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Most people understand that you can create multiple streams of income from non-fiction books, but I often get the question “What about fiction authors? How can they make money in different ways?”
Books – print, ebooks, audiobooks.
Ok, this is a given. You are writing and selling your fiction. Make sure your backlist is available in at least print and digital/ebook format. Remember, Kindle has switched to 70% royalty rate (with conditions) and fiction authors like JA Konrath are making lots of cash this way.
Products associated with fiction Books.
I'm not sure this is a big revenue stream for many self-published authors but you can tie in your book to merchandise and sell it. I'm thinking JC Hutchins with his Beta Clone T-shirts for 7th Son, or Mur Lafferty with Keepsie's bar glasses. You could also look at Harry Potter or Twilight merchandise for an extreme example.
Clearly, there are other revenue streams if you sell the movie rights, foreign rights etc, but we'll assume you haven't hit the big time if you are reading this!
Then you need to think broader…
Online courses based on your genre and writing skills
My favourite example of a fiction online author-entrepreneur is Holly Lisle. Holly has 32 published novels, but she also has a whole stack of brilliant courses, ebooks and other learning material for authors – check out the Holly Shop (affiliate link). There's something for most writers, with ebooks on World Building, How to write page-turning scenes. How to write dialog with sub-text, Create a Plot clinic, Create a Culture clinic, all the way up to online courses “How to Think Sideways” and “How to Revise Your Novel” (which I am about to start on). Basically, Holly has taken her experience from 32 novels and distilled it into a whole load of information products for authors/writers.
This is also my model with “Blogging for Authors and Writers” and the Author 2.0 Online Course. It is my preferred module as it is repetitive, passive income after the material is produced. I can tell you I make more money from those than I do from book sales every month!
There was a storm kicked up back in May over multi-award winning author Neil Gaiman making $45,000 for one speaking event. Good on him I say, as this is a great way to make money as a fiction or non-fiction author. Clearly, most of us cannot command that sort of fee but if you start doing events, you can earn $500-$1000 or more pretty easily through speaking fee, book sales or product sales (as above). You don't need an agency, just a network or reach out to writer's groups in your area as a starter.
I started speaking last year and it is going pretty well so far, with events at least monthly now. I speak on writing, digital publishing and marketing so could be done from fiction/non-fiction basis. Here are some tips on speaking, and a video on how I prepare for events.
Consulting, editing, coaching
Your time is precious (and should probably be spent writing) but you could also branch out into coaching others, editing other people's books or consulting with people on writing in your genre or publishing in general. Many people need a helping hand, and if you are an author they enjoy reading, you will probably find people will want to pay you for your time.
What are some other methods for multiple streams of income for fiction authors?