This is How to Make $100k / Year of Passive Income as a Writer

This is How to Make $100k / Year of Passive Income as a Writer
Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Many people claim to have THE recipe for how to make money as a writer.

Most of those tactics involve a lot of luck or writing stuff, you don’t enjoy — such as copywriting for big companies.

But there’s another way. With this tactic, you only have to work hard for 3 years ON AVERAGE and make $100K of passive income for the rest of your life.

Most writers don’t write for the money. If you do, stop it. It’s bullshit. There are so many easier ways to make more money faster.

Also read: We Need to Stop Writing for Algorithms and Start Writing for People Again — Here’s How

Also Read: How I made $0 From Writing In 30 Days

But if you love writing, making money with it, is a nice extra. And it will free up time for more writing and other things you enjoy.

If you love writing, you will most likely not stop after 3 years, even when you make enough money by then. You’ll get addicted. And that’s a good thing. But you’ll also be able to quit your day job, focus on writing and don’t have to worry, that you can’t support your family.

Okay, enough said. Ready for the big reveal?

Here it is:

To make $100k / year from your books, you have to publish 33 books — on average.

How to do it? Write 1 book a month for the next 3 years.

Sounds crazy? Well, it isn’t. I’ll show you, how to do it, while having a full-time job, a family and a life.

It’s not about churning out 150k words each month to publish epic full-blown novels. Nobody ain’t got time for that.

The secret? Publish. Shorter. Books.

We live in an age of short attention spans. Most people don’t have the time and patience to pick up a 300 page novel.

„Good things, when short, are twice as good.“ — Baltasar Gracian

Let’s keep it real for a second:

  • For fiction writers: Are you sure, that it takes 100k words to tell a good story?
  • For non-fiction writers: Why do you read non-fiction books? Do you want to pass time, or do you want a solution to a problem?

Writing shorter books is better for both, the reader and the writer.

„One of my books took more than a year to write, ten hours a day. Another took three weeks. Both sell for the same price.

The quicker one outsold the other 20 to 1. A $200 bottle of wine costs almost exactly as much to make as a $35 bottle of wine.

The cost of something is largely irrelevant, people are paying attention to its value.

Your customers don’t care, what it took for you to make something.

They care about what it does for them.“ — Seth Godin

Also read: Don’t Start A Side-Hustle Until You Understand This — Your Side-Hustle Is Worthless Unless You Get This Right

Why shorter books are better

  • It’s easier to attract new readers. They only have to invest $0.99 and one hour of their time in your work vs. $10 and 10 hours, that a full-blown book would cost them.
  • You can publish more books in more niches and explore, what works, and what doesn’t.
  • It takes you only one year to go through the plot-write-edit-publish-promote cycle 12 times. For traditional authors, this takes decades. You learn faster.
  • You can cross-promote your books and reach a broader audience.
  • Readers will actually finish your book.
  • You can try different genres and different styles. This will help you, find your voice and discover, what works best for you.
books, christmas tree, make money writing
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Why you should write a book a month — no matter the outcome

Let’s forget about money for a moment.

You want to be a writer, right? A writer writes.

Most people, who say, they want to be writers, never finish their first book.

They get stuck and frustrated.

I went through this process a thousand times:

  1. I started a novel.
  2. The doubt crept in.
  3. I came to the conclusion, that the plot wasn’t thick enough, the story wasn’t original enough, that I wasn’t good enough.
  4. I quit.

The moment, everything changed for me and my writing, was the day, when I stopped trying to write a novel and decided to write a short story instead — or ten. I reminded myself of this famous advice, Charles Bukowski gave to aspiring writers:

„Write a short story a week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.“ - Charles Bukowski

And started to write short stories.

In the beginning, I was a little afraid, that I would „waste“ a whole year writing „only“ short stories. Writing short stories wasn’t worth-while in my eyes, because nobody bought them. But I reminded myself, that I’ve already wasted many years trying to write a novel. After those many years, I only had about 30 failed attempts. After this year, I’d have at least 52 short stories. 52 finished pieces.

