How Authors Make Real Money (Hint: It’s Not From Books)

By Arielle Ford

Your book is so many things. It’s your life’s purpose, your contribution, and your baby–not to mention, a tangible representation of your own considerable sweat equity.

Let’s not forget, however, that it’s also the world’s most convincing business card.

The question is, as an existing or aspiring author, how can you leverage the credibility your book gives you to have a bigger impact, make more money, and pursue your passion to its full potential?

The best answer I’ve found, both as an author and former book publicist, is by creating online products for your audience.

But how, exactly, does an author do that? How, exactly, can you turn your expertise into successful products that help you build the life and career you’ve so long imagined?

It’s a question I recently posed to Pam Hendrickson, owner of Pam Hendrickson Consulting Group, and the expert who spent twenty years developing the hundreds of successful products that now comprise the Tony Robbins empire.

Pam shared the three critical questions authors should ask themselves before creating their beyond-the-book products:

Question #1: WHAT are you selling?

“Everyone focuses on format,” Pam says, when, in fact, your content is what will make you successful.

To determine your product content, write down all of the major steps you want your audience to take to achieve the end goal. For example, let’s say your book details your amazing new diet. While that diet is an important first step, your ultimate goal may be to teach your audience to live a new lifestyle. Each major step your audience must take to achieve that healthier lifestyle “is a product,” Pam explains.

Whatever your expertise, you’ll ultimately want three tiers of products, the sum of which becomes your product funnel:

  • Introductory Content: This is free or inexpensive content that introduces your audience to your expertise, explains your solution, and gives them an understanding of how their life can change. In most cases, your book, as well as eBooks, webinars, and sample chapters, will fall into this category. All of this introductory content helps you build a trusting relationship with your audience, which is critical in the second phase of your product funnel, when you’ll need to start selling them higher-ticket products.
  • Primary Content: The content in this second phase of your product funnel, Pam explains, should “be about doing,” motivating your audience to take action that gets them results. You can accomplish this through an online training program or a system you deliver digitally.
  • Advanced Content: This third and final phase of your product funnel is your highest-ticket product. Advanced content is typically more personal and customized, like a high-end mastermind group or one-on-one coaching.


Question #2: WHOM are you selling to?

Above all, “know your audience,” Pam asserts. You must understand their problems so well that your offer feels like the magic balm they’ve been searching for. In every way possible, your offers and your products should meet their needs and fit their lifestyle.

Question #3: WHAT will get them to buy?

The answer to this question is an extension of how well you know your audience.

Both your offer and your product must thoroughly address (and solve) their problem. To create targeted offers that resonate with your audience, you’ll need to understand what “triggers” them to purchase your products.

Most often, sales triggers are related to your audience’s dreams, desires and/or fears. To pinpoint these triggers, you’ll need to interact with your audience frequently, through multiple media, including surveys and polls. You’ll also want to test different sales messaging and offers to figure out what works best.

While the product creation process can be labor-intensive, as an author myself, I’ve found it hugely satisfying. In addition to allowing you to increase your income (and enjoy more peace of mind), your product funnel gives you endless opportunities to share your knowledge, which is, after all, one very important reason you became an author in the first place.

So when you find yourself recording on-screen video training courses, or designing eBooks for your next webinar, keep in mind that it’s yet another part of the author’s rich and rewarding journey.

Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. 



Anton Chekhov’s 6 Principles that make for a Good Story

Here are Anton Chekhov’s classic 6 principles that make for a Good story and I also included my interpretations or at least how I understand them.

On May 10, 1889, Anton Chekhov (already an influential literary figure in Russia) wrote a letter to his older brother, Alexander. His brother had taken up writing years before, too, but only with inconsistent success. In the letter, quoted by the translators in Anton Chekhov: Stories, the famous author laid down six principles that “make for a good story”:

  1. Absence of lengthy verbiage of a political-social-economic nature;
  2. Total objectivity;
  3. Truthful descriptions of persons and objects;
  4. Extreme brevity;
  5. Audacity and originality (flee the stereotype);
  6. Compassion


My Interpretations



1) Absence of lengthy verbiage of political-social-economic nature – my interpretation – Don’t overwrite when you write and choose your words precisely and carefully.


2) Total Objectivity – my interpretation – be totally impartial and neutral with your writing and don’t be judgmental of your characters- just tell their stories.


3) Truthful descriptions of persons and objects – my interpretation – be honest about your characters , don’t try to sugar coat or make them infinitely evil(unless they’re supposed to be…lol)  and when presenting their character personalities, be objective and honest


4) Extreme brevity – my interpretation – write with extreme conciseness when expressing yourself when writing you story or get straight to the point with your writing


5) Audacity and originality (flee the stereotype) – my interpretation – show willingness to take bold risk with your writing and be daring and original with it as well.


6) Compassion – my interpretation – I think what is meant by it is that the writer excuses all human weakness because human weakness is human. Compassion should be were you start with your writing because it makes you reject cliches and stereotypes in your writing and be extremely intricate. If we can show compassion and avoid humiliation in our writing, we can avoid arrogance  or sarcasm .


