How To Make Over A Million Dollars in 18 Months with eBooks

Yep.  Did it, done it, got the t-shirt and the bank statements.  Actually, we are on our way to 2 now.

As my character in my next book to be published, Nightstalkers: Area 51 says:  Been everywhere but the electric chair, seen everything but the wind.

Which is apropos of nothing.

Catchy title, eh?  Had to get your attention.

There are so many self-published books being thrown up on Kindle and PubIt and Kobo and the Berlin Wall, it’s numbing.  I was just watching some lawn guys in the convenience store buying lottery tickets and realized they had a better chance of earning a million dollars than most of the self-publishing authors.

But you can do it.  But it’s not a lottery.  It’s called work.

I have had a HUGE advantage in this game.  It’s called backlist.

I honestly do not know how many books I’ve written (and every book I’ve written has been published). I’ve also co-written some books.  My bestselling books right now on Amazon are, amazingly, my first series:  The Green Berets featuring my hero from the Bronx, Dave Riley, whom my grandson is named after.  All six are in the top 100 in the War bestseller list.  But I also have nine books in my Area 51 series that sell solidly and six in my Atlantis series that sell solidly.  And we just put the first books in each series together with a new concept:  Doubling:  We put the first book in the Area 51 series with the first book in the Atlantis series in one book and you can buy them together for less than buying them separately.  I wanted to call it coupling, but that sounds kind of kinky.

I’ve invested over $45,000 in having my books made in audiobooks via Audible’s ACX program (which is quite brilliant in my opinion and easy to use).  So that’s the other ‘secret’.  It takes money to make money.  But each day those books sell and churn money.  By the way, this week you can buy all ACX titles for under $6 as part of a big promotion they’re doing.  We’re talking audiobooks that normally cost almost $20.  Click here for the sale.

And when I say “I” made a million in 18 months, let’s be accurate.  WE made that.  My business partner Jen Talty who does the tech side of things is the other part of Cool Gus Publishing.  I kind of believe the term “self-publishing” isn’t realistic.

And there’s Cool Gus.  Do you know how much we’ve paid in vet bills for him, since he eats pretty much anything?  Do you know how much we had to pay to put him up in an air-conditioned suite with twice a day walks and massages and manicures when we went out of town last month?  That is why we are going to monetize Cool Gus.  Yes, we’re pimping the dog out.  He just stirred at my feet and gave me a look.

So, back to my title.  How to make a million with eBooks.  WRITE.

A lot.  Get good at it.  Write better books.

Our mantra at Cool Gus is the best promotion is a good book.  Better promotion is more good books.

Jen and I actually wrote a book explaining how we did it:  The ShelfLess Book: The Complete Digital Author.  And I wrote a book on how to be a successful author:  Write It Forward: From Writer To Successful Author.

Because here’s the bottom line:  you can be the greatest writer in the world but in the current publishing environment, you also have to be a great business person.  Because this is a business.

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  1. David Slegg says:

    Wow, Bob!

    I love the idea of “doubling.”

    “How to make a million with eBooks. WRITE.” — So simple, yet so true.

    Thanks so much for sharing. Sounds like you are living the dream. Wishing you all the best!

  2. Lois Lavrisa says:

    Yes we are creative people, but what you said rings so true: ” bottom line: you can be the greatest writer in the world but in the current publishing environment, you also have to be a great business person.” Thanks, and my dream/goal is to be in the million plus club as well – of course I know that I need to keep writing::)

  3. Liz Matis says:

    Congrata on all your success. A big thank you to you, Jen, DD, and all the other Indie authors who are so generous with your time/advice.

    I’m looking forward to attending the workshop you and Jen are doing at the NJRWA Conference in October.

    Of course I already have my copy of The Shelfless Book!

  4. Jen Talty says:

    I loved how Cool Gus gets his mug shot in the blog…just saying.

  5. D.D. Scott says:

    Congrats to you both, Bob and Jen! Fantastic achievements all-around!!!

    You nailed it in that Indie Epublishing is a Business and like in any business it’s about The Product and then More Product as well as Customer Service (which can be lots more product – i.e. a strong backlist – as well as superfab deals like your “Doubling”).

    I’ve read both your books that you mentioned above and found them to be fabulous resources and takes on our Indie Epublishing Careers. I luv your military analogy re going straight toward the gunfire. In other words, we can’t run away from the challenges or around them as we’ll get ambushed either way. We go head first, right into the thick of it, with everything we’ve got!!!

    U rock!!!

  6. I love the idea of focusing on developing product. I read somewhere that a writer would be wise to focus on developing a decent amount of product first before marketing. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I sure like the idea of writing more!

    • Bob Mayer says:

      I think content has to be the #1 priority. Even at the level we’re at, it’s incredibly hard to launch a new title and have it break out. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

      • So true! Now that I’ve become comfortable with the idea of marathons (I used to prefer sprints), I’ve been much more productive with my writing and have encountered fewer writer blocks. And like you said, content has to be the priority. That can’t be done in a mad dash.

  7. Julie Day says:

    As you say, story is product, and the more stories you have out there the more successful you can become. That is why I plan to epublish some short stories I have done, and need some work on, as well as my novellas. I also plan to put extra story to my romance series and YA series as I go along, and like DD did, create box sets that are cheaper than buying the separate books each. It is thinking like a business – in a business, the more products you have to sell, the more you can make from it and get more people interested. I am starting to think like that.

  8. Sibel says:

    Amazing, Bob, so happy for you! Yes, I totally agree that the best kind of marketing is to write more books and expand your virtual book shelf. Plus, I think writing in different genres can attract new readers, too. This is a business, and we need to have our business hats on, too :)

  9. Adan Lerma says:

    certainly encouraging to read, and love cool gus! best wishes ;-)

  10. Could you do a dedicated blog to ‘doubling’ at some point? How do you choose which books would make a good ‘couple?’ How do you put them together into a digital format (one epub file, or do you work with the platform vendors/Amazon/etc to offer a 2-for-one special?) If the latter, how do you get them to do this? What makes you decide to essentially give away one of the books (i.e., a new series? sagging sales? etc?). I’d love to hear more about this topic.

  11. Nice job to the both of you. I believe this is a business so it’s great to hear it from others. There are a lot of authors out there who don’t think that way, which is fine. I find it strange though when they say they don’t care if they make any money, yet they go through the trouble of editing, proofing and formatting their work into an ebook to be sold. They should save themselves the hassel and keep a diary.

  12. Well done. It’s like I told my son when we sent him off to college a couple of weeks ago: “Work beats raw talent, every time, given time”.

  13. Bob Mayer says:

    Thanks for all the positive comments!

  14. Ian says:

    Congratulations on your hard work.
    Not so sure that the title of the article reflects the true content of the article. It seems that it is just so that we the readers are then directed to ‘The shelfless book’.

    Okay, you gave us a hint where we need to spend money to make money, but how about some more solid explanations and examples.

    I think the article could of been so much more but comes off as a self promo. I don’t mind buying a how to book as long as the article, which used to direct me to that book as some real meat inside it.