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Blogging for Money By Self Publishing a Book

Posted By Darren Rowse 10th of August 2006 Blogging for Dollars 0 Comments

Thumbnail-CoverMarti Lawrence from Enter the Laughter has emailed me to tell me of a new money making venture he’s been experimenting with – self publishing a book.

The book – Queen Klutz – is a collection of humorous and inspirational stories which fits pretty well with Marti’s blog.

She’s chosen to publish it through Lulu where it’s available either for download or print.

I’ll be interested to follow how sales go as its a good example of someone attempting to find indirect ways of making money from blogging.

I think the key for success with the blog/book approach is to build a readership on your blog first and then to do some clever cross promotion. I’ve seen a few people attempt to launch books and blogs at the same time and I’m not sure that it’s worked too well.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. There are a lot of poeple creating books with long long sales letters to sell them but it would be great to see more book/websites like seobook.com which is a book that has a weblog and services as a supporting cast to sell the book. Right now almost everything that is self published online seems to be internet marketing type publications of one kind or another

  2. I think that’s a ‘she’ by the way. Sorry! :)

  3. Bill – unfortunately Aaron’s seobook.com does have one of those looong sales pitch pages, but take that away and he’s been a real innovator with his approach.

    And ooh Darren, this post is right down my alley – making money indirectly via blogging.

    I think it’s going to catch on – big time, but then I’m biased :-)

    Good luck to Marti and I’ll definately be watching.

  4. I tried this approach last year, with little success. Part of it was due to my blog having a low readership in the first place. The question is, for all those who think it’s a good idea, do you actually buy these types of books?

    I released a short story collection last year and it sold five copies. I was thinking of redoing the book and doing more marketing, but I’m not so sure whether people would be buying it, or not.

  5. I went the other way, self-publishing a book first (not an e-book either), then started a blog. Man, if I knew then what I know now. The book was a money loser, the blog a money maker (BTW, thanks Darren!). I’m glad Marti is going the Lulu route, rather than investing 20K in a book!

    The good news is that my blog revenue has really taken off, and I may have never gotten here without first tackling the book. My main blog started out as a way to market my book, but I quickly saw that the blog had a lot of potential all by itself.

  6. I currently have two books on LULU…one has sold 20 copies during the summer, but it’s a very small niche in skin care. The other not so well…I’m hoping time and energy pay off.

    One of the things I wasn’t prepared for and am learning big time is learning how to promote my product and how to market it. I’m sending off postcards and letters to schools, press releasing and more, but it’s a slow process. I love the journey and learning process, but I think somebody who doesn’t have thick skin might become discouraged. Many people think they will write it and people will come running…doesn’t happen like that!

    I hope Marti does well and hoping for continued success myself as well~
    here’s the link for the book… for those interested:

  7. Never heard of Lulu before now. Thank you kindly.

  8. In my opinion, the KING of this approach is David St. Lawrence of a blog called Ripples (www.making-ripples.com). He self published a book called Danger Quicksand a couple years ago and has done very well with it by promoting it through his blog and other means.

  9. I’m not sure if a successfull blog = a successfull book. I think a lot has to do with the subject matter.

    Although I do know of a guy who has a hilarious website/blog and when his book was released, it shot to number 1 on Amazon.com.

    The thing people need to remember about publishing books is that you have to market them like crazy, just to get a few sales. So then you have to market your book some more, and more, and more. It’s a neverending process. There are too many books out there and not enough readers. It takes A LOT to get noticed these days.

    My blog deals a lot with publishing, so I’m a little long-winded on this issue. Sorry.

  10. Any recommendations for self-publishing resources? I mean, there’s always PDF, but if there was some software for the layout and design…?

  11. I am considering self-publishing a book about poetry, bullfighting and money making. Apparently, it was too difficult to fit into existing categories so many publishers rejected the idea :)

    Kidding aside, I looked into Lulu, if I remember right you can get the cost of one book as low as $2-3, especially for highly specialized books it is an opportunity to cut the middle man and make some money.

  12. #10 – we generate pdf guidebooks – generate the content on-the-fly from the database using PHP & fPDF – a free pdf class more info on fPDF here: http://www.fpdf.org/ . If you’re looking for desktop tools – Both pagemaker and Quark are good and can output the design as a PDFs — as can Word.

  13. Seems to me if the person or group is already well known, then the book/blog combo coming in fresh has a better chance of making it.

    One of our group wrote an e-book and stuck it on a page of its own. It cleared US$800 the first month. Maybe US$800 a month isn’t a great deal of money, but it’s a start. Especially for a book and blog page just sitting there.

  14. As someone who has published of 4 books (during the past 7 years) with major publishing houses, who’s had a blog for 2 years, I sell very few of my books through my blog (according to the Amazon Associates reports). My site gets about 5k visitors/day. Most of my sales, I guess, are elsewhere. Recently, there have been a few bloggers getting book contracts, but it’ll be interesting to see if the people who are reading their blog (for free) and gonna plunk down some cash for their book.

    (As the previous comment noted, someone made $800 a month, which I would be thrilled to pull in. I guess I should keep reading Darren’s blog for tips!)

    Let’s say your blog gets 1k readers/day, or 30k/month. If 5% of those people buy your book, that’s very few book sales. So any book should appeal to people who don’t read your blog as well. It’s much harder to get people to pull out their wallets than it is to get them to visit your blog. Trust me. I know very few published authors making enough money to live on via their books alone.

