How to Self Publish a Book That Earns $125K in a Single Night - Make a Living Writing

How to Self Publish a Book That Earns $125K in a Single Night

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How to Self Publish a Book That Earns Big.

How to Self-Publish a Book That Earns Big. Makealivingwriting.comWant to know how to self publish a book that earns big?

That’s the dream for a lot of freelancers. Right? Figure out how to self publish a book. List it on Amazon. And piles of money start rolling in.

Here’s the brutal truth about making money with your book…it usually doesn’t work like that.

There’s far too many writers with great ideas who think: “If I self-publish a book, lots of people will buy it.”

I wish it were that easy. If you want to learn how to self publish a book that earns big, a great idea and great writing are just the beginning. Learning how to make money writing takes time.

When I self published my first book, I made a couple thousand dollars, and gained a small following of fans. But then something happened that helped me turn my book into a revenue-generating machine that earned $125K in one night.

Want to learn how to self publish a book that earns big? Let me pull back the curtain to show you how it’s done.

5 book-marketing strategies to earn big

When you’re ready to jump in and learn how to self publish a book, writing is the easy part for most freelancers.

After that, there’s lots of easy-to-use resources to format your book and get it on Amazon and other sites that sell books.

It’s the steps that come after publishing that can make all the difference in how much money you make.

Come up with a marketing plan that generates buzz, sells copies, and opens the door to more writing opportunities, and you can make a lot.

It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. Here’s how I did it:

1. Personally thank people who helped you

This should be part of your book…the Acknowledgements page. Thank all the people who inspired you, helped you, or played a part in the process of getting your book published (family, friends, teachers, co-workers, mentors, and your publishing team). Then:

  • Reach out with a phone call, email, or letter and personally thank each person.
  • Invite them as special guests to your book launch
  • Ask them to pre-order, and send a signed copy, or sign it in person

Note: I sold 215 books this way and earned $3,225 from pre-sales.

2. Host a book signing event

Connect with a bookstore in your area and coordinate a book signing party. The traditional book-reading and signing event works. But you could also get a little more creative. If you’re shy, read this first.

I hosted a catered event and sold tickets at different price points for a signed copy of the book, VIP time with me, gift bags, and hand-written thank-you notes.

Note: After catering and venue fees, I made $2,600 from book sales.

3. Attend book fairs and festivals

You’ll have to adjust your schedule to make this work, but it’s worth it. You’ll sell books, meet lots of people, and keep adding to your growing list of fans. I got people to stop by my table by playing a short trailer about my book, then striking up a conversation.

Note:  After travel and fees, I made about $2,000 in book sales.

4. Market your book everywhere you go

I made T-shirts with three conversation-starter messages:

  • Ask Me About My Book!
  • My BOOK is awesome!
  • Guess what? I wrote a book!

I wore them everywhere, and sold books from my back pack and the trunk of my car at the mall, gas stations, and parking lots.

Note: I made $500 in book sales this way.

5. Turn your book into a play or speaking event

If you’ve totaled my earnings from books sales so far, it’s a whopping $8,325. Not bad for a self-published novel. But those aren’t the kind of earnings that deserve a standing ovation. I wanted more.

I got sucked into reading Amazon reviews and comments about my book, Dark Clouds: A Charm City Family’s Struggle. Comments like: “You painted such a vivid picture of the characters in the book, I felt like I knew them and could see them.”

And that’s when I had the light-bulb moment to take my characters from page to stage.