Roberto Bolano’s Advice on the Art of Writing Short Stories


Here’s is the classic short story writing advice from the late great Roberto Bolano (2666, The Savage Detectives)


Advice on the Art of Writing Short Stories

by Molossus on OCTOBER 5, 2009 in BEST OF, NONFICTION

Roberto Bolaño

In Partnership with World Literature Today, we’re proud to present Roberto Bolaño’s “Advice on the Art of Writing Short Stories,” first published in the November 2006 issue of the magazine. 


Now that I’m forty-four years old, I’m going to offer some advice on the art of writing short stories.

(1) Never approach short stories one at a time. If one approaches short stories one at a time, one can quite honestly be writing the same short story until the day one dies.

(2) It is best to write short stories three or five at a time. If one has the energy, write them nine or fifteen at a time.

(3) Be careful: the temptation to write short stories two at a time is just as dangerous as attempting to write them one at a time, and, what’s more, it’s essentially like the interplay of lovers’ mirrors, creating a double image that produces melancholy.

(4) One must read Horacio Quiroga, Felisberto Hernández, and Jorge Luis Borges. One must read Juan Rulfo and Augusto Monterroso. Any short-story writer who has some appreciation for these authors will never read Camilo José Cela or Francisco Umbral yet will, indeed, read Julio Cortázar and Adolfo Bioy Casares, but in no way Cela or Umbral.

(5) I’ll repeat this once more in case it’s still not clear: don’t consider Cela or Umbral, whatsoever.

(6) A short-story writer should be brave. It’s a sad fact to acknowledge, but that’s the way it is.

(7) Short-story writers customarily brag about having read Petrus Borel (Joseph-Pierre Borel). In fact, many short-story writers are notorious for trying to imitate Borel’s writing. What a huge mistake! Instead, they should imitate the way Borel dresses. But the truth is that they hardly know anything about him—or Théophile Gautier or Gérard de Nerval!

(8) Let’s come to an agreement: read Petrus Borel, dress like Petrus Borel, but also read Jules Renard and Marcel Schwob. Above all, read Schwob, then move on to Alfonso Reyes and from there go to Borges.

(9) The honest truth is that with Edgar Allan Poe, we would all have more than enough good material to read.

(10) Give thought to point number 9. Think and reflect on it. You still have time. Think about number 9. To the extent possible, do so on bended knees.

(11) One should also read a few other highly recommended books and authors—e.g., Peri hypsous (1st century a.d.; Eng. On the Sublime, 1554), by the notable Pseudo-Longinus; the sonnets of the unfortunate and brave Philip Sidney, whose biography Lord Brooke wrote; The Spoon River Anthology (1916), by Edgar Lee Masters; Suicidios ejemplares (1991; Exemplary suicides), by Enrique Vila-Matas; and Mientras ellas duermen (1990; While the women sleep), by Javier Marías.

(12) Read these books and also read Anton Chekhov and Raymond Carver, for one of the two of them is the best writer of the twentieth century.


Translation from the Spanish

By David Draper Clark


Editorial note: The Spanish original of this piece, “Consejos sobre el arte de escribir cuentos,” can be found in Bolaño’s Entre paréntesis: Ensayos, artículos y discursos (1998–2003) (Barcelona: Anagrama, 2004), 324–25.


World Literature Today 80.6 (November 2006), 44­–45. English translation copyright © 2006 by World Literature Today and the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma.


Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Writing a Short Story

Here are Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Writing a Short Story

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Writing Update

Well these past days off from work have provided me with a great opportunity to accomplish my own personal writing goals. I’ve been able to get some poetry, film reviews, novel research and short stories completed. I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure out what I want to do professionally and now that I’ve begun writing- I don’t want to stop. It’s corny to say this, but it feels like somewhat of a reawakening for my mind, body and spirit, when I write.

I feel bad though because I don’t know how to explain to friends that I don’t have time to hangout because I need -no HAVE to write. You see once I decided to get serious with my writing, my need to write hasn’t subsided. This particular fact, is the reason I can come off like I’m purposely neglecting friends- which totally is not the case. I just feel like I awoke from a slight dream cerebral slumber in my mind and I dont ever want to go back to bed.


Writing updates

Well as far as my novel goes I’m still in the researching phase and its been going great! Before I got started I chose to compelete my story outlines first and then begin my research. I’m so excited about writing this story. I’m really hoping this story resonates and connects with potential readers. Some of the possible themes I’m going to try and explore in my novel range from – family, love , redemption, fear , guilt, loss and most importantly one’s own ability to change. So after I’ve finished the research process I can really get started bringing my story to life.

My plan after I have finished the story is to self edit ,proof and then ultimately self publish my novel. I will definitely be looking into self publishing on “Createspace” or “Smahwords” or one of the many other self publishing platforms. I decided to go this route just because I want my success or failure to be my own hands rather than someone else’s hands. I would rather live or die by my own accord.

So to close out this blog post I will continue to post updates on my writing progress whenever possible , hopefully somebody will want to read my story when its finished…lol.