  15. true true – I guess all I was meaning was that if you want to sell blogs as a result of your blog you’ll need a sizeable and established readership to do it. Otherwise you’re just like every other writer out there competing on the same level.

  16. Well, Marti’s got onto Problogger, as well as our The Money Blog, so she’s off to a good start.

    As it happens, I’ve got two books coming up for publication, one a group project and one of my own. We have websites for both, but as they won’t be out till next year, the blogs are quiet. You have to be quite smart here — long subtitles packed with keywords help electronic sales via Amazon etc, but you must get an ISBN ($99 on Lulu now). The best thing of all though is to send a large number of review copies to influential newspapers and people. There are quite a few bloggers who might review it for you.

    Finally, if all else fails, there’s always the Joe Vitale approach. But you’ll need to be strong for that!

  17. This is how many cartoonists/illustrators make money off their websites, but I’ve yet to here of any that have done really, really well out of it. As has been said above, they tend to just sit there and the money trickles in slowly – Christmas is usually a good time though. A book of cartoons often makes a good stocking stuffer.

  18. WriterBabe says: 08/10/2006 at 9:55 pm

    I think it’s wonderful to have the wherewith all to write, publish and promote your own book, frankly, whether or not it sells a single copy. I agree that no one will buy the milk if they can get the cow for free – and with so many cows (um, blogs) out there, I’m not sure that someone writing a book and abandoning the blog would have the staying power to have people running to the website or the bookstore.

    I have a blog, and am writing a book. I would feel disloyal to my blog readers if I only used that old blog to sell the book. A new blog or site will be developed to promote the book.

    But again, I think Marti has moxie!

  19. Darren:

    I wrote an article a few years ago entitled, “The Truth About Writing & Using E-Books to Promote Your Freelance Business.” Although it addresses promoting a freelance business, this phrase can be substitued with anything, eg, “promote your blog.” The issues discussed within are pertinent to any venture you are trying to promote via an e-book.

    The article can be accessed at this link:
    http://inkwelleditorial.com/ArticleBank/blackonebooks.htm. I write to educate, so if you think it worthwhile, feel free to pass it along to your readers.

    As always, your space is a very informative read. Picking up tidbits her and there from you and your readers has been invaluable for me in my business.

    Yuwanda Black, Publisher

  20. Thank you all for your comments. Special appreciation to Darren and John for helping me to promote this project.

    Although many of the stories in the book have been posted on my blog, I get new blog readers every day, and many don’t investigate the archives. Even those who have been regular readers from the beginning (I’ve been blogging since January 2005) may have missed a story or two. The book also contains newspaper articles, which were not posted at the blog, and original material which was never published anywhere else.

    I agree that building an audience through the blog first was critical. I wouldn’t have attempted to start a blog and try to sell a book from it immediately.

    I’ve really enjoyed the process at Lulu. There is no initial cost to the author. A Word Document (properly formatted to the book size) is submitted and they do a conversion to PDF at no charge. The print-ready PDF is then viewed by the author to check for any errors. If changes are required they are easy to make by discarding the current PDF and making adjustments to the Word document, then sending it through the conversion again. When satisfied, the PDF is approved, and cover art submitted. Again, a print ready PDF is offered for approval. A few other settings are selected, and then the book can be purchased by the author at the cost-to-print price. If the printed version looks good, the author approves for sale to the public. The author keeps all copyrights, and can set their own royalty.

    Sales can be made through the Lulu storefront at no additional charge, but to distribute to Amazon and bookstores, the author must purchase an ISBN and bar code, which cost $99 through Lulu. The author can purchase these directly through Bowker Services, but the cost ends up being almost identical, and doesn’t include Lulu’s other Global Distribution services.

    Marketing for a self-publisher is as much work as writing and formatting – LOL

    I have sent out several letters to blog friends, and was blessed to have Darren and John agree to mention the book. Jeremy Wright has also agree to advertise it on B5 Media for me, and I am awaiting reply from a few others.

    I’m a little disappointed that it doesn’t appear anyone who commented has purchased the book (Is guilt a viable marketing tool? LOL) Lulu does not give authors specific information on buyers, only the numbers of units sold, which is updated each time another sale happens. So far I’ve sold about half a dozen. I will continue to promote the book through various methods, and am planning on ordering a few copies (I have a very limited budget) to send to professional reviewers. I am a very persistent person, and an optimist, so I won’t give up on this!

    Again, thank you all for your comments. It’s great to hear what other bloggers think!

    Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

  21. Let me add Marti writes extremely well and I’ll be buying and reading it for sure.

    Ijust finishing copyedits on my second commercially published book (and Marti is in it), and selling a commercially published book, regardless of the publisher, is the same. They basically get it into bookstores (very helpful), Amazon, etc, but promoting it and getting it to sell is YOUR job!

  22. Darren, you’re sure to have already read this article, but I’ll place it here as it goes with this subject and others may want take it in.

    Flogging vs Blogging – blogs and books

  23. […] Update: Here’s a good link with some interesting comments courtesy of the ever helpful Petrona […]

  24. “Blogging for Money By Self Publishing a Book”
    It is called “BLOOK”

  25. Any recommendations for self-publishing resources? I mean, there’s always PDF, but if there was some software for the layout and design…?

  26. I am promoting this book First lady president which is definitely worth looking into,in which It is a fictional take on a US presidential election campaign featuring a female candidate . It is a story of how such a figure might emerge as the first ever serious

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