This wasn’t an easy undertaking. But by the time the curtain closed, my book earned $125K in one night. Here’s how I did it:

  • Hire a consultant. I hired the godfather of urban theater, Shelly Garrett, to help me turn my book into a play. Find a writing coach or mentor you can trust, who knows the ropes, maybe has connections in your niche. It’s an investment you won’t regret.
  • Write and rewrite. I turned my 211-page novel into a 90-page script. Write a book, then consider ways to turn it into another revenue source as a class, course, play, or speaking event.
  • Use crowdfunding sites to test your idea and pre-sell tickets. Here’s an example.
  • Document the process. When auditions began, we documented the process in reality-TV style on YouTube to generate buzz. If you’re not producing a play, document the process you write about in your book, and share it on social platforms.
  • Buy traditional advertising time (radio and TV). Ads for the play aired on radio stations and TV stations in select cities where the play would be performed. This makes sense as long as you predict you’ll make a profit after advertising costs.
  • Coordinate radio and TV appearances. You could hire an agent to do this for you, or just get on the phone and make some calls. Put yourself out there, and see what happens.
  • Purchase billboard advertising in select cities where the play would be performed. (Same as buying traditional advertising time.)
  • Sell Tickets on Groupon and Ticketmaster. It’s one more way to get in front of more people.
  • Buy Facebook ads to promote the play to your target audience. I spent $500 on Facebook ads.
  • Sell T-shirts, books, and playbills. This was easy, because it was a lot like my book launch.
  • Sell VIP after-party tickets. Have an interesting story to tell, unique perspective, or mad skills? People will pay to spend time with you.

Marketing: The secret to earning big from self publishing

Can you self publish a book that earns big? Absolutely. I earned $125K in one night. The City of Baltimore and mayor personally thanked me for writing a book and play about their city. Book sales went up. And offers for interviews, TV-show appearances, and business opportunities came rolling in.

Got an idea for a book? Start there. Write and self publish. Market your book, and look for other ways to monetize it. Turn it into a play, a speaking event, a class, or a course. These are the best ways to become a freelance writer. If I can do it, so can you.

Questions about how to self publish a book? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Crystal L. Bass is the author of two novels and a play. She also teaches writing at Creative Writer’s University.

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70 comments on “How to Self Publish a Book That Earns $125K in a Single Night

  1. Franca Whyte on

    Wow… Very interesting and nice. I like this post. Now I can publish my book and earn cash. Thanks for sharing this informative and lovely article with us.

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Thanks, Franca. I appreciate your kind words. I am happy you liked the post. What is your book about? At what stage are you now? What is your greatest challenge. I’m wishing you the very best!

  2. Melinda Clark on

    Do you know of a Good Publishing company? I need help with my next Book title, I have published 2 already, ( Life with my Only Son is the last book, now I want to do another one, But I need help on the title, it’s about losing my Only Son to weight loss Surgery, please contact me,Do you think I could use that as my Title?

  3. Melinda on

    I need help with a title for my Next book, which is about losing my Only Son to weight loss Surgery, the first book titled Life with my Only Son, has sold on Amazon, Please contact me, so I can send you my Manuscript, and get your Opinion! ,

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Hi Melinda,

      I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son. I have one son, too. He suffers from mental illness so I can certainly resonate with your first book title. It’s very difficult for me to advise you on a title for your second book without having read it. You can enlist the help of beta readers. How did your first book do in sales? Were you able to book any speaking engagements around the topic? What other challenges are you facing? I’m happy to help but I’d need more details in this case.

  4. Gideon kiptoo on

    Hallo, thanks for the article. My one question is, how do i go about the publishing process using Amazon?. I have my manuscript ready, i just need to understand the process of publishing.

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Hello Gideon, thanks for reading. Good to hear that you are about to publish your book on Amazon. I think you should read their instructions and guidelines to make sure you are doing the right thing. I have done it for my books. It’s not as hard as it might seem. On the other hand, I am sad to announce that most book writers are not making money from their work on Amazon.

      So why is this?
      Glad you asked! LOL
      The answer is simple:
      I think their writing business is built on the wrong foundation.
      Most writers are egocentric and not client reader or client centric. All they focus on is making sales on their books without connecting with their audience and being of help to them. You have to use content to be a solution to an audience who will like you and want to buy from you.
      So the real journey starts when you hit publish on Amazon. You have to take forensic action to build an audience who will bond with you and buy your book. BTW, what is your book about? Curious to know. Good luck

      • Carol Tice on

        TOTALLY agree with that, Crystal! Many writers are just writing what they feel like writing, instead of asking where in the marketplace there is a need they could fill. Especially in nonfiction, that’s critical if you want to find an audience.

