5 Ideas To Make Money In Self-Publishing Without Writing A Book

Self-publishing is great! There I’ve said it –  I love self-publishing. It’s the vehicle I use to publish my books and its existence is the reason why I am an author. I’ve looked at traditional publishing but have been put off by all the obstacles one has to go through to get published. I wonder if it is these hurdles as to why so many would be authors remain just that, unpublished.

As well as creating a book, authors going down the traditional route need to source publishing contacts, design the perfect pitch, submit their manuscript (often to people who’ve had all emotion sucked from them at birth) and then wait for the agent or publishing house contact to get back to them, when they feel like it, if ever.

It’s crazy. And if everything thing lines up, you could be offered a contract that you can’t read let alone understand, offering you a 10 – 15% royalty once the advance has been repaid and only after the book appears in bookstores which maybe a year away. All that blood, sweat and tears for a few cents in the dollar assuming the editor who read your work six months ago had the coffee how she liked it that morning and she hadn’t found out her husband was having an affair with the girl in accounts, otherwise there would be no contract for you even to consider.

There has to be a better way. A way that eliminates these hurdles. And there is. It’s called self-publishing and you can do it yourself.

And it’s booming. In the five years from 2008 to 2013, the self-publishing industry grew by 413%.This platform has given authors a voice. And it’s not all eBooks or digital products either. With companies like CreateSpace  or Ingram Spark, you can turn your masterpiece into a paperback with their print on demand services. There’s no need to print a thousand books, drain your bank account of thousands of dollars all for your creative work to gather dust in your garage because you can’t sell them. Your mother can only give away ten copies to her friends at the nursing home and your brother has no interest whatsoever in helping you since you stacked his bike in third form.

But how do you make money in the self-publishing industry if you can’t write or don’t want to write? Well with a growing industry comes growing opportunities. Let’s look at five ‘back door’ ways to capitalize on this booming phenomenon.

Ghost Writing Service

Not all authors write their own material. The most famous writer who uses this approach to some degree is James Patterson. He outlines the story he wants written and he co-authors a lot of his books. The joint author writes the book off the back of Mr. Patterson’s regular critiquing and the finished product hits the book stands usually making the New York Times bestseller list.

Let’s suppose you are good at organising things. You do that in your current job in logistics or you run a team of people, maybe as a sales manager. Being a mum also requires great co-ordinating skills. What if you could put those skills into action by providing a service that wrote stories for authors? You find the writers, bring them under your service umbrella and then market your business to potential authors.

You don’t need to be a writer, just a good co-ordinator of writers to provide a desirable product for clients. And you take a percentage of every job. Sweet.


You love reading, got A’s in English at school or you studied an English major at university. Then editing might be a great career choice for you. The service is essential with all decent authors using editors to fine tune their work. And it’s repeat work once you’ve established yourself with a happy customer.

You won’t need a stuffy office; you can work from home, in an around the kids. The pay is pretty good as well. Authors expect to pay $200+ for a ten thousand word manuscript for a reasonable quality or new editor. If you are established or perhaps have worked with a publishing house or editing service and have a decent rolodex of contacts, then the sky is the limit.

Book Cover Designer

A cover can make or break a book. A masterpiece wrapped in a poor cover will remain on the shelf unread. People buy with their eyes. Think about your own experience in a bookstore. A book grabs your attention. Perhaps it’s the colour, maybe the image or even the title. You are drawn to a book by its cover. It tempts you to pick the book up, study it and perhaps flip it over and read the description before you make the decision to buy.

A cover needs to fit the genre the book is in. It would be unlikely to see a bright yellow cover on a mystery thriller book. That genre typically has covers that are dark, possibly gloomy.

So if you have an eye for what works in each genre and can produce artwork with creative flair that will draw readers to a book, then a book cover designer might be a viable business for you. Every book needs a cover. You can get covers for $5-$10, but most newbie authors are willing to spend $50 – $100 for a cover. Top flight authors know the value of a great cover and will spend $500+ to subliminally sell their books to readers.

Audiobook Narrator

Remember that brother whose bike you stacked? For years he’s told you that you have a great head for radio. He laughs at his own jokes letting out a mousey little squeal. While you don’t agree with him, you do have one advantage over him. Your vocal chords could melt a peak off Everest and your impersonation of Sean Connery over the years can now be put to good use.

Audio books are on the rise. Whether the customer is visually impaired or is a travelling salesman craving for some stimulating listening material, audio books answer the need. The sound quality has to be brilliant. No background noise or static and the voice has to grab the listener with every word.

Audio book narrators charge around $2500 for a book. How many can you do in a month?

Social Media Manager

There are two basic parts to a book; writing it and marketing it. As a self-publishing author that usually means you need to do both. Most authors suck at marketing. They think that in this social media dominated world that all they need to do is to post their book cover to Facebook or tweet a price reduction on Twitter and book sales will flood in. Not so unfortunately.

Authors need a social media brand strategy. Who is their target market, what will they post, how will they create their material and when will they post. All of this takes time, time better spent writing.

A social media manager can do all of the above and they are in demand.

So as you can see, there is a burgeoning ‘back door’ industry within the self-publishing world. You don’t need to be a master wordsmith to make a living either. The above five opportunities are only the tip of the iceberg. Stake your claim now and join the revolution.