Most Authorpreneurs earn their living from speaking gigs, consulting businesses, and other indirect sources. Rarely does one make the vast majority of their income directly from the sale of their books. Steve Scott is different …
Steve earns a great living selling digital books on Amazon’s Kindle platform … to the tune of $30,000 per month.
With over 58 titles in his catalog, this self-publishing mega-star has rewritten the rules of success for authors who want to earn a living writing books.
In this episode Steve and I discuss:
- How he writes so many books
- Exactly how how earns money from his books
- The lifestyle his independent book business affords him
- Why self-publishing is the only choice for him
- His ten-year plan to retire on his book income
Listen to Authorpreneur below ...
The Show Notes
How Steve Scott Makes $30,000 per Month Publishing Kindle Books
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Jim Kukral: I talk to a lot of authors who make indirect income with their books on the Authorpreneur show, and by indirect income, they make money from speaking gigs and consulting and owning agencies and things like that. But sometimes, you run in to one of those authorpreneurs who are just straight kicking butt with the direct sales of their books, and that’s my guest today, Steve Scott. Steve, how are you doing?
How He Writes So Many Books
Steve Scott: Pretty good. It’s pretty good. How about yourself, Jim?
Jim Kukral: I’m doing great. It’s great to have you on the show, because you are doing exactly what I just said. You are kicking butt making direct income from your books, and we want to get right in to it. Let’s just say, first off, how many books do you have?
Steve Scott: That one’s honestly always hard to answer. When I looked at my dashboard last night, I have 58 now, but that’s three different book lines with about seven or eight translations, with a few book bundles. But I would say 58 assets on Kindle right now.
Jim Kukral: You have 58 assets on Kindle, okay. What is the biggest-selling book right now? What’s the biggest book?
Jim Kukral: That’s the big’un. We’ll get into more of that. But just to start this conversation off so people understand what we’re really talking about here, let’s talk about your Authority Business Traffic and Income Report , okay. The last one, I believe, which is July to September — or wait …
Steve Scott: It’s been a while.
Jim Kukral: It’s been a while, okay. So let’s just go back. According to the last income report that I’m looking at on your website SteveScottSite.com , you made just over $125,000 in the second quarter of that year, right?
Steve Scott: Yes. Actually, the most revised thing that I have is at SelfPublishingQuestions.com/Income, and it’s been a couple of months since I’ve updated that one, so I would say in the last couple of months, I’ve been doing around $25,000 to $30,000 so it’s definitely tapered off from that, but it’s still, in my opinion, fairly good numbers.
Jim Kukral: Wait a minute, so $25,000 to $30,000 a month?
Steve Scott: Yes.
Jim Kukral: Okay. I just want people to understand here: you’re making $25,000 to $30,000 a month selling Kindle books, correct?
Steve Scott: Yes.
Jim Kukral: Okay. Everyone needs to understand that. This is unbelievable in terms of an authorpreneur and somebody who’s actually doing this and putting out these quality of books. So that’s what we’re talking about here today, because there are a lot of people who don’t really believe that this is possible. I know that people are doing it writing romance books or things like that, but you’re not writing romance books. What type of books do you write?
Steve Scott: Primarily, I started off with the Internet business books, but what I found has been most successful for my business is focusing on habit books, so mostly productivity. But I’ve gotten into lately more of habits I want to build in to my life, like decluttering, and a habit I’ve had pretty much for the last 25 years is exercising on a daily basis. Just mostly about habits, but how to build specific habits in to your life.
Jim Kukral: The habit thing is so important, and it’s often that I meet an author or anyone who’s successful in business, and they do have these habits that they do every single day. The point of your books, I’m assuming, is that if you can get these things going for you every single day, you can do what you want to do, whether it’s build your business, or build your body or whatever, right?
Steve Scott: Yeah, exactly. I find that there does have to be a balance. I find if I’m being too obsessed with my business, the wheels tend to fall off. So like everyone, I’m trying to find that perfect balance of exercising and working hard while also having time for relationships and stuff. That really does come down to the choices that you make on a daily basis, and that, like everyone, it’s a work in progress, but I try to find that perfect balance almost on what seems like a daily basis.