„The road to hell is paced with works-in-progress.“ — Philip Roth

That’s the secret: Every writer must get in the habit of finishing, what he or she started.

We need to learn to finish pieces. We need to get used to the whole process of telling a story, not only the beginning.

This is, why it’s great to write shorter stories. And while it was close to impossible to sell short stories a few years ago, now there’s Amazon.

How to make money selling short books

Did you know, that 72% of authors making more than $100K / month are ONLY self-published? 28% have both a traditional publisher and self-published pieces. 0% only have a traditional publishing deal.

Source: WrittenWordMedia

Nobody expects you to get a publishing deal with your 50–100 page book. Actually, nobody expects you to get a publishing deal, period.

Publishing deals are for people, who already built a huge audience. And they do more harm than good. You still have to do the promo yourself. The only difference is that you have to share your earnings.

There has never been a better time to be a writer than today.

We can give the gate-keepers of the publishing industry the finger and publish a book from our couch.

We can talk about what we love online and build an audience all over the world.

We can chat with other writers on other continents.

Editors and designers are only a click away.

And research became as fast as googling „How does a drowned body look after two weeks?“.

And we have the „short reads“ section on Amazon. It contains e-books with 1 to 100 pages. With 250–300 words per page, a hundred pages are about 25.000–30.000 or — if you want to write a book each month — 1.000 words per day.

Also Read: How I made $0 From Writing In 30 Days

Ebooks are the future, whether we like it or not. As a reader, you might prefer paper, but as a writer, you should go all-in on e-books.

Source: Statista

Let’s do some math

How many books do you have to sell each month to make $100k / year?

If you want to sell on Amazon, sell your books for $2.99.

This is a fair price point for a short, yet invaluable book.

The thing with selling eBooks on Amazon is that if you price your eBook between $2.99 and $9.99, you get 70% in royalties. If it’s cheaper (e.g. $0.99) or more expensive, you’ll only get 35%.

With a price point of $2.99 and 70% royalties, you make about $2 per sale.

To make $100.000 / year, you have to sell 50.000 books, which equals to 50.000/12 = 4.667 books per month.

After the first year, you’ll have 12 books published. To make $100k with those 12 books, you’d need to sell 348 copies of each book each month.

After the second year, you’ll have 24 books published. To make $100k with those 24books, you’d need to sell 174 copies of each book each month.

After the third year, you’ll have 36 books published. To make $100k with those 36 books, you’d need to sell 116 copies of each book each month.

According to statista, US-Americans bought 335.7 million e-books in 2019.

Action Plan:

  1. Pick 3–4 genres to write in for the next 12 months. You could write in 12 different genres, of course. But writing more books about one topic makes it easier to cross-promote them.
  2. Research topics for 12 books. Check the bestselling books on Amazon or use more traditional keyword research (esp. for non-fiction).
  3. Make a plan on how much and when exactly you want to work on your writing. I suggest one hour of writing and one hour of editing, marketing etc . But your schedule is different from mine. Some of you will have more time than that, some will have less. You might want to work 8 hours each sunday, and 1 hour each morning. Do whatever works for you.
  4. Flesh out your first book. It doesn’t matter which day of the month it is. Start today. Research, what others have written about (and what they forgot). Decide, how many chapters you want, braindump ideas, collect them, sort them, make up characters, map out your plot. Do whatever it takes to come up with an outline of your first book.
  5. Start writing.

Bonus tip: You don’t actually have to publish 33 individual books. What you need are 33 products on Amazon. This includes audio books, translations of your books and box sets. So you might only have to write 25 books to reach your goal.

This post was inspired by: Michelle Kulp — 28 Books to $100K. It’s one of the most actionable, and therefore most valuable non-fiction books, I’ve ever read. And it’s only 100 pages long. Read it.

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Med student by day, writer by night.

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Charly Hanx

Charly Hanx

Med student by day, writer by night.

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