  5. Bradley on

    Looks interesting. I have published a book with xlibris publishers but unfortunately have not received any royalties. I’m currently typing out my 2nd book and want to self publish here in SA. My name is Bradley Hughes and I would love to know more on self publishing here in SA.

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Hello Bradley! Thanks for your comment. Congratulations on completing and publishing a book. I am happy you find this post interesting. I can imagine the frustration that comes after you’ve received no royalties. Did the book sell at all? If you want to self-publish offline in SA, you can follow the steps I explained in this post. You can also self- publish on Amazon and then promote it online. Which way makes sense to you? I am happy to help, but I need some details.

  6. Elisheva on

    I’m self publishing a poetry book. It is currently being edited by an editor. What are my next steps? How many ISBN’s do I buy? I have so many questions about this.

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Hello Elisheva! I wish I could answer your first question directly, but it is a loaded question that requires many steps to be successful. Unfortunately it’s too many details to type here. As far as the ISBN’s…if your budget is tight, you can buy one for now. If you plan to put out more books, you may want to get a bundle. I purchased a bundle of 10 because the numbers never expire. You can either purchase one for $125 or 10 for $295. Buying 10 is a much better deal, in my opinion. I hope this is helpful and good luck!

      • Elisheva on

        Thank you for replying, though. I understand how loaded the first question is and I’m glad you were able to answer something. Thank you for that 😀
        I was thinking I’d get a bundle. I do plan on publishing my book in a few places… (that’s also something I’d need help with), so buying it in a bundle will help tremendously. Not right now, though. I’m up to the editing of it all and I’ll worry about ISBN’s a bit later.. Plus, money is tight… so I get what i can. Lol.

  7. Kelli Lynn Grey on

    I love these tips, and I find them extra inspiring because they reflect much of what I’m trying to do now regarding my poetry collection SOVEREIGN. I originally started crowdfunding via Patreon, but I’ve had more luck on GoFundMe. When I release the book, I’m also planning to do it in tandem with a concert. Right now, I’m also considering having some handpicked artists illustrate specific poems in hopes that they will cross promote my campaign through their networks. SOVEREIGN centers on poems that have helped me through my journey with cancer and is doubling as a fundraiser for my out of pocket therapies. However, I intend to retain my audience by continuing to have engaging campaigns for my future work. Best of luck to everyone! Also, a link to the campaign for SOVEREIGN is linked to this comment. I would be grateful to anyone willing to contribute. Thank you!

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Hi Kelli. I am happy you find the post interesting. It’s nice to know that it reflects the action you are taking now regarding your poetry collection. I checked out your GoFundMe campaign and made a donation. I’m in your corner. Sending love, light and positive vibes your way!
      What has been your biggest challenge as you undertake all these steps?

      • Kelli Lynn Grey on

        Thank you, Crystal! I see your contribution & appreciate your support.

        My biggest challenge with writing & promoting my book is balancing the time & mental energy I give that with the time & mental energy I give the other aspects of my life. I’m engaged in an active process of constantly evaluating and adjusting my priorities and daily plans. I want more regularity, but I also accept the present for what it is.

        This time, I’m linking my Medium profile to my comment. I would appreciate support on that platform as well if you are also engaged there. I’m using Medium as a space to gain a wider audience for my work, to discover inspiration as a writer and also to process my emotions about my career, divorce and diagnosis.

        Writing always helps me process my own emotions and uncover my core beliefs. Balancing my personal use of writing with my professional use of writing is also a welcome challenge I face.

