Exploring the idea of writing a library of ebooks

I’ve spent the past week intently exploring the idea of writing a series of ebooks as a way to generate reliable passive income. Today I’m reporting out about what I’ve learned and chat about my thoughts on this possible revenue stream.


I set a deadline for this phase of the operation and I’ve met it. Good job, Pam! You rock!

Today’s article is second in a five-part series where I’m exploring three different ventures that will help me create a stable, sustainable revenue source so I can achieve my goal of financial freedom. The series consists of:

  1. What is Passive Income?
  2. Should I Write Books? – that’s this one here!
  3. Should I Teach using Online Courses? – coming soon
  4. Should I Create a Productized Service? – coming soon
  5. Decision Made: My Passive Income Adventure Begins – coming soon

First, let me explain the general concept of generating enough revenue to help me achieve financial freedom by being a self-published author.  This is a bit different than what you might normally think of when you hear someone self-publishing a book. In fact, it’s different than my own experience when I published Journey to a Healthier Me a couple years ago. In fact, the more I read about this method of marketing books, the more I realize that I did everything wrong the first time. Lessons learned, huh?

This method is to write a lot of books… I mean a LOT of books… so that I create a catalog of highly-targeted, niche-specific books that are sold primarily as ebooks through Amazon’s Kindle publishing portal and other online ebook sellers. Each book would be an in-depth exploration of a narrow subtopic within a larger umbrella topic.  Basically going deep, rather than wide. What do I mean by “narrow subtopic within a larger umbrella topic” – because that sounds like hooey, right? Let me explain with an example.

There are lots of authors using this self-publishing model – I won’t list all of them, but let’s use Steve Scott as an example. Steve has published 41 books under a few different pen names. As his pen name S.J. Scott he has published 16 books about habits (his umbrella topic) – healthy habits, business habits, breaking bad habits, walking habits, habit stacking, etc. All those ebooks provide amazing value on one narrow topic area (I know because I bought a few of his books even before I knew who he was in the publishing world). So his 16 habit books create a comprehensive catalog of books all about having good habits to lead a better life. And since his books are priced at just $2.99, it’s not unusual for readers to buy more than one at a time (I did!). He also has a website specific to this catalog of books – basically the books have their own brand identity to help the marketing/sales efforts. He’s got another whole catalog of books about business, marketing and writing books under a different pen name (I bought a few of those, too. I can’t help it, I love books!).

Steve Scott has recently been on a number of podcasts I listen to (don’t judge me because I’m addicted to podcasts right now!). Here’s one he did on Niche Pursuits. He talks about how he’s making up to $40,000 per month with his book revenue. No, that’s not a typo and no, it’s not a one-month fluke. So now you understand why I’m interested in this whole thing, right?

There are others who have found great success in the ebook publishing world too. There are huge names in the arena that make it all seem too good to be true, so I tried to find the “new kids on the block” and find out what this venture would look like at the very beginning.

Mark Messick is one I’ve just discovered this week and he already has five books in his catalog and he’s only six months into this. He’s active in a Facebook group I just joined and just yesterday he mentioned that he’s expecting by the second half of this year he’ll be averaging $10,000 per month from his book sales – right now he’s at a mere $3,000/mo.  He’s got a great website too. It’s called 7 Minute Change.

Let’s take a step back for a moment.

The one thing I kept reading over and over again while researching stuff this week is that if you’re only in this book writing thing for quick money, you’ll be highly disappointed. It takes a lot… a LOT… of hard work, time, luck, and hustle to make this happen and to actually be successful. Also, you have to actually have something valuable to say before you can even think about jumping into this arena.  (Just to be clear… there are lots of people who publish books but are just bad writers or don’t take the time to write valuable content. But they still publish – it’s just that those people aren’t making any money because their content sucks.)

Hard work. Value. Hustle.

First, I know that no matter what I do with my life, it’s going to be a lot of hard work. I know this isn’t a get-rich-quick-scheme and I’m fully prepared to put in many years of blood, sweat and tears to make this work. No matter what “this” ends up being. Writing a catalog of books takes time. And remember, I’m still working a full time job (plus I have a really long commute to that job). So this is a years-long process, not an overnight success.

Second, I actually DO have a bunch of stuff to say. For a long time I didn’t think I had anything unique to share. But the more I talk to people about my big dreams and how I achieve balance in my life I’ve come to realize that I have a unique perspective on life that others want to hear about. So why not help others with my writing?

Now, back to the lessons learned.

One of the books I read this week is called The 8 Hour Bestseller by Tim Castleman. He talks about his method for writing bestselling books quickly through a series of deliberate steps in his writing process. It was a quick read (I think he said it was about 16,000 words) but he had packed some seriously good information into that book. And he enticed me to buy his other two books The Creativity Checklist and 2kH Formula – both about writing and expressing your creative vision.

I’ve started reading a book by Chandler Bolt and James Roper called Book Launch. The first part of the book walks you through the actual writing process, but I’m not interested in the second half where they talk about successfully launching your books and how to build a brand that’s “bigger than the book.” I’m only a dozen or so pages into it so far… anxious to see what else they have to teach.

I joined a Facebook group this week, hosted by Pat Flynn of The Smart Passive Income Blog & Podcast (yes, he’s on my podcast playlist – he made $87,000 last month with passive income, he’s one to learn from for sure!) This particular Facebook group is 10,000 members strong and focuses on earning passive income through self-publishing (there are other Pat Flynn groups on Facebook but this is one I focused on this week for my research). It’s a bit overwhelming with the amount of information and resources available.  The conversations are so valuable and people have been so willing to share experiences and ideas and marketing techniques – it’s going to be difficult not to spend hours online just reading everything!

This week I also spent some time with my Midori Travelers Notebook (I’m sure you’ll eventually hear all about my obsession with this notebook system). It’s a leather notebook cover that has a modular system inside for holding several paper journal inserts. I’ve got one insert set aside for business brainstorming ideas and this week I added to the list of “stuff I know” and focused on what skills I have that could be turned into books that people might actually want to buy. Topic areas include graphic design, wedding & event planning, living a healthy lifestyle, business & marketing, living life as a single woman, achieving goals to build a better life, etc.  Many of you know me really well… so if I’m missing any major topic area, give me a shout and tell me to add something else to the list. I know my good friend Nikki wants me to add: “How to not make dumb decisions…” to the list.

So what’s next?

I have a confession to make.  About midweek I was ready to throw in the towel with the rest of this research and just start crafting my first book. I’m excited about the possibilities I see here. I know I’ll be good at writing, I know I have a lot to share and teach, and I know that I’m good at marketing so I could actually sell some books with the right strategies. I could honestly start writing tomorrow! My head is about to explode with the ideas swirling around just dying to get out!

But I also know that my personality tends to have two extremes – impulse or procrastinate. So I resisted the urge to start writing book outlines and I’m going to move forward with next week’s assignment of researching what it’d take to be an outstanding online teacher. It’s going to be tough to set aside all this self-publishing information and let it marinate for a few weeks while I research the other stuff on my list. So if you seem me straying from the plan, feel shove me back in line.

Are you playing along?

Did you take on a big research project this week? What have you learned so far? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or drop me a note.