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A look at career options: Writing books

A book that someone has written
Open book with glasses on top.

As of 2020 I have written four short books. Books are not a significant part of my income but I have still made some money as an author. Here are my experiences.

Writing with eye tracking

I cannot type with my hands so I write books by using eye tracking. When I look at letters and words on the screen the eye tracking software types them.

Each word may take between two and ten seconds to type. This is with using word prediction.

Sometimes typing sessions can be four hours long. I don't know how healthy this is, using eye tracking for long periods can negatively impact your eye health. I hope that I don't go blind later in life.

During four hours I could type between 300 and 700 words depending on the amount of research is required. For books I have primarily written about my own experiences and opinions so don't do much research.

It's also slow to edit the manuscripts because I can't accurately move the mouse with my hand. I probably spend 10% of my writing time editing.

Self publishing

For my first book I self published it using the Amazon Kindle system. I didn't earn the minimum amount required to get paid but switched to a publisher.

I didn't get my book professionally edited. My self-designed book cover was called "amateurish". I didn't care as I'm not an artist.

For my forth book which I self published some graphic designers helped me out. I took a photo with a home green screen in the background.

An advantage of using Kindle Direct Publishing is that it has a low barrier to entry.

Getting a publisher

I worked with a publisher on three books. They edited my books and did professional covers. I guess this meant that I could charge more for them.

Physical copies were helpful for selling offline.

Any income I got was through selling the book myself. This wasn't what I had in mind when I entered a publishing agreement. The publisher was decent enough to end the agreement and assign me the publishing rights back at no cost.

Another good thing about a publisher is that they could act as a check on your work. Another option would be to get an editor.

My publisher and myself mutually ended the arrangement in 2020. I later self published a forth book.

Personal brand

I don't want to build a personal brand. I believe that I could have sold more books if I nurtured my personal brand more.

If you have a large following it could definitely assist with sales. It could be worthwhile to to pick a career in the public eye such as stand up comedy or a career as a YouTube personality then write a book. I would write a book at the start of the career so when you get more established you can promote the book.

Education

Courses and workshops exist for book writing. I didn't participate in these but it could be helpful.

If you don't want to pay for education you may find some helpful videos on YouTube.

If you need to practice your writing you could try writing articles and/or blogs for a period before you start your book. You don't have to be a professional writer but I believe that it's worthwhile to have writing experience.

Work involved

First you need something to write about. This could be a nonfiction topic or some genre of fiction.

I would then do an outline. My outlines are just chapter headings and occasionally a few phrases beside the headings to describe things that I want to mention within them. If you're pitching to a publisher they may expect a more detailed outline plus some sample chapters.

If you're writing fiction you may want to write biographies for characters too.

If you're writing nonfiction you may want to do some research both before and after writing the outline.

If you're not self publishing you may want to pitch to publishers before writing the book.

Once you've prepared it's time to write the book. This can be 35,000-60,000 words but mine were 10,000 words. I can't find a minimum word count for Amazon Kindle.

Many writers would rewrite the manuscript at least twice.

After the book is written you then would create a cover or pay someone to do it for you.

Now it's time to do editing. You might want to pay someone to do this.

You might want to seek feedback on your work and do additional edits before you publish.

If you're self publishing with an online platform you would need to format everything correctly and publish it on their platform. You will probably have to write a book description too. You might also want to look into getting an I.S.B.N. (International Standard Book Number) too.

Finally it's time to promote the book to your audience.

Buying your book in bulk and selling them yourself may increase your profits.

You may want to do book signing events. Once could be a party at your house.

Marketing

You will probably have to do marketing regardless of whether you're self or traditionally published. You can take advantage of free and/or paid marketing options.

For my forth book I posted in several Facebook groups; I didn't make any sales.

You can also send your book to influencers and reviewers.

Ghost writers

Ghost writers can be expensive. A 35,000 word book at $0.35 per word is $12,250. I wouldn't get a book ghost written unless I was rich and had 20,000 followers or more.

Bestselling books

Some authors of bestselling books just buy lots of their books to get on the best seller list. You probably wouldn't have the money to do this.

Would I recommend book writing as a career?

It depends. If you just want to write about your own experiences and thoughts but do not have a big following then you may be better off with another career. If you have the time to write a book and really want to do it then go ahead.

If you focus on fiction books then you may have some success, but I wouldn't count on a bestselling author title.

Writing books could be a good supplement to a career. I used to sell books at stand up comedy shows and mention my book every time I went on stage. If you're a performer of any kind and/or have a YouTube channel then book sales could be another source of income.

Writing a book can be a good way to build credibility in an industry. Research and qualifications may be critical to make a book successful.

My plan for books

I plan to eventually launch some fiction books; I've started writing the first. I don't currently have time to continue the project but may pick it up in future.

I was planning to write a fifth nonfiction book but I was deeply disappointed in the sales of the forth book. I may do it at a random time but it's not a priority.




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