        • Crystal L Bass on

          Balancing the time and mental energy gets better with time. I totally understand. Have you actively done anything to solve this challenge? If yes, what have been the issues you encountered. While I would love to hear your perspective, let me give you mine and get your feedback.
          As an entrepreneur, I don’t believe in time management, only managing my energy.
          I’ve been really good at taking things off my plate that sap me of my energy. Sap is a super nice word for it. I’m speaking of the things I was doing for years that were literally soul-sucking.
          Managing the things I work on is the secret to why I didn’t need any coffee or stimulants while taking the actions I described in this post and even in my present mentorship program.
          In fact, if you NEED that cup of coffee in the morning, it’s the first signal you’re probably working on things that you shouldn’t be.
          Social media, medium, self-publishing platforms, writing, promotion, replying to comments… You do this all by yourself, you lose the energy and time balance. I have a SUPER simple exercise I’ve worked with almost 100 authors and entrepreneurs that helps you with four things:
          1) Helps you free up at least 10-20 hours of your time or more
          2) Gives you a clear understanding of who to outsource to AND in what order
          3) Makes you painfully aware of why you’re procrastinating and what you’re doing that you should not be doing AT ALL
          4) Helps you move closer and closer to your zone of genius (where you no longer have time and energy imbalance), the work that really LIGHTS you up
          I can send you the free video (less than 10 minutes) and the template I’ve built out.

  8. Melinda on

    This is Great information, Thanks you, how do I set up a Book signing Event? Because my Publishers sure hasn’t,, I have Published two books with them, and my Book’s are on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble,

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Hi Melina! NO ONE, and I mean no one will promote your book like you.
      This question is tough for me to answer without knowing what your book is about. And, there are quite a few steps. I’ll give you a good start here. For me, it was easy to leverage my local TV stations for press, because my book was based around Baltimore City. Here’s a good start. Hopefully, it’s helpful!

      Find a REASONABLE venue. Present them with the idea and give them a press kit. If you don’t have one, pitch them on your idea. Explain how your event will be a win-win. Let them know that your guest will bring new business to their establishment. For example, my first book launch was at a lounge. I was able to book the venue for FREE. However, there was a food/drink minimum. I would only have to pay IF my guests did not purchase enough. But they did and I paid NOTHING!
      Set a date and time.
      Get printed tickets OR simply set up an Eventbrite page to sell. I did both!
      Create a FB event inviting everyone to come. Add the link to purchase tickets.
      Not sure if you did this since your books are already published. But, I wrote an acknowledgements page that made the special people in my life feel important. I made them feel like a part of my process and somewhat responsible for my success of completing my book. Then, I contacted each person. I informed them that I gave them a “shout out” in the book. Everyone said that they were honored and had never had this experience. They had never been put in a book before. This technique naturally inspires people to support you even more.
      I invited them all to be special guests at my Red-Carpet Book Launch and asked them to pre-order copies–promising to sign their copies during the event. I sat them in a designated VIP area at the event.
      Get HELP! Team work makes the dream work. Get your family and friends to tweet about it, post it on social media and sell tickets for you.
      Try to get other authors or speakers there and host a panel. This way, you add them to your flier and their fans/friends/family will also purchase tickets.
      PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE! (Like wearing the t-shirts I talked about in the post.) Also, leave fliers and posters to hang around town. I had lots of success promoting in hair salons, coffee shops, libraries…think about places where people read!
      Hopefully this is helpful and you’re on your way to hosting an awesome event! Can you share with me–what are your books about? Please let me know if these steps helped or if you have any further questions?

    • Carol Tice on

      Melinda, I had the same experience, through two traditional publishers. They do nothing!

      It’s all on you to be your own promotional machine. Hiring your own PR person can be a way to go, if you’re serious about getting booked for a lot of appearances.

