Writing ebooks – Me ? a writer? yeah right…
When I read about the possibility of making passive income by writing ebooks, I could not help but chuckle to the idea. Me? a writer? yeah right… I mean, I always loved reading and I was not so bad at dissertation assignments. But to actually share my writing with the world, that was unfathomable.
Now I make around 2500€ per month from my books
I would like to walk you through the macro process I took to start this venture. Of all my passive income strategies listed in this article, writing is actually the one that I believe will save me from a life of modern slavery.
I would like to point out first that English is not my mother tongue, nor is it the first language I learned in school… Yet I managed to publish 5 books that enjoy a nice readership in the english community. I want to put it out there to reassure people with a similar background: Yes it can be done.
It is not as hard as you may think
The secret is to write about something you are good at, or something you know that others do not. Maybe something that you lived that people enjoy listening to.
If you do not have such stories yet, look for them, travel, learn new skills, experience life and give it a try again in a couple of months. That’s the most precious advice anybody gave me.
I remember doing the exercice of listing everything I was good at:
- Editing pictures
- Playing music
- My current job: computer programming
- A bit of writing
- Talking in public
Discovering my niche
It might sound weird to list my current job as one my strenghts, but I actually am pretty solid on my feet in my day job. I work in a very niche field of computer science and I managed to develop a certain expertise in the matter.
I thought back about the books I read about programming a few years back and wondered: “what can I write about this subject that had not been previously covered?”. Or to phrase it more accurately “How can I make the book closer to real life programming?”
The answer came to me a couple of minutes later. It was so simple: I will write a book that describes in detail how a programming project is done. From the first meeting with the project leader to the last validaiton test you perform.
The book will teach people programming in a practical way, by drawing from real life experience with its inconsistencencies, idiosyncrasies, delays, constraints, and of course programming techniques and tricks. Forget about old theoritical programming books that teached everything about C++ or Java from A to Z, this was to be the real deal!
That’s it. My pitch was done!
I just vomitted everything I knew about the subject in a draft
I fired up Word and drafted a small table of contents. Each day after work, I would sit down, write a paragraph, a couple of pages, whatever my inspiration that night. Some days I would just read back what I wrote and spend 20 minutes rephrasing a paragraph or reworking the scenario for instance.
Three months later, I submitted my first book to an editor I found on upwork.com. One week after that I published the finished version on Amazon KDP.
I priced it at first at $3.99 (with 70% margin), gave it away for free the first two days and advertised it on many computer programming mailing lists.
That’s the best about writing abour your field of expertise. You know where to find people to sell the book to.
That first month of February I sold 281 copies (ebook + print book) and it has increased ever since :
A few months later…
Now I have 3 ebooks published + 2 short ebooks + 2 translated versions, priced around $6.99 for ebooks and 16,99 for the print versions. All of them follow the same concept of real life programming scenarios. I have mostly positive reviews on Amazon (every book as a couple of 1 star reviews lurking in the comment section of course. It is as unavoidable as the junior acne…).
But one thing I was sure of. I finally made a huge step toward a life without a steady salary, and it feels awesome.