Jim Kukral: Let’s talk a little bit more about the specific ways that you’re making money from these books. Obviously, there is the direct sales. I’m assuming you’re pricing your books to get the 70 percent royalty share primarily on Amazon, yes?
Exactly How He Earns Money from His Books
Steve Scott: Yes. Actually, some of the older ones are 99 cents. I just find that the 99 cents really just doesn’t work for my model because of the simple fact that it is the 35 percent royalty rate versus the 70 percent if it is $2.99 or above. I like to keep it at $2.99 for the specific reason that people can read one book, and if they like that book, they can go on and hopefully buy four, five, six, 10, 15 of my books. So I try to hook them in at the lowest price possible just to go in and hopefully get them to read the rest of my catalog.
Jim Kukral: That’s really the model here. Having a big back catalog of books, somebody reads it, and they’re like “Wow, that was really helpful to me, and now I’m going to go buy 6 more of the books,” right? That’s really what keeps the long tail going, right?
Steve Scott: Yeah, exactly, and I feel that some people, they hate on Kindle Unlimited. But I feel that in a way, that’s kind of helped my business because it’s a low-risk offer where if they read it for free and then they liked the book, then they might want to actually keep it permanently. I’ve actually had people tell me or email me to say they’d checked out a couple of books on Kindle Unlimited and they liked it and actually went on and bought it after that.
So I do try to make it as seamless as possible for people to go check out one book because I know absolutely, there’s going to be people who are going to hate my books. And I can definitely look at some reviews. Some people just don’t like my books, but the people that do like my books, I try to make it as easy as possible to go check out other ones.
Jim Kukral: We’ll get in to that in a few minutes, but let’s talk about the specific ways that you’re making money. I brought up, obviously, that you’re making money directly from the Kindle sales. There are other ways that that income is coming in. Let’s talk about some of those other ways that you’re making money.
Steve Scott: Sure. I have a couple of other revenue streams, but they all tie in with me currently still being in mostly KDP Select, and I do want put an asterisk to that, because probably this summer, I’m starting to move a lot of my books off KDP Select into other platforms. Pretty much everyone else who talks about putting on all different platforms, that is the best long-term strategy. But I just find that leveraging Amazon has worked for the last couple years.
Besides Kindle sales, I do have audio book versions, and I pretty much have a blanket rule now that every time I come out with a Kindle book, I come out with an audio book and the CreateSpace book — or the print version. So I would say that’s anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 a month from the audio version. I don’t make a lot with print books, but I find that they help as far as the price differential on Amazon that if someone sees that there’s a print book for $7.99 and the ebook version’s $2.99, they’ll probably be more inclined to go buy the ebook version.
Those are the two major other aspects I make money. I do have an Amazon Associates Program that’s like the affiliate program through Amazon as well. Every time I launch a book or I promote a book, I use my affiliate link, and that generates around $1,000 a month or so.
What I’m really starting to get into is foreign translations, and I do a couple of things with that. I actually have a translation partner, where she’ll take my books and put it into Portuguese and sell it in Brazil through my account, so I pick up a little bit of extra income from the translations. But also, I’m starting to reach out to publishing companies in other countries, and I try to strike deals where they give me an advance and then they sell my book in their language. They actually almost traditionally publish a book, where they go out and create a new cover, and they do the whole translation. Basically, I sign the contract, and they send me a check. So it’s very hands-off.
Jim Kukral: Yeah, so you’ve got audio books, and you’ve got foreign translation rights, and you’ve got affiliate marketing. What else are we missing? Are you making any money any other way?
Steve Scott: There’s one thing that I tried. It hasn’t really worked as well. I’ve actually sold CD versions of my audio books, and that’s done through Brilliance Audio. But it’s one of those “They contact you, you don’t contact them” things, and I’ve nudged them a little bit. A couple of my audio books have done really well, but I’ve tried to get them interested in a couple of other ones, and they don’t really seem to be interested. So that’s worked out fairly well.
The whole market’s going to get away from hardcover or physical CDs anyway, so I don’t really see that working out really well long-term, but I guess the whole point is that I try to find as many ways to leverage my existing content as possible.
We all know Joanna Penn. She’s a great example. Actually, in one of her books, she talks extensively about how you can take one asset and put it in to many iterations and many platforms. I’m trying to follow her lead and do as much as possible with my content.