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Good question, Joe! Congrats on finishing three books! I understand that most of the steps I took were offline, but you can repeat this online. It’s all about the hustle. You can find people online to connect with them in a similar way. I connected to my audience in the steps that I discussed in the post. It is important to know that if you don’t promote your book, no one will do it for you. Let me give you one tactic that I use. This will give you a good jumping-off point. You can go to Facebook groups where people talk about the genre or niche you write about. Then, read their challenges and comments. Next, provide answers to their challenges but don’t spam! Take about two to three weeks to be of great value to them. That allows people to see you as an authority in your field. After about three weeks, you can post links of the pages to your books as part of the solution to the challenges they face. Focus on solving their problem. That way, buying your book will be automatic, as they will trust you. You should really not plan to make big money by selling your book directly, but by selling backend offers like courses, speaking engagements, etc, as they can be more scalable. Carol once told me this: “More importantly, your competition in nonfiction is MANY experts who use books as permafree or $.99 tripwires for their funnels. If your book is the whole funnel and you need to price it at $20, how do you compete?” Hope this helped. What problem does your book solve exactly?

  9. Cheryl Denise Chandler on

    Hello would love to talk. Already Self-published author.
    Assortments of Grace: A Collection of Poetry on Amazon.

    Ready to publish again and would love a mentor.

    • Ryan Donnelly on

      I did make $345 in a day profit on the first release date if my book, but I set up some things ahead if time. I have not recreated that number since and I am on week 3

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Exactly Jessica! That is the point! I totally understand your skepticism. The look on my face when my mentor told me about this mirrored your comment. LOL But, I trusted him because he made $33 million dollars from his play and earned a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

      The reality is…you will never earn $125K in one night trying to sell your book! You need to take forensic action and build creative offers around your book. The formula to make six figures in one night with a play is a simple one. I’ll break it down. I’ll use simple numbers so that this is easy to follow.

      2500 theater seats x $50 tickets = $125,000 (You do need to pay the venue, actors, etc. from this.)

      Keep in mind that there are usually 3-4 tiers of ticket prices. We are using $50 to keep it simple. But understand that the ticket prices go even higher! Next, add in the sales from all of your merchandise (books, t-shirts, and playbills), VIP tickets, and the AfterParty. BOOM! You have earned a nice six-figure income!

      And just so you know…an unknown author can make a killing using this tactic. Guess what? Not many people knew me, but I made sure that they knew the actors! In other words, people purchased theater tickets to see them, not me. I built all of the hype around the actors..well-known actors. However, once people saw the show, they became fans of mine and purchased my merchandise. I hope this helps you to see the big picture!

      Do you self-publish, Jessica? If yes, I am curious to know how you sell your books?

  10. Chris Cancilla on

    I have 20 books for sale on Amazon through my website, and I want to get revenue from their sales. Other than these 5 tips, how can I manage this on close to a zero budget?

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Hey Chris! Thanks for reading and thanks for your question. WOW! Twenty books on Amazon! That’s major. Congrats! I hate saying this, but you cannot sell the books on a close to zero budget. It’s either you put in the time or the money, but most of the time it’s a combination of both. You have to build an audience that bonds with you. Then, they will buy your books. This takes very hard work and money. Why? Because most of the time you need to have virtual assistants. These assistants will help you do the research work to be able to connect to people at an intimate level online. Once that’s done, they will trust you and join your community. What are your books about?

      • Chris Cancilla on

        7 of them are science fiction time travel novels. 5r business books relating to what I do for a living, electronic data interchange or EDI. There are two cookbooks some books relating to scouting and a collection of works. I also have eight more that I’m currently working on pretty much all of them are science fiction. On my website,, I’ve have a Star trek and a Terra Nova episode that I wrote. I offer these for free since they are similar to the stories from television, but I do not hold the rights.

  11. Norm Bour on

    Some good stuff there, Crystal! My book is non-fiction called “Traveling the world 6 weeks at a time,” and it profiles my experience of leaving the US in February and moving to a new place every 6 weeks. Many people dream becoming a nomadic traveler, and I’m teaching you how to do it at the age of 65! Travel like a millennial is my tagline

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Thanks, Norm! I truly appreciate the compliment. By the way, my mom’s name is Norma and her nickname is Norm! No wonder you are so cool and adventurous! LOL

      You’re a rockstar! Leaving the US and moving to a new place every six weeks? This sounds exciting. I would totally be down for something like this. What is your biggest challenge in getting your book out there?

