The Secret of Six Figure Authors
It happened again.
I read a book on Kindle Unlimited and thought, “I can do that.”
Maybe not better than that, maybe just different. The reason I say not better is because the author has earned six figures so far.
That’s right, 2 months into 2017 and this guy’s raking in 50K a month.
Not too shabby for a writer whose only been at it for just over 12 months.
I found several others who are doing the same, and joined in a group to find out how they did it. What did they write about?
Were they just that good?
Or did they know a secret?
Turns out, they do know a secret, except it’s a sort of well-known process that has been used for over one hundred and fifty years.
What is it?
I’m going to tell you. But first, let me ask you one question.
Why do you want to write a book?
You see, that’s the second most important part. Because if you want to write a book to get into major bookstores and gain critical accolades, and for your mom and dad to be so proud of their little genius, then this might not be right for you.
Those things can happen mind you. As a parent of three, if any of my kids pulled in six figures for making stuff up, I’d be delighted.
And I’m sure my mom and dad who are no longer with us would be so proud of their son who decided to turn a childhood passion into a lucrative career.
But everyone will tell you they have different reasons for why they want to be a successful writer.
There’s the cool cachet, like Hunter S. Thompson or Jack Kerouac.
There’s the I changed my life and want to share it trope, like Wild or Ultramarathon Man.
Then there are the ones you know by name. King. Patterson. Cornwall. Reich’s.
Let me give you a test before we dive into the meat of how to do this.
Name one mid-list author published by a major traditional publisher.
Chances are, you can’t.
You may know someone who’s written a book, popped it up on Amazon and waited for the world to show up on bended knee to proclaim them the next big thing.
It sucks the world doesn’t work like that.
Here is what works.
Do you want to make a living as a writer?
Sit down and make a plan.
Write down your story idea in a very specific genre. Pick Sci Fi, Urban Fantasy, Post-Apocalypse, or a division of romance.
You see if you want to make six figures fast, you need to become a pulp writer.
Pulp writers are the guys who wrote the serials over a hundred years ago, cranking out stories about adventures on the frontier, and then adventures in the West.
Then they moved to mysteries, and thrillers.
There’s a whole evolution of how the writing changed with market tastes, and it’s pretty interesting to read.
But let me give you the elevator pitch.
Find what you like to read, and write in that genre.
Check that off the box. You just made a decision to start on writing as a career.
Now here’s the hard part.
Get on Kindle Unlimited, download 10 books in the genre you want to write in, and read them over the course of one week. One after the other.
Just enjoy them, absorb them and finish up.
Once that’s done, your brain has enough information for the next step.
The next step is write an outline.
Make it 10–20 steps.
Make a main character, and a villain to stop them.
Have a big problem and a little problem.
The outline is how to solve the problem and what the bad guys do to try and stop your hero.
Write 3 of them. 3 outlines about 3 big problems.
Conan the Barbarian is taken slave as a child.
He fights his way to freedom and learns to be a mercenary.
He vows revenge on the men who killed his tribe and trains to be strong enough to beat them.
He hunts the man who killed his father and mother, a powerful warlord allied with an evil wizard.
Bad things happen.
Conan beats the warlord for revenge, but the evil wizard puppet master escapes.
Conan vows to find him.
It’s not quite complete, but you get the idea. Next, think of a sub plot for each story. This is something with a secondary character who also has a goal, a problem, a way to help the hero, and some adversary.
Conan teams up with a thief to learn how to break into places.
It’s a female who he falls in love with, but she’s hunted by a man who claims her as a wife.
She wants to steal a diamond that the warlord took from her village and return it.
The wizard wants her as a concubine, or sacrifice.
All right, outline done on book one. That’s from Robert E. Howard, a prolific pulp fiction writer who created Conan the Barbarian and John Carter of Mars.
You can use him or a dozen other authors as an example, but here’s one of their little secret tips.
Once you write an outline, you have the steps you need to plug and play for each of the novels you write from now on out.
Readers will become familiar with the steps or beats, and will reward you for it with their readership.
With three outlines, you now need to do the hard part.
Sit down and write.
Except it’s not really that hard, it just takes a little of what I call “Ass in seat-edness.”
That means sit down and type the darn thing. SDTDT.
You have your outline, block off an hour or two of quiet time. Write the first chapter from step one in your outline.
Do not edit. Do not stop. Write whatever pops in your mind. Write 1,000–2,500 words. Make a lot of conversation.
Then go to step 2 in your outline and do it again.
It might not be on the same day.
It might be the next day.
I recommend writing on each outline (story) as fast as you can, just cranking through every outlined step for 1,2 and 3.
It might take you a month writing 5k words a day.
It might take you six weeks to get all done.
But you can do it.
Stop watching television.
Get up an hour earlier.
Write on your lunch break at work.
Once you have the first 3 books done, show them to a friend and get their thoughts.
Your friend should be a fan of the genre, and they should be a reader, otherwise you won’t get good feedback.
Then don’t listen to a word they say, except about typo’s and stuff that might not make sense.