Jim Kukral: What about print books?
Steve Scott: They don’t sell that well. I guess through CreateSpace, they don’t sell that well. Maybe when I move things off of Amazon, I’ll have a little more flexibility. I might try OverDrive or the other platforms where you can actually put stuff into libraries, but I haven’t seen my print books move that well.
Jim Kukral: You’ve got all of these different ways you’re making money here, which is just astounding, and it’s such a brilliant way to do things, but the question everyone’s going to ask now is how in the heck do you get this done? I know you’re going to say you have habit stacks. How do you get this done? Because there is a lot involved here. We’re talking about cover designs for every book — foreign, right, I know you’ve got partner for that — audio books, all of the stuff. This is a full-time-plus business creating this much content.
Steve Scott: I would say yes, for me it’s about 30 to 40 hours a week of just focusing on the habit books, and that’s part of the reason why I decided to take a step back from my Self-Publishing Questions podcast is the fact that I didn’t have enough time for my habit business. I don’t want to sound trite, but it does involve daily effort and managing systems really well. I have project lists for every one of my books, so it’s like a 50-point list of everything I need to do for each book. So every time I create a book, I’ll just go print out one of those lists, and I’ll go down the checklist and get things done in a systematic manner.
The problem I’m encountering now is that things are starting to break. Things are starting to not get done in a timely manner. Actually, just before you and I got in this call, I talked to someone who might be interested being a project manager. So I feel that for me, that’s the next phase. I need someone to handle all this stuff because it does get overwhelming. But you would be surprised at how well just having good systems and good project lists works. I do have a VA, and I do have a couple of people I work with. They help put the stuff together, so it really is a matter of having a good project list and also working with good teams and relying on someone else to handle their part.
Why Self-Publishing Is the Only Choice for Him
Jim Kukral: I’ve talked to other authorpreneurs like Jay Baer or Michael Port, right? They are traditionally published, and they want to continue the traditionally published piece of it because their business model is not really direct money sales from their books. Their business model is speaking gigs and consulting and owning businesses and that type of thing, so they’re happy to hand that over to a traditional publisher to handle all that stuff. I guess it depends on what you want to do. I personally think the model that you’re doing makes a lot more sense because you can make more income directly from the books.
Steve Scott: Yeah, exactly. I always try to follow the lead of fiction authors. I honestly feel that fiction authors really understand how to best maximize self-publishing, so I pay close attention. All the people that we know, like the Self-Publishing podcast, Joanna Penn, all the other mega authors like Hugh Howey — all of them — they’re great examples of producing consistent content, but also basically building a business around books.
That’s ultimately what I would like to keep doing is focus on just selling books, not necessarily going out and speaking. Actually, for me, public speaking is something I’m not really interested at all. I do try to manage everything as best as possible, but you do get to a point where you have to recognize that other people need to handle stuff and not necessarily you as the author.
Jim Kukral: If you’re making $30,000 a month from your books, I think you can afford to hire some people to run your processes for you, right?
Steve Scott: It’s not even a monetary thing. It’s a control freak thing. I have what Chris Tucker calls ‘superhero syndrome,’ that I feel that only I can do all the stuff. But there are probably people way better at some of this stuff than I am.
Jim Kukral: The greatest I ever did for my business was hiring a virtual assistant that did all the things I didn’t want to do, and my business has exploded when it happened.
Steve Scott: I do have a full-time VA. I definitely love what she does, but there are certain things where you almost have to have an intuitive understanding on how publishing works. It’s a little hard to teach. A project manager, in my opinion, almost has to be someone who understands what it’s like to be an author and knows how to do stuff without having to be taught, or at least that’s what I’m looking for.
Jim Kukral: How did this whole thing take off? Because you obviously just didn’t get 58 titles on Amazon overnight. Was it a long, slow-roll process? Did you have 30 books up before you really started making money? How did that whole thing work?
Steve Scott: One book at a time. It started in February 2012. I had an Internet marketing blog, Steve Scott Site — great name there. I did pretty well with affiliate marketing for about eight or nine years, so I definitely had the ‘passive-income, travel around the world, do what you want’ thing nailed down.
