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


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.

Freelance Writers Pitch Clinic: 8-week bootcamp with Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli. Get feedback from real editors. Perfect your pitch and earn more money! SIGN UP NOW – Freelance Writers Den


  1. Melinda Clark

    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?

  2. Melinda

    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

      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.

    • Carol Tice

      Love these questions to ask — good for ANY author!

  3. Sam Nse

    Thanks Carol!
    This is a good one!

    • Crystal L Bass

      Thanks so much, Sam! I’d love to hear what part inspired you the most? Good luck!

  4. Gideon kiptoo

    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

      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

      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

    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

      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.

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