By Susan Dean
As an Australian-based business owner and book publisher, I am going to let you in on a little trade secret that many publishers don’t talk about. That secret is this: non-writers are revolutionising the book market. Yes, that’s right!
Now that may seem mind-blowing to you. After all, books are traditionally written by professional writers, right? Nope, not necessarily. Not anymore.
In fact, the sad truth is the large majority of full-time writers earn way below average wage. The Australian Society of Authors conducted a survey of Australian writers and illustrators to submit to the Government. It revealed that a whopping 53.6% of full-time writers earn on average less than $15,000 per year from their creative work. Ouch! And furthermore, 23.2% of them are earning on average between $0 and $1,999 per year.
And that’s not only in Australia. The USA and UK have equally dismal figures.
A survey conducted by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society found that full-time writers in the United Kingdom earned a median income of £10,437, which is well below minimum wage in the UK.
Clearly, traditional writers across the world are struggling to build an audience, crack the market, and make a meaningful profit from their creative work. The old way is quickly becoming obsolete, and forward thinkers are rising to dominate the industry.
Sure, some traditional writers still make a decent living, but it’s the revolutionaries who tend to become the most successful and relevant. Why? Because the industry has completely changed! Not only that, but it will continue to evolve as new innovations and technologies emerge to further disrupt the status quo.
What was once considered an “elitist” and difficult industry to crack if you weren’t a professional writer has gone through a complete transformation. This book publishing renaissance has occurred particularly over the past 15 years, bringing some of the most exciting challenges and innovations: digital books, audiobooks, print-on-demand publishing platforms, podcasts, Amazon!
Now, the mass closure of bookstores does indeed sadden me as a publisher, but I believe that where there is great change, there is great opportunity. I also know that many entrepreneurs have this same mindset. They look for innovation instead of stagnation. They look forward and not back. They trailblaze and pioneer new systems when old ones fail to stay sustainable and profitable.
Mavericks of Life and Business
So, who are these new writers revolutionising the industry? They are the industry experts, the leaders, the educators, the changemakers who aren’t afraid to use their knowledge and dive into the multimedia world of collaborative publishing.
Most of you know Gary V, Grant Cardone, Tony Robbins, and Janine Allis. Well, they aren’t writers by occupation. They are entrepreneurs and bestselling authors. It’s those who do both who are turning this industry on its head and reaping the rewards. If you have expert knowledge, an original idea, or a compelling story to share, you can make a MASSIVE impact in the publishing world.
Some would-be authors may sit back, fold their arms, and say publishing isn’t for them. They already have a lot of things in motion and don’t want to add another cog to their business machine – which is totally understandable. However, in refusing to recognise the potential of publishing, they’re missing the opportunity to share their experience – experience that no one else can bottle and sell – and add a new avenue of growth to their business.
The real trend setters recognise potential when they see it. Not only that, but they grab hold of it, start running, and don’t look back.
I work with such leaders every day, and I can assure you they are making wayyyyyy more than most professional novelists dream of. They are killing it! Why? Because they grow their entire business by using the publishing industry without having the publishing industry use them. They aren’t just writing a book; they are using the book to leverage massive opportunities in their fields and provide decades worth of hard-earned wisdom and knowledge to others.
What’s even more phenomenal is because of their mindset, they aren’t wasting their precious time doing it all themselves. They’re aware of the shift in the publishing industry, and they’re never afraid to be at the forefront of innovation and change. They’re certainly not sleeping through the revolution!
You see, these people think differently from most. They act differently. They know how to use the power of a book. In my opinion, these people are successful in the publishing industry because of three things:
- They know how to grow their business and credibility with a book and products, to then exponentially grow their brand.
- They give massive value away in their products, in terms of knowledge and advice.
- They understand that a once-off investment that can guarantee a lifetime stream of sales, leads and income is unbelievable ROI.
They just get it.
Who Has Time to Write a Book?
Now a lot of busy business owners think – well, that’s great, but I don’t have the time to write a book.
And they’re right! Busy people don’t have the time. But savvy business owners understand that collaborating with the right people is good business. It allows them to focus on what they’re good at (growing their business) while an expert team works behind the scenes to produce their book.
And when they do this, they get major things in return: sales, leads, international exposure, marketing collateral, authority, interviews, distribution, reviews, influence, credibility, media cred, and an everlasting flow of passive income.
Not a writer by trade? Not a problem! Traditional publishers are no longer the gatekeepers to getting your ideas out there, and the new breed are daring to do things differently. If you don’t have the time to tackle any part of the planning, production, or publishing processes, you can simply hand it off to a specialist team that has done it all before, countless times, with great success.
Seize Disruption, Create Opportunity
Now, this isn’t some cheesy sales slogan I’m pedalling because I’m a publisher – it’s all part of the new shift. The shift that happens when an industry gets disrupted. Old things collapse, and new things are built. I’m simply moving with the future. No entrepreneur wants to get left in the past!
What’s more interesting about this disruption is that only a tiny percentage of business owners are taking full advantage of it. And they are the ones crushing it! A Grammar Factory Publishing survey found that 34% of entrepreneurs saw their
earnings DOUBLE after publishing a book.4 Amazing, right? After launching their books, they received more speaking gigs, media attention, and sales as a direct result. Overall, a whopping 86% of entrepreneurs’ businesses grew after becoming published authors. But the odds were always in their favour.
Think about it. How much more reputable and knowledgeable does a professional appear when they have a quality book to sell? Clients appreciate it when we take the time and effort to pass on our wisdom, and a published book is the ideal medium to do just that.
Every day, I get to see and hear about the positive impact publishing has on businesses – and business owners! As the great Peter Drucker said, “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”
So, if you are a leader who isn’t afraid to exploit new opportunities, working with an expert publishing team may be the ultimate way to exponentially grow your brand. You can now build a bestselling business and have a bestselling book, without doing all the work. It’s the new way.
Australian Society of Authors 2020, ASA Survey Results – Author Earnings in Australia, article, viewed 9 August 2022, https://www.asauthors.org/news/asa-survey-results-author-earnings-in-australia.
Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society 2018, Authors’ Earnings, report, viewed 9 August 2022, https://literaturealliancescotland.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ALCS_Authors_Earnings_Report_2018.pdf.
Tat Keh, H 1998, ‘Evolution of the book publishing industry: structural changes and strategic implications’, Journal of Management History, vol 4, no 2, pp 104-123, https://doi.org/10.1108/13552529810219593.