I was just looking at self-publishing, or more specifically, Kindle publishing, as a way to drive traffic back to my blog, so I made the rookie mistake of taking five blog posts and putting them in to a Kindle book. I uploaded that in February 2012. That actually did fairly well. I would say the first couple of months, it didn’t sell well at all, but then when I followed up with the second grouping of blog posts — that would have been July of 2012 — I actually put the first book through KDP Select. So I gave it away for free for a couple of days, and I noticed as soon as it went off KDP Select, it actually started selling well.
It put the kernel of thought in my mind that “I’ve been busting my hump trying to build traffic to the Internet business blog — why couldn’t I just write the same stuff I was putting on my Internet business blog, put them into short actual books, and sell them primarily — instead of a Warrior Special Offer — to sell them for a low cost on the Kindle platform?”
I went on a seven-week trip across the country with my now fiancée, wife next month — I was talking her about that over that in the summer of 2012. I was like, “You know what? Maybe in September, when I get back, I’m just going to sit down and just focus on this Kindle stuff.” I literally did that. I did have a decent-sized email list, so I just wrote a book in September, released it to my email list, and just said, “Hey, it’s going to be given away for free. All I need is you to go review it.” I just got a lot of reviews in a short amount of time, and that seemed to do well with Amazon. I rinsed and repeated that for a good number of months.
Actually, let me look at my income report. I’m actually looking as I’m trying to talk, which is always hard to do.
Jim Kukral: Everybody has that one moment where it’s just like, “Wow, I went from making …” J. Thorn talks about this all the time. He goes, “I went from selling two books a day to 200 books a day.” There’s that one thing that happened at one period of time where that happened, and if you could identify that, that would be great.
Steve Scott: Gotcha. I’ll give you two milestones. I’m actually looking at my income, because I actually broke all the stuff down. I would say it was just consistent effort from September, October, November, to December, where I literally wrote a book every two to three weeks. So I was really quick with the content. In December 2012, I’d say three or four months after I got started full time, I hit $6,000, so it happened pretty quickly. And then from there, I stagnated, I would say, for pretty much most of 2013, averaging $7,000 to $9,000, which is still good money.
Then, I decided to pivot and focus on habits almost a year later, or actually exactly a year later, from November 2013, which was $9,000, to December 2013, $22,000, because I decided to pivot and focus again on one market where I just started talking about habits. And that did pretty well. Then in May 2014, when Habit Stacking came out, that’s when things really blew up for me.
It’s probably what every other full-time author would say. It really was just consistent effort, laying that foundation, and then suddenly one book hits the market, and things blow up. Then you have the established back catalog, and once that book blows up, people go on and check your previous books that you’ve written.
I feel that’s maybe that the misstep that I’ve made my business the last six months is that I haven’t been as consistent as I used to be, but I would say a daily, consistent effort and laying the foundation.
Jim Kukral: This was a plan, right? You sat down one day after you decided to take your blog content and turn it into books. You had a long-term plan: “I’m going to create as many books as I possibly can, great books, put them out there,” and you knew that it was going to increase your revenue.
Steve Scott: I had no idea. I was just hoping it did. I still was generating a decent income from affiliate marketing, so I wasn’t too worried. But I knew that affiliate marketing wasn’t something I wanted to do long-term, so I had that drive to make it happen.
But I had a bunch of these assumptions, and I also took an app development course over summer 2012 as well, so I was running that at the same time — kind of a parallel business. A lot of the thoughts behind app development took me into Kindle Publishing. Specifically, they talk about having good design for your apps, like a good logo, something that grabs the eye. So I try to incorporate that into the e-covers.
What they also talk about is the Angry Birds — all these major apps — they didn’t have success by just having Angry Birds. It’s success from the 10 to 15 other apps before that that build the audience, and once they had that home run, they had all those people there that were willing to give this new app a chance.
I felt that way. All I have to do is be consistent, micro-focus on specific topics, and good things would happen if I was consistent with it.
Jim Kukral: You can’t answer, “A great book,” but what’s the most important piece to actually selling Kindle books? Is it the cover? Is it… ? You can’t answer, “Great content.”
Steve Scott: I would say ‘great content’ first, so second, I would say probably what’s worked for me is honestly a good hook: a title, something that’s compelling.
