Magic Words

Jimmy Lee Shreeve explains how writers can use their skills to maximise their income.

I'm not joking. You can live like a king from writing. You can make £100 an hour or more and have decent cash flowing in while you sleep (and I'm not talking about book royalties here). But only if you do it right. Hype? No. I've done it myself. But before I tell you how, let's get one thing straight...

The majority of authors don't strike it rich. They don't become literary megastars like J.K. Rowlings or Stepthen King. They get by ... but only just.

Many authors maintain a day job or are propped by a spouse who has a secure income. You can't blame them. The average book will bring in a few grand now and then in advances and royalties. These add up the more titles you write. But until you build up the momentum (which could take a decade) you'll starve without alternative streams of income.

Some authors write for newspapers and magazines. This can bring in between £150 and £450 or so per 1200 word article. So long as you can consistently pull a couple of commissions a week and turn them around very fast, it's lucrative enough. But it's not easy. All too often, freelance journalists find it hard to make ends meet. Particularly if its their only source of income.

Okay, now that I've got you thoroughly depressed, it's time for the good news...

The truth is, if you've got books out - even just one - you're in a very good position. Unlike the average nine-to-fiver, with just a couple of tweaks you can turn your operation around and make far more money than you're making now.

It's just a question of working smart and making the most of the credibility that goes with being a published author.

Let me tell you how I did it with my first book "Doktor Snake's Voodoo Spellbook" (St Martin's Press, 2001), which was written under the pen name "Doktor Snake". It tells the story of how, during the 1980s, I played guitar in a band with a Castaneda-like Voodoo doctor and singer called Earl Marlowe.

It sold reasonably well and is now a cult classic. But it didn't turn me into a J.K. Rowlings or Stephen King (more's the pity). Yet I still managed to turn it into a money spinner.

What did I do?

As soon as the book was released in the USA (it came out here in 2004), I set up a website to go with it - along with publishing a free ezine called "Voodoo Spells Weekly". After a few months - and some heavy-duty "in-the-trenches" internet marketing - I'd built up a subscriber list of over ten thousand. They were all interested in Voodoo, paranormal and new age subjects. In other words, they were a tightly-focused target audience.

At that point I wrote a supplement to "Doktor Snake's Voodoo Spellbook" and published it in PDF format. I called the e-book "Voodoo Hoodoo Yoodoo", which was full of spells and occult means to improve your life, and sold it for £3.99. I used Paypal to take credit card orders from my website. I also made the e-book downloadable. That way, people could buy it and receive it while I was asleep. I didn't have to do a thing. I even had receipts delivered via e-mail autoresponder.

Because I'd got over ten thousand ezine subscribers, it was just a question of sending out a special issue of "Voodoo Spells Weekly" to alert them to the new e-book.

But it couldn't just be any old e-mail message...

It certainly couldn't be formal or incomprehensible "management speak", which you see a lot of in corporations. Nor could it be written in a journalistic, newspaper style. No. To get the most buyers from the subscriber list I had to use compelling sales copy that was so powerful it would literally make readers salivate at the mouth and go into a white heat of desire to click on the "buy now" button.

Nothing less would do. So I feveredly wrote and wrote ... and wrote again ... until I'd got it right.

It worked too. I sent out my sales message before going to bed one night. In the morning a whole stream of Paypal purchase alerts were sitting in my e-mail box. That's a great feeling. It gives you a sense that you are in control. You're not waiting for cheques from book publishers, newspapers and magazines to come in (which, for some reason, are always late). You're at the helm; you're captain of the ship.

Yes, you live or die on the quality of your offer (e-book, or whatever) and on the effectiveness of your sales copy. But at least you're not continually waiting for media outlets to pay you. In fact, you've become a small publisher yourself. The big bonus of this is you get to reap all the proceeds from your e-book sales (less Paypal's small cut). In short, you get 99 percent royalties instead of the 6-10 percent you get from mainstream publishing.

Selling e-books (or possibly specialist reports) to supplement your mainstream publishing efforts is a great way to boost your income. Done right ... using compelling sales copy and dreaming up the right e-book ... it can turn your income around and put you on track for financial stability.

But e-books are just one way of increasing your writing income. There are many more. In future articles I'll reveal some of the other tactics I've used to bring in multiple streams of income from writing. For further tips on making more money from writing visit Jimmy Lee Shreeve's "Web Marketing Raiders" website at www.jimmyleeshreeve.net

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Jimmy Lee Shreeve

Jimmy Lee Shreeve is a bestselling cult author and journalist. His books include "How To Be Famous" (Orion), the cult classic "Doktor Snake’s Voodoo Spellbook" (St Martin’s Press), "Cannibals" (John Blake), "Blood Rites" (Random House), and "Human Sacrifice" (Barricade).Jimmy’s ...More about Jimmy Lee Shreeve