Millennial pensioner made $97,000 last year from 2 books on Amazon
In 2017, at age 24, Rachel Richards had already worked as a financial advisor and then as a financial analyst in a manufacturing company. After getting her license, she started working as a real estate agent. No matter what kind of work she did, one thing remained constant: the people in her life constantly turned to her for help with their finances.
“I started thinking, ‘Why don’t they learn on their own? Why don’t they read books or listen to podcasts or check websites?’ “says Richards, now 30.
Then she realized that most of the financial books she found were boring and esoteric, bordering on intimidating. And few were aimed at young women. “So I was like, ‘How can I make this topic sassy and fun and simple? “”
Richards began writing her first book, “Money Honey” in January 2017 and self-published on Amazon in September. By just about any measure, it was a huge hit. In its first month, the book made $600. The following month, it brought in $1,000. “After that, it was bringing in $1,500 a month pretty consistently,” she says.
That same year, Richards had begun building a successful real estate business. Soon, the income from his rental properties will allow him to retire in 2019 at the age of 27.
The solid income she had from publishing didn’t hurt. In total, through the end of July 2022, Richards has sold approximately 25,000 copies of “Money Honey” and his second self-published book, “Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement,” a 2019 release that details his retirement strategies. anticipated.
In 2021, royalties from both titles brought Richards over $97,000 in profit. Here’s how she did it.
She self-publishes online
Richards, like many aspiring authors, dreamed of seeing his name printed through the window of his local bookstore. She also hoped that with a traditional book deal, the publisher would take care of the laborious task of promoting the book. This turned out not to be the case.
“The more I asked authors about their experience, the more I learned that publishers expect you to do 99% of the marketing and promotion,” says Richards. “If you’re an author without a platform, they won’t send you on a national book tour.”
Once she learned that she would have to whip the book herself no matter what, Richards was much less inclined to give a publisher a large portion of her royalties. “When you get a book deal, you earn a 10% to 15% royalty. When you post on Amazon, you earn a 35% to 70% royalty.” (Royalty structures vary for different formats, such as e-books and paperbacks, and take into account costs such as shipping and taxes.)
She also says that self-publishing guarantees creative control, even if it comes at a cost. Thinking his book wouldn’t sell and hoping to cut his losses, Richards spent just $561 to hire an editor and cover designer for “Money Honey.” She says a more “realistic” minimum budget is at least $2,000 and should ideally also include an inside trainer. She spent $3,500 to put together her second book.
Self-publishing on Amazon has also given Richards the ability to offer her books in different formats for different types of readers. These days, the e-book version of “Money Honey” sells for $9.99, the paperback costs $15.99, and the audiobook costs $17.46.
She launched her book strategically
While reading books about self-publishing, it became clear to Richards that she would need a launch team—a group of dedicated supporters who would buy and champion her book. But in 2017, she didn’t have much of a social media following or email client list.
But she was involved in several Facebook groups filled with young women. “Here, there were 13 million millennial women. The groups weren’t necessarily financial, but I would go on to say, ‘My name is Rachel. I am a former financial advisor. Here’s what I think,'” she said. After a while, she says, Richards became the go-to person in groups for financial advice. “These Facebook groups have really helped me build my credibility with these women.”
Richards began to introduce the idea that she was working on a book. She asked her fellow band members to vote on potential titles and cover designs. “They got emotionally invested,” she says. “They were my informal launch team.”
Once the book was published, Richards began interacting one-on-one with anyone and everyone she thought might be interested in the book. “I would personally message people and say, ‘Hey, it’s out. Could you go download it?'” she says. “I sent hundreds of emails. I texted every contact on my phone. I was really aggressive.”
His other big request, in addition to downloads: Reviews. “Getting reviews early on is as important as getting sales,” Richards said. “Amazon will put your book in front of more organic people if they see you have lots of reviews and activity.”
After its first days on the market, Richards’ book had 60 reviews.
She found a market niche
Even with a strong launch, Richards doesn’t think her book would have enjoyed sustained sales if it hadn’t filled a particular niche in the market. “You have to have a unique value proposition. Why would anyone buy my book out of the thousands that already exist?” she says. “To me, at the time, there weren’t a lot of books that made finance funny – that had humor and were sassy and sarcastic. It was a lot of old white man books.”
Richards also made sure his book was available and priced attractively to different types of readers. Initially, this meant a five-day launch period during which the book could be downloaded digitally for free. “It’s worth forgoing some of the benefits to get the book into more people’s hands,” says Richards. “Then you go to $0.99, $1.99 and so on.”
Richards has played around with pricing over the years to see how it affected profitability, but has always kept an eye on competitors. “I’ve always wanted my price to be a little lower. If [a competitor’s book] is $6.99, I intuitively want to be $5.99.”
After some recent price changes, Richards now earns the biggest royalty – $6.68 – on sales of e-book versions of “Money Honey.” She earns $6.39 on paperbacks and $4.31 per audiobook. (The profits on the sales of his second book are similar.)
Pricing tactics aside, Richards attributes the continued success of his books to the service they provide to readers. “I posted thinking that if I could help one person, I would be happy,” she says. “And then about six months after I posted, I started getting emails from strangers and random people all over the country.”
The readers had repaid their student loans. They had paid off their credit card debt. People have told Richards that the book has changed their lives. Richards had only spent $75 advertising her book, and here he was making more than she ever planned.
“I thought it must have been word of mouth,” she says. “And if it helps people like that, I must have written something good.”
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