When I talked to James Altucher when I was on his show, he actually summarized it well, that the title itself — Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take 5 Minutes or Less — not only did it promise a bunch of habits, but it also promised that the result was something that people can neatly apply. He said that probably was why it was a home run, the fact that it was something that not only could people read through it fairly quickly, they could merely add it to their own life.
I think a lot of the books that have sold well for me over a long period of time are the books that have a good hook, so there’s something that really attracts people’s interest, but also something that they feel is completely doable in their own lives. No one wants to hear about the 80-hour work week. They want to hear about the four-hour work week, so that’s probably one of the reasons The 4-Hour Workweek sold really well — because it has a promise that sounds pretty sexy. It’s something that’s really compelling to the reader who might not know a lot about you.
Jim Kukral: I’m looking at one of your books here, Kindle Publishing Checklist: The 46-Step Plan for Turning an Idea into a Bestselling Book, and you’re absolutely right. People buy the plan. People buy the guide, and that’s one of the most important things. The covers are big, too, right?
Steve Scott: I feel so. I definitely feel that my cover designer, he’s been great to work with. I’ve worked with him for, I would say, almost three years now. He’s been a vital part of my business, and I’m always more than happy to share his contact information because he is just an awesome guy.
I just feel that we went a different direction. I see it used a lot now on Amazon, but back in the day, there really wasn’t too many people who used vector graphics for their cover. They went through the traditional iStockphoto — just take an image and put a title on — and I thought the covers looked really awful four years ago, least from a non-fiction standpoint. I tried to do something a little bit different and put a cartoony feel on it.
There’s no way to measure this, but I feel that helped at least separate me from a lot of what was already out there at the time.
Jim Kukral: You want to stand out. Let’s do something that I’m not sure you’re going to get into, but I’ve done it with the other authors. What I want you to do is, I’ve pick a one-star review of one of your books, and I want you to read it and react to it, okay? Here, I’m going to paste it in to your Skype, and this is a review on Habit Stacking.
Steve Scott: I know this one. This is awful. It’s awful, but it always makes me chuckle.
The title is, “It’s like BuzzFeed in a printed book. This ‘book’ is essentially just a long list of one-page ideas to improve your life. The ‘habits’ begin on page 27 and end on page 102” — actually, pretty accurate with that. “The book itself is just 125 pages, making each of the ‘habits’ about one page long.”
And then he goes on a rant: “I was expecting more a bit more than obvious things like ‘number 1: drink a large glass of water.’ ‘Number 7: remove distractions before working.’” Actually, you know what? He’s wrong on that. That’s a good one. “Number 18: return calls and text messages,” and then it goes on a laundry list.
Let’s see. This is a funny part: “If you’ve ever said to yourself ‘I wish I could read a BuzzFeed list in a printed book without the GIFs, this is the book for you.” Actually, I’ve quoted that a couple of times because he definitely rips apart the book, but that one’s always made me laugh because it’s just funny.
Jim Kukral: How do you react to stuff like that? I noticed that you do respond to your comments on Amazon.
Steve Scott: I try not to, but sometimes, if I think someone’s — I’m not too sure if this is … I’ll keep this PG-rated. If I think someone’s being a jerk, and they’re fabricating something … I don’t mind a critique of my book. I don’t like critiques of my character and any accusations of being a scam artist or that sort of thing, so I feel that sometimes, I do need to step in, at least defend myself from the character standpoint. But if it’s that they don’t like the book, I just leave well enough alone.
Once in a while, I feel that if someone needs a customer-service type of thing, like, “I can’t download my book,” I’ll try to reach out and be like, “Hey, you can do this and that,” at least try to get them to email me. I’ll hopefully help them solve their problem, and if I provide good customer service, they’ll go back and change the review. I’ve done that a couple of times successfully.
A couple of times, people ignored me. So I do try to help people, but if it’s just someone who just doesn’t like my book, I do my best to ignore it. I’ve gotten a lot better lately with it, but it used to really bother me back in the day.
Jim Kukral: By the way, I should point out that 99 percent of the reviews on Steve’s books are four and five stars. They’re always going to have one person who doesn’t like your book or a small percentage of people, and that’s fine. That’s just the way the world works. Not everyone’s going to love what you put out there.
