David VanDyke is the independent author equivalent of the Six Million Dollar Man. Many authors of the Oro Valley Writers’ Motivational Workshop have expressed great interest in how David is able to turn his words in to gold, but were unable to attend his presentation. I was fortunate to attend David’s presentation at the Tucson Self Publishing Expo last Saturday. David is a very dynamic and entertaining speaker, and it was a pleasure to listen to him share his hard-earned knowledge and wisdom.
In short, David said that good writing content is required, but by itself will not earn a lot of money. David puts 25% of his earnings back in to advertising, editing, re-editing of old works, covers, new covers for old works and even translation to different languages (although translations are quite expensive).
When first starting, he recommends having 3 to 5 books in a series already written. You soft-launch (no ads or promos) a paperback of your book to create a page to gain ARC reader reviews, then launch the ebook version of Book 1 when you have several good reviews up.
EBook 1 launches at a reasonable retail price such as $2.99-$3.99, possibly with some advertising support from social media posts and paid ads. EBook 2 is set to pre-order 28 days later, and EBook 3, 28 days after that and, if you have further books, the same. When book 3 is live, that is the time to offer Book 1 at a discount to 99c or free, and promote it with book promo sites to gain wide interest in your series. While those who got Book 1 at a discount are still hungry for more, later books in the series are immediately available to purchase at normal prices, and some may also be in pre-order to show your commitment to the series. The key to remember is, the series is your product, not EBook 1. You can take a loss or make no money on EBook 1 in order to get large numbers of readers to pay for the rest of the series.
Several things that David strongly believes are not a good ROI (return on time investment) are presented below. David would rather spend his time writing a new book or doing direct, effective marketing than:
- Blog on his own website
- Guest blog
- Create book trailers
- Have press releases
- Spend time on social media (except for buying ads)
- Hustle to get his books reviewed (except for Advance Review Copies and launches)
- Have book signings
- Try for little known awards, especially from contests with entry fees
It’s the old saying “In order to make money you have to spend money”. David didn’t want to discourage authors from performing some of these activities, especially if they enjoy them. He also said there are exceptions to every rule. Your mileage may vary.
David has much more advice to give, and I highly recommend you seek an opportunity to hear him speak directly. David was also kind enough to review this blog post and give me some recommended corrections which I have already incorporated. It greatly improved the content of this post.