      • NORMAN BOUR on

        I haven’t faced them yet. My manuscript is with the graphic designer right now and I should be putting up on Amazon in the next few days. I plan on having a book launch and offer a free special report that I put together for anyone who buys before the end of the month. I am a member of several expect Facebook groups and my followers have been growing.

        My biggest sticking point has been my website is not live yet. So I haven’t put myself out there to other publications like I would like to. That should all be in place within the next few weeks.

    • karen on

      Hi Crystal and Carol – good tips! Just shows what a good produce, imagination, and stick-to-it-iveness (sp???) can do! Hi, Norm, i’d like to interview you for my gluten free living blog (expanding into culture/travel) Can you contact me? Might take awhile for interview, as I’ve got many posts I’ve promised in meantime – but I’ll get there! And feel free to give a reminder if I don’t get to you in a month or so. thx! k

      • Norm Bour on

        Karen, my direct email is and you are welcome to reach out anytime. I will be heading back over see you on Tuesday, so if we are to do an interview we would have to use WhatsApp or zoom. I used Zoom all the time for consulting, and the calls get recorded which you can use if you want. But I am not a gluten-free eater.

        I had my own radio show for many years and have been interviewed many many times about my entrepreneurship, my reinvention process, but not for my travels. Yet.

  12. Kenny Mitchell on


    I love your article. It’s very entertaining and informative. I have self published 11 novels. The idea on crowdfunding is actually a great idea. We have a script for a stage play already. Wish us luck and hopefully we can chat again soon!

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Hello Kenny! Thanks for reading the article. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Congrats on self-publishing 11 novels. Way to go!

      Yes, I agree. Crowdfunding is huge! My video is attached to the post. Telling a compelling story really sold it for me. Even strangers contributed. I’m excited that you have a script. You’re speaking my language! I wish you much success (and luck) with your show. As we say in the business, “BREAK A LEG!” I am curious, what is your major challenge now in your journey?

  13. Kaitlin Morrison on

    Wow, thank you Crystal for these great tips. I wrote a nonfiction book and have a textbook draft I’m working on for a publisher now. Although I can’t exactly make a play out of either of these, your post makes me think I can find some other creative promotion strategies. Thanks for sharing.

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Thank you for reading, Kaitlin! I’m happy to hear that the post got your wheels turning. Your comment has me reallllllly curious, though! Because even if you write nonfiction, I can’t quite imagine any content that you can’t base a play on. With a little bit of creativity, lots of work and determination, anything can be spun into a play. May I ask what your books are about? Did you self-publish your nonfiction book? How have you been selling it?

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Great Robert! My mother told me I could become whatever I wanted and I believed her. That said…you can definitely become a better writer! Have you decided to write fiction or nonfiction? What would you write about? Good luck!

  14. Brett K. on

    That’s straight gangster marketing and hustle. I love it! No one is such a baller these days even when his back’s against the wall. Inspiring.

    • Carol Tice on

      I’m with you, Brett! I hear so many ‘I wrote a book and only sold 3 copies’ stories, that I loved hearing about this angle. Obviously, won’t work for every book situation, but we should all think about our book in creative ways. Could it be a presentation. A movie script? What other ways could it see the light and earn for us?

      • Crystal L Bass on

        Thanks, Brett! I’m so happy you loved it. I am the true definition of a hustler! LOL I’m one of those people who stays up all night strategizing. I always joke with my husband that I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I’d love to know…what part of the post thrilled you the most? Do you also write and self- publish?

    • Crystal L Bass on

      Thanks, Karen. I am happy you enjoyed it!!! But, I have to ask? Did you look up my books? LOL You used the name of my second book here! I love it! My entire life is a Whirlwind which is exactly why I write. Is there a part that amazed you the most? Do you also have a book or two?


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