Steve Scott: Yeah, definitely. I had one yesterday on Exercise Every Day. The title was “I didn’t read this book,” and the review itself is “Good idea,” and that literally was the review. There was one star. I’m like, “Are you serious, really?” That’s the stuff that drives me nuts. They have nothing better to do with their time, I suppose.
The Lifestyle His Independent Book Business Affords Him
Jim Kukral: Those are the worst.
Let’s talk a little bit about the Internet lifestyle, because I’m a big believer in this. I actually wrote a book called Business Around a Lifestyle. You spend a lot of time on the road, travelling, doing things you want, being able to keep your income going and running a business and making $30,000 a month on average when you’re on the road doing things. Talk a little more about your Internet lifestyle.
Steve Scott: I do try to take about three to four months off a year, which seems like a lot to people, but I follow the sprint model where when I’m working, I’m really full on working, and I just basically have no life. I’ll spend time my fiancée, my family, and I’ll exercise, and maybe I’ll go on do a few fun things but for the most part, I’m working. That’s most of my year.
But when I do take off, it really is a full take-off for that period of time without really doing any work. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in February, so that was a great time. That was only a couple of weeks, but the travelling itself took a lot out of me. I’m getting married a month from now, and we’re actually going to Hawaii for about a month or so, so that’s going to be a lot of fun as well. I try to balance that.
Jim Kukral: Congratulations.
Steve Scott: I would say from an author standpoint, it’s really not easy. You could run systems pretty well from the road via email access and getting people to do stuff and just checking over what they’ve done, but as far as a daily habit, as far as writing, that’s really difficult. I really haven’t been able to master that as of yet. It is doable. I think that writing as a business doesn’t always lend itself to the ‘Internet lifestyle,’ so I’m always trying to find that balance. But it’s not easy as some people make it out to be.
Jim Kukral: What’s the best call to action you have in your books? Is it driving people back to a website for another book, to get on your email list, what works best?
Steve Scott: I would say my top three things I always joke about is send people to an email list, send people to an email list, and send people to an email list.
I’ve actually tried to have different ways of getting people join in my email list. What I used to do for pretty much the lifetime I had business is I’ll just send them to one lead magnet. I have the 77 Good Habits to Live a Better Life, which is fairly generic, “Here are bunch of different ways to improve your life.”
I’ve realized lately that that’s not necessarily the best call to action, and there’s a concept in Internet marketing circles called the ‘content upgrade’ where you’re reading a really good piece of content, a good blog post, and someone will put at the top or the bottom, “Well, here’s a checklist where you can immediately apply this information.”
I’ve actually been working with a conversion expert, and he’s actually taken two of my books and created the same concept. So with my Master Evernote book, “Here’s a quick checklist, and here’s a bunch of shortcuts you can use to quickly get started with Evernote.” If someone’s reading Master Evernote, they have a checklist where they can print it out and jump right in to the actual action part of it.
I’m pretty much revamping all of my books to have a short, actual piece of content that directly ties in with that specific book. I haven’t seen the numbers there, but my gut feeling is that’s really going to improve my numbers as far as email subscribers.
So to tie everything back together in your question, I really feel that the best thing you could do is just get people to join your email list, because every time you come out with a new book or if you have a sales event, they can find out just by sending an email to your list.
Jim Kukral: That is a huge thing. Everybody talks that, but you’re right. It’s the most important thing. What’s the long-term plan here? Some people are like, “I’m going to put 150 books, 300 books out. I’m going to build this agency.” Are you just going to stick with this model of continuing to write great books, putting them out, and making the income off of them, or do you have loftier goals? What do you think you’re doing long-term?
Steve Scott: A couple of things. I’m following the model from the guys of the Self-Publishing Podcast. They talk a lot about 2015 being their year of optimization. I’m trying to follow their lead as well and really focus and make sure that my systems and how I’m acquiring readers is topnotch – it’s solid.
So I want to spend more time on that instead of just getting more books out there, because in a way, writing more books can be a lazy way of marketing. Unfortunately, I feel I’ve relied on that too much. I feel that yes, it’s important to get consistent content out there, but I feel I really need to optimize my existing assets. So I want to put them in more languages, more platforms. I just talked about building my email list to greater numbers, so I want to balance that with releasing new books.
That said, I would like to get to a point a couple of years from now where things are pretty much automated, where I can just sit down. I really only have to worry about writing a book and getting that out there.