Like if you set your story in outer space, but they can breathe.
Does not make sense.
Or your fantasy set a thousand years ago has a laser.
Why wouldn’t you listen to anyone’s advice?
Because most folks know what they like, but don’t know why they like it. It’s the art part of writing.
If you write about a lovelorn Minotaur just dealing with the bull of the world, there are readers who might like it.
How do you find those readers?
Once you get some feedback about your books, go through and do some editing.
Check for spelling and typos.
Read it, maybe move some stuff around.
Whoever said writing is rewriting was wrong.
Writing is writing.
Editing is important, only so much as you want to create a decent product to determine if people will buy it.
Once you find something people like, find a good editor to partner with to make your work pop.
If they buy it, you make a better product.
Plus, the more you write, the faster you write, the better you will get.
So, book 10 will be 10 times better than book 1, as far as writing is concerned.
Your goal is to get to book 10 as fast as you can, with 9 other entertaining books behind it.
Edit your three books.
Order covers made by a pro.
These will run you $50-$200 or more each.
Hint, you can buy a pre-made cover just to test the waters.
A pre-made will look better than what you can do.
If you can’t afford 3 covers at once ($150), then buy them one at a time.
If you say you don’t have money for that, then in the six weeks you are writing your 3 novels, save 20 bucks a week into a mason jar. Now you have cash for covers.
Make it 25 a week and you can throw some promo money behind it.
Alright, now you have 3 books in your genre, ready to pop.
There are all sorts of ways to find new readers, get your book in front of new eyeballs, but let’s just follow what’s worked in the past for the guys making six figures that you’ve never heard of.
1. upload book 1 to Amazon and put it in Kindle Unlimited.
You’ll earn money every time someone buys your book, and every time someone reads it on Kindle.
I wake up every day to thousands of pages read overnight.
That’s money I earn while I sleep. You can earn money while you sleep too.
Pick great categories.
Pick great keywords
Write an incredible blurb that you take your time to put together and use it. If it takes you a day or two to get the blurb right, the time is worth it.
2. Upload book 2 to Amazon and put it in Kindle Unlimited.
Repeat the steps from above.
3. Upload book 3 to Amazon and put it in Kindle Unlimited.
Repeat the steps again.
It takes about 24 hours for books to populate to Amazon.
Here’s what you do in those 24 hours.
Think of something from book 1 and write a 10k short story about it.
This could be the attack on the village that sent Conan to slavery.
It could be how Conan learned to use a certain weapon.
What it is about is backstory that you touched on in book one, but didn’t explore.
Write it as fast as you can, do a pass on editing, spell check and make it good. Get a quick cover, that looks like your others.
Now put a link from book one to the short story in the front and back matter of books 1–3.
If someone likes how you write, they can join your mailing list and get that short book for free.
Go put that book up on Instafreebie as a giveaway for signing up to your mailing list.
There are books about how to launch, and move your stuff higher in the ranks that you can read, but there are so many little steps you can do, it’s easy to fall into paralysis analysis.
Don’t do that.
The best way to launch a book is to get it out there for people to find.
Then write more books.
You won’t make any money with a book no one knows about, but you won’t make much more than that with just one book.
If you want to make six figures, you need to write like your financial life depended on it.
Got books 1- 3 up and your short on Instafreebie?
Use free Days on Book 1 in KDP to reach more readers. Book some promotions behind it, and find readers.
Build up your email list.
Write outlines for books 4,5,6.
Write those books over the next six weeks, launching as each is complete, edited with great covers.
You should set a target income goal for each book per month, and promote to reach that goal. You can use ads, or newsletter swaps, or Facebook posts to reach readers.
But the best way to reach new readers and move up to a six-figure income is to use the ancient secret of pulp writers everywhere.
Write more books.
Then write more.
And when you’re done with that, write again.
Once you have six to ten books in a series, you can switch genres, or break off a secondary character and give them their own set of books and adventures.
What will happen is a reader will find book 1, like it, and keep going through each book you have written in the series, sometimes all in a weekend.
And that can happen no matter what genre you choose to write in. Some are better than others, less crowded.
Some are easier, especially if you have a skill set to pull it off.
But the key is to never stop writing.
If you don’t think you can crank out 10 novels in a series, then crank out 10 short stories that all lead up to the novel, then launch the novel.
Then build a series behind it.
There are more readers for your novel than your short stories though.
There are a ton of ways to monetize your writing once you have enough of it published, and I’ll put up some articles about just how to do that so you can make the money you need to call it a career.
Don’t stop writing.
I can’t wait to see what you do next.
Chris Lowry is the author of 3 series on Amazon in different genres. Battlefield Z is post-apocalyptic Sci-fi, the Shadowboxer series in Thrillers, and he has just launched a new series in Urban Fantasy about the Marshal of Magic where he used these exact steps to double his monthly revenue.
You can get a free copy of Wizard at War on Chrislowrybooks.com which will make you think to yourself, “I can do better than that.”