total. There is a reason why publishers ask you for your sales and marketing plan for your book before they publish it... you have to have a platform to sell to. A built in audience.

It is almost impossible to sell any copies of a book from someone that doesn't have a following, let alone make a living from it.

There is no quick fix/tool. You need to create a following/audience based on your subject expertise. I'm not talking about a Twitter following, but a reading following. Do you currently have a site/blog? You need a way to capture readers email addresses and build and nurture that list. If you don't you can use a place like Medium to start posting and put out consistent quality writing, but make sure they have a place to go to at the end to sign-up to hear more from you.

Answered 9 years ago

The principles of book marketing are very simple. Understand that your goal is to write a book that people will recommend via word of mouth. That's the only effective book marketing. Writing a great book people will talk about.

The questions you need to answer are:

1) What type of people -- get as specific as possible -- will want to buy your book?
2) Where do these people congregate? (online, in-person, etc.)
3) How can you get the book in front of them?
4) What resources do you already have at your disposal (social media, professional network, family, friends, etc.) -- and how can you get your book in front of them?

Before you start, test your idea. Find the audience you want to reach, and write an article, forum post, email -- whatever gets you in front of them. Do you get an emotional response? If yes, continue. If no, tweak or try something else.

Answered 8 years ago

I have a few links you can look at that will help you. I post a lot of YouTube videos on my Author Journey channel that answer these types of questions.

This link will help you learn the basics of where you can publish your books:

This link will talk a little bit about building an email list and focus on one way you can grow it quickly to help you promote your books:

This link will discuss the option of outsourcing content to ghostwriters while writing your own books:

Since you enjoy writing non-fiction, you might consider studying popular niches and hiring a ghostwriter on to write books for you at an affordable rate. You pay a one-time fee and get the rights to the book, then you publish it under your name or a pen name. It's a great way to publish more books while you're in the process of writing your own.

Keep in mind that people enjoy short non-fiction guides. Thirty-fifty pages of information is about the right size for a non-fiction book these days so consider a series of books n one niche covering a specific aspect of the topic you've chosen rather than having a 350 page book on the topic.

We like to devour info, but preferably in bite-sized chunks. Let me know if you have anymore questions that I can help you with.

Answered 7 years ago

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