And honestly, I would like to start writing fiction, and I know that my ‘fiction chops’ are just not up to what they need to be, and I’m really envious of your co-host with the Sell More Books Show, Bryan Cohen, and how he’s managed to balance both non-fiction and fiction. He’s been very consistent with getting out with this Ted Saves the World series, and I think that’s a brilliant thing to do, that he’s just practicing his craft by doing it on a daily basis.
But I know I need a lot of work. It’s almost like I need to have my non-fiction business run automatically so I can sit down and become a better fiction author, but I know right now, anything I write is not ready for the world to see.
His Ten-Year Plan to Retire on His Book Income
Steve Scott: Long, long term is, by the time I’m 50 — which is 10 years from now — I would like to basically all my assets earning enough income where I literally can be completely passive, where I can work when I want to and enjoy the freedom of having things completely automated. So I do have an exit strategy of the next 10 years of getting out completely and doing whatever I want every single day.
Jim Kukral: I don’t think a lot of people really understand this evergreen model, that you’re putting these pieces of work up there that can be sold forever unless Amazon or the other platforms go away. This is income that you can live off forever, right?
Steve Scott: Yeah, definitely. I feel non-fiction, it’s a little harder, because a lot of times you need to update certain books because the information’s outdated. But for the most part, I’m thinking of Getting Things Done. He just revised his book, and I think Getting Things Done has been out there for at least a decade. Not only has he been selling books, but he built a whole speaking platform, a whole consulting fee — built a bunch of things off of that one book. If you have a good enough non-fiction book, you can generate income for many years off of it.
Jim Kukral: Yeah, you can. So I want everyone to go check out — if you’re interested in the stuff, and Steve will give out his site here at the end — but you’ve got a great podcast called Self-Publishing Questions.
Steve Scott: Yes. I’m taking a bit of a hiatus, probably for the summer, with that. I haven’t really seen the episode explaining my rationale, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to pick that back up in September. I would say for the most part, I have 80 episodes, and I literally detail my entire business. I don’t really hold anything back at all on past archived episodes of the show.
Jim Kukral: Here’s what I love about that show. I think it’s really smart. Bryan and I talk about this all the time on our other show. I’ve been teaching this to people forever. If you want to help people, just answer questions. Because people say, “Well, Jim, what should I write about?” Just go to your sales team and have them give you a list of the top 50 questions that customers always ask, and guess what, that’s your book.
So you’ve taken this concept of, “How do I … ?” Here’s one. Number 81: “How would you start a book business with $5?” Here’s another one: “Fiction or non-fiction? Which should I pick?” You answer the questions in short format, and it’s a brilliant way of communicating your message to people and getting them to listen, and what I really love about it is that it’s short.
Steve Scott: I have problems with my attention span and stuff, so for me, it’s hard to listen to the longer episodes of a podcast. I do enjoy them, but if they’re talking about something that really isn’t relevant for 10 minutes, I almost feel like they’re disrespecting my time, so I try to be very mindful of the listener and make sure that they just get the important stuff without a bunch of fluff behind it.
Jim Kukral: Speaking of time, we’re going to wrap it up here. Steve, I really want to thank you so much for coming on and talking about your experiences, and it’s so great to have met you in person last summer at my event in Cleveland. I’m in awe of what you do, and I’m so happy that you’re helping other authors learn how they can do this stuff, so thank you.
Steve Scott: Thank for having me on, Jim.
Jim Kukral: All right, guys. Thanks, everybody, for listening. Actually, you know what? Before we do that, Steve, give them the address to your website.
Jim Kukral: All right, so after you go to SelfPublishingQuestions.com, you want to go over to my website, which is AuthorMarketingInstitute.com. Learn more about the business of writing and marketing your books, and grab our free video course called How to Sell the First 100 Copies of Your Book. That’s at www.AuthorMarketingInstitute.com.
All right, guys, cue the music. It’s time for all of us to get back to work writing books and building businesses.
I’m Jim Kukral, and I’ll be back soon with another Authorpreneur show guest who will help you on your journey to becoming an authorpreneur yourself. Thank you for listening, and as always, reviews and shares of the show are greatly appreciated. We’ll see you next